FLATBUSH, Brooklyn (PIX11) – The Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush is home to some of the least desirable percentages for health outcomes in New York City.
A team of health professionals at a new health center are working to improve those numbers. They believe it will boost the wellbeing of the community.
Morris Heights Health Center has dozens of locations in the Bronx and just welcomed patients to its new Flatbush location on Monday. The center offers services for family medicine and pediatrics, and has a big focus on maternal care.
“We are dying in large numbers in the Black and brown community,” said Marie Mallet, president and CEO of MHHC. “Children are being born unhealthy.”
The goal is to improve the lives of residents by addressing health disparities and basic needs where conditions like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are higher than New York City’s average, according to 2018 data from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“There is a diabetes known as the Flatbush diabetes,” said Dr. Lesly Kernisant, deputy chief medical officer of MHHC. “It’s unfortunate because it’s a diabetes that is discovered when the complications are very, very severe.”
Sharmai Lashley is one of the first patients of the center and believes this will help in preventive care for the younger generation.
“With the teenagers, getting information and knowing their bodies and making better choices and they can always talk to someone here because the staff is very professional,” Lashley said. “As I said, they’re amazing.”
Dr. Toycina Figaro, a pediatrician, is eager to make a difference and save lives.
“In this Brooklyn community, they are underserved and underrepresented and as a general pediatrician, you want to go into a neighborhood where you’re needed and you know that you can make an impact on improving their health care,” Dr. Figaro said.
Mallet says the center will see patients regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status.
“We don’t ask those questions,” Mallet added. “Our only question is, ‘Are you okay? What do you need? What can we do to help you?’”
A dental suite is expected to be built at the center along with specialty practices like podiatry, dermatology, and ophthalmology to make it a one-stop-shop.