Brooklyn Boro

Adams: Brooklyn burn victims’ deaths may have been prevented

December 19, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Following several horrific fires, officials want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide funds for a burn center in Brooklyn. Shown: Borough President Eric Adams, center, alongside Brownsville residents and officials including state Sens. Jesse Hamilton (third from right) and Kevin Parker (second from right), visited the community center of NYCHA’s Howard Houses two days after the development suffered a deadly fire.  Photo by Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office

Officials push Cuomo for new burn center here

Time is critical when getting treated for burns, according to health experts. Yet, despite having the highest population in the city with 2.6 million residents, Brooklyn has no burn center.

One-year-old Ivan Paez and his aunt, 40-year-old Alexandra Ortiz, are two of the most recent victims of a deadly fire, this one in a Brownsville housing development. Ortiz was one of six injured during the blaze who suffered from injuries of the type that could have been treated at a dedicated burn center.

On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and state Senator Kevin Parker called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allocate roughly $10 million in the upcoming state budget for a local burn center.

Adams had urged the creation of a burn center last year, following the horrific deaths of seven children in a fire in Midwood. The lack of a Brooklyn burn center meant that two survivors of that fire had to be transported to units in two other boroughs.

At a visit on Friday to Brownsville’s Howard Houses, site of the most recent deadly fire, Adams noted that Brooklyn had 8,518 structural fires last year, 31 percent of the citywide total. Victims of these fires must be transported to either Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital on East 68th Street in Manhattan, Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx or Staten Island University Hospital North.

“The proximity of a burn unit translates into health care access that can mean the difference between life and death,” Adams said in a statement.

Parker added that “commuting” fire victims outside of the borough for treatment was unacceptable.

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Burn center services

A burn center provides all four phases of health care for burns, including:

• Treatment of wounds and surgery

• Interventions to prevent shock

• Rehabilitation services

• Reconstructive surgery

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A Central Brooklyn location?

Time is an important factor in the outcome of severe burns. Travel time to the two closest burn centers, starting from the Brooklyn Museum, was calculated by Google Maps at 2 p.m. on Monday as taking close to 40 minutes at a minimum. Travel time to Jacobi was anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic and the route.

A spokesperson for Adams told the Brooklyn Eagle that officials were open to a range of possibilities in terms of locating the burn unit.

“Some have focused their attention on the most central of Brooklyn’s hospitals, such as SUNY Downstate or Kings County,” spokesman Stefan Ringel said.

Travel time to Kings County from the Brooklyn Museum was clocked at 11 minutes by Google.

According to the BP’s Office, cost estimates for the first year of operation for a new eight-bed burn unit, including build-out and operating costs, would be approximately $14.5 million. Adams has committed $4.15 million from his Fiscal Year 2016 capital budget to go toward the construction of a burn center. Additionally, Sen. Parker has previously introduced state legislation to advance the idea.

Brooklyn is experiencing a shortage of hospital beds and long waits for treatment in emergency rooms following the closure of several borough hospitals. The latest to shut down was Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill, which served a wide swath of northwestern Brooklyn. Its 20-building campus was sold to developer Fortis Property Group by the State University of New York (SUNY), a sale backed by Gov. Cuomo.

Numerous officials have signed onto the burn center idea, including state Sens. Martin Malavé Dilan, Jesse Hamilton, Martin Golden, Roxanne Persaud, Diane Savino, and Daniel Squadron, as well as by Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte, Pamela Harris, Dov Hikind, Joseph Lentol, Walter Mosley, Felix Ortiz, Nick Perry, Diana Richardson, Jo Anne Simon, Latrice Walker and Helene Weinstein.

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