Jul. 11, 2023 By John Schilling
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic gathered with colleagues and hospital employees in front of The Pavilion at New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens in Jamaica on July 10 to announce $1 million in state funding for the purchase of a new HUGS infant protection system for the hospital’s pediatric clinic.
The funding for HUGS, a guidance system used by hospitals to protect against infant abduction and prevent mother and infant mismatches, marks the biggest investment in hospital-wide protection for infants and pediatric parents in the borough.
“All child-bearing people deserve the peace of mind that the hospital delivering their baby is equipped with the latest technology to minimize and eliminate the risk of any sort of newborn abduction or mismatching,” Rozic said. “Today, H+H can proudly say they will be a hospital that can provide this added layer of support and reassurance for all.”
For Rozic, this investment is personal. An expectant mother herself, Rozic reflected on the months leading up to childbirth as a “stressful” time and how the hospital’s new system will work to alleviate some of this stress. This sentiment was echoed by Senator John Liu, who credited Rozic for doing the “heavy lifting” to make this possible.
“Queens is often known as the most diverse and most international borough or county in this country, but we’re a pretty fertile bunch also,” Liu said. “There are lots of children being had every single day, and Queens Hospital is a destination of choice for expectant mothers and families, and the services that are provided here are unparalleled.”
Liu pointed out further that New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens is not just considered the top hospital in the borough but in the entire nation. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie added to this praise by commending the hospital for its dedication to generations of Queens locals, especially when it comes to pediatric care.
“The city hospitals, they’re really the backbone of our communities,” Heastie said. “This new security system will give new parents in New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens peace of mind as they enjoy the next chapter in their lives.”
Since 2014, New York City Health + Hospitals/Queens has been a baby friendly-designated hospital, but the concern for infant abductions and mismatches has remained a consistent concern across the city for decades. Dr. Marcy Stein-Albert, the hospital’s director of pediatrics, said the team takes pride in infant safety and the new HUGS system will allow them to continue this mission.
“This new system is going to add tremendous value towards us providing a safe, nurturing, and secure environment for our babies and young children,” Stein-Albert said. “They’re the future of our community, and this new HUGS system is going to be a game changer for us.”
In presenting the $1 million check to the hospital, Rozic, Liu and Heastie were also joined by Assembly members Alicia Hyndman and Taylor Darling, both of whom praised the hospital and their colleagues for this achievement.
“The leadership of this hospital does not go unnoticed,” Hyndman said. “Together, we will continue to do the work to make sure this Queens community is served.”
“We never lose when we invest in our hospitals,” Darling added. “Investing in our hospitals is investing in healthcare, which means we are investing in our constituents, our residents, and the people we love in our communities.”
Upon receiving the $1 million check, NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Chief Executive Officer Neil J. Moore expressed his gratitude to Rozic and her colleagues.
“These funds will continue to allow for a safer hospital environment whereby our newborns will be monitored round-the-clock via electronic tags, preventing any unauthorized individual from removing a baby from our premises,” Moore said. “By upgrading our HUGS System, we will now be in a better position of protecting our most vulnerable patients and their families.”
In addition to pediatric care, Rozic praised the hospital for its service to all Queens residents and beyond. She added that with help from Heastie, they also set aside an additional $500 million for hospital safety in the state budget.
“H+H Queens is at the forefront of healthcare services,” Rozic said. “Regardless of your ability to pay, your insurance, your immigration status, we know that H+H is committed to taking care of all New Yorkers and now with this new HUGS system…even the tiniest, newest New Yorkers will be better protected.”