A series of attacks on the RSPCA clinic in Rhyl has left staff devastated and…
Recognizing that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the Albanian community, Jacobi Medical Center is launching an Albanian Cardiovascular Clinic (ACC) to help the large population of the borough.
In September, Jacobi will open the ACC, which will cater to Albanian populations in the Norwood, Belmont and Pelham Parkway sections of the Bronx. According to a study 2019chronic heart disease accounted for 29.4% of total deaths in Albania.
Dr. Eleonora Gashi-Baraliu, Director of Cardiovascular Advisory Services and Cardiac Intensive Care Quality Unit at Jacobi, will lead the ACC. Gashi-Baraliu, who has worked at Jacobi since 2018, is of Albanian descent and understands the importance of the clinic to his community.
The doctor told the Bronx Times that many Albanians eat a lot of red meat, smoke cigarettes and often neglect to see a doctor regularly.
“As an immigrant trained in Manhattan for general and interventional cardiology, my eye has always been on the Albanian community in the Bronx,” she said. “By chance, I found myself at Jacobi’s where I find immense joy in coming to work every day while working with and serving a very multinational community.
“Personally, it is only natural that I continue to develop and provide services to the Albanian community at ACC while maintaining my responsibilities and caring for all patients who come through our open doors at Jacobi.”
Currently, many members of the Albanian community in the Bronx attend Illyria Family Practice at Jacobi Medical Center. When Kosovars fled the country in 1999 because of the war and settled in the Bronx, they joined an already growing Albanian population. In an effort to accommodate them, especially those who spoke no English, Dr. Alan Ross of Jacobi Medical Center started the local practice.
Building on Illyria’s success, Gashi-Baraliu hopes Albanian residents will come to ACC to have their cardiovascular needs taken care of. She said many Albanians often find excuses to see a doctor, but hopes it will help change their way of thinking.
“When this opportunity came, I said it was a chance to do something,” Gashi-Baraliu said.
The ACC will educate people on how to take care of their cardiovascular health and will offer cardiovascular consultations, echocardiograms, Holter monitoring, treadmill stress testing, nuclear stress testing, stress echo, coronary angiography, cardiac MRIs, diagnostic angiograms and percutaneous coronary interventions.
Most patients will be referred by Illyria Clinic, but there will be a few by word of mouth. The Illyria clinic says that 20 to 30 patients per week require cardiology services.
According to the doctor, the center will be important because it allows “patients to have cultural comfort and eliminates communication as a barrier to health care disparity, allows patients to become more proactive in their own care and to come to the doctor on their own. ”
Gashi-Baraliu is confident that Albanian residents will come to the clinic as they are already seeking help from the hospital’s general cardiology clinics.
“A lot of parents don’t want to come because they feel like they’re burdening their kids by taking time off work to come to the doctor, that way if they have someone who can communicate in their native language – they will be more willing to deal with their health issues,” she said. “I try to change one person at a time. The goal is also to conduct educational sessions for the community by putting the emphasis on healthier lifestyle habits and potentially changing the course of disease burden.
One person considering attending the ACC is Kalaja Leze, 70, from Pelham Parkway. Leze, who suffers from high blood pressure and respiratory problems, is happy that there is a clinic to help members of the Albanian community with cardiovascular problems.
Leze has seen doctors in the past, but the language barrier was often an issue. Now, with the ACC and Gashi-Baraliu, she will feel much more comfortable, she said.
“Dr. Gashi speaks my language,” she said. “I can go to any doctor like I said, but I would like to see a doctor I would understand.”
Contact Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes