Good Morning, Brooklyn: Wednesday, July 13, 2022
BROOKLYN DIALYSIS CENTER NAMED IN COMPLAINT FILED IN FEDERAL COURT HERE: A Park Slope medical facility has been named in a civil complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn against Fresenius Vascular Care, Inc. (“Fresenius”) alleging that the company performed unnecessary procedures on dialysis patients at nine centers across New York City, Long Island and Westchester, The complaint accuses Fresenius of billing the procedures to Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Health Benefits Program and TRICARE, and it seeks damages and penalties under the False Claims Act. As alleged in the complaint, from about January 1, 2012 through June 30, 2018, Fresenius routinely performed certain procedures on patients with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) who were receiving dialysis, without sufficient clinical indication that the patients needed the procedures.
The U.S. District Court identified the Brooklyn facility, in Park Slope, as American Access Care Brooklyn, 577 Prospect Avenue Lower Level, Brooklyn, NY 11215.
‘PASTRY SHOPPE’ WAS REALLY MARKET FOR CONTRABAND DRUGS: A dark web vendor of illegal narcotics has been indicted in Brooklyn federal court for distributing heroin and cocaine in exchange for bitcoin. As charged in the indictment and the complaint, between February 2019 and January 2022, defendants Edison Hernandez, Michael Caruso, Raymer Ynoa and Irvin Hernandez separately operated a door-to-door drug delivery service in the New York City area, advertising their service with the name “Nino & Viktor’s Pastry Shoppe,” and offering their customers an array of different drugs for sale, including cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, and MDMA.
After customers ordered drugs over an encrypted messaging app, a deliveryman would arrive later the same day to distribute the drugs. Silk Road, AlphaBay, Dream Market and Wall Street Market, which have since been taken down, were large global dark web marketplaces that functioned like conventional e-commerce websites but were geared towards the trafficking of contraband.
LAX OVERSIGHT OF MEDICAID PAYMENTS REVEALED IN STATE COMPTROLLER’S AUDIT: An audit from NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has found that lax oversight of Medicaid payments may have cost taxpayers nearly $300 million. The audit revealed that, too often, Medicaid pays medical bills that a third-party insurer should have covered, and that there was no documentation of any attempt to recover $292 million in overpayments for recipients with third-party insurance coverage.
Di Napoli stated that “These potentially unnecessary payments likely contributed to significant waste and a missed opportunity to recover the nearly $300 million in questionable payments. DOH should recoup any overpayments and take steps to better protect taxpayers from costly billing mistakes.”
MONKEYPOX VACCINE WEBSITE CRASHES: High demand and a lack of doses are being blamed in part for a glitch in a NYC Department of Health website that blocked people from scheduling appointments to get the new vaccine for Monkeypox. According to a statement from the Health Department released late afternoon on Tuesday, “All available monkeypox vaccine appointment slots have been booked. Due to overwhelming traffic, as soon as appointments went online this afternoon, the site delivered error messages for many people who were unable to make appointments. This is just further proof that demand is very high, and we will continue working to make vaccine available.”
Apologizing for New Yorkers’ frustration, the Health Department indicated that it is “working to build stable appointment infrastructure” as it anticipates an increase in the vaccine supply, and will send advisories when more appointments can be made.
BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO FUND WTC HEALTH PROGRAM: A bipartisan Congressional push, which Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn) has joined, is working to correct a funding shortfall in the World Trade Center Health Program by expediting the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act. (H.R.4965). The new legislation, of which Rep. Malliotakis is an original cosponsor, aims to ensure that this program has adequate funding now and in the future.
The Congressmembers were prompted to act upon learning that World Trade Center Health Program WTCHP faces a $3 billion deficit and will not be able to accept more enrollees as soon as 2024 if it’s not fully funded.
ESCALATORS AT HIGH ST. STATION TO BE REPLACED: The Metropolitan Transit Authority will begin work on replacing the notorious High Street A/C escalators during the first half of August, reports City Councilmember Lincoln Restler (D-33/Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn). Restler had invited MTA leadership to tour the station, which they did in April, after hearing from community members and other elected officials on the obstacles that the faulty escalators have caused commuters with mobility issues, including parents with strollers.
Work on the Adams Street side will last about 10 months and then the MTA will complete replacement of the escalators on the Cadman Plaza side, which should take another ten months. Both entrances will remain open while each new set of escalators are installed.
SACRED SITES OPEN HOUSE FEATURES BROOKLYN HOUSES OF WORSHIP: Several houses of worship around the borough, including six in Brownstone Brooklyn, will be participating in the 12th Annual Sacred Sites Open House: “Open Doors,” welcoming visitors in person once again to New York’s world-class houses of worship, on July 23-24, 2022, throughout New York State. The houses of worship have significant histories in the borough. Participating are: First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Maronite Cathedral, Plymouth Church, St. Charles Borromeo Church, all in Brooklyn Heights; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, both in Carroll Gardens; Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Clinton Hill; Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple, 83 Marlborough Rd., in Ditmas Park; the Flatbush Reformed Church, in Flatbush; Bridge Street African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church in Stuyvesant Heights, and a mosque (not identified as of press time) at 106 Powers St. in Williamsburg
Participating congregations will have the opportunity to showcase their buildings and histories via lectures, musical performances, and special guided tours, as well as highlight a variety of cultural and social service programs offered throughout the year (Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/sacred-sites-open-house-2022-pre-registered-tours-487789)
TOWN HALL ON PROTECTING ABORTION ACCESS: Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-7th District/western Brooklyn), City Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) are joining forces with Planned Parenthood to host a Virtual Town Hall (https://ushr.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_uGvvXazpS7GYOIattbteqA) this Thursday, July 14, on a “Post-Roe America.” They will present information on how states like New York are working to expand and protect access to abortion.
Panelists will also take questions from attendees.
TECHNOLOGY STUDENTS FROM BROOKLYN WIN HONORS: Two students from Brooklyn were named to the Dean’s List at the Rochester Institute of Technology for high academic achievement. Zhiwei Liu, enrolled in the software engineering program and Lea Boyadjian, in the web and mobile computing program, both of zip code 11206, were honored.
Rochester Institute of Technology, founded in 1829, is home to leading creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers.
LIBRARY CELEBRATES OLDER ADULTS AT FAIR: Seniors are being saluted at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Older Adults Celebration Fair, this Friday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Central Library near Grand Army Plaza. Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso will deliver the opening remarks at this resource fair, which will feature Tai Chi and Latin social dancing, performances and demonstrations, oral histories, and a senior debate team.
And one outstanding older New Yorker will be recognized with a special surprise citation at the event.
WARNINGS ABOUT SPOTTED LANTERNFLY IN NEW YORK CITY: New Yorkers should be on the alert for the Spotted Lanternfly, which can damage a variety of plants and trees, according to warnings from city government and Brooklyn Community Board 6. An invasive pest from Asia that primarily feeds on tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) but also on a wide variety of plants such as grapevine, hops, maple, walnut, fruit trees and others.
The first New York state infestation of this insect was discovered in 2020, and steps are being enacted to limit impact to New York’s forests as well as the agricultural and tourism industries. Cornell University’s Integrated Pest Management site has more information.
‘SISTER ACT’ TURNS 30: Fans of the 1992 hit movie “Sister Act” with Whoopi Goldberg will celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary this Thursday, when FABFulton and BAM host a free screening at “The Backlot” at Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center (650 Fulton St.) BYO-lawn chair, snacks, drinks, and food, all starting at 7:30 p.m.
In this movie, a lounge singer who is placed in a failing convent as part of the Witness Protection Program transforms the lackluster choir into an in-demand ensemble that attracts a surprise guest. In the sequel, Sister Act II, Whoopi Goldberg reprises her role as a choir director at her high school alma mater.
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