Building health

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Various neighborhood associations have been fighting Jewish Home Lifecare for years over its plans to built a 20-story nursing home on 97th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. For many years, The New Jewish Home (formerly The Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged) has been (and still is) located on West 106th Street. The proposed home would be built on the footprint of a West 97th Street parking lot for Park West Village tenants, and of course those tenants would like to keep it that way. However, they’re not the only ones fighting the erection of this building. Various neighborhood associations have taken Jewish Home to court and have delayed construction since 2014. Also, since it would be right next to a public school, the school has been opposing the building adamantly. The school is concerned about noise and dust, and the leaders of the opposition have claimed that soil testing shows that the ground is loaded with toxins, including lead, arsenic and other poisons. This process has gone through approvals and appeals, and recently a New York State appeals court affirmed the state Health Department’s decision to let construction commence.

However, it’s not over yet. The ruling overturns a judge’s decision to stop the project because of the question of soil contamination and noise. The ruling, earlier this month, is going to be appealed. Jewish Home claims that they have been diligent in addressing health and safety issues, including noise abatement for the school. It looks to me like the Jewish Home will prevail, and to be honest, I have mixed feelings. You see, I live smack across the street from the proposed building. John and I joke that when the time comes, we’d only have to cross the street for our final days. Our tenants’ association has been fighting this building for years on various grounds, some of which aren’t clear to me. I do understand the school’s concern, but if the problems of noise and dust are addressed, my feeling is that building is going on all over the city, on every possible lot and sliver of a lot. That’s life in New York. And I also must admit something else; my apartment faces the back. I won’t be hearing loud machines all day long. In fact, I wonder how our landlord is going to be able to rent apartments facing front, especially as terraces may be mandated to be closed off. But that’s not my problem. I don’t see this as black or white; people have legitimate concerns and no one likes their neighborhood disrupted by construction and all it implies. But as I said, we live in Manhattan. That’s life here.

Doctor house calls are the next big thing. No, you won’t find a black-suited physician with a leather bag at your door. What you can do if you don’t feel quite sick enough to brave icy streets to get to the doctor or an emergency center is use one of the many insurance companies (and some private ones) telecommunication services. Now there is Telehealth, which offers consultations about non-emergency health problems with a licensed doctor. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines Telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration. It’s simple to sign up. Go online and fill out the required information, or via cellphone app. You can have a video appointment with a doctor right away. Some of the services communicate via phone or e-mail. It’s even possible that someday soon (fingers crossed here), Medicare may cover Telehealth services for chronic conditions. Depending on which service you choose, you may be able to pick a doctor on the company’s roster; others will assign a physician based on your needs. All of the doctors are board certified. Some insurance companies are including Telehealth in their benefit plans. You’d have to ask your insurance company if this service is provided. Also, some Medicaid programs will reimburse for Telehealth use. The current cost of a visit usually from $35 to $50, with a possible monthly subscription fee. Some of the current Telehealth companies are: Sherpaa; Teladoc; MD Live; Doctor on Demand. There are smaller services also including: Ask the Doctor; Ring a Doc; DocTalker and First Stop Health. All of these sites provide the information you will need in order to use their services.

Good stuff is on the horizon. America is great; let’s fight to keep it that way.

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