BY BENJAMIN FANG
Members of New York’s hospitality workers union will soon have a one-stop center for health care in Queens. Last month, executives from the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council (HTC) joined the city’s top elected officials for the groundbreaking of its $75 million health center in Long Island City.
The three-story, 90,000-square-foot facility will provide primary care, dental care, surgery, physical therapy, immunizations and more for the union’s 35,000 active members, 10,000 retirees and family members, all without copays or deductibles. The facility is expected to open in 2021, and will replace the union’s clinic around the corner on Queens Boulevard.
“They have unlimited access to services,” said Dr. David Jacobson, CEO of HTC’s Benefits Fund. “At a time when there are too many forms and too much confusion in the system, our integrated model means that members can see all of their doctors, have their labs done and pick up their prescriptions in one location.”
According to Jacobson, 85 percent of members will be in and out of the facility in under an hour. He said the site is designed to be “more than just a health center.”
“It’s a place where our members feel that they belong,” he said. “Our goal is not just to make people healthy, but to keep them healthy.”
HTC President Peter Ward said it’s “fitting” that the facility is in Queens, which has the largest population of immigrants in the entire country.
“It’s no accident that the majority of hotel workers in our union live in Queens,” he said. “They’re here because this is the place that so openly welcomes them, where they’ve found community, homes, schools, churches and all the things they need to raise their families.”
The groundbreaking event boasted a guest list that included Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Speaker Corey Johnson and new Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
The mayor said when he first visited HTC’s Brooklyn Health Center in Downtown Brooklyn when it opened in 2017, he “almost couldn’t believe” that members can get all their services in one location. Ward noted that the Queens facility will exceed the Brooklyn site.
“I literally thought I was dreaming,” de Blasio said. “It couldn’t be this easy, it couldn’t be this good, but it is.”
At a time when presidential candidates are talking about the best way to achieve universal health care, the mayor said HTC is actually “taking the dream and making it real” for its members.
“All those healthy debates about the future of health care, I would say to all of them, just come see what Peter and all of you have already done,” de Blasio said.
Stringer echoed a similar message, noting that candidates should talk to Ward about health care. “This model should be replicated throughout our city,” he said.