Columbia University Medical Center

Medical Services Return To Old Sydenham Hospital Site

Columbia University Dental School develops Primary Care Center for the Elderly in West Harlem

New York, New York – October 6, 2000 – Construction of Columbia University School of Dental & Oral Surgery’s primary care center for the elderly, the first to be developed by a dental school, was celebrated today with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by community, elected, and university officials. The new 5,000-sq. ft. health center, located in the Mannie L. Wilson Towers, will be the only facility of its kind to combine comprehensive oral and medical primary health care services targeted specifically for the needs of elderly and their families in northern Manhattan. Scheduled completion for this ground-floor facility is September 2001.
The primary care facility will contain five dental operatories, six medical exam rooms, a dental lab, and an X-Ray room. Staff will provide dental exams, preventive dental services, dental care, and medical services including internal medicine, ear, nose and throat, podiatry, ophthalmology, psychiatry, cardiology, surgery, and rheumatology. In addition to diagnosis and treatment, the staff will provide health promotion and disease prevention programs, smoking cessation programs, and health education.
The project is being developed with the assistance of the Primary Care Development Corporation, the West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc., owners of the Mannie L. Wilson Towers, Phipps Houses, the managing agency of the Towers, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Columbia University School of Dental & Oral Surgery and College of Physicians & Surgeons Department of Medicine faculty at Harlem Hospital Medical Center and administrators will provide general oversight for the center.
“This center will address the needs of a very specific and large population in northern Manhattan – the elderly,” said Dr. Allan Formicola, Dean of Columbia University School of Dental & Oral Surgery. “We look forward to working with Harlem
Hospital Center and the community to make basic medical and dental primary care more easily accessible to seniors and their families.”
“Columbia University and Harlem Hospital Center have meant a great deal to this community,” says U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel of northern Manhattan. “By working with community leaders and residents, they were able to determine peoples’ needs and address them through the creation of this center.”
Charlie King, Housing Secretary Cuomo’s Representative for New York & New Jersey said, “ The Columbia University center at Mannie L. Wilson Towers represents the vision of the kind of project that Secretary Cuomo has been working toward: an integrated approach to providing needed housing for low income elderly alongside community-based health care services.”
“Since its inception, the Primary Care Development Corporation has assembled nearly $100 million in grants and loan resources from banks, foundations, and all levels of government,” said Richard Cotton, Chairperson of PCDC’s Board of Directors, and Executive Vice President and General Counsel for NBC. “This special community-based initiative of Columbia University Health Care, Inc. in affiliation with Harlem Hospital and their partners will create the 27th primary care facility financed through PCDC, bringing us one step closer to achieving our mission to expand and modernize New York City’s primary care infrastructure.”
Dr. Stephen Marshall, Assistant Dean for Patient Care of SDOS and Vice President of Columbia University Health Care, Inc. and Chief Operating Officer of the facility says, “This is a true collaborative effort between many partners and is a strong start toward meeting health care needs of the community.”
The center will be managed by two full-time, on-site clinicians, one dental and the other medical, who will have operational responsibility for the provision of services and their associated medical and dental teams. Oral health staff will include general dentists, dental hygienists, and dental specialists. Internists, a physician’s assistant, specialists, and registered nurses will provide primary care services. A full-time social worker will also be part of the comprehensive care team.
Sydenham Hospital was closed in 1980 during the Koch Administration. The Hospital provided much needed and convenient medical service for the Harlem Community.

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