Thursday, January 21, 2021

Roosevelt Island Newcomer From Nigeria Joins Friends Of Coler And Introduces RI Residents To Our Coler Neighbor Francene Benjamin - She's Living In Lockdown But Looks Forward To Walking Around Roosevelt Island Again Soon, Give Her A Wave As You Walk Past Coler

Long time resident Julia Ferguson (pictured on right) and newcomer Foluke Ogunyemi (pictured on left) are among the Roosevelt Island residents who are Friends of Coler.

Ms Ferguson says the two met:

 ... by volunteering online together and then later ran into each other on Main Street in masks! It is so encouraging to meet new friends in many ways even during these very challenging times. 

 Ms Ogunyemi describes herself as :

 ... just a regular Roosevelt Island mum that is glad to have found the best place in New York city to put down roots, I very recently migrated from Lagos, Nigeria to work for UNICEF--and have worked in development for children and women for 12 years.
 Ms Ogunyemi introduces us to our Roosevelt Island Coler resident neighbor Francene Benjamin. According to Ms. Ogunyemi:
Roosevelt Islanders do love and appreciate the Island. Indeed, most of the long-term residents cherish the neighborhood as does Francene Benjamin. She has been a resident for a decade and half at the north end of Roosevelt Island—within the historic Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center.

Francene loves living on the island, the peaceful quiet, the crashing of the water against the rocks and the Lighthouse makes for good reminders of her time in Antigua and Barbuda where her family and elderly parents still live. Living on Roosevelt Island in 2020-21 has been different, it is now over 280 days of lockdown and not being able to walk outside the grounds of Coler. Accustomed to going out for long walks, crocheting, gardening, singing and going to church, Francene has had to adjust to new ways of appreciating life on Roosevelt Island.

“I will say in 15 years here, Roosevelt island through the years has been really good ... there used to be a fruit stand close to us that we loved to visit, although the island had some changes, it remains comfortable, safe and a nice place to live in New York--really nice at night. Most of the time this year, to pass the time, I watch people walking, it has become therapeutic for me, watching people walk along the riverbank which I am currently unable to do has increased my appreciation of walking as a great and refreshing exercise. I watch people walk past, it is a joy to see the mothers who go past with children in strollers, early morning or evening joggers, those who are committed to walking daily or simply just leisurely strolling—it is a gift to have a place like Roosevelt Island in a year that has been so tough on us all.” 

“My crotchet work used to be a truly relaxing past time--I did a lot of filly patterns and using simple instructions, I made a queens size bed spread, scarves, hats, chair backs, arm rest and table center pieces. I love crocheting and there are a few--about 3 of us here interested in crocheting and we have plans to make things but are not yet be able to fulfil that, currently my wrists are not in the best shape but I am not giving up on that dream.”

Please watch the first few minutes of my recent Crochet Artist video made as part of a series on ‘Skill Share Videos’ curated by Niti Parikh from MakerLAB at Cornell Tech.
This video documentation started with a simple goal: to provide a space for conversation starters with makers of all abilities and backgrounds which can hopefully lead to inclusive and participatory design projects to improve people’s everyday life. 

This lockdown has been quite challenging and isolating, but I value the moments when I was able to schedule to go out to enjoy some fresh air. Thankful for phones and zoom, technology making it possible to still connect with family and friends but most importantly, it is comforting to be able to watch the East River and Roosevelt islanders walking past to remind myself I still live in this beautiful community. 

Happy 2021 and a safe, healthy time for all the islanders, I am hopeful for the new year to bring new grace and a chance to walk around the island again. For now, do wave whenever you walk past, we at Coler are waving back from inside and wishing all Roosevelt Islanders a Happy New Year!"

If you would like to join Friends Of Coler volunteers, please send them an email.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Watch Moment Long Island City Trump Countown Clock Reaches Zero As President Joe Biden Sworn In - Brings Cheers From New Yorkers On Roosevelt Island

Learn more about the Long Island City East River Trump Countdown Clock from prior post.

Manhattan Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee Virtual Zoom Meeting Thursday January 21- Covid Conversation, RIOC Capital Projects, RI Bridge Bike Lane Update, Status Of Coler Task Force & More

The Manhattan Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee is meeting tomorrow evening. 


