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Bilingual LaSante Health Center vital part of Brooklyn mosaic

Dr. Lesly Kernisant, the medical director, says a great deal of planning went into the creation of the LaSante Health Center. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas

The LaSante Health Center literally announces its intention in its name. The words “la sante” are French for “the health.”

The recently established outpatient medical center, located at 672 Parkside Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, expects to serve members of the large Caribbean community, including Haitian immigrants, who make their home in that Central Brooklyn neighborhood.

The executive director Dr. Lesly Kernisant said he is anticipating a May opening for the new, state-of-the-art health care facility.

Kernisant, a Haitian-born, Brooklyn-raised OB-GYN, offered the Brooklyn Eagle an exclusive tour of the health center on March 28. He has been practicing medicine for more than 35 years.

He is currently in the process of hiring medical staff for the new medical center, he said.

“We are in the final phase of our build-up. We are seeing pediatric patients. It’s a long process to hire. You have to make sure the credentials are in place,” Kernisant told the Eagle.

Dr. Anise Joseph, the pediatrician, has already seen 60 to 70 patients at the health center.

The LaSante Health Center offers a holistic approach to medical services. Patients will be able to find everything under one roof, including internal medicine, pediatrics, ob-gyn, optometry, mental health and dental. “A dentist is a primary care person,” Kernisant said.

The LaSante Health Center has 32 exam rooms.

Each medical section has its own waiting area. The pediatric waiting area will be decorated with stuffed animals and kid-friendly items. There are two giant screen television sets to allow patients to watch TV while they are waiting.

One of the goals at LaSante Health Center is to ensure that patients don’t have to wait long to see a doctor. “We have to be conscious of the patient’s time,” Kernisant said.

The layout of the office was carefully mapped out to make visits easier on families. For example, the OB-GYN and pediatric departments are located next door to each other.

LaSante also has a call center and a nurse’s station, similar to one you would see in a hospital.

The nurse’s station will serve an important purpose, according to Kernisant, who said it will be the last stop before the patient leaves the office after seeing the doctor. The nurse will ask the patients if they understood the doctor’s instructions and have any questions about medications that the doctor prescribed.

“The doctor is the captain, but can’t be the captain and the soldier,” Kernisant said.

On the day the Eagle visited, medical Administrative Assistant Hansia Pierre was at the front desk to greet patients.

In a nod to the Haitian immigrant community, the signs for the various sections of the health center are printed in English and in Haitian-Creole.

The medical issues the Haitian community faces include poor nutrition, hypertension and diabetes, according to Kernisant.

There is a large school located across Parkside Avenue from the center. The building, which actually contains three schools, has a total of 1,500 students. Kernisant is hoping that the families of many of those students will use the health center.

To introduce the new health center to the community, Kernisant and his staff have instituted “Wellness Wednesdays,” in which local officials are invited to take tours of the facility.

The center’s goal is to “serve communities that are underserved,” Kernisant said. “We wanted to put this center in a community where there is a need.”

The center is conveniently located near the Winthrop Street station on the 2 and 5 subway lines.

During a conversation in the health center’s conference room, Kernisant and Joseph talked about their lives and their medical training.

Kernisant was born in Haiti and raised in Brooklyn. His family left Haiti when he was 14 years old. He attended Wingate High School and Howard University.

Kernisant always knew he was destined to be a doctor. “There is a culture in Haiti that if you have two kids, one has to be a doctor and the other has to be a lawyer,” he told the Eagle.

He started a private practice in Park Slope and was affiliated with several hospitals in Brooklyn. In January of 2016, he retired from the day to day running of his medical practice but opted to remain active in the health field.

Joseph was born and raised in Brooklyn. She attended Erasmus Hall High School and Fordham University. She attended the State University of New York Downstate and completed her residency at Westchester Medical Center.

During her medical training, she started out in cardiology, but switched to pediatrics in order to help prevent children from developing heart disease and diabetes. “I was seeing patients who had already developed disease. I wanted to help prevent that from happening,” she told the Eagle.

If doctors can start treating children, they might be able to stem the tide against diabetes and heart disease, she said.

Kernisant said the trend in medicine is moving toward family-oriented, primary care services.

While the center will primarily cater to Brooklyn’s Caribbean community, its services are available to all. “Anyone can come here. We are universal,” Kernisant said.

For more information, call LaSante Health Center at 718-246-5700.

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