Office of the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams OUR DIVERSITY, OUR STRENGTH One Brooklyn
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Is It An Emergency?

In May 2017, Borough President Adams debuted “Is It An Emergency?” a multimedia public service announcement (PSA) campaign aimed at advancing patient education to help address Brooklyn’s hospital crisis, notably soaring health care costs for hospitals and consumers alike that are expected to deepen under the Trump Administration. The initiative focuses on the issues surrounding emergency room (ER) overuse that, according to the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation, costs $38 billion a year nationally. “Is It an Emergency” aims to reduce overuse of ERs — a common destination for many Brooklynites lacking health insurance — in the event of minor medical issues; in those cases, the campaign recommends the use of a federally-qualified health clinic (FQHC), primary care doctor, or urgent care clinic.

The PSA debuted at Brookdale Urgent Care Center in East Flatbush, a facility managed by Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center that helps serve a population disproportionately reliant on hospital ERs for their health needs. Joined by medical professionals, Borough President Adams spoke about the need for increased awareness of the diverse health services available to Brooklynites, and how can they save themselves time and money as they navigate the health care system.

Since 2003, four hospitals have shut their doors in Brooklyn due to financial difficulties including Caledonian Hospital in Prospect Park South, Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill, St. Mary’s Hospital in Crown Heights, and Victory Memorial Hospital in Bay Ridge; other institutions across the borough have faced related issues.

A study in 2013 by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) stated that 83 percent of statewide ER visits were treat and release, with the majority of these visits being avoidable. Conditions or concerns that would be appropriate for treatment at a FQHC, primary care doctor, or urgent care center, include:

  • allergies
  • cold
  • ear pain
  • eye irritation or pink eye
  • fever without rash
  • flu shot
  • headache
  • mild fracture
  • minor allergic reaction
  • minor bug or dog bite
  • minor burn
  • minor sprain
  • nausea
  • sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing
  • shallow cut
  • vomiting.

Examples of conditions or concerns that he noted as needing a visit to an ER or a call to 911 include:

  • abdominal pain
  • breathing problems
  • broken bone
  • chest pain
  • cut with heavy bleeding
  • head injury
  • pregnancy complications
  • seizure
  • self-harm or suicidal thoughts
  • severe allergic reaction
  • severe burn
  • stroke

“Is It An Emergency,” which can be viewed on our YouTube channel, was aired by campaign partners across Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Rose Cinemas, Barclays Center, Brooklyn Education Innovation (Be.IN) Network, BRIC TV, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center, Community Health Network, Interfaith Medical Center, Kāmin Health Urgent Care, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, MCU Park, New York Cosmos, select NYC Health + Hospitals locations, NYC Media, NYU Lutheran, PM Pediatrics, and ProHealth Urgent Care. An audio version of the PSA was also played on WNYE 91.5 FM and Radio 103.9 New York.

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