Community

Thanks to the efforts of Angela’s House Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro, the Angel of Hope statue has been in Eisenhower Park since 2008. The Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember event on May 7 will conclude at the statue. Photo from Angela’s House

By Alex Petroski

The pain of losing a child may never go away, but it can be soothed by the support of others who know what it is like. Parents will have that opportunity on May 7 when the Hauppauge-based nonprofit organization Angela’s House, which was founded in 1992, hosts the first Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember.

Thanks to the efforts of Angela’s House Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro, the Angel of Hope statue has been in Eisenhower Park since 2008. The Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember event on May 7 will conclude at the statue. Photo from Angela’s House
Thanks to the efforts of Angela’s House Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro, the Angel of Hope statue has been in Eisenhower Park since 2008. The Angel of Hope: A Walk to Remember event on May 7 will conclude at the statue. Photo from Angela’s House

The walk will take place Mother’s Day weekend at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, where the nonprofit’s Angel of Hope statue has stood since 2008 as a comforting symbol to parents who have lost children.

Angela’s House assists families caring for children with special health care needs that are medically fragile, chronically ill or living with a life-threatening illness, according to their website. Founder and Executive Director Bob Policastro said the event would be a nonreligious, yet spiritual gathering.

“I would say different from our support group or even a counselor, the difficulty of those environments [is] you have to be ready and have to talk about your pain and that kind of brings about peace as you talk it through,” Policastro said in a phone interview Friday about the walk and what those interested in attending should expect. “This one I feel has kind of an easier tone to it in the sense that you’re coming to a ceremony and the comfort of seeing others that have also gone through all of this will give people great peace knowing that they’re not alone. They can talk to people if they want to but if they don’t want to that’s fine.”

The purpose of the event is not to raise funds, according to Policastro, though there is a $25 charge per person to participate.

Policastro said the date was a strategic choice by Angela’s House trustees and volunteers.

“Mother’s Day is always one of those potentially difficult times of the year,” he said. “That will be a good way to kind of help try to bring them peace, almost like a support group. To get together and be around others that have also experienced loss, it’s very comforting.”

Policastro and his wife Angie started the foundation after the death of their daughter Angela. The Angel of Hope is a reference to the book “The Christmas Box” by Richard Paul Evans in which a character frequently visits the grave of her daughter, which is marked with an angel statue. Statues like the one in Eisenhower Park popped up across the country after the release of the book in 1993, Policastro said. He was instrumental in bringing the statue to Eisenhower Park.

The walk is less than a mile long and will follow a path around Salisbury Lake in the park, concluding at the statue. The New Apostolic Church and the Willow Interfaith Woman’s Choir will lead those in attendance in a song, and a nondenominational spiritual ceremony will also be held.

Those seeking more information are instructed to visit www.angelashouse.org/angel-of-hope/.

The Hallock house was built in 1721 and it has remained largely unchanged through the centuries. It is open for tours from April to December, on Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. Photo by Erin Dueñas

By Erin Dueñas

The oldest house in Rocky Point has once again opened its doors to visitors, offering a peek at the history of the town spanning almost 300 years, during Saturday tours of the home, which acts as a museum run by the Rocky Point Historical Society. It’s the third season in a row that tours are being offered, according to society president Natalie Aurucci Stiefel.

Built in 1721 by Noah Hallock, a descendant of English settlers, the house has sat at the end of Hallock Landing Road mostly unchanged. It still has the original wood shingles and a red tin roof on the exterior. Inside, original wide-planked wooden floors creak underfoot, and a trap door in an upstairs hallway reveals a staircase that leads to rooms once used by slaves. Eight generations of Hallocks lived in the house over the centuries, including Noah Jr., William and Josiah Hallock, who all served in the Revolutionary War. The last Hallock to live there was Sylvester, who sold it in 1964 to the Via Cava family who owned it until 2011.

The Historical Society took ownership of the home in 2013 and turned it into a museum, showcasing a variety of household artifacts native to the home, including furniture, kitchen items and even toys once played with by Hallock children. Each room in the house is dedicated to a particular aspect of either the life of the Hallocks or the history of Rocky Point and the surrounding areas, including a room dedicated to farming, complete with antique tools and photos of the farms that once grew rye and raised dairy cattle nearby. The schoolhouse room offers a glimpse into what school was like for Hallock children and their contemporaries. Visitors can even walk around the block to the Hallock family cemetery where at least 40 Hallocks are buried, including Bethia, Noah’s wife, who died in 1766. Another room is dedicated to Rocky Point’s ties with radio history, including artifacts from RCA, which operated out of a transmitting station just down the road from the house off of Rocky Point-Yaphank Road.

Tours are conducted by trained docents such as Nancy Pav of Rocky Point, who was leading the tours on Saturday. Pav stressed the importance of preservation.

“If we don’t preserve old houses like this one, people will tear them down and build monstrous vinyl palaces,” Pav said. “We are preserving the history of a house that was in the same family from 1721 to the 1960s. It’s extremely unusual.”

Stiefel said that new artifacts on display this season include the wedding album of Sylvester Hallock and his second wife Josephine and photos of the now-abandoned Rocky Point drive-in movie theater.

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) praised the society for offering another season of tours, especially because of the awareness they promote.

“Rocky Point is a mecca of history and if it wasn’t for the volunteers, this history would not be preserved,” she said. “The tours help to pass down interest and advocacy. If there’s no one to take care of it, they will be lost forever.”

Stiefel refers to the Hallock house as a “precious gem” and added she is proud of the work the society’s volunteers do with the house tours. “They are very dedicated to Rocky Point’s history, which is fascinating,” she said. “We are so happy to share it with the community.”

The Noah Hallock house, located at 172 Hallock Landing Road, is opened for tours April through December, on Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. For group tours or more information, call 631-744-1778.

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Pictured above, from left, is the happy family: Ronald, Lauren, Sophia, Ryan, Lynn and Edgar Roque. Photo from St. Charles Hospital

Port Jefferson residents Lauren Roque and her husband Ronald welcomed their first child, Sophia, at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson on March 28, at 2:33 p.m. Lauren’s sister Lynn and her husband Edgar, who is Ronald’s brother, welcomed their own son, Ryan, at the hospital just two days later — on March 30 at 11:16 a.m.

Born less than 48 hours apart, Sophia weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces at birth and her cousin Ryan weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

The two Roque families reside in separate units within the same multifamily home in Port Jefferson.

St. Johnland Nursing Center in Kings Park is celebrating a milestone this year. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

For a century and a half, the name St. Johnland has been synonymous with helping people from all walks of life. Established in 1866, the Society of St. Johnland is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016.

In 1866, the Society served as a home for veterans and orphans from New York City, but eventually developed into a self-sustaining industrial village.

Today, the St. Johnland Nursing Center is located on the North Shore near Smithtown Bay in Kings Park and serves as a long-term skilled nursing facility caring for about 300 people every day.

Over the course of 150 years, the role of the facility has changed, but their mission remains the same, according to a press release about the anniversary: “To create a caring and supportive environment committed to the highest standards of quality health care … to uphold the principles of human dignity and worth … affirm the right of every individual to maintain the optimum quality of life.”

St. Johnland Director of Development Cathie Wardell, who has been at the nursing center for 13 years, reflected on the impact St. Johnland has had on the community and people in need.

“The level of care for the people whose care is entrusted to us is very high and it’s amazing to see everyday,” Wardell said in a phone interview.

The nursing center shifted its focus from children to the elderly in the 1950s. Today, their primary focuses are providing care for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and traumatic brain injuries.

“The fact that this institution has survived and persisted for 150 years focusing on different demographics, the fact that we are 98 to 99-percent full all the time, that we have evolved over the years to make the changing needs of the community with our specialty units and adult day care programs is significant and noteworthy,” Wardell added.

In honor of the anniversary, the society will hold four events during 2016. For all of June, historical photographs of St. Johnland will be on display at the Kings Park Library.

On June 18, people who grew up at the facility around 70 years ago will gather for a reunion.

On Oct. 27, a dinner will be held at Watermill in Kings Park to honor the Fire Department and EMT Squad, and on Nov. 18, town historian Brad Harris will deliver a lecture on the history of the Society.

For more information about the anniversary or any of the events, call 631-663-2457 or visit www.stjohnland.org.

The Red Cross is highlighting Joe and Lori-Ann Spaccarelli in honor of National Volunteer Week. Photo from Donna Nicholls

The Spaccarelli siblings don’t argue often. But when they do, it’s about preparing people for calamities like house fires through their fire safety programs at the Red Cross.

Last year, Joe Spaccarelli joined the Red Cross after seven children died in a house fire in Midwood, Brooklyn, in March 2015. According to Spaccarelli, the family’s hot plate malfunctioned and the only working smoke alarm was in the basement of the home. The incident was enough to make Spaccarelli quit his job of 27-years to work full-time for the Red Cross as a lead for its home fire safety program. Spaccarelli started volunteering for the Red Cross during Superstorm Sandy, in 2012.

“When that happened, I lifted an eyebrow going ‘huh, it must be a very worthy cause,’” said Lori-Ann, Spaccarelli’s younger sister, about her brother quitting his job to work for the Red Cross.

Lori-Ann Spaccarelli, of Farmingdale, joined the organization as a volunteer last year. She became one of the Long Island volunteer leads for the Home Fire Safety program, after her brother left the position in September to be the program director for Get Alarmed New York City. The Red Cross volunteer and elementary school art teacher in Syosset school district said she couldn’t “say no” to helping a program that her brother loved.

The Red Cross’s Home Fire Safety and Get Alarmed New York City programs don’t only focus on educating people about fire safety and the importance of fire and smoke alarms. Volunteers also install smoke alarms free of charge. The fire safety program aims to reduce home fire-related deaths by 25 percent.

The goal of Get Alarmed NYC is to establish 100,000 smoke alarms in the NYC region within two years. The siblings said they install three to four alarms per home. While they said some homes don’t have an alarm at all, other homes don’t always have one that is working.

“When we go into a lot of these homes, it’s either that the smoke detectors aren’t working, the batteries are missing or the batteries are low,” Joe Spaccarelli said. “It beeps, they take the battery out.”

Spaccarelli added that some residents never get a chance to replace the batteries. Forty percent of the time, fire-related deaths and injuries occur when there isn’t a working alarm in the residence. According to Red Cross CEO Elizabeth Barker, the Red Cross responds nationally to around 70,000 home fires a year. Home fire preparedness isn’t simply about adding smoke detectors and informing people about escape plans, but also about educating young children.

Lori-Ann Spaccarelli started the Pillowcase Project in her school. The program teaches young kids how to get out and cope with home fires and other hazardous. The Disney-sponsored program began after Hurricane Katrina, when college students in Louisiana packed various items in their pillowcases before heading to a shelter.

According to the Spaccarellis, the program puts children at ease during a tragedy, which also helps parents remain calm.

“The children exiting those [Pillowcase Project] lessons come out with much more confidence and conviction when they go home to let their parents know,” Joe Spaccarelli said. “They know what to do and they’re comfortable.”

While the duo didn’t have any prior experience running these kinds of programs, helping others is in their blood.

Growing up, the Spaccarellis said their parents regularly gave back to their community, which encouraged the siblings to help others as well.

For the siblings, helping others is a family affair and Barker said the pair brings that same vibe to the Red Cross.

“Usually what I have is a husband-wife duo,” Barker said. “It’s been really fun to have this brother-sister dynamic to work with. It makes it feel more like a family.”

By Rabbi Mendy Goldberg

Friday night, April 22, Jews the world over will be celebrating the first night of Passover with a traditional meal called the “Seder.” During the Seder, we observe various traditions such as eating the “matzah” (an unleavened bread) horseradish and drinking four cups of wine.

Mendy-GoldbergwAll of these rituals are reminders of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt 3,327 years ago, the birth of the Jewish nation. Our ancestor’s miraculous release from oppression to freedom has served as a source of inspiration for many generations and will do so for many more to come.

A central theme of this holiday is asking questions and providing relevant answers so that children will understand the significance of this celebration. I, however, find myself asking year-after-year the same question: What meaning does an ancient story and its associated ceremony hold for the average American in 2016?  How can we look at events that transpired so long ago and still be spiritually inspired by them?

The answer is found in the Talmudic dictum: “In every generation a person must feel as if he or she was liberated from Egypt.” In other words, we have a responsibility to make an ancient experience important to us living in modern times. We achieve this by recognizing that the imprisonment from which the ancient Hebrews sought emancipation is conceptually still present.

Slavery finds many forms and takes on various appearances. In days of old, it was depicted by a whip-toting taskmaster hovering over a slave with a chain wrapped around his ankle. Today, bondage is often found in our jobs, relationships and attitudes where we find ourselves addicted to a certain negative trait and find it excruciatingly difficult to “break free.” Sometimes we are trapped in a bad relationship or negative habitual behaviors with no easy way out.  Then there are those who are enslaved to material items and cannot possibly fathom life without them. At times we box ourselves into believing less in ourselves then we are truly capable of. Are these not the modern-day equivalents of slavery?

Therefore, every year as we begin the holiday of Passover and the celebration of freedom, we are reminded that the stories we recount and the rituals we observe are more about a commitment to the present then reminiscing about the past. During this time of year, we once again reaffirm our obligation to fight all forms of bigotry, negativity and slavery, be they within or without, to think and do “out of the box,”  realize and actualize our true potential. And, most important, we devote ourselves to being positive members of society at a time when we all crave the most priceless blessing of all: peace on earth.

Rabbi Mendy Goldberg is the Rabbi at Lubavitch of the East End in Coram.

Event attendees learn how to use Narcan to counteract opioid overdoses. Photo by Giselle Barkley

By Giselle Barkley

Parents and students alike walked out of Mount Sinai High School knowing the ugly truth about heroin and opioid use and addiction. But they also walked away with a lesson about Narcan.

Event attendees learn how to use Narcan to counteract opioid overdoses. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Event attendees learn how to use Narcan to counteract opioid overdoses. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The school district held it’s first “The Ugly Truth” presentation on Tuesday in the Mount Sinai High School auditorium. Suffolk County Police Department officer George Lynagh, EMS officer Jason Byron and county Medical Examiner Michael Caplan tackled the origins of heroin and trends among addicts over the years. Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also spoke at the event.

But residents didn’t simply learn about heroin on the Island, they also left with their own Narcan kits after Byron led a Narcan training class. According to Sgt. Kathleen Kenneally of the police department’s Community Response Bureau, Narcan, also known as Naloxone, was successfully administered around 530 times since the opiate antidote was introduced to the police department in July 2012.

Narcan, which reverses the effect of heroin or other opiate-based overdoses, can be administered via an injection or nasal spray. Mount Sinai resident Susan Matias said the spray is a friendly option for community members.

“Here, it’s introduced through the nasal passages — there’s no harm done, you’re not afraid of administering a needle and/or sticking yourself in the moment of chaos,” Matias said. “I think that’s why people are more open to partake and participate in the training.”

The nasal spray also makes it easier for people who still have a stigma about drug addicts and users. Byron reminded residents that the face of addicts has evolved and they’re not the only ones in need of drugs like Narcan.

“Sadly, the connotation is, we think people that could have overdosed are dirty when really it doesn’t have to be,” Byron said. “For opiate overdose, it doesn’t mean that it’s someone addicted to heroin. It could be somebody who’s possibly on pain management for cancer, end of life care, hospice care. It’s not the stereotypical — I hate to say it — junkie. That’s not what we’re seeing out there.”

According to Caplan, in the last few years, drug addicts who’ve overdosed on the substance have gotten younger and younger. The rate of opiate overdose deaths has increased by 140 percent since 2000. Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, are responsible for 80 percent of these death rate increases.

Fentanyl, which some dealers or users will mix with another drug like heroin, is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Combining this drug with others can make it difficult when administering Narcan.

“One of the problems with Fentanyl is, because it’s so potent, because it acts so fast, you may need to give multiple doses of Naloxone,” Caplan said.

According to Lynagh, the police department is starting to see higher levels of Fentanyl. He added that in his more than three decades as a police officer, the drug is one of the more addictive drugs he has seen. Lynagh added that heroin was initially introduced to combat morphine addiction.

“We don’t have too many people addicted to morphine now,” Lynagh said. “We have this heroin addiction, so sometimes we mean to do something well or combat a drug or something bad, with something else that’s bad.”

Donna and Kelly McCauley, front row, third and fourth from left, with their Girl Scout troop. Photo by Jenn Intravaia Photography

By Ernestine Franco

If you missed last year’s Butterfly Breakfast for a Cure fundraiser in Miller Place, you’ll have another chance to attend next week. And, no, this is not a fundraiser to help butterflies. It is a fundraiser to support research of the worst disease you have never heard of.

The event, to be held on Saturday, April 23 at Applebee’s Restaurant at 355 Route 25A with seatings from 8 to 9 a.m., will be held in support of DEBRA of America, an organization that provides assistance and education to families with children born with the genetic condition of epidermolysis bullosa.

Young people who suffer from this disease are called “butterfly children” because their skin is so fragile it blisters or tears from friction or trauma. Currently, there is no treatment or cure for this disease.

Although this event if often associated with Rocky Point resident Donna McCauley, she wants to make it clear that her daughter Kelly is the driving force behind the fundraiser.

“Three years ago, Kelly was inspired to get more involved with DEBRA of America. She has always felt a lot of compassion for those afflicted with my skin disease, having watched me and her Uncle Bob deal with its many challenges through the years. Her first year as a Young Ambassador for DEBRA, Kelly hosted a small fundraiser at the Rocky Point High School where she raised almost $500,” said McCauley in a recent email. “So, giving credit where credit is due, her dad Michael and I could not be prouder of what a kind, giving and compassionate young lady she has become,” she added. Last year’s event raised almost $5,000.

As they have in the past, members of Donna McCauley’s Girl Scout troop, of which Kelly is a member, will volunteer their time as servers for the breakfast. So come and “enjoy a short stack for a tall cause.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children 10 and under, and include pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and a beverage (coffee, tea, juice or soda). There will also be a Buy-a-Chance auction with some fantastic prizes. Tickets can be purchased online at www.debra.org/butterflybreakfast2016 or by calling 631-821-6740.

Bob Koch, above, of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai, hangs up the flags each year for Heritage Park’s “Parade of Flags.” Photo from Fred Drewes

Bob Koch is no stranger to giving back.

The single father of three and owner of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai is known for his generosity and willingness to always lend his services, or just a helping hand.

“I get emotional talking about him, because he’s just such a wonderful person,” daughter Kara Koch said. “Anybody he meets, he always gives them a chance and makes sure to think the best of them. He really goes above and beyond for everybody and anybody.”

According to Bob Koch’s son Jeremy, his grandfather started the business and his dad took over, working on some major jobs while heading the company. Bob Koch helped clean up Battery Park in Manhattan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, planted trees and plants at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai, helped local businesses plant trees for Christmas tree lightings and he does basic maintenance and upkeep around the area. He donates much of the time he spends on these community projects.

Bob Koch and two workers plant a dogwood and other trees along the Avenue of America. Photo from Fred Drewes
Bob Koch and two workers plant a dogwood and other trees along the Avenue of America. Photo from Fred Drewes

Nick Aliano Sr., who owns Aliano Real Estate in Miller Place, said Koch helped plant a nearly 30-foot tree at the Aliano Shopping Center to honor his son Robert, who was run over by a car and battled through a long recovery. Despite the first tree dying and the replacement tree almost succumbing to the same fate, Koch made it his goal to keep the tree alive.

“He wanted the tree to make it — it was his mission,” he said. “It would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to do what he did, and we didn’t ask him for a favor; he offered it. He’s a special guy. Behind the lines, Bob is putting back into the community. A lot of people don’t even see it. That’s the kind of guy he is. He doesn’t make an announcement about it.”

The Miller Place Fire Department holds an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the tree, which Robert Aliano lights, and where Koch is mentioned for his generosity for the wonderful things he does for his community.

At Heritage Park, Koch sometimes sends his crew in to help with landscaping and cleaning up, according to Heritage Trust Office Manager Susan Peters.

“Everything he does here has been totally volunteer,” she said. “He has made the park more beautiful and more inviting, and he’s done so many things that we couldn’t afford to do.”

Fred Drewes, who has also donated a lot of his own time to landscaping the property, said the environment Koch has created at the park will be admired for generations to come.

“I feel grateful and blessed by his willingness and graciousness to help make our small local park seem so large and enjoyable for so many people,” he said.

At “The Wedge,” Koch has donated and planted trees along the parking lot, as well as a tree for an annual lighting around Christmas, and helped with the planting of trees along the park’s “Avenue of America.”

There is also a Parade of Flags that is arranged on national holidays. Koch’s daughter Katie once asked her father if waking up early to hang flags for each state “drove him crazy.”

“He responded, ‘You know Katie, one thing that’s important is you always give back,’” she recalled. “He always made that a big thing. It’s never a job to him.”

Bob Koch, of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai, hangs up the flags each year for Heritage Park’s “Parade of Flags,” above. Photo from Fred Drewes
Bob Koch, of Koch Tree Services in Mount Sinai, hangs up the flags each year for Heritage Park’s “Parade of Flags,” above. Photo from Fred Drewes

She finds that positivity and care is contagious: “He’s such a hard worker,” she said. “The man sometimes works six or seven days a week and still has time to give to his family and the community, and he does it with a smile.”

Carmella “Miss Mella” Livingston of Miss Mella’s Footsteps to Learning, a child care center in Coram, said Koch donated time to take care of her property and planted a tree in honor of her late husband.

“He’s taken care of it all as a good community gesture,” she said. “Besides being very community-oriented, very generous and very kind, he’s also very upbeat, very happy. He’s definitely an asset to the community, but also as a dad. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone who is so giving.”

Although he works quietly, neighbors have taken notice.

Katie Koch recalled driving down the street with her father last year, slowing down for a sign someone hung up on their front porch: “It said, ‘Thank you Bob Koch for everything you’ve done,’” she said. “I remember thinking how proud I was that that was my dad. He’s the most selfless person I know.”

According to Kara Koch, who is an office assistant at Koch Tree Services, her father has inspired his family and everyone in the community to always be positive and the best you can be.

“He’s taught me how to love, how to care, how to be responsible, how to be successful,” she said. “Seeing what he does, it makes me want to be the kind of person he is, and if I can be half the person he is, I’d be a very happy girl.”

A view of a spine captured using the O-arm. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

By Victoria Espinoza

Huntington Hospital has been under the leadership of Dr. Gerard Brogan for the past year, and since he assumed his post, the hospital has implemented new surgical procedures, protocols and equipment to ensure patients are offered the most advanced and effective treatment they can get.

Brogan, the executive director, first joined the team at Huntington in January 2015 but has been a resident of the town for the past 20 years.

Dr. Gerard Brogan, has been exectuive director of Huntington Hospital for about 15 months. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian
Dr. Gerard Brogan, has been exectuive director of Huntington Hospital for about 15 months. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

“My philosophy is I want to work at a hospital where I would go as a patient or would send my family to,” Brogan said in a phone interview. “If anything happens to me in Huntington, I am coming to this ER.”

Huntington recently became the first hospital on Long Island to offer the O-arm, a surgical imaging system that generates a three-dimensional computer model of the spine. This over $1 million equipment helps doctors have a more precise view of what they are operating on during surgeries, like screwing nails into the spine.

During the operation, the neurosurgeon refers to the monitors, which provide real-time verification of the location of surgical tools and implants with submillimeter accuracy.

The first surgery using the O-arm was successfully completed at the end of March, and according to Brogan, six more successful surgeries have followed.

The executive director said this equipment ensures “the ultimate in surgical precision,” and that the use of this machinery is “an indication how cutting-edge our hospital is.”

“If you want to be a leader for excellence, you need this capability,” he said.

Dr. Robert Kerr, chief of neurosurgery at Huntington Hospital, was the first to use the O-arm.

“When you have to place a stabilizing screw into the spine and it passes within millimeters of the spinal cord, nerve root or vital arteries, there is no substitute for the kind of accuracy the O-arm provides to a neurosurgeon,” Kerr said in a statement.

Changes at the hospital are coming in even bigger packages.

A view of a spine captured using the O-arm. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian
A view of a spine captured using the O-arm. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

The hospital is currently in the middle of creating an entirely new $43 million emergency department, which Brogan said will cut down waiting times, help diagnose patients faster and overall improve the quality of a patient’s stay while in the emergency department.

He said some of the protocol changes have already been implemented in the current emergency department, cutting down patients’ wait time by an average of 48 minutes, due to methods like including physicians when a patient is first being triaged and beginning blood work sooner, but added that he is excited to see further changes implemented.

“I think for the patients, the experience is going to be just phenomenal,” Brogan said.

Awards have followed the success of Huntington, with the hospital recently named a national 2016 Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The hospital is one of 11 named to this list, in the Northwell Health system. The nursing staff at the hospital also received Magnet Recognition for excellence in nursing for the past 12 years, a national recognition that less than eight percent of hospitals worldwide have earned.

“If we are going to do something [at Huntington Hospital],” Brogan said, “we do it as well, if not better, than anywhere else in the country.”

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