By MC2(AW/SW) Kristina Young
This story appeared in The Dolphin on Aug. 28, 2014
LONG ISLAND, NY. – Physicians, staff, and patrons of the Mitchel Field Family Health Center (MFFHC) celebrated their new branding and patron awareness campaign with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the medical center in Garden City, Long Island, NY, Aug. 12.
A former U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force base, Mitchel Field still maintains military public-private venture (PPV) housing, a commissary, an exchange, and a contracted health care facility to support military families and activities in the area.
Mitchel Field DoD activities are aligned under Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) in Groton, Conn., for facility and infrastructure support and management.
MFFHC recently underwent renovations to improve aesthetics as well as the center’s atmosphere for their more than 1,200 patients of the military community. New paint, new carpeting, and other refurbishments were capped off with dramatic new outdoor signage including eleven 8 ft. by 8 ft. photographs of military members, family members, and military equipment.
“I look at these pictures and it reminds me of the dedication and the sacrifices that all of our military members have made, along with the sacrifices of their families,” said Jeffrey Bloom, Executive Director and Senior Vice President of U.S. Family Health Plan which directs the clinic’s operations. “I look at these pictures and I’m proud to be a part of this plan. I’m proud to be providing the service that we have been providing. And, I’m proud of all of you that’ve patronized this site for the last 24 years.”
The new signs reflect a branding effort to highlight the center’s service to its military patrons and its existence to the local community.
“It absolutely feels great to have the community come out to celebrate with us as we are here because of them; if it wasn’t for the military community around us, we wouldn’t be here,” said Norma Velez, lead clerk with MFFHC for more than 24 years. “We always try to make this center feel like home for our patients and they just love it.”
According to Velez, before the new branding signs were placed around the outside of the building, patients would have a hard time locating the center.
“When the idea of putting signs around the building came up, we all thought it would help our patients and people in the community find us easier,” said Velez. “Our building is so close to the [Mitchel Field] commissary, yet people were having a hard time trying to locate which building we were in exactly. The beautiful pictures on the signs definitely show everyone who we are and who we serve.”
The health center contracted with local Rockville Centre, Long Island, PRI Communications Inc. to develop the signs.
“They told me that they would like to make the building more beautiful,” said Angelo Puleo, president of PRI Communications Inc. “I felt it was a privilege and an honor to do it for military people who support all of us throughout our lifetimes. I made sure that we picked the right pictures; we diversified; and, had proper representation of military members. I’ve been working with [MFFHC] for more than eight years…and I appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the new brand.”
Some 50 health center patrons, staff, and U.S. Family Health Plan leadership celebrated the ribbon cutting with music, food, and reflections about the center’s history and impact.
“I love this place, I love my veterans and my active-duty service members; just being able to be there for them is where my passion for this place comes from,” said Joyce Arciuolo, nursing director at MFFHC.
MFFHC opened in its current location in October 1990; prior to that, staff worked out of three different apartment buildings in nearby Mitchel Manor.
“I began as a clerk in June 1989, and Marvin Mullens, who was in charge, decided to move us out of the apartments and into this building,” said Velez. “This building was utilized for multipurpose use before we took over. It wasn’t nearly as pleasant as it is today. The renovations and work that was put into it really shine and make this place like home.”
Dr. John Burkhart, Medical Director of U.S. Family Health Plan, and a retired Navy Capt. who once worked as medical administrator at SUBASE’s clinic, oversees the MFFHC staff. He praised patients and caregivers alike for the sense of home and family with which they imbue the facility.
Health center patrons echoed the sentiment.
“The center is really scrumptious and full of personality and history. And the medical care, all top-notch doctors; I can’t complain about any doctor that I’ve ever [received],” said MFFHC patient and retired Marine First Sgt. Michael Puglia, who served in the corps for 32 years. “The doctors here, whether they know you or not, are very outstanding, professionals, and always welcome you as a patient. The staff, when I come in there, they’re fabulous. They help me with any problem I [have], if I have a problem; or, if I don’t have a problem, I still get help. [MFFHC] is second to none.”
For more information about the DoD services and activities located at Mitchel Field, visit: