The Rockaways Free Clinic, opening in the Sandy-ravaged community Thursday, will offer free care to local adults with no health insurance. Credit: Getty Images
Even before Superstorm Sandy struck, the Rockaways made up one of the most medically-underserved communities in the city.
"And then after the hurricane, a lot of the doctors' offices were basically washed away," said Dr. Amber Featherstone, the Medical Director of the Rockaways Free Clinic, which aims to remedy the worsening crisis.
Doctors of the World USA, a nonprofit that provides healthcare access to underserved people around the world, will open the clinic this Thursday, offering free care to local adults with no health insurance and few nearby medical options. It will be the group's first clinic in the U.S.
Organizers hope the clinic will fill a healthcare gap in neighborhoods suffering from already-high rates of chronic disease.
"There's people who are missed by the system," said Noah Barth, program coordinator of the clinic, noting the area's high population of undocumented and uninsured New Yorkers.
Barth and Featherstone also said St. John's Episcopal Hospital, the lone hospital serving the peninsula, isn't enough for the community.
"They cant service everybody, it's beyond their capacity," Barth said.
Barth has been working closely with community members since January to determine what kind of facility the Rockaways needed.
"It's founded on the trust we already developed," he said. "All a part of continuing efforts to come back as a stronger community."
The clinic, located at 2-30 Beach 102nd St., will provide primary and preventative care to uninsured adults Thursdays noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers will also help qualified locals sign up for services like Medicare and insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
"Hopefully we'll put ourselves out of business," Featherstone said. "It would be great if people didn't need it."