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Huntington Hospital

From left, Bill Musto, deputy director of Huntington Parks and Recreation; Greg Wagner, town director of Parks and Recreation; Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci; Randy Howard, vice president of operations at Huntington Hospital; and Dr. Michael Dannenberg, chairman of dermatology at Huntington Hospital at the Crab Meadow Beach dispenser. Photo from Town of Huntington

Town of Huntington officials are taking steps to make sure residents can more safely have fun in the sun — without a cost to the town.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) unveiled the installment of 16 sunscreen dispensers at the town’s parks, beaches and outdoor recreational spaces July 27 at Crab Meadow Beach in Fort Salonga sponsored by Huntington Hospital-Northwell Health.

“Families and visitors of all ages can now have extra peace of mind when spending time together at Huntington’s beaches and parks,” Lupinacci said.

One person dies every hour within the United States from malignant melanoma.”

– Michael Dannenberg

The bright yellow dispensers, designed by Long Beach-based Creative Vibe Advertising, were mounted near the entrance of 14 different town-owned facilities earlier this week. The sunscreen will be provided at no cost to Huntington taxpayers under the town’s skin cancer prevention program, which is now fully sponsored by Huntington Hospital-Northwell Health.

“Skin cancer has great significance since its incident rates are rapidly increasing,” said Randy Howard, vice president of operations for Huntington Hospital-Northwell Health. “We want to help our communities stay healthy in skin-care prevention by making these dispensers available to everyone.”

Dr. Michael Dannenberg, chairman of dermatology at Huntington Hospital, said while basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma remain the most common types of skin cancer, cases of malignant melanoma — the deadliest form — have increased by 53 percent since 2008.

“One person dies every hour within the United States from malignant melanoma,” he said.

Families and visitors of all ages can now have extra peace of mind when spending time together at Huntington’s beaches and parks.”

– Chad Lupinacci

Suffolk County Legislator Susan Berland (D-Dix Hills), previously on the town board through December 2017, had been diagnosed with skin cancer while in office. Berland sponsored legislation for Huntington to test run a free sunscreen dispenser at Crab Meadow Beach in 2016 and successfully advocated for townwide expansion of the program in 2017.

“I’m glad they are continuing the program I worked so hard and diligently to create for the town,” she said. “Nothing is more important than people’s skin.” 

Berland said that it was always her intention to find a sponsor for the program as the sunscreen cost the town approximately $600 in 2017. Now she plans to bring a proposal to expand the program before Suffolk Legislature to cover the county’s recreational facilities.

Free sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 will be provided at the following locations: Crab Meadow Beach, Crab Meadow Golf Course, Asharoken Beach, Breezy Park, Centerport Beach, Crescent Beach, Dix Hills Park swimming pool and golf course, Elwood Park, Fleets Cove Beach, Gold Star Battalion Beach, Hobart Beach, Manor Field Park, West Neck Beach and Veterans Park. Each unit will be checked once a week and restocked on an as-needed basis, according to Howard.

I’m glad they are continuing the program I worked so hard and diligently to create for the town.”

– Susan Berland

Dannenberg said that he professionally recommends that people use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15, which is proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer by more than 50 percent. He said there is a reason the town’s units will offer sunscreen with SPF of 30.

“We all have a tendency to under apply sunscreen when we put it on,” he said. “The actual SPF you are seeing on your skin is lower than the SPF on the bottle. We tell people to use a minimum SPF of 30, knowing when they under apply it will get them to approximately a 15.”

Now that the dispensers are installed, Huntington Hospital’s chief dermatologist said the most important thing is for parents to be good role models.

“If parents come to the beach, bring their kids and don’t apply their sunscreen, they are teaching the kids that it’s not an important thing,” Dannenberg said. “It gets to be as a teenager they won’t use their sunscreen.”

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Owner expects to raise up to $7,000 a month for two Long Island hospitals

A customer paying 5 cents to purchase a plastic bag from IGA Fort Salonga. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A Fort Salonga business owner has found a way to put a positive spin on one of Suffolk’s newest mandated fees for the Huntington community.

Charlie Reichert, owner of IGA Fort Salonga Market, announced Jan. 25 that he will be donating all proceeds from the county’s new 5-cent fee for plastic bags to benefit Huntington Hospital and Eastern Long
Island Hospital in Greenport. He is calling for other business owners to do the same.

“It came to me when people were really complaining about the plastic bag, ‘Why are you charging a nickel? Why are you getting the money?’” Reichert said. “That gave me the idea, why don’t we give the money to charity.”

The new 5-cent fee, approved by the Suffolk County Legislature in September 2016, applies to the single-use plastic or paper bags provided by cashiers at the end of a sale and used to carry goods from the store.

Reichert who owns five IGA supermarkets in Bayville, Fort Salonga, Greenport, East Northport and Southold, said he’s already seen a 50 percent decrease in consumer use of single-use plastic bags since Jan. 1.

“It’s amazing how people are walking in with the reusable bags again,” the supermarket owner said. He noted his stores gave away 3,000 reusable bags in January.

Reichert said he expects the nickel surcharge to generate approximately $6,000 to $7,000 a month for charity.

Dr. Gerard Brogan, executive director of Huntington Hospital, said the funds will be used to help toward building and renovating the hospital’s facilities — most immediately, the hospital’s maternity ward.

“It’s kind of a double privilege for me as a doctor who works at Huntington Hospital,” said county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), who sponsored the initial legislation. “Huntington Hospital is a hospital I’ve called home, where I’ve worked for 20 years. Their mission is to improve the community. It’s a perfect match.”

Suffolk Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said he has reached out to other stores in his district to discuss the initiative. Trotta said he’s gotten ShopRite locations in Hauppauge and Patchogue to support the cause, donating proceeds of the fee to Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares, specifically to benefit local veterans in need. He’s currently in conversations with several big-box retailers including Walmart, Target and CVS.

“I hope it spreads like wildfire,” Trotta  said. “I think this has the potential to put millions of dollars in local Suffolk County charities.”

When asked if this charitable initiative would work well with the law’s original intent of reducing plastic waste in our environment, both Trotta and Spencer called the situation a “win-win.”

“If this fails, it means people aren’t purchasing plastic bags, which is a win,” Spencer said. “If there is a lot of money and it’s going to charity, it’s also a win.”

Editor’s note:  This post was undated 

Pilot programs aimed at identifying and aiding trafficking victims and potential targets

Dr. Santhosh Paulus, of Huntington Hospital, and Shandra Woworuntu, a human trafficking survivor, together at Huntington Hospital. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington Hospital is taking the first step toward helping its health care workers better identify and aid human trafficking victims in the community.

Dr. Santhosh Paulus, a hospitalist at Huntington Hospital, will launch a pilot program for Northwell Health aiming to train hospital staff how to recognize and then provide support to human trafficking victims.

“Six months ago, when I was asked to join a human trafficking task force I said, ‘Gee, that’s interesting. I’m here 19 years and I’ve never come across a patient involved in human trafficking,’” said Judy Richter, a social worker at Huntington Hospital. “We have been missing quite a few patients as we had not been trained in how to recognize the signs or what we can do to help them.”

We need to promote humane work in hospitals. This is the front line to identify victims.”
— Shandra Woworuntu

In December 2017, the former owner of the Thatched Cottage in Centerport was indicted on federal charges for allegedly illegally trafficking workers from the Philippines.

Paulus and his approximately 30-member task force is undergoing training from Restore NYC, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end trafficking in New York. The task force will then train the hospital’s emergency room department and ambulatory center in recognizing signs of both current victims and potential victims.

“Labor trafficking in agriculture or the restaurant industry looks so different from sex trafficking,” Paulus said, noting human trafficking occurs in more than 25 different trades. “There are so many avenues of how you can be trafficked, there’s no simple answer.”

Some signs physicians will look for are patients seeking treatment accompanied by another individual who is holding onto a patient’s documents and identification for them, answering all questions for them, avoiding eye contact and certain tattoos.

“Human trafficking victims are hard to identify because it’s hidden, you cannot see it with plain sight,” said Shandra Woworuntu, a member of the U.S. Council on Human Trafficking. “Sometime, they walk around. When [my captors] escorted me around, nobody saw me.”

Human trafficking victims are hard to identify because it’s hidden, you cannot see it with plain sight”
— Shandra Woworuntu

As a sex trafficking survivor, Woworuntu spoke to hospital staff Jan. 12 to share her personal perspective. The former bank manager and money market trader came to the United States at age 34, when religious persecution made her feel unsafe in her home country of Indonesia. She arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport through an employment agency that promised her a $5,000-a-month job working in a Chicago hotel. Instead, her passport was seized and she was abducted into a sex trafficking ring operating out of Queens.

“[My captor] demanded from me $30,0000 to be free,” Woworuntu said. “I was compliant due to the abuse, the violence, guns and knife.”

She would make her escape by climbing through a second-story bathroom window. However, Woworuntu said she faced skepticism when initially seeking help from New York City police, churches and even the Indonesian consulate. When brought to a hospital, she recalled screaming as physicians examined her because she didn’t speak any English and wasn’t fully informed what procedures were being done.

“Even if I came from a place that was dirty, I am still human,” Woworuntu said. “We need to promote humane work in hospitals. This is the front line to identify victims.”

As a survivor, Woworuntu hoped sharing her story with Paulus and other Huntington Hospital would help staff members to treat victims with dignity. She now runs Mentari, a 501(c)(3) organization in New York that provides support, basic necessities and vocational training for trafficking victims.

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Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a two-vehicle crash that killed a Centerport man Nov. 6.

Tyler Gomes was driving a 2007 Subaru eastbound on Cuba Hill Road in Greenlawn when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed into the westbound lane and struck a 2016 Toyota 4Runner, driven by Allison Raich, at approximately 9:35 a.m.

Gomez, 26, who was alone in his vehicle, was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Raich, 33, of East Northport, and her 9-month-old son were transported to Huntington Hospital where Raich was treated for broken bones and the child was evaluated and released.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

Huntington Hospital volunteers pose with MD Anderson Cancer Center nurses in Houston. Photos from Meghan Billia

Huntington nurses went to work and rolled up their sleeves to help out the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Three Huntington Hospital nurses stepped forward to answer a call for aid from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The Texas hospital had put out a nationwide request for volunteer nurses to provide relief for their own staff members impacted by the storm.

“I got into nursing because I wanted to help people,” Meghan Billia, an oncology nurse at Huntington Hospital, said. “When you hear there’s a greater scale on which you can help people, it feels like something you should do.”

Billia, of Huntington, stepped up for the first time as she knew firsthand the havoc that storm and flooding could wreak on one’s personal life. She had lived on the South Shore of Long Island when Hurricane Sandy hit Oct. 22, 2012.

ER nurse Demetrios Papadopoulos, of Bellmore, traveled to Houston from Sept. 9 to 16 with Billia.

“When I got down there, the first thing I asked was if I could work every day,” he said. “Houston is a lovely city, but I’ll go down another time to see it.”

Papadopoulos said he learned that roughly 70 percent of the employees of MD Anderson had been affected in some way by the storm. To further add to its problem, the Houston hospital had been forced to cancel approximately 300 surgeries scheduled the week that Harvey hit.

Meghan Billia stands with co-worker and friend at MD Anderson. Photos from Meghan Billia

“They were adding on 100 cases a week in order to catch back up,” Papadopoulos said. “In addition to being understaffed, they were overbooked.”

The volunteers were given a one-day crash course on MD Anderson’s computer systems then immediately scheduled to work up to 12-hour shifts. By taking over Houston nurses’ schedules, Huntington Hospital’s staff was providing much-needed time for them to file insurance claims on flooded homes, begin ripping out damaged floors and sheetrock, and grieve the death of loved ones.

“We were covering nurses who were affected by the hurricane personally,” Billia said. “It’s not often you get to go somewhere and help other nurses. You usually go to help the patient. This was helping the staff and giving back to fellow nurses.”

While rolling up their sleeves and putting in long hours at the hospital, the volunteers also said it turned out to be an unexpected learning experience.

“There are parts of MD Anderson that are highly specialized,” Papadopoulos said. “I got to see what they have and what they are capable of. They had a few ideas that I hope to bring back here.

MD Anderson is nationally ranked as the No. 1 hospital for adult cancer treatment by U.S. News & World Report.

Billia said working in oncology she learned about a different style of IV pump and equipment that allows chemotherapy to be administered differently to cancer
patients. She brought a sample product back to Huntington Hospital for staff members to review and discuss.

Both first-time volunteers said they were surprised, and nearly overwhelmed, by the appreciation and gratitude of MD Anderson’s staff. Papadopoulos said Houston staff members attempted to take him out to dinner on his last night in the city, while Billia was given a few small presents for her hard work including a T-shirt.

A third nurse who volunteered, Shaneel Blanchard, could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Gerard Brogan Jr., the executive director of Huntington Hospital, said he fully supported the actions of his employees taking time to volunteer in Texas.

“I’m very proud of our dedicated staff who went down to Houston to help the people
affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Brogan said in a statement. “As a hospital that turned into a community resource during Hurricane Sandy with caregivers who constantly go above and beyond for their patients, it’s not surprising that our staff would feel compelled to help people whenever they can.”

Billia and Papadopoulos said they have both stayed in touch with those they met while volunteering. Papadopoulos hopes to make a trip down once the city has recovered, while Billia is keeping in touch via text messages.

Scott Lipton. Mugshot from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested a Centerport man for driving while intoxicated with one stepson in the vehicle, after he was involved in a motor vehicle crash in Centerport Sept. 4 in which he hit another stepson with his car.

Scott Lipton was driving his 2017 Jaguar southbound on Laurel Hill Road when his vehicle struck his 13-year-old stepson, who was walking his dog, and then a pole at approximately 5:50 p.m.

