Montifiore Nyack Hospital leads the charge for inclusive health care in Rockland

Last Saturday, local dignitaries and health care professionals gathered to officially dedicate The Jacobs Family Pride Wellness Center of Montefiore Nyack Hospital. Made possible by a partnership with the Oval Center and Aids Center at Montefiore and the Phyllis B. Frank Pride Center of Rockland County, it is the first LGBTQ+ medical health center of its kind in the Hudson Valley. 

The new center will provide new health care options for a group of people who have traditionally encountered additional barriers to quality medical treatment. Those services will include confidential screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gender affirming health care, gender affirming hormone therapy and referrals for gender affirming surgery. The center will also provide new options for HIV testing and prevention, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) as well as support services, including nursing, patient education, and health care navigation .

The day’s guest of honor was U.S .Congressman Mondaire Jones, Rockland’s voice in the House of Representatives and one of the first openly gay black men to serve in the national legislature. Congressman Jones presented the hospital with a check in the amount of $1.5 million in support of the Center to expand its capacity and reach. . “I’m proud to have secured the $1.5 million in funding needed to construct an outpatient diagnostic treatment facility at the Rockland Pride Center, in partnership with Montefiore Nyack. This health center will provide the full spectrum of culturally competent health and wellness needs for the LGBTQ+ community in Rockland. It is the first of its kind in the Hudson,” said Jones.

The leadership of the hospital shared his sentiment. “Every person deserves to have access to respectful and humanistic care in a place where they are truly seen and heard, where they feel safe and accepted to receive whole-person care and treatment, “ said Mark E. Geller, MD, President and CEO Montefiore Nyack. “Our mission is to ensure all LGBTQ+ patients seeking our services are protected and affirmed by our health care providers. The Jacobs Family Pride Wellness Center, at its core, strives to do that by treating the “whole person” and listening to our patients should they feel there are any voids in their care.”

The center will offer finical assistance on a sliding scale for uninsured patients and will also employee Spanish speaking staff as to better meet the needs of the community. The center is  currently seeing patients, ages 16 and up and can provide referrals available for those under 16, including care for Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender Expansive young people.

Earlier in the week, Congressman Jones took another step toward providing better care for often overlooked groups by voting in favor of landmark legislation intended to deliver lower insulin costs for working families.  By capping out-of-pocket expenses, the Affordable Insulin Now Act will ensure that New Yorkers pay no more than $35 for a monthly supply of insulin.

“(On Thursday) The House took a key step forward in the fight to lower health care costs for working families,” said Jones. “I proudly cast my vote for the Affordable Insulin Now Act to cap outrageous insulin prices at $35 per month. I will never forget how, in October 2019, I spoke with a mother in Tarrytown who drove to Canada each month just to buy insulin for her son, as she could not afford it in Westchester. This vote is for her.”

Rising by 54 percent from 2014 to 2019,  the cost of insulin has created an affordability crisis for the 9.4 percent of New Yorkers living with diabetes.  Americans currently face an average price of $98.70 for a unit of insulin — ten times higher than in other wealthy nations.  One in four Americans who rely on insulin has been forced to ration doses due to high prices, a last resort with potentially fatal consequences.