Government Officials Celebrate Expansion of ODA Primary Health Care Network
Hailed as a significant advancement in ODA’s (odahealth.org) forty-plus year mission to improve the health of the community by ensuring access to high quality and comprehensive health care services, top government officials gathered to inaugurate and cut the ribbon at ODA’s sparkling new, state of the art Wallabout Multi-Specialty Health Care Center at 74 Wallabout St, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The opening of this facility represents a new chapter in ODA’s ongoing mission of service to our community.
ODA was founded in 1974, by the legendary Rabbi Zvi Kestenbaum Z"L as a social service organization devoted to helping members of the Williamsburg community. He lobbied the Department of Commerce and succeeded in gaining recognition for the Hassidic community as a disadvantaged minority, unlocking a range of Federal programs and opportunities for assistance.
Most importantly, recognizing the critical shortage of quality, affordable health care in Williamsburg, Rabbi Kestenbaum opened the first ODA Health facility, and by 1984 ODA had received official designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center.
From a starting group of 40 physicians and support staff, ODA currently employs nearly 500 dedicated health care professionals and administrative personnel, working out of 9 locations, including ODA’s latest milestone, the Wallabout Multi-Specialty Health Care Center.
The expansion in ODA’s locations and range of services has permitted an exceptional growth in the number of patients that they serve. In only the past five year’s ODA’s number of patient visits more than doubled, from 135,000 in 2013 to close to 300,000 today. ODA maintains the highest quality of care, delivering top notch health services to all patients, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. In fact, over 85% of ODA’s patients are either on Medicaid or are uninsured.
The event was MC’d by noted attorney Frank Carone who introduced all the speakers which commenced with Joseph Deutsch, CEO of ODA and was graced by prominent communal, business and government officials including: Brooklyn DA Gonzalez, Councilmembers Kalman Yeger, Mathieu Eugene, Justin Brannan; State Senator Simcha Felder; Assembly-Members Joe Lentol, Simcha Eichenstein, David Weprin; Sarah Shih - Acting Deputy Commissioner for Prevention and Primary of the NYC Department of Health who represented Mayor de Blasio, David Yassky--Director of State Policy who represented Governor Andrew Cuomo; US RepresentativeHakeem Jeffries who all shared similar sentiments that the opening of this ODA facility represents a new chapter in its ongoing mission of service to the community. NYU Representatives were thanked for their close working relationship with ODA.
The highlight of the program were the remarks delivered by ODA Chairman Louis Kestenbaum who follows in his father’s footsteps at ODA who commenced his remarks by acknowledging his brother, Moshe Kestenbaum, and then shared his feelings about the special day saying:
“We come here today to celebrate the grand opening of this beautiful new medical facility, but also because we all share in the vision of ODA’s founder, my late father, Rabbi Zvi Kestenbaum, of blessed memory. I would like to take a moment to tell you about him.
My father was born on April 11, 1922 in a small town in Hungary. During the war, he and his family were taken by the Nazis and held in several concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen and Mauthausen. Through his own strength, and with God’s help, he survived.
He returned home after the war as the only surviving member of his very large family—11 children, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. All had been murdered. Despite the burden of this unspeakable tragedy, my father felt that God must have kept him alive to accomplish important and meaningful things. He knew that he had been given a mission: and that mission was to help everyone in need in any way possible. This conviction became his central purpose in life.
As a community leader here in Williamsburg, my father quickly earned a reputation as someone who opened his home and his heart to anyone who asked for help--but for him acts of personal kindness were not enough. He was determined to improve the welfare of his entire community.
I know that my father would have been very proud to see how strongly his vision has continued to prosper and grow. I am equally proud to welcome you all here today to honor his memory, to celebrate our achievement, and to affirm our continued commitment to the health and wellbeing of everyone who walks through our doors”.