The 13-year-old was transported by Suffolk County police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of a broken leg. Lipton’s 9-year-old stepson, who was a passenger in the car, was transported by Centerport Fire Department to Huntington Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Lipton, 42 of Laurel Hill Road, was not injured. The dog was not injured.

Second Squad detectives charged Lipton with aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child passenger 15 years or younger (Leandra’s Law) and endangering the welfare of a child. He will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Sept. 5.

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Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in Huntington Station July 10.

A 20-year-old woman from Huntington was driving a 2001 Buick eastbound on Jericho Turnpike, just west of Hunters Lane, when her vehicle struck a man who was crossing northbound at approximately 2:15 p.m. The victim, Vitaliy Yaremchuk, 34, of Philadelphia, was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the car was not injured and remained at the scene.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation in ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Second Squad at 631854-8252.

Nurses at Huntington Hospital smile during a shift. Photo from Northwell Health

By Victoria Espinoza

The nurses at Huntington Hospital are standing out for all the right reasons.

The staff recently received its fourth consecutive Magnet Recognition, the highest recognition for nursing excellence, becoming the first hospital staff on Long Island to achieve this success, and only the second in New York State.

In order to achieve Magnet Recognition, a staff must achieve strong patient outcomes, high levels of job satisfaction, low staff turnover rate, increased involvement in decision-making and more. The Magnet Recognition is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Susan Knoepffler, chief nursing officer at Huntington Hospital, said the success comes from the team collaboration constantly taking place within the hospital.

“The nurses here are able to make their own decisions about improving nursing care,” Knoepffler said in a phone interview. “Instead of me always explaining to them how things should be done, I take direction from them on the best way to deliver care.”

The strongest example of this method of practice leading to improved patient care comes in the form of the Nightingale phone, a communication device that helps link patients directly with their nurse.

The invention came from the oncology department, where nurses were trying to figure out how to better manage and monitor their patients’ pain levels. Patients have a phone with a red button that instantly connects them with their nurse, instead of having to call the nurses station or have someone go look for their nurse on the floor. The staff said it has decreased wait time for patients and improved patient pain control to a 90 percent success rate.

“It is absolutely the best practice,” Donna Tanzi, director of nursing education, said in a phone interview. “And it was created at our local community hospital.”

Tanzi said she loves that the nurses at Huntington have the ability to continue to grow on a daily basis and are committed to doing the best thing for their patients.

“They are caring for someone’s family members, and they treat their patients as if they’re their own family members,” she said.

Tanzi added Huntington Hospital has always been an organization focused on serving the community.

Knoepffler said the level of education of the nursing staff is another component that leads to such a high standard of care.

The chief nursing officer said by 2020 it will be an expectation at most hospitals that all nurses have a bachelor of science degree in nursing, and at Huntington 90 percent of the nurses already have a BSN. She also said the nursing staff at Huntington has a higher than average level of certified nurses in the departments they serve, like the emergency department or oncology.

“We have happier and more energized nurses because of their passion to succeed,” Knoepffler said. “We support them to try and get the highest education they can.”

As for the fourth Magnet Recognition, Knoepffler said it is “a distinction like no other,” calling it the gold standard of nursing.

“Health care is changing all the time, and this group is so adaptable, and that translates to a passion to have an impact at the bedside,” Knoepffler said.

At a National Nurses Week celebration last month, local officials and Huntington Hospital staff members gathered to thank the staff for its dedication and to celebrate their award.

“Your clinical excellence and attentive care are what make our physicians confident in Huntington Hospital and want to bring their patients here,” Michael B. Grosso, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital, said.

“Nurses are the unsung heroes of our health care system,” Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said at the event.

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Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a shooting that injured two men in Huntington Station early Wednesday morning, May 17.

Two men were standing at East 11th Street and Grand Place at approximately 1:15 a.m. when they were allegedly approached by a group of males who shot them.

The victims, ages 25 and 20, were transported via Huntington Community 1st Aid Squad to Huntington Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

The investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police have arrested a man for driving while intoxicated following a motor vehicle crash that critically injured his passenger in Melville April 14.

Alvarado Barrios-Martinez was driving a 1996 Honda Accord north on Route 110 when he hit a 2014 Subaru Outback, which was stopped at the red light at the intersection of Route 110 and Arrowwood Lane. The Subaru was forced into a third vehicle, a 2016 BMW X3, which was also stopped at the red light.

A male passenger from the Honda was transported to Huntington Hospital in critical condition with a head injury. A female passenger was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Huntington Hospital.

Barrios-Martinez, 26, of Huntington Station was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. He was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip.

All vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252.

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