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Why don’t more women sign up for free mammograms?

The mobile mammography van from St. Barnabas Hospital did not receive any uninsured women on an October morning in front of the Bronx Family Court. Photo: Yiting Sun

The mobile mammography van from St. Barnabas Hospital did not receive any uninsured women on an October morning in front of the Bronx Family Court. Photo: Yiting Sun

Every morning, Fulvia Sotillo commutes from her apartment in the Soundview section of the Bronx to the Goldman Sachs office in downtown Manhattan, where she works part-time as a cashier in the kitchen.

She is 62 years old, an age that should mean she gets breast cancer screening every year. But she has not had a mammogram for so long that she cannot even remember her last one.

“The cost is too high,” said Sotillo, whose daughter, Giselle Ellis, translated from Spanish to English for her. “I can’t afford it.”

Even though suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, Sotillo does not have health insurance coverage. Because she is only 62, she is not eligible for Medicare, which begins at age 65. Her income from a part-time job is too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to enroll in a private insurance plan or get a mammogram.

There are approximately 20,000 uninsured women over the age of 40 like Sotillo in the Bronx, according to Kathleen O’Hanlon, director of the New York State Department of Health Cancer Services Program of Bronx County, which provides free mammograms to uninsured women over the age of 40. But last year, only about 3, 000 of them got screened for breast cancer through the program.

According to Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation, low-income women have lower screening rates. They are 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and are three times more likely to die from breast cancer. Women without insurance are more likely to receive a late-stage breast cancer diagnosis and are 30 to 50 percent more likely to die from the disease than women with insurance.

“Mammogram is a very effective screening tool, especially for women over the age of 50,” said Mary Beth Terry, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s  Mailman School of Public Health. She said by detecting small tumors that are not easily discovered, mammograms can lower the death rate from breast cancer.

And yet, most low-income and uninsured women go unscreened for years for many reasons.

“Awareness is a big one,” said Emma Pena, the mobile mammography van program case manager for St. Barnabas Hospital in the East Tremont section of the Bronx. Pena said many women do not know the dangers of late-stage tumors and the importance of early detection.

The mobile van tries to change that by reaching women where they work and live. Funded through the Cancer Services Program, it goes to different community health centers, schools, senior centers and health fairs in the Bronx three days a week. It also sends out fliers both in English and Spanish.

On a recent morning, Alberta Catalano lit up a cigarette in front of the Bronx Family Court building. She had accompanied a friend to court, and although pink ribbons were everywhere because October was breast cancer awareness month, the first pink ribbon she had ever seen was the one painted on the mobile mammography van that pulled up in front of the court.

“I really don’t like mammograms,” said Catalano, 59. She had her last mammogram five years ago, and it hurt so much that she decided not to have another, although the current recommendation by most major medical groups is that women over 50 get screened for breast cancer every year.

Even though the huge white van was right beside the sidewalk where Catalano was enjoying her second cigarette, and the doctors in the van could get her screened for free in less than 30 minutes, she could not stop talking about her previous bartending job, and how bored she has been in her Throgs Neck apartment since she lost that job five years ago.

The van spent four hours in front of the court building that morning, and did not receive any uninsured women, who are the major targets of the program. Most of the women who used it were court employees who made appointments in order to get screened during lunch break rather than losing a day’s work.

Maureen McCarthy, the mobile van program coordinator, said she wishes the program could expand, especially among uninsured women.

“This is a population you don’t want to lose,” said McCarthy, 70. “Because this is a disease that with early intervention it can have a good cure rate.”

McCarthy poked her head out of the door, inviting the women passing by to come into the van. Most of them paid no attention as if avoiding restaurant fliers. Some of them did come up to the van, but they all had medical insurance.

Last year, the mobile van saw approximately 1,000 women, only a third of them were uninsured.

Pena said some women do not take mammograms regularly because they are preoccupied by taking care of their families or even battling other diseases.

That’s the case with Pamela Ramzie, 63,  who suffers from neck and shoulder strains, sleep disorder and vertigo. She cannot work. She lives with a friend on Harrison Avenue in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx.

“A lot of the time I can’t even get out of bed,” said Ramzie, as she waited for her bag of free food at Part of the Solution, a community center that helps the poor.

Ramzie had her last mammogram three years ago, when she still had Supplemental Security Income. She lost it a year ago after going back to her home country, Jamaica, for five months. Federal law states that in order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, the recipient cannot leave the U.S. for 30 days or more in a row.

“Life is very hard,” said Ramzie, who is still uninsured. “Sometimes mammogram is just not first on my list.”

Another barrier for uninsured women is immigration documentation. Pena said many uninsured women are illegal immigrants who are afraid to seek any kind of health care.

“But we don’t ask for any immigration papers on the van,” said McCarthy. The program requires only the woman’s name, age, and related medical history. Uninsured women would then sign another form that records them as eligible for the free test.

Depending on the kind of follow-up examinations needed, the cost of screening one woman ranges from $200 to $3,000. According to O’Hanlon, the Cancer Services Program has more funding than the amount that is being used now. “We need more women to come for screening,” said O’Hanlon, who urges low-income and uninsured women to make use of the free mammogram service.

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Health, Southern Bronx0 Comments

After a violent childhood, a martial arts teacher passes on lessons in self-defense

Monroig is teaching a self-defense class. Photo: Yiting Sun

Monroig, right, teaching a self-defense class. Photo: Yiting Sun

In a gym facing the street, Yadira Torres stood with her bare feet on the hard wood floor and looked into the mirror on the wall, learning how to grab an assailant from his back and thrust a knee to his chest and suffocate him.

The coach in the mirror was a 35-year-old Puerto Rican with a shiny bald head and a patterned beard. The muscles on his arms bulged out of his red gym suit.

Last year in her Bronx apartment, Torres, 28, did not know how to defend herself when her boyfriend became physically abusive.

She finally broke up with her boyfriend and decided to take action against mistreatment toward women.

“I want to be ready if something like this happens in the future,” said Torres.

A month ago, she began her first class at Musuko Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Academy, a training center on Webster Avenue in the Fordham section of the Bronx.

Torres was learning self-defense skills from Stevenson Monroig, who stood in front of the mirror demonstrating the front kick technique in slow motion to a group of 13 women.

Violence haunted Monroig’s childhood. When he was eight, his stepfather stabbed his mother 24 times with an ice pick. He did not see the ordeal happen, but watching his mother in tears in a hospital bed was powerful enough to steer his life to a different direction.

That turbulent childhood motivated him to train in martial arts to protect his mother, and now, to protect other people who might face the same kind of danger.

“It is my way of giving back to the community,” said Monroig.

Monroig charges $10 for a one-hour class, and often extends it to two hours. For him, helping his students learn is more important than profit. His center stands out for having a coach who has experienced the consequences of violence and has spent his entire career fighting against it.

After his mother got stabbed, Monroig was determined to master the kicks and thrashings that could scare off his stepfather. But he had to wait two years until his mother finally left the man. That is when he began practicing gin jan do, jujitsu, and katsugo with Jorge Vazcones, a martial artist in the Bronx.

Monroig does not allow slackers in his class. Photo: Yiting Sun

Monroig does not allow slackers in his class. Photo: Yiting Sun

He soon became a star student, with three black belts in the three kinds of martial arts he practiced by the age of 18.

Today, right above the mirror on the gym room wall there is a picture of Vazcones at the age of 44 dressed in Japanese style martial arts suits with a folding fan in his hand.

Monroig began giving back at age 16, when he started teaching for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation at the Pelham Fritz Recreation Center in Manhattan, earning $20 per hour.

Under his instruction, kids who couldn’t afford going to regular martial arts schools learned gin jan do, jujitsu and katsugo.

Two years later, Monroig opened his own studio in the Tremont section of the Bronx.

This March, when he had so many students that his old studio was overcrowded, he opened a new training center on Webster Avenue, where both kids and housewives, cops and ordinary citizens come to learn how to grasp an attacker’s head with both hands and thrust a knee to his groin.

Monroig, a divorced father of two, now mentors 100 students through mixed martial arts classes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday. They come from Inwood, Yonkers, and of course, from the Bronx.

Students learn life-saving lessons with Monroig. Photo: Yiting Sun

Students learn life-saving lessons with Monroig. Photo: Yiting Sun

These could be lifesaving lessons in the Bronx, where the murder rate is up nearly 22 percent this year, according to New York Police Department statistics.

Because of his mother’s experience, Monroig pays particular attention to women students.“I educate the women, make them more aware of the signs of a potential batterer,” said Monroig, who teach them both mental awareness and actual attack techniques.

Monroig said he does not want to simply teach his students how to fight, but also how to spot signs of danger and avoid getting into a fight.

“The moment a man puts his hands on you, it’s a big sign,” he told students at a recent class. “You got to leave right there.”

Monroig urged his students to yell if they are attacked. “If you make noise, you create witnesses,” he said. “They don’t want somebody like that.”

After the lecture, he drilled the students in techniques.

One student, Nia Palacio, wore a shoulder strap tied to a wall, and practiced attacking a man with her elbows and knees. The point was to simulate the situation in which two men threaten a woman from both back and front.

Palacio, 25, a law student at New York University and a Bronx resident,  liked her first self-defense class.  “If somebody comes after me, or attacks me, I’ll know how to handle the situation,” she said.

Long-time students of Monroig said the self-defense training changed their lives.

Lynda Rodriguez, 27, a student at Lehman College who lives in the Bronx, said two years of training with Monroig helped her transform from a girly girl to a fearless woman.

“I feel I’m stronger now, and I’m able to venture into different avenues,” said Rodriguez.

Before taking up martial arts, Rodriguez was limited to traditional female jobs such as secretary or store clerk. But as a census worker during the summer, she knocked on strangers’ doors, not knowing what was behind that door. “If I didn’t have this training, I wouldn’t want to take that type of job,” said Rodriguez.

In her security job at 40/40 Club, Rodriguez’s responsibility is to search women for drugs and guns and drag them out if they misbehave.

Rodriguez thinks this self-defense training program is especially important for people in the Bronx. “Living in the middle of the Bronx, you could jump into so many different avenues,” she said. “If you don’t build yourself up and stay disciplined, you are lost.”

Learning self-defense is not limited to ordinary people who might end up in a dangerous situation. Monroig’s students also include law enforcement professionals who need to learn new techniques.

Rene, 36, a Customs and Border Protection officer who did not want his last name used because of his job, participates in self-defense courses at work. But about two months ago, he added Monroig’s courses to his schedule as well because he felt he needed more training.

“Here is intense,” said Rene, who lives in the Fordham section of the Bronx. “I can be more in shape, so I’ll be ready if something does happen.”

Rene says much of his work is on the Mexican border, where he often faces the unexpected when entering a warehouse or other buildings where drugs are sold or distributed.

Monroig wishes he could lower the crime rate in the Bronx. Photo: Yiting Sun

Monroig hopes he can help lower the crime rate in the Bronx. Photo: Yiting Sun

“If certain things arise, I have to use what I learned here to defend myself, so I can arrest them and come on top, and go home to my wife and kids at night,” he said.

Rene said the most useful technique he learned at the studio is grappling, which is a technique to control a person on the floor, because the first thing on any drug dealer’s mind is to grab the officer’s weapon. With grappling, Rene said, he can subdue the drug dealer and take his weapon instead.

Monroig says he hopes that teaching law-biding citizens how to defend themselves could lower the overall crime rate in the Bronx. “Everyday they don’t have to use the techniques learned here is a plus,” he said.

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Southern Bronx, Sports0 Comments

How I Got My First Koran

An excerpt of the Koran is attached to the counter window of Kennedy Fried Chicken. Photo: Yiting Sun

An excerpt of the Koran is attached to the counter window of Kennedy Fried Chicken. Photo: Yiting Sun

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in August. I originally planned for a visit to a Chinese take-out restaurant on Bathgate Avenue in the East Tremont section of the Bronx to see if I could find some ideas for stories about Chinese immigrants.

But I couldn’t get the owner of China Takeout Restaurant to say much to me. Speaking the same language in a remote area far from home was not a draw. Jimmy Fang did tell me that he moved to the United States with his parents from Fujian province in China when he was 18 years old. He got married in here in New York to another Fujian immigrant.

In the tiny take-out restaurant, their daughter was doing her homework on a table in the kitchen behind the counter window. Fang’s wife focused on deep-frying potato sticks. And Fang himself leaned toward the counter, taking orders and working the cash register.

The stainless-steel frying machines made me wonder about how much Chinese food has transformed in the U.S. A popular dish in the restaurant, french fries, was made by dipping a rectangular steel frame container into a tank of boiling oil, the same way as in Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I kept asking Fang questions about business and how has the economic downturn affected his restaurant. But he said he was too busy to talk to me as two overweight African-American women lined up in front of the counter.

So I thought, why don’t I go to a real fried chicken restaurant? Maybe I could find some cool story ideas there.