According to the Meeting Agenda:

Roosevelt Island Committee*

Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 6:30 PM 

This meeting will be conducted via Zoom 

For access to the Zoom meeting, sign in by clicking this link.  

AGENDA: 

  1. COVID-19 Community Conversations presentation by Jessica Sanchez from New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  2. Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Capital Projects and updates by Acting President Shelton Haynes.
  3. Roosevelt Island Bridge bike lane Updates from DOT
  4. Status of the Coler Task Force
  5. Old Business

New Business Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, Chair
*Joint meeting with Health, Seniors, and Social Services Committee

Here's more on proposed Roosevelt Island Bridge Bike Lane.

You're Invited To Gallery RIVAA Black History Month Quilt Exhibition Opening Reception Saturday January 23 - Social Distancing And Face Covering Required

Roosevelt island's Gallery RIVAA (527 Main Street) is hosting a Black History Month Quilt Exhibition from January 23 - February 21 with a public opening reception 6-9 PM Saturday, January 23.

 
Attendees at the opening reception must maintain social distancing practices and wear face coverings.

Here are scenes from 2020 Gallery RIVAA Black History Month celebration.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Roosevelt Island Girl Scout Cookie Sale On Line This Year - Free Shipping Thru January 24 - Purchase Girl Scout Cookies For Yourself Or For Donation

Roosevelt Island Girl Scout Troop 3001 Leader Aiesha Eleusizov reports:

In case Roosevelt Islanders might be interested in a safe and contactless way to get their Girl Scout cookies this year, our Council is offering FREE shipping for one week - Jan 18 through the 24 for Girl Scout cookie orders over $20!! Folks can purchase directly from a Girl Scout they know (they can reach out to them for their personal digital cookie site) OR they can order from any of the troops on the island. I am sharing with you the links for the island troops' sales sites.  

For health and safety, it is highly unlikely that the island troops will have the usual booth sales this year at the Farmer's Market, so get them this week while shipping is free!! 

Customers can purchase cookies for themselves or for donation. Given the great food insecurity this year, cookies purchased for donation will primarily go to food banks in NYC. I will work with our Council to try to get a donation of cookies to 9 Million Reasons (that supports our island's food bank). We usually get a large donation to Coler Hospital and we give some of these cookies to the Senior Center and RIDA. I will try to get Council to keep that donation this year as well. 

Check out Roosevelt Island's very own Persya Perez (Troop 3001) who was on NBC last week: Selling Girl Scout Cookies Goes Virtual

 

Roosevelt Island troops with their sale links (in order from oldest to youngest Girl Scouts):   

Troop 3244 (11-12th grades/ Leaders: Aiesha Eleusizov and Jasmine Castillo): 

Troop 3001 (6-9 grades/Leaders: Aiesha Eleusizov and Yitza Martinez):

Troop 3536 (6-7 grades/ Leaders: Dimaura Cole and Liz Pirraglia):

Troop 3002 (4-5 grades/ Leaders: Elle Erickson and Kristin Bruan)

Troop 3233 (2-3 grades/ Leaders: Susy DelCampo Perea and Fay Christian)

Long Island City East River Countdown Clock Displays Only A Few Hours Remain Of Trump Administration Seen Today From Roosevelt Island FDR 4 Freedoms Park

Closer to home. Across the East River from Roosevelt Island, on Long Island City waterfront, is an outdoor digital clock counting the days and hours remaining until the end of the President Donald Trump  nightmare.

Today, at about 2;40 PM,  the clock displayed only 22 hours left until end of Trump administration as seen from the Roosevelt Island FDR Four Freedoms Park
According to the Queens Post
A large digital clock on the Long Island City waterfront makes it clear that President Donald Trump’s days are numbered. The clock located by Anable Basin has been counting down the days until Trump’s term in office comes to an end–and for many residents that day can’t come soon enough. The timepiece was put up on the front of Sound River Studios, located at 4-40 44th Dr., more than three years ago by Matthew Barney, who operates out of the building, along with fellow artists such as Brandon Stosuy....

Click here for the Queens Post story about the Trump Countdown Clock.

The Trump Countdown Clock artist tweets::

Monday, January 18, 2021

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day Today, Take A Moment To Remember And Honor His Legacy

The third Monday in January has been designated as a Federal holiday in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was born January 15, 1929 and was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Dr. King is remembered and honored for many things including his 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".
An excerpt:
... A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in it's application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest....
The full text of Letter From A Birmingham Jail is here and a short excerpt of audio below.



Here's an excerpt of Dr. King's last speech on the night before his assasination - I've Been To The Mountain Top.



Politcio has an excellent article on the last years of Dr. King's life.
... Almost 50 years after his death, we remember MLK as the transcendent figure who helped lift the South out of Jim Crow. We also remember him as almost preternaturally calm in the face of great pressure and danger. He was indeed all of these things. But the passage of time has obscured his dimensionality. In the last years of his life, King expanded his vision beyond the former Confederacy and took on a broader struggle to dismantle America’s jigsaw edifice of racial and economic discrimination—a struggle that took him deep into northern states and cities, where onetime allies became bitter enemies. He did so even as he strained to keep a fractious civil rights movement unified, and in the face of unremitting sabotage from federal authorities.

He was a young man, still in his 30s—foisted onto the national stage with actors many years or decades his senior, suspect in the eyes of both younger and older civil rights leaders—and the burdens of leadership took their toll on him....
Take a moment today to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the good work he accomplished to make our country a better place.

More on Dr. King from History.com

Roosevelt Island Covid 19 Free Rapid Test Site Opening Wednesday January 20 But No Local Vaccination Center Yet - Latest Roosevelt Island 7 Day Positive Covid 19 Test Results Number 24 And 5.54 Positive Rate

Last December, Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Acting President Shelton Haynes announced that a free Covid-19 testing site was coming soon to Roosevelt Island and later updated info to report the Covid 19 Test Site would open in January.

Earlier today, I asked Mr Haynes:

Any update on when the covid test site will open and if there will be a vaccination site on Roosevelt Island. Also, is there any info on the provider, Swift Emergency Care? There is no info that I can find on this provider. Who are they and what experience do they have?
This afternoon, RIOC reported:
In an effort to safely and smartly reopen our community in accordance with state health guidelines, RIOC will be opening a COVID-19 Rapid Testing Site beginning Wednesday, January 20th.

Testing will utilize a rapid antigen test that gives results in as little as 15 minutes to approximately 24 hours, depending upon volume of individuals tested. This site will be open to the Roosevelt Island Community and beyond, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 9 AM to 5PM.

The site, located at 524 Main St. (formerly the R.I. branch library), operates on a pre-registration and walk-in basis. It should be noted that you will be seen on a first-come, first-serve basis by way of registration. Testing is free of charge and no insurance is required.

To learn more, go to: RIOC.NY.GOV/556 

Please be advised that the Department of Health issued the test site a CLIA Lab Certification.

According to RIOC website

... Testing, administered by Swift Emergency Care Testing (SECT), utilizes a rapid antigen test that gives results in as little as 15 minutes to approximately 24 hours, depending upon volume of individuals tested.

Roosevelt Island COVID-19 Rapid Testing Site 

Where: 524 Main St. (formerly the R.I. branch library) 

When: Wednesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 5 PM 

How to Pre-register: Pre-registration will begin on Tuesday, January 19th.  

To register click HERE  

Be sure to sign up for RIOC Advisories and check our social media pages for real-time updates.  

How it Works: The site will have the capacity to test up to 500 individuals a day. It will operate on a pre-register and walk-in basis. This site is free of charge and no insurance is required. 

Registration Challenges: Elderly, disabled (visual, hearing, or other impairments), and technology challenged individuals can register on-site with the help of healthcare staff.

The RIOC link to register for Covid 19 test is not active as of Monday, January 18.

At this time, there is no website or information available about the Roosevelt Island Covid 19 test site provider, Swift Emergency Care Testing.

As previously reported, requests have been made for a Roosevelt Island Covid 19 vaccination site.

