New York Hospital Queens unveiled a new facility last week that will help patients with a wide range of disorders and illnesses.
The Center for Digestive Diseases and Swallowing Disorders will combine the hospital’s pulmonary, gastroenterology, endoscopy and speech pathology services. According to Dr. Roger Mendis, NYHQ’s director of gastroenterology, these services are among the busiest in hospitals across the city, as doctors treat thousands of patients for colon and intestinal problems.
“We’ve performed over 7,500 procedures for digestive problems last year,” Mendis said. “There is a lot of attention today on colon cancer, and with endoscopy we can help patients without using invasive procedures.”
Dr. Mike Nussbaum, the co director of endoscopy, agreed, adding that the $5.7 million suite, located in the basement floor of the Main Street hospital, is a big improvement over the previous procedure rooms.
“The unit on the fourth floor was so small, you couldn’t turn a stretcher around,” he recalled.
To meet the high demand, the suite includes six new procedure rooms, 16 recovery spaces and a pediatric center for younger patients. The center also includes new equipment, including advanced laser scanning machines, and high definition scopes and ultrasound for analysis.
The most advanced of these tools is a high tech procedure called “capsule endoscopy” that examines a patient’s intestines in a 21st century way. “With the capsule endoscopy, the patient swallows a capsule that contains a small camera,” Nussbaum said. “The camera transmits pictures from inside the body for eight hours.”
Queens residents like Barbara Baruch, who lost both her mother and grandmother to colon cancer, said that the suite will be a big plus for the community, especially for seniors who need checkups.“Now people can know that they don’t have to travel far to get checked,” she said.
Endoscopy isn’t the only department making use of the facility’s new equipment, as the center was designed to serve the hospital’s pulmonary department as well. According to Dr. Stephen Karbowitz, the director of Pulmonary Medicine, the suite’s tools allow his staff to examine a patient’s throat and lungs in a similar manner to a colonoscopy.
“We can use small tubes with a small fiber optic camera on the tip that enters through the patient’s nose,” he said. “We can then see inside their trachea.”
Karbowitz assured that the dual usage of the new technology did not impede on the endoscopy department, as he and his fellow colleagues purchased the new equipment to be mutually compatible. “(Endoscopy) uses the computers to view their patient’s colon with a high level of detail,” he added. “We can use the same material when we examine our patient’s trachea and lungs.”
The hospital’s speech pathology department will also make use of the center with a special swallowing facility. Marta Kazandijan, the director of Speech Pathology, said that swallowing problems resulting from complications to cancer and strokes, are a major problem with senior citizens and that “help was not that available.”
“Our research shows that fifty percent of stroke patients have a swallowing problem,” she said. “Many of these patients can greatly benefit from treatment in some way.”
Kazandijan said that the center will give those patients a variety of services from physical therapy to dietary change, and even intravenous feeding if necessary.
Stephen Mills, the president and CEO of the NYHQ, said that the facility’s medical purposes stretch beyond routine health care, as it will also be part of the hospital’s research and educational components for medical students. “This facility is the first component of the ‘new’ New York Hospital Queens,” Mills said.