I turned around the corner and found myself standing in front of the Kennedy Fried Chicken. The owner is Mohammed Ullah, a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh. The only encouragement he needed to talk to me was my self-identification as a journalism student. He figured out the rest all by himself. So I bought a slice of pizza from him and listened to his lectures about the virtues of Islam.

Ullah thinks anti-Muslim sentiments have escalated since the Sept. 11 attacks. “But we are actually very nice people,” he told me.

It was Ramadan, a month of holy fasting for the Muslims and Ullah had not eaten since morning.

He told me about the good deeds Muslims do during  Ramadan: Rich people pay a special kind of tax to help the poor, or they offer poor people direct material help, such as clothing.

He also told me that every Muslim should make a pilgrimage trip to Mecca. He was so proud that he had already done this.

Ullah has two children, both of whom are being raised in Islam by him and his wife. “Every summer, I send them back to Bangladesh to immerse in Muslim culture,” said Ullah. “No hot pants.”

Ullah was particularly critical of American sex education. “Here, everybody talks about sex to small children,” he said. “It is no good.”

But what Ullan really wanted to talk about was the Koran, the soul of Islam.

“The Muslim people only believe in one God that is Allah,” said Ullah. “Nobody but Allah has said the words in the Koran.”

Out of curiosity, I asked him: “Where can I read some English Koran?”

Ullah tapped on his forehead and told me to wait for a moment.

He rushed down to the basement. I could hear him moving and flipping cartons.

A few minutes later, he emerged out of the basement carrying a Koran  with both English and Arabic text.

“Here,” he said. “I have so many. This one is for you.”

I thought I could just take the book home in my backpack and start perusing it in the subway.

I was wrong.

Ullah wrapped it in two layers of plastic. According to holy Islamic law, I had to shower before I could open it.

And many showers later, I still haven’t opened it.

Posted in Bronx Blog, Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Food, Southern Bronx0 Comments

The Zen of Trauma

Lynn Kemp in a meeting with the trauma team. Photo: Yiting Sun

Lynn Kemp in a meeting with the trauma team. Photo: Yiting Sun

A blizzard shut down much of New York City on a Sunday in January 2005. Lynn Kemp watched on TV that morning as a roaring blaze consumed a building on East 178th Street. Six firefighters were forced to jump off its 50-foot roof. Emergency Medical Services transported five of them to St. Barnabas Hospital, where Kemp worked as the trauma program manager.

The experienced trauma nurse mobilized into action, threw on her clothes and dug out her car buried beneath the snow. Twenty minutes later, she rushed into the trauma bay. There firefighters’ turnout coats, helmets and backpacks were scattered all over the floor.

Jeffrey Cool was among the most critical patients. Kemp and several surgical residents provided continual blood transfusions to keep him alive long enough for them to discover where the bleeding was coming from.

Kemp rolled Cool from the trauma bay to radiology screening room to the operation room and finally to the intensive care unit where he would remain for about a month. She whispered to him: “I’m here with you, just hang on.”

She knew it was the language of rescuers. Her 30-year professional career in trauma care also taught her that hearing was the last sense to go in critical patients, so she decided to give it a try.

Cool heard her and survived. But two other firefighters could not hold on. They were wheeled out on flag-covered stretchers down the corridors fully lined with uniformed firefighters, police officers and hospital employees. The entire building came to a standstill.

To this day, Kemp still reunites with the firefighters and their families, joined forever through the experience of fighting for life.

For Kemp, it was a day of triumph and tragedy that defines her career, and it motivates her to keep going.

Kemp has a rare blend of tenderness, emotional control and entrepreneurship, which has enabled her to center her entire career on trauma.

She started as a volunteer emergency medical technician, and then spent nine years in the air working as a flight nurse, transporting patients with life-threatening traumas to the Westchester Medical Center in a helicopter.

Ten years ago, she showed up in St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx to open a Level One trauma center in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city, where most trauma patients are young adults who have been shot or stabbed and are barely alive.

Her Zen-like spirit suppresses the ticking of impending death all around her. She has been able to achieve this balance since the age of 18.

“I love my career in trauma because I have an opportunity to truly make a difference between life and death, and help people at their most vulnerable times,” said Kemp, now 53. “I also enjoy the camaraderie between multiple health care professionals, something similar to combat camaraderie.”

Before she opened the trauma center at St. Barnabas Hospital, the hospital had an emergency room in which patients with minor injuries could be treated, but those who suffered from life-threatening traumas had to travel several miles to another trauma center. By the time the patients arrived there, their chances of survival were grim. In the year 2000, the administrators of the hospital were planning on establishing a regional level one trauma center.

