The Floating Hospital thinks inside the box to create a new Covid-care clinic

Home/Culture and People/The Floating Hospital thinks inside the box to create a new Covid-care clinic

A public/private partnership will deliver free testing and vaccines on site for nearly 3,000 public-housing residents

The Floating Hospital’s expanded vaccine program shows you don’t always have to think outside the box to come up with a creative solution. That will be in full demonstration next month when it cuts the ribbon on a new vaccine clinic that is, in fact, a series of boxes to be installed at Astoria Houses, New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA), 22-building complex in Western Queens.

The innovative design connects four repurposed shipping containers that will create a medical clinic of eight patient bays, each accommodating three people at a time—an ideal setup for handling patient flow for Covid testing and vaccines. It will be centrally sited on the NYCHA campus.

The prototype was designed and tested by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) on the campus of the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. NJIT donated the container to NYCHA, and The Floating Hospital will serve as the licensed medical provider for dedicated Covid care to the nearly 3,000 residents in the complex.

artist's impression of the container

The big assist for making it all happen came from Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, who brokered the discussions among agencies at the city, state and federal levels, and NJIT.

Rep. Maloney also managed part of the funding for transporting the containers from New Jersey and setting them up on NYCHA grounds. The Floating Hospital is contributing clinic staff at no out-of-pocket cost to NYCHA residents.

“The Covid-19 crisis highlighted the health disparities within our city, and I wanted to find a solution especially at Astoria Houses, which was faced with record cases,” Rep. Maloney said.

This isn’t the first time the congresswoman stepped in to help. In 2008, she helped The Floating Hospital establish an on-site clinic at Queensbridge Houses, the largest public-housing complex in North America with 26 residential buildings and more than 3,200 lease holders.

“I knew that there was a possibility to replicate something similar at Astoria Houses,” she said. “It took a lot of effort at all levels of government and from our private-sector partners to see this come to fruition, but this health unit is also a product of what true leadership, partnership, and collaboration looks like. I’m grateful for The Floating Hospital Team for their dedication and commitment to public health efforts; they are such an asset to our community.”

graphic with quote from rep. maloney

The ribbon cutting is scheduled for April 14 at 1 p.m. at Astoria Houses, 4-03 Astoria Blvd. In addition to Rep. Maloney, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul are expected to attend. For press and other queries, please contact marketing and communications director Barbara LaPlaca, blaplaca@thefloatinghospital.org.

—Lana Bortolot

Since 1866, The Floating Hospital has been the largest provider of healthcare and education to families living with homelessness. Based in Long Island City, it provides comprehensive primary, dental and behavioral-health services, and health-education to patients living in more than 300 shelters and domestic violence safe houses throughout New York City.

In 2021, The Floating Hospital moved into a new modern main clinic in Long Island City, and continues to support patients in satellite clinics at family homeless shelters and public housing complexes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

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