Jenna Bagcal


St. John’s Episcopal Hospital Gets 1,500 Employees Vaccinated Following Incentive Program

Left to right: Jerry Walsh, CEO, Ian of Honda City Levittown, human resources representative, Saundra L. Chisolm, director of employee health and wellness emergency preparedness coordinator, Dr. Christopher Parker executive vice president, chief operating officer/chief nursing officer. Angela Schweitzer, nurse manager, chief human resources officer and vice president. (Photo courtesy of SJEH)

A hospital in the Rockaways announced that more than 1,500 members of its staff received the COVID-19 vaccine thanks to a month-long staff vaccination incentive program.

Under the program implemented by St. John’s Episcopal Hospital (SJEH), health care staff who got vaccinated were automatically entered into a raffle to win a new car, helping the hospital surpass Queens’ overall hospital worker vaccination percentage of over 67 percent.

Currently, city data shows that only 40.7 percent of the Rockaways residents in 11691 are vaccinated, making it the top unvaccinated zip code in Queens and the third overall in New York City behind 11211 and 11233 in Brooklyn. Additionally, 11691 was the second deadliest zip code at the height of the pandemic.

Left to right: Saundra L. Chisolm, director of employee health and wellness emergency preparedness coordinator and Alexis Raimondi, infection control director. Photo courtesy of SJEH

“I am happy to say after implementing the car raffle contest, St. John’s has climbed above the Queen’s County total percentage of hospital employees who are COVID-19 vaccinated,” said Christopher J. Parker, RN, NEA-BC, CHCQM, executive vice president, chief operating officer/chief nursing officer. “We are doing all that we can do to provide that extra nudge to those who may be hesitant to get the vaccine, especially with the Delta variant becoming more prominent in NYC.”

The winner of the car raffle, funded through incentives from the Cares Act, was Chidoziri Banks, a patient care technician and Rockaway resident. The lucky winner of the Honda Civic Sport works the night shift at SJEH and is a stringent advocate of the vaccine.

“This program was lovely because it was a great incentive to influence staff to get the vaccine,” Banks said. “I recovered from COVID-19 and it was difficult. I encourage you to protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the vaccine if you are eligible!”

Chidoziri Banks, patient care technician. (Photo courtesy of SJEH)

Those interested can receive the free COVID-19 vaccine at St. John’s new Patient Express Care Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 12:30 to 9 p.m., with vaccines available from 1 to 8 p.m. Patients can walk in without an appointment or schedule an appointment at 718-869-7690.

Patients can also get vaccinated through the Mobile Health Unit. Visit @StJohnsEpisHosp on Twitter to find out the location of the Mobile Health Unit.

This story first appeared on QNS.com.

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Gov: Vote To Decide NY’s Next License Plate

New Yorkers can vote on one of five license plate designs. (Photo courtesy of NYS DMV)

New York license plates are getting an update and the governor is asking residents for their help choosing a new design.

From now until Sept. 2, New Yorkers can vote on one of five possible designs for the state’s official license plate. The public can vote using the online survey on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s website or at the governor’s exhibit at the Great New York State Fair starting Aug. 21.

The license plate with the most votes will become the Empire State’s official plate beginning in April 2020. The new design will replace the over 10-year-old Empire Blue and White plates as well as the Empire Gold plates.

Four out of five of the proposed designs includes the New York State motto excelsior, a Latin word meaning “ever upward.” The plates also feature landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, and the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, named after the governor’s father.

“License plates are a symbol of who we are as a state and New Yorkers should have a voice and a vote in its final design,” Cuomo said. “As the life span of the old plates comes to an end and we develop new ones that are as easy to read as possible, I encourage all residents to take part in choosing this piece of our state’s history and the State Fair is a perfect place to do that.”

Currently, over three million vehicles in New York State have plates that are 10 years old or older. The aged plates undergo damage, oxidation and peeling, which makes it difficult or impossible to read the license place number. The contest kicks off Cuomo’s 10-year license plate replacement program to ensure that plates are reflective and easy to read.

According to the governor’s office, law enforcement is less likely to pull over and issue citations to motorists with legible license plates.

“The time has come for New York to have a new license plate, which is why we worked hard to create design options that not only capture the heart of the Empire State but also that our customers will be proud to put on their vehicles. I hope everyone across the state will take a few minutes to view the options and vote for their top pick,” said Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J. F. Schroeder.

Cuomo proposed the license place replacement program to modernize New York’s expansive transportation system. New legible plates will allow license plate readers, which law enforcement, red light cameras and cashless tolling systems utilize, to correctly identify registered vehicle owners.

As customers renew their vehicle registrations over the new two years, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will replace license plates 10 years or older beginning on April 1, 2020. Vehicle owners can pay $25 to replace their plates and an additional $20 if they choose to keep their current license plate number.

Drivers can also choose from more than 200 custom license plates from the DMV, including ones that support charitable causes. See the complete list of custom plates on the DMV’s website at dmv.ny.gov/plates/plates.

See plate designs and vote here. Voting closes on Monday, Sept. 2 at 11:59 p.m.

Rock Can Roll: A Rockin’ Good Cause

Long Island Press parent company Schneps Communications donated $3,400 in raffle proceeds to Rock CAN Roll when Holtzman was named a Power Woman of Long Island.

Twenty years ago last month, Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras, inspiring Aimée Holtzman of Manhasset to ship donations to survivors of the devastating storm — an initiative that led to Rock CAN Roll.

The Long Island-based nonprofit hunger relief organization encourages music fans to bring nonperishable food items to local concert venues and other events. It then donates the food to emergen- cy food pantries and food banks. But every year they see the same thing: Donations are up during the holidays and plummet come January.

“From Thanksgiving through Christmas, the world wakes up and the shelves of emergency food pantries are full,” Holtzman says. “Sadly, after the first of the year, the world goes back to sleep and food donations dwindle.”

Her group is one of many local hunger relief nonprofits that see the same annual trend. She aims to buck the norm by making food donations a routine part of the concertgoing experience. 

Growing up, Holtzman loved music and attending concerts. She was also civic minded, becoming involved with several community service ventures. After becoming involved with the Island Harvest organization in the early 1990s, she realized that LI is not immune to food insecurity.

Holtzman says that Rock CAN Roll receives donations from concert goers who bring nonperishable food items and other provisions to concerts in lieu of paying for a ticket for certain performances. The donations then go straight from the concert to pantries located five to 10 miles from the venues.

Since its inception, Holtzman has implemented her donation system at hundreds of concerts at venues such as Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, The Paramount, and the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The organization also partners with local schools to teach children how to get the most value out of their money while shopping for nutritious foods. After the kids are finished shopping, they take the items they bought to local food pantries.

She says Rock CAN Roll allows people to “help out while you rock out.”