“We petitioned the state, and gave them information that would help justify our designation here,” said Patricia Belair, the senior vice president of St. Barnabas Hospital, who has worked here for 13 years.  “Lynn really was the guiding star for this program.”

Kemp initiated almost every conceivable aspect of development for the trauma center, including the business plan, the equipment, the protocol, and the training.

The center began as a cubicle inside the emergency room. “They gave us a little curtain, and a little area,” said Kemp. “That was it! That was it! That was the trauma bay!”

Today it is a big open space with tall, pink curtains that could accommodate two trauma cases at the same time. But physical location was never the most prominent obstacle.

“The big thing to accomplish was commitment and organizational transition,” said Kemp. The concept was that the trauma center would be integrated with the hospital, coordinating with every department.

“We have to get along with everybody,” Kemp laughed from her sun-lit office, resting her elbows on her desk that is cluttered by printed-out emails and schedules.  Whenever a trauma patient arrives, he or she should be the first to have access to all kinds of equipment, which often disrupts other departments’ routines.

A trauma center provides a higher level of medical service than an emergency room. It ensures definitive surgical care for the most complex, life-threatening blunt force and penetrating injuries, and dedicates a full range of surgical specialists trained in trauma, neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic and oral surgery, all available 24 hours a day.

Trauma centers also engage in research and education, providing leadership in trauma system development.

Emergency rooms treat and release non-life threatening conditions such as minor bone fractures or flu infections. In severe trauma cases, patients are stabilized for transfer to a higher-level trauma center.

Since the trauma center works closely with all kinds of departments, it urges the entire hospital to rise to the level of trauma care, and the problems of human resources loom large.

As the initial trauma center coordinator, Kemp needed to recruit doctors who would be willing to stay at least eight nights a month in the hospital overnight in order to provide in-house, on-call coverage seven days a week. “Our trauma surgeons and specialists are very dedicated and sacrifice so much of themselves for their patients,” said Kemp.

Kemp has worked hard to achieve a cohesive camaraderie in her trauma team. She listens to people, even if it’s to hear about a colleague’s recent plumbing problem that kept him up all night. “Yes, I know. I feel your pain. Whenever you feel bad, I’ll send you a picture of my kitchen!” Kemp said to her colleague who just called her for stress relief. “Anytime. That’s what I’m here for.” Then she hung up the phone with a big smile on her face.

“You can’t live without plumbing.” said Kemp, whose father is a plumber. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, an engineer who makes hip and knee implants. “Funny,” she said. “He makes the parts, and I am involved in having them installed.” Her daughter is a nurse, and her son is studying nursing in college. Her whole family revolves around health care.

Kemp studied nursing at Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City when she was 19. In 2008, she earned her master’s degree in the nurse executive program from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

On the windowsill of her office, there are two photos of Kemp dressed in red flight nurse’s uniform standing in front of a helicopter with her colleagues.

She worked as a senior flight nurse at Westchester Medical Center’s STAT (Stabilization, Treatment and Transport) Flight at that time. During her nine-year career there, she has transferred premature infants in incubators, and flown to Florida to transport intensive care patients, monitoring their heart rates during the flight.

The nine years of experience saving lives all across America was unforgettable. “I still to this day have many friends,” said Kemp, turning away to look at the picture on her windowsill. “A few friends died in this picture. Sometimes helicopters crash, and everybody gets killed. And you get very attached to these people.”

It was a both physically and emotionally demanding job. Kemp often needed to take care of the severely injured patients at night in a cold helicopter cabin. A single mistake could determine their fate.

As a flight nurse, Kemp worked three days a week. Even though she had more time with her children than most working mothers, the possibility of crashing and leaving her children behind was always in the back of her mind.

Kemp finally came back to work on land in 2000, to work mostly with the victims of youth violence in the Bronx, where the injuries are more from knife and gun wounds than from motorcycle accidents.

On Sep. 8, two trauma patients arrived in a single night. One young man in his 20s had a bullet pierce his eye, just millimeters away from his brain. The next afternoon, the young man had to have his eye removed. Another young man was wheeled in with a bullet in his spine, and he would never walk again.

Young people’s reckless attitude toward life and death exasperates her. “Sometimes kids come in dead, and we have to tell their parents; it’s sad, so sad,” said Kemp. “They don’t understand that you may die, or be paralyzed for the rest of your life because of the things you get involved in.”

Kemp said her career in trauma has taught her that life changes in a minute. “One minute you are here, the next you are gone,” said Kemp. “In trauma, you see this everyday.”

According to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, traumatic injury accounts for about 14,000 deaths per year and is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for children and adults up to age 34. Since those who die of injury are mostly young, trauma accounts for more years of lost productivity than heart disease, cancer and stroke combined.

“In the environment of the Bronx, there are a lot of 14, 15, 16-year-old deaths, senseless death, guns, gangs, no value of life,” said AnnMarie McDonald, the trauma program coordinator of St. Barnabas Hospital. “It’s really a huge issue.”

That is why a trauma center is so important for the Bronx in particular. “Because if some of these children, adolescents, some of these gun-injured patients weren’t taken to a trauma center, the chances of them surviving would greatly reduce,” said McDonald.

McDonald was Kemp’s classmate at Columbia University from 2006 to 2008, and is one of her closest colleagues. “She’s an inspiration,” McDonald said about her experience working with Kemp. “We think about things, we brainstorm. She’s really quite an incredible woman.”

Kemp is truly a child of the 60s, very patriotic and very family-oriented. She does not want to be rich, just want to be happy. “I just want to do good things,” she said.  “You know, you feel good when you go home, that’s all.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Health, Southern Bronx0 Comments

Teen inventors exhibit their green ideas

GreenFab at the Maker Faire from Yiting Sun on Vimeo.

Bronx inventors, wannabes and do-it-yourselfers were among some 500 participants exhibiting their creations at the Maker Faire, a two-day expo celebrating arts, engineering and technology at The New York Hall of Science in Queens on Sept. 25 and 26.

GreenFab, a Hunts Point-based program funded by the National Science Foundation gathered seven teenage inventors from their summer school program to exhibit their creations in the Faire’s “fabrication” tent.

Program manager Jaymes Dec said he and his staff helped students implement projects from ideas the Hunts Point teens came up with on their own–ideas generated by combing the Internet or past issues of  “Make,” a technological quarterly magazine that sponsored the Faire.

Nestor Rivera, an 11th-grader at the Bronx Guild High School, showed off a solar panel coffee table he designed. “This table, it charges USB devices like cell phones and iPods,” he said, while plugging in his iPod. Rivera smiled when an attendee told him that elsewhere in the fair a maker was selling similar panels for $20 each.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Multimedia, Southern Bronx0 Comments

Street Merchant Stabbed in West Farms

IMG_03055A West Farms street merchant and father of three was stabbed to death on a sidewalk near the Bronx Zoo Wednesday night, leaving the victim’s friends and loved ones wondering why.

Jose Laguna-Rosada, 40, was stabbed multiple times in front of 2140 Daly Ave. in the West Farms section of the Bronx. Police responded to the call at 6:47 p.m., and emergency medical services transported Laguna-Rosada to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

“Everybody loved Jose,” said Ramon Rodriguez, 48, a neighbor of Laguna-Rosada, who intends to help his family raise money for the funeral. “When I heard the news, my tears came down.”

Known for selling DVDs on the street for $5 each, Laguna-Rosada was a beloved figure, often seen by neighbors taking his three sons for ice cream.

Danny Aris, 40, a friend who once bought a Titanic DVD from him, said that Laguna-Rosada was not involved in drugs.

When he was not selling DVDs, Laguna-Rosada worked for $8 per hour at Ragtime Pizzeria, where he helped clean the restaurant and assemble pizza boxes.

“He worked here to make some money on the side,” said Daniel Cruz, 27, a pizza-maker at Ragtime Pizzeria. “He had a decent way of talking. I actually liked him a lot.”

Cruz said he would often give Laguna-Rosada free slices of pizza.

Laguna-Rosada’s friends and nephews gathered at his apartment this afternoon on Vyse Avenue to support for his wife and children, who were unavailable for comment.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Crime0 Comments

A day in trauma

A Day at the Trauma Center from Yiting Sun on Vimeo.

Pink curtains separate the trauma bay from the daily activities of St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Inside, every move is under 24-hour video surveillance, as doctors in green and blue scrubs race to save lives. Trauma program manager AnnMarie McDonald tells her story from the medical team’s perspective as doctors and nurses treat victims of gunshots, drug overdoses, strokes and accidents.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Multimedia0 Comments

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