NYC Public Health Laboratory Coming to Harlem

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) is proposing moving their existing facility from 455 1st Ave (btw 27th & 28th, across from Bellevue Hospital) to the Harlem Hospital Campus where they propose to construct a new 10-story approx. 234,742 gsf building to be used as the NYC Public Health Laboratory.
A community forum to discuss the Relocation will be held Thursday, April 29th, 2021 from 6pm-8pm.
Click link below to register in advance for this webinar:
https://bit.ly/39XjuA1
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The location is on West 137th Street, between 5th and Lenox Avenues:

Here is the DOHMH Press Release:

New Public Health Laboratory on the Harlem Hospital Campus

About the Public Health Laboratory

The New York City Health Department’s Public Health Laboratory (PHL) was established in 1892 and performs critical testing to detect and respond to public health emergencies, helping to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy. For example, PHL tests and ensures the safety of our drinking and beach water. In recent years, the PHL has provided emergency response for H1N1, Ebola, hepatitis A, Legionnaires’ disease, Zika virus, measles and COVID-19.

The current PHL facility is located at 455 First Ave., across from Bellevue Hospital and in a residential neighborhood. The PHL is held to the strictest of standards and has never adversely impacted their neighbors or the community. The PHL’s current building is outdated, in poor condition and no longer suitable for the needs of a state of the art, modern and advanced laboratory. Renovation of the 455 1st Ave building to bring it up to current laboratory standards is not possible.

The Location of the Public Health Laboratory 

The new PHL facility will be on the Harlem Hospital campus, beside the Ronald Brown Ambulatory Care Center facing 137th Street.  While the PHL facility will be a new construction project, DOHMH has been a partner in the neighborhood for many years, with the DOHMH Sexual Health Clinic nearby at 2238 5th Avenue.  The 10 story PHL facility will have 5 lab floors and 5 floors primarily dedicated to administrative and back-of-house functions, as well as an auditorium, training lab and “Harlem Express” facility (discussed below).

How the New Public Health Laboratory Facility Will Benefit the Harlem Community

The new facility will include the “Harlem Express” on the main level, where New Yorkers can get screened for sexually transmitted infections with rapid results — one of a few such testing centers in the United States.  New Yorkers currently utilize the “Chelsea Express” in the Chelsea neighborhood, so it’s exciting to bring this advanced, rapid testing technology uptown.  The Harlem Express will also be able to pivot to provide testing and medicines needed during a public health emergency.  For example, the Chelsea Express and new labs built at other DOHMH clinics, including the Central Harlem clinic, are now providing COVID-19 testing in communities, with same day results. 

The PHL will provide training opportunities for students and plans to connect with neighborhood schools to encourage careers in laboratory science.  The DOHMH has a robust partnership with CUNY’s Medical Laboratory Sciences program at Hunter.  Many of those students begin with internships, then move onto full time careers at the PHL. 

The new facility will also include a 200-person auditorium for community use.  We envision the space to be used by the community for meetings, events and gatherings.  We want to be good neighbors and partners in the community.

Additional Information About the New Public Health Laboratory Building

The new PHL facility will not permanently take away any spots for on street parking. Employees are encouraged to take mass transit. Six off-street parking spaces will be created as part of the PHL project to support the operation of the laboratory. An undeveloped lot will remain next to the new PHL facility, which may be developed by Harlem Hospital in the future.

Construction activities will be conducted according to the NYC Noise Control Code. The contractor will be required to develop a noise control plan, as well as a dust control plan, which will proactively address how to prevent dust from rising and spreading in the neighborhood. Noise and dust will be kept to a minimum.

Project timeline

  • Early 2020 – 2022: Preparation of the site to build the new PHL facility. 
  • 2022 – 2025: Construction of the new 10-story building will occur. 
  • End of 2025: The new Public Health Lab facility will open. 

Contact us at [email protected]if you have any questions.

East Harlem Residents on NY1 Noticias

Great coverage on NY1 Noticias about how the oversaturation of methadone clinics impacts the quality of life for East Harlem residents.

https://www.ny1noticias.com/nyc/noticias/noticias/2021/04/13/vecinos-de-east-harlem-se-quejan-del-alto-numero-de-clinicas-para-tratar-adicciones

Harlem Hospital

While we are all familiar with the Harlem Hospital’s location at Malcolm X Blvd. and 135th. Street, the original Harlem Hospital was located at 120th Street and the East River in 1887 – currently the location of Public School 202. Initially, the hospital served as a holding area for patients to be transferred to Randalls and Wards Islands and Bellevue Hospital

By 1903, construction had begun on a new Harlem Hospital located on the east side of Lenox Avenue between 136th and 137th streets in central Harlem. 

The new building was required because of the rapid increase in the area’s population with the expansion of the subway under Lenox Ave.

In 1907 the new Harlem Hospital opened under the jurisdiction of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals, at that time it was the central authority for all municipal hospitals in New York.

The new building was both impressive and imposing but failed in the coming decades to fully acknowledge the racial change in the community around the hospital. It was particularly galling that in this epicenter of Black culture, learning, life, and politics, this public hospital (funded in part by the Black residents surrounding it) initially failed to employ Black doctors, nurses, and administrators. Menial jobs were the only positions open to the Black community.

In 1919, Dr. Louis T. Wright was not only the first African-American physician on staff at Harlem Hospital Center, but the first in any city hospital.  Dr. Wright originated the intradermal method for smallpox vaccination, and was the first physician to experiment with antibiotics Aureomycin and Terramycin. 

Harlem Hospital Center has also been in the forefront of training African American Nurses.  The Harlem Hospital School of Nursing School was opened in January 1923, because of the refusal of the City Hospitals to accept Black Nurses. The school continued to train nurses until its closing in June 1977.  Dr. John Cordice and Dr. Aubre Maynard, master heart surgeons, used the thoracic surgical procedure developed by Dr. Maynard, to save Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life in 1958, when the civil rights activist suffered a stab wound to the chest while visiting Harlem. 

Harlem Hospital is currently a 272-bed, public teaching hospital affiliated with Columbia University

Greater Harlem Coalition Meeting Tonight

Join the Greater Harlem Coalition meeting tonight to learn more about Mount Sinai’s plans for new security at its Park/125th Street methadone programs and its plans for their new facility being built on West 124th Street.

Register here for the 7:00 PM Harlem Town-Hall

The Crown

While I’m not watching The Crown on Netflix, the image comparisons that are making the rounds on social media are incredible.

What did interest me, however, was that Princess Diana visited Harlem Hospital in 1989.

As Untapped New York notes:

During her last day at New York, Diana went to the Harlem Hospital (filmed at the Reynold Building in Manchester) to pay a visit to babies who were struggling with AIDS and HIV, an issue the Princess cared about deeply. In 1987, she opened the first purpose-built ward for AIDS patients at Middlesex Hospital in London. At Harlem Hospital, “she picked up a little boy who has AIDS and hugged him,” Margaret Heagarty, Director of Pediatrics at Harlem Hospital, said in a news interview. “This community and this hospital has been delighted with this charming young woman who showed with great sensitivity and compassion and interest in concern for poor children.” Throughout her life, Diana’s compassion for the sick and less privileged helped reduce the stigma of those suffering from AIDS and other diseases.

And below, and image of the hospital entrance today.