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Report: Doctor's office wait times a barrier to health care

By Emily Ngo

emily.ngo@am-ny.com

Having health insurance and affordable medical care doesn't mean better access to doctors, according to a city-commissioned report released Monday.

The reason most residents would rather go to the emergency room than their neighborhood doctor? The waiting game.

The city’s survey of 3,000 New Yorkers found 42.7 percent of people thought waiting room times are too long. Similarly, 31.3 percent of people needed a doctor’s appointment sooner than possible. In short, many of the city’s neighborhoods have inadequate access to preventive health care, the survey concluded.

“We wanted to deal with the reality that too many New Yorkers go to the emergency room because they can’t find a doctor,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “This makes people sicker before they get help and in the end, it costs us far more money in our health system.”Quinn and an armada of community health representatives yesterday appealed for more primary health care capacity in 11 target areas. Among the Manhattan neighborhoods found to have the greatest need were Central Harlem, the Lower East Side and Chinatown.

The study recommended expanded primary care capacity and in some cases, new state-of-the-art facilities. It also highlights the need for dental and mental health care services.

About $6.4 million in capital and $795,000 in expense funds are already set aside in this year’s city budget for the initiative, Quinn said.

Staten Island was the only borough identified in its entirety as lacking sufficient primary care access in the report.

“We need health care for our children and ourselves, the parents,” Osvelia Morales, a Port Richmond mother of five, said through an interpreter. “We need health care in the languages we speak in our communities.”


Access to health insurance does not guarantee people will seek medical care. Here’s a look at the numbers in some neighborhoods:

Manhattan


-Lower East Side and Chinatown


-Have health insurance: 86.2 percent


-Haven’t received healthcare in last two years: 9.9 percent

East and Central Harlem


-Have health insurance: 58.6 percent


-Haven’t received healthcare in last two years: 37.4 percent

Brooklyn


-East Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy


-Have health insurance: 74.2 percent


-Haven’t received healthcare in last two years: 28.5 percent

Brownsville, Crown Heights, East New York and New Lots


-Have health insurance: 72.9 percent


-Haven’t received healthcare in last two years: 20.4 percent

Queens


-Corona, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst, Lefrak City, Astoria and Long Island City


-Have health insurance: 74.5 percent


-Haven’t received healthcare in last two years: 15.5 percent

Source: 2008 City primary care report

Tags: health

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