BY TRONE DOWD
A Jamaica health facility has been named after one of the most active humanitarians in the state—former First Lady of New York Matilda Raffa Cuomo.
Located at 105-04 Sutphin Blvd., the former Brightpoint Health facility was officially christened the Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center on Friday morning. The rebranding coincides with the health center’s $1.4 million renovation that was funded by a State Capital Restructuring Financing Program grant. Improvements to the building include a brand new facade and additional office space.
In addition to the new space, the funding will also bring behavioral health services to help assist those suffering from any number of mental health issues. The expansion will also add programs to help those battling substance abuse.
Brightpoint intends to provide preventative care that will assist individuals before they need to be hospitalized.
Cuomo, who was in attendance for the unveiling, said that she was honored to be recognized on this scale.
“This means a lot to me,” she said. “I didn’t expect it. But I’m happy. I really think my mother and father would be ecstatic.”
The 83-year-old credited Southeast Queens Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica)—who was also in attendance—for the election of her late husband, Gov. Mario Cuomo.
“She worked her heart out,” Cuomo said of Cook. “Chris Cuomo, who wasn’t even 10 at the time, told me, ‘She worked her heart out, mom, and you’ve got to do this.’ I can never forget it.”
Cook told the Press of Southeast Queens that she’s pleased to see Jamaica’s revitalization.
“There are a lot of organizations here that are helping folks out,” she said. “Samaritan Village used to be housed here.
We have [The Jamaica Performing Arts Center] down the road. The Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center is a welcome addition to the community.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is Matilda Raffa Cuomo’s son, said that he was proud of his mother’s dedication to helping others and hoped to see that tradition carried over in the mission of the new Southeast Queens health center.
“My mother has dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate and uplifting New Yorkers in need, and I applaud the renaming of this facility to honor her long career of service,” he said. “The new Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center will provide much-needed services to the Queens community and support our efforts to make a stronger, healthier New York for all.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz referred to the former first lady as “a global inspiration of what it means to embody service.”
“The Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center here in Queens—named in her honor—as well as the first-class, integrated healthcare now available to so many in underserved communities are fitting tributes to the legacy of a true, lifelong humanitarian,” Katz said.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said that he thought it fitting for such an honor to be bestowed upon Cuomo.
“With the renaming of the Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center, we honor a true champion for the people of New York,” he said. “Throughout her career, Matilda Raffa Cuomo has fought to create opportunities for all, and I can think of no one more deserving of this honor.”