Rebecca Test

We’ll soon add optometry to the list of in-house specialties available at our flagship Long Island City healthcare center. Scheduled to open in late 2023, the Floating Hospital eye care clinic will be tailored to the unique needs of the communities we serve.

Eye issues are common among our patients. “We’re sending patients to external entities at a very high frequency,” says Dr. Shani Andre, Chief Medical Officer at The Floating Hospital. “Our new optometry department will help provide those services in-house and offer better continuity of care to our patients.”

Referring patients to outside entities for care can be an extra layer of hardship for families with limited resources: non-urgent healthcare (like vision screening) is often a low priority, and caregivers routinely ration time and expenses. Offering comprehensive care in-house makes our patients’ lives less complicated and reduces the hard choices they often face. In addition, the complex New York City healthcare system challenges patients without health insurance—months-long waiting lists are common.

It’s a place people could count on, come to and be at home in…a trusted source among people and the community.” Gail Harvey, Vice President and Community Relations manager, Bank of America
It’s a place people could count on, come to and be at home in…a trusted source among people and the community.” Gail Harvey, Vice President and Community Relations manager, Bank of America

Both adults and children will benefit from the new optometry department. Many adults treated at The Floating Hospital have an elevated risk for conditions that may give rise to eye diseases: patients with diabetes often develop glaucoma and cataracts, while hypertension can damage retinal blood vessels.

“An optometrist can initially manage a lot; we won’t solely be focusing on vision correction—general eye health screenings, medication prescriptions and diagnosis, treatment and management of various eye diseases and injuries will be part of our roster of vision health services,” explained Dr. Andre. Streamlined and faster care results in timely consultations, diagnostic testing and treatment without the delays associated with external referrals.

While children are less likely than adults to have diseases like glaucoma and cataracts, they make up for it in demand for eyeglasses.

“We’re going to need a constant supply of frames. Private funders will help us ensure kids in temporary housing get glasses,” says Sean Granahan, President of The Floating Hospital. “Many of reading issues among homeless children are related to poor vision or dyslexia—things an optometrist would discover.”

It’s a place people could count on, come to and be at home in…a trusted source among people and the community.” Gail Harvey, Vice President and Community Relations manager, Bank of America
It’s a place people could count on, come to and be at home in…a trusted source among people and the community.” Gail Harvey, Vice President and Community Relations manager, Bank of America

Work on the addition is already underway. According to construction project manager James Barry, the optometry clinic’s look will match the healthcare center’s subtle nautical theme and offer the same hotel-like comfort and design details. Says Barry, “When patients come to The Floating Hospital, they are meant to feel safe, cared for, and comfortable. Leadership at the hospital is interested in every aspect of the patient experience. Everything from the medical equipment to the doors and wood finishes builds towards that goal.”

The optometry addition is one of many projects aimed at improving our patients’ clinical experience and outcomes. This summer, breast cancer screenings will be available on-premises thanks to a mammography unit funded by a grant secured by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in 2022.

There is better coordination of care when specialties are offered in-house. And that results in a more holistic approach to treatment, efficient utilization of resources and potentially reduces costs overall.

“We are continually focused on increasing efficiency of care and convenience for all Floating Hospital patients,” says Dr. Andre. “Our essential mission has always been to provide a broader scope of services and a positive healthcare experience for our patients.”

By Matt Fink

This post featured in our monthly newsletter from May/June 2023.

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The Floating Hospital provides high-quality healthcare to anyone who needs it regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, immigration or insurance status, or the ability to pay. By providing unrestricted medical care in tandem with health education and social support to vulnerable New York City families, The Floating Hospital aims to ensure those most in need have the ability to thrive, not just survive.

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