A few months after The Floating Hospital moved into its new Long Island City building in 2021, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shani Andre was walking through the waiting room and heard a mother speaking on her cell phone as she watched her son play on one of the pieces of children’s furniture. Dr. Andre overheard the woman tell the person on the other end of the line how amazing the facility is.
“She was saying how he’s running around here, having a ball and thinks that this place was created just for him. He doesn’t want to leave,” she said. “And it spoke to what we wanted our patients to feel: welcome, seen and at peace.”
Since its founding in 1866, The Floating Hospital has been a resource for New York City’s underserved and homeless populations. But when the pandemic brought the city to a grinding halt in 2020, the organization’s critical role in caring for impoverished New Yorkers came into stark relief.
“Everything that happened during the pandemic reconfirmed all the things we knew were problem areas. There’s a big disconnect between what we know to be clear needs and access that these populations have to services,” Dr. Andre said.
“We try to use our position and resources to help, educate and provide that link to services as much as we could. I think in general, we’re trying to gather more data and poll patients. That way we’re not assuming anything—we’re hearing directly from individuals what they need.”