Roosevelt Island elected official have urged Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to set up a Covid Vaccination site on Roosevelt Island.

But no word yet whether Roosevelt Island will get a vaccination site.

According to the NYC Department of Health, the Roosevelt Island zip code 10044 most recent 7 day Covid 19 reporting data for January 9 - January 15 shows of 443 people tested, 24 were positive for a 5.54% positive rate, an increase in positivity rate from last week showing:

... January 2 - January 8 shows of 558 people tested, 27 were positive for a 4.84% positive rate...

Roosevelt Island Sportspark Pool Closed Until Further Notice Due To Potential Positive Covid 19 Case Says RIOC Adding They Conduct Contact Tracing For All Pool Users And Employees

Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) announced yesterday

Please be advised that Sportspark Pool is temporarily closed. An update will be sent when Sportspark Pool reopens. We apologize for this inconvenience.

and I asked RIOC President Shelton Haynes for more information about the Sportspark Pool closing:

Why was Sportspark pool closed? When is it expected to reopen?

Today, RIOC sent out this advisory:

Please be advised that Sportspark Pool remains closed due to a potential case of COVID-19. 

It is important to know that Sportspark Pool follows all CDC safe swimming practices including everyday preventative measures, disinfecting routines, and staff testing protocols. 

Please note that currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to people through recreational water. 

As required, RIOC will be adhering to all guidelines under the CDC Contact Tracing Program. For more info please visit:

Sportspark Pool will reopen when the facility is deemed safe to resume operations. 

We apologize for the inconvenience while RIOC continues its commitment to maintaining a safe community.

I followed up asking:

Was the potential Covid case from a staff person or Sportspark user. Is there contact tracing being done for users of the pool?
My Haynes replied:
We are not at liberty to disclose the details surrounding the potential Covid-19 case. As part of our process, we conduct contact tracing for all users of the pool and RIOC employees.

A Sportspark Pool Tipster adds:

There have been several heated verbal arguments in the locker room regarding people refusing to keep their masks (which is required according to the new rules). 

Also, the staff is letting people sit poolside. Most of them are masked, but this is not the time to be sitting around there. The rules now state that people can’t sit in the lobby, but nothing specifically about poolside. I think this should be changed.

UPDATE 1/19 - According to RIOC:

Please be advised that Sportspark Pool remains closed due to a confirmed case of COVID-19.  

As required, RIOC will be adhering to all guidelines mandated by Department of Health (DOH) regarding policies and procedures towards COVID-19 safety and risk management.

Contact tracing has been conducted and any individual who has had close contact has been notified. Sportspark Pool will reopen when the facility is deemed safe to resume operations.

We apologize for the inconvenience while RIOC continues its commitment to maintaining a safe community.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Roosevelt Island Nisi Kitchen Outdoor Heated Tent Seating Re-Opens, Cornell Tech Cafe Outdoor Patio Open Too - Granny Annie's Expects Outdoor Eating Later This Month

The Roosevelt Island Nisi Kitchen heated dining tent re-opened yesterday and on a fairly mild January had several people eating at the outdoor tables.

Owners Kai &!Alex Razaghi invite you to come on down to Nisi Kitchen.

Granny Annie's 'Bar & Kitchen in Southtown is expected to re-open 

with outdoor dining later this month 

and the Cafe at Cornell Tech 

is open for take out, delivery and outdoor dining on their patio. 

The Roosevelt Islansd Fuji East, Piccolo Trattoria, Hot Pot Noodle Shop, Subway Sandwich Shop, Starbucks.and Wholesome Organic Market are open but not for seating.

Let's try to support our local Roosevelt Island businesses.

UPDATE 1/17 - Also open are China 1 and the Jupioca Juice Bar.

More info at Roosevelt Island Shops on Main Street website.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Loneliness & Quarantine At Roosevelt Island Coler Rehab & Nursing Facility - We May Not Die Of Covid But Isolation Protocols Are Killing Us, They Have To Come Up With Better Solution Says Resident

The NY Times recently reported on nursing home patients dying of loneliness during the Coronavirus Pandemic lockdown ban on outside visitors.

