Press Release

Gillibrand, Meng, Ocasio-Cortez Push For Federal Funding To Fight Maternal Mortality At Elmhurst Hospital

Jun 4, 2021


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Grace Meng, member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood in front of Elmhurst Hospital to advocate for the much-needed renovation of New York City Health + Hospitals Elmhurst Obstetrical Inpatient facilities, in order to provide a more modern, safe, and equitable maternal health care experience to surrounding working class and immigrant communities. They were joined by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC H+H), and Helen Arteaga Landaverde, Chief Executive Officer of Elmhurst Hospital.

At the height of the pandemic, Elmhurst was one of the hardest-hit communities in the country. The Elmhurst public hospital, which serves a majority immigrant population across Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona, struggled to keep up with the harrowing demand from patients. Large numbers of residents in the community work in construction, food service, and other jobs where remote work was not possible, and where they often had to choose between risking their health and losing a paycheck. 

“The pandemic made it painfully clear that the resources our hospitals get vary widely from community to community. Every New Yorker should be able to access the care they need in their own neighborhood,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That is why I am proud to join Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Meng in requesting $3 million of funding to help this hospital combat another ongoing health crisis: maternal mortality. We must continue to make improving and creating equitable maternal care a priority.”

“Elmhurst Hospital was in the heart of the epicenter when the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March of 2020,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Our local healthcare system was overwhelmed, and we cannot afford to let a situation like that happen again. We must make needed investments that our hospitals require, whether it involves deadly infectious illnesses or routine treatment, and the renovation of Elmhurst’s obstetrical facilities would be a major boost in expanding access to care and ensuring healthier families. We will do all we can to secure these funds.”

“Elmhurst led the way in this pandemic. They were an example for the rest of the country. And it was in no small part because this is a public hospital. In this hospital, it doesn’t matter if you have insurance, if you have papers – they treat you as a human being first. This $3 million investment will support a hospital that has already done so much for this community and for this country,” said Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez.

“I am proud to stand with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Grace Meng & Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in advocating for the much-needed renovation of Obstetrical Inpatient facilities at Elmhurst Hospital. It is well-established that maternal mortality disproportionately affects Black mothers and mothers of color. Access to equitable resources in our hospitals is an essential step in our committed effort to address this. I really want to thank our Senator and Congresswomen for shining a light on this deeply important, troubling and rarely discussed issue. Together, we can help our most vulnerable communities here in Queens,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.

“Maternal care is health care. As a reproductive justice advocate, I understand that it is our most vulnerable communities, communities of color, low-income communities, and immigrant communities that are at the intersection of the most burden in our society and therefore confront the greatest disparate health outcomes. That is why this investment is so crucial and I thank Senator Gillibrand, Congress members Meng, and Ocasio-Cortez for their advocacy at the national level because it means the difference between life and death. People who give birth in our communities deserve dignified and supportive experiences so I join my colleagues in their call for federal funding to fight maternal mortality. It is the right thing to do,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Meng recently submitted a joint community funding request for $3,000,000 for FY 2022 to House Appropriators. If the funding request is fulfilled, Elmhurst Hospital would be able to provide a more modern, safe, and comfortable family-centered environment that also meets current privacy standards. When giving birth, privacy leads to a quieter environment which promotes recovery, provides for better infection control, and is better for bonding between parents and their babies. Healthy breastfeeding is also fostered in single rooms. Read the public text of the lawmakers’ funding request here

After a decade-long ban, appropriators have welcomed back requests for direct congressional funding, also known as “earmarks,” with new rules in place to ensure strict transparency and accountability. The funding requests, reviewed by House and Senate appropriators, serve as critical tools to target funding towards the urgent needs of constituents. The Senator will be submitting earmark requests shortly, and will also be prioritizing this request in order to combat maternal mortality in communities across New York.

Gillibrand also recently announced the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act and Maternal CARE Act to help address the disproportionate rate of maternal deaths among Black and brown women.

Read the public text of the lawmakers’ funding request below.

Obstetrical Inpatient Facilities Renovation


New York City Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, 79-01 Broadway, Queens, NY 11373

Elmhurst hospital requests $3 million towards the renovation of its Obstetrical Inpatient facilities in order to provide a more modern, safe, and comfortable family-centered environment, one which meets current privacy standards. There will be two basic enhancements to their Obstetric Suite: privacy and comfort. When giving birth, privacy leads to a quieter environment which promotes recovery; it provides for better infection control; it is better for bonding between moms/parents and their babies. Healthy breastfeeding is fostered in single rooms. A patient and family centered environment leads to increased patient satisfaction and better health outcomes. It is imperative to provide equitable maternal care to the working class and immigrant communities surrounding Elmhurst hospital. Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies