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Huntington Hospital

Artist Jo-Ann Corretti and Huntington Hospital Board of Directors Chairman William Frazier unveil the painting. Photo by Alex Petroski

People don’t often get to celebrate a 100th birthday, but on May 5 the Huntington Hospital community came together to do just that.

The hospital cared for its first patient in May 1916. To commemorate the centenary, staffers unveiled a commissioned painting of the original, smaller facility and a display of photos and artifacts that spanned the 100-year history.

Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski
Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski

“This is a big day,” Huntington Hospital Board of Directors Chairman William Frazier said in the hospital’s main lobby prior to the unveiling. “You think back 100 years and how modest this institution was — now think where it is today.”

Artist Jo-Ann Corretti was commissioned by the hospital to create a likeness of the building. She used acrylic paint to do the job, which took her about three months.

“They gave me all of these old pictures, anything they could find for me to work from,” Corretti said after the painting was revealed. “I had to lay them all out and I had to take a little from here and a little from there.”

Hospital Executive Director Gerard Brogan spoke about the institution’s mission and how it has remained constant despite many changes to the building and surrounding area.

“I think it’s important just to think about what was the genesis of the hospital,” Brogan said. “It was a 70-year-old woman who was about 5-foot-1 [and] decided that this community needed to have the very best in medical care; care that rivaled any where else in the New York City area or anywhere else on Long Island. That was the spirit that started Huntington Hospital. It was not just to have a hospital, but to have a facility that served the community and provided them the best care that you could find anywhere.”

Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski
Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski

Brogan also detailed many of the awards and accolades the hospital has received in recent years, which he credited to the dedicated and caring staff.

“You do not need to leave your area to go into New York City to get outstanding, cutting-edge care,” Brogan said. “That is the commitment of this institution and all of the people that work in it. Everybody here is titled ‘caregiver,’ because everybody impacts the patient experience.”

The Huntington Historical Society helped to amass artifacts, like obstetrician/gynecologist equipment from the 1930s and a bill from 1960 with substantially lower prices than today, to be displayed around the hospital’s lobby.

The painting will be auctioned off in November at the hospital’s annual benefit gala. Prints are also for sale.

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.”

The front entrance of Huntington Hospital's new emergency department that will open in 2017. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

The days of dreading the emergency room may be over come Jan. 2, 2017.

Huntington Hospital is more than one year into $43 million worth of renovations for its new emergency department, which was designed to herald in shorter wait times, a separate pediatric section, an expanded trauma center, and private rooms for all patients.

The department is expected to open the day after New Years Day next year, with all state-of-the-art equipment and protocol.

“Most of our admissions come through the ER, most of the people in the building came through the ER, so that’s your face to the community,” said Gerard X. Brogan, MD, executive director at Huntington Hospital and professor of emergency medicine at Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine.

The plan for Huntington Hospital's new emergency department, which will be more than twice the size of the current one. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
The plan for Huntington Hospital’s new emergency department. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Brogan said the current ER sees about 51,000 patients a year, but was designed for 24,000. Coming in at around 31,000 square feet, this new facility promises to be bigger and better than anything Huntington residents have seen before, Brogan said.

“So this will be more than twice the size of the current department,” he said.

By far the most common complaint patients visiting the ER have is the wait time. And Brogan said the new layout and protocol would help cut wait time down and expedite the process of a patient being treated.

“Part of that bottleneck starts right up front. You wait to even get triaged and see a nurse,” he said. “This ER has four different triage stations, and at the time of triage there will be either a physician, a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner there. As you’re getting triaged the workup is already starting. We’re taking blood samples, we’re deciding if you need any X-Rays.”

Brogan also said that by the time a patient is sent to the department to be treated, “your blood is already cooking in the lab, radiology is already coming to find you for an X-ray and a doctor is already started to direct your work up.”

He said the hospital’s current ER has already put this method into effect and has cut down patients’ visit by an average of 48 minutes — about one third of their stay.

“It shouldn’t be a penalty for being sick that you sit in an ER for five hours,” Brogan said.

New staff protocol should also cut down wait times. This includes a new lab testing system that has just been put into use, which brings the quickest results in the North Well health system, according to Brogan. Biofire FilmArray, a molecular multiplex assay, allows for results to be returned within an hour rather than 24 hours. This helps patients spend less time at the hospital and allow for treatment to be administered faster if necessary.

The floor to ceiling windows that will be featured in the special results waiting area in the new Huntington Hospital emergency department that will open in 2017. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
The floor to ceiling windows that will be featured in the special results waiting area in the new Huntington Hospital emergency department that will open in 2017. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“Determining someone’s illness and beginning to treat it quickly is vital for the patient,” Gary Stone, MD, associate chair of pathology and laboratory medicine said in a statement. “This faster laboratory test will also help Huntington Hospital’s emergency department to diagnose, treat and release patients faster.”

Another way Brogan said the ER plans to keep patients happy while they wait is through additional lounge areas.

“Some tests, by their very nature, take at least 45 minutes to an hour to actually perform, so we will have a special results waiting area with comfortable recliners and floor to ceiling windows,” he said. “You’re not going to be sitting on a stretcher, you’ll be out in a lounge area, looking outside and seeing sunlight or watching the sunset.”

The layout also aims at redoing the current entrance system, he said. There will be two entrances in the new ER, one for ambulances and one for patients and families coming in. “Now, if you’re walking your kid in with a sore throat there can be an ambulance unloading right next to you,” Brogan said. “This way, we keep the dramatic traumas which might be uncomfortable to young children around the corner.”

The new department will be giving patients single rooms that measure up to 11 feet by 13 feet.

“You can close your door, and you don’t have to see or hear or smell any of the other cases going on in the emergency department.”

In terms of the ER, which is now 20 years old, Brogan said nothing has been decided yet as to what it will be used for. But some ideas, he said, included creating an advanced treatment center — which would help patients whose illnesses might’ve taken days to diagnose and treat before — be treated within several hours instead of being committed to the hospital for a few days.

The pediatric emergency department has already been renamed after New York Islanders Hall of Famer Clark Gillies, who committed to donating $2 million to the department through the Clark Gillies Foundation. Staff said they are still hoping to receive other donations to rename parts of the ER including the special results waiting area.

Although residents won’t be able to walk through the doors for another 10 months, staff is already eager to share the space.

“I think for the patients, the experience is going to be just phenomenal,” Brogan said. “You’ll have your own room, auditory and visual privacy, with all the bells and whistles, and monitors in every room outfitted for the most complex patient.”

Stock photo

Huntington Hospital is taking preventative steps to ensure its patients know how to combat the Zika virus.

The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a “public health emergency of international concern” this week, just days after three Long Island patients tested positive for the virus. The Centers for Disease Control issued a travel alert for anyone going to regions including South America and Latin America, and Huntington Hospital officials said they were making sure to educate their patients about the symptoms and steps to take if diagnosed with the viral infection that is being spread through mosquitoes.

Denise Naval, director of infection, prevention and control at Huntington Hospital, said that while there is currently no treatment for the virus, there are several precautions a person can take to fight off the mosquito-related Zika.

Naval said the virus is closely related to Yellow Fever, the West Nile Virus and the Dengue virus, which are all also spread through mosquito bites. She said the Zika virus is spread from the Aedes mosquito, specifically.

There are two types of Aedes species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, but only the former