Here on Roosevelt Island, residents at the NYC Health & Hospitals Corp (H&HC) Coler Rehab and Nursing Facility are suffering severe loneliness from the Covid-19 isolation, confinement and quarantine too. 

A Coler resident reported last week:
We have just learned that our  ...  quarantine has been extended until January 18th.

We were supposed to come off tomorrow January 7th, having been on it since Christmas Eve but a staff member on our unit tested positive day before yesterday - Monday - so they have reset the clock.

Today is our 293rd day of confinement with no end in sight. This has been a crushing blow to us. We are penned in like animals, confined to our tiny bed areas with only an occasional reprieve of a few moments. 

We may not die of COVID, but this protocol is killing us.

They have to come up with a better solution.

And the vaccinations aren't going to put a stop to this.

We are terribly depressed. 

On January 8, the Coler resident reported:

More bad news for us! Of Coler's 22 units, all but two are now in quarantine.

Two residents from our unit tested positive yesterday so they and their roommates (for a total of six people) have been sent over to the C Building fifth floor for a minimum of two weeks isolation. In one instance a woman who is bed ridden, and NEVER leaves her room, tested positive. Where did she get it? (Answer: staff)

Yesterday they began rapid testing staff. They're systematically going unit by unit and shift by shift. For now they will do all staff once a week. Results come back in only 15 minutes. The rapid testing will be in addition to the twice weekly testing staff are currently undergoing. It looks like Coler was spooked by the post holiday surge of positive cases among staff and how those are spreading to residents.

Visitations won't resume until January 20th now.

And yesterday:

For the week of January 3rd - 8th there were 4 positive covid residents and 9 positive staff.

Visitations were closed until January 20th. However I just called again (today Thursday, Jan 14th) and although they said no positive residents, they did say visitations are now closed until January 29th, which means there must be some new staff cases. Yesterday they were still planning to resume visitations on the 20th, so this is a new heartbreaking development). 

And so it goes... 

Another Coler resident who was moved to the C Building 5th Floor for observation because a unit roommate tested positive says:

They still don’t have nothing organized. There is no supplies here, no staff. There is nothing up here. My butt didn't touch the seat of my wheelchair until 3:45 yesterday. One nurse per unit. The one nurse gotta do medication and then turn around and do treatment. By the time they get to me it's damn near time for them to go home. If the right staff ain't here they will leave me in the bed.

During the December 19, Coler Nursing Home Lives Protest Rally, residents were not allowed outside the building so they greeted and waved from inside the lobby to supporters on the sidewalk including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

In response to my inquiry for comment, A NYC HHC spokesperson replied:

NYC Health + Hospitals’ priority remains the safety of its patients, residents, and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic continues to pose restrictions on visitation and other activities, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler has been able to accommodate socially distant and safe recreation on our campus for residents. We will continue to work with all residents to ensure their comfort without compromising their safety for the duration of this pandemic.

and adds:

NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler follows all necessary COVID-19 safety guidance and regulation from NYS DOH. 

Residents at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler have not been confined to their units for hundreds of days. Despite required quarantine, staff accommodates trips outdoors on the facility’s campus, out to the community for approved “essential visits,” and organizes socially distant and safe activities for residents, such as cultural music and movies. 

As per NYS DOH requirement, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler requires all staff of nursing homes to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. All testing is done on the campus.

If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, they are required to appropriately quarantine and not return to work until they are cleared. This may require the unit the staff member works on to be placed on restrictions, as per NYS DOH regulation. However, as stated previously, residents are still scheduled to go outside for fresh air, etc.

All NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler staff are required to wear a face mask at all time when in the facility. Other PPE is worn as required by the CDC, CMS, and NYS DOH regulations.

All NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler residents are provided with appropriate face coverings at all times. 

COVID-19 vaccine distributions for residents and staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler began on December 28, 2020. Everyone who is a part of Coler has been offered a vaccine at this point.

More stories about life in nursing homes across America from the NY Times.

UPDATE 1/16 - The Coler resident adds:

For the week of January 9th - 15th: 0 positive COVID residents, 12 COVID positive staff.

Visitations continue to be suspended until January 29th.