Pavilion Opens Amidst Union Rally
By JOE MARVILLI
| Union nurses and care workers picketed outside St. Mary’s during the Pavilion opening, chanting for a fair contract.
Photos by Joe Marvilli.
St. Mary’s Hospital opened its new Patient Pavilion on Sept. 27, amidst a rally by 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East.
Having recently filed an Unfair Labor Charge against St. Mary’s, nurses and care workers picketed the hospital from 4 to 5:30 p.m. From there, they moved to a nearby rally around 6 p.m., before finishing the evening with a candlelight vigil and prayer at 7:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, inside the new building, 500 attendees were greeted by the new Pavilion’s lobby and treated to an opening ceremony featuring musical performances, speeches and some words from the children of St. Mary’s.
Master of Ceremonies Rosanna Scotto, the anchor for Fox 5 News, welcomed the children to their new home. The 97 patients were all smiles as they walked in to resounding applause and were serenaded by These Three Tenors performing “You Raise Me Up.” The music was followed by invocations from Deacon Michael Maroutsis, Rabbi Meir Feldman and Dr. Hafiz Rehman.
Leah Weinberg, whose brother is a patient at St. Mary’s, spoke at length about his positive experience at the hospital, saying “I see it as a place that heals not only the body, but caters to the needs of the soul as well via the means of kindness and friendship.”
After her words, the guests were treated to another musical performance, this time by the Jill Gioia Trio. Featuring Billy Joel saxophone player Richie Cannata, the group went through “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down” by Alicia Keys and “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel.
St. Mary’s President Jeffrey Frerichs was momentarily overwhelmed by the ceremony, tearing up in front of the crowd before saying, “The work of St. Mary’s is all about creating unlimited possibilities for children.”
|St. Mary’s new Patient Pavilion held its opening ceremony on Sept. 27, featuring musical performances and several speeches.
The most emotional moment of the service came when two of the hospital’s current patients came up to speak. One of the children, Dimitrius, said, “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
“We were overwhelmed with the outpouring of support at the grand opening of St. Mary’s new Patient Pavilion,” said Leslie Johnson about the opening ceremony. “Our focus, and that of our community of supporters, rightly fell on the new Patient Pavilion – a total-healing environment and New York City’s only pediatric post-acute facility.”
Among the many new features the Patient Pavilion has are entertainment tablets at every bed, which are also used for medical information. Four floors are designated as bedrooms for the kids, creating much more room than the crowded hallways and rooms of the old building.
Other features include a therapeutic playground, a Children’s Activity Center, quiet play areas on each floor and the expansive Burton Grebin Rehab Center, named after the hospital’s previous CEO who passed away in Jan. 2010. The whole building is both wired and wireless, containing room for new technology and integrated communications.
Although the new building was 85 percent financed by a bond deal, the nurses union wished some of the money could have gone to a better deal for them.
“A new building is great but the staff is underpaid,” said union representative Steve Kramer. “Bad benefits and no real pension all produce high nurse turnover and hurts the kids who need a constant in their lives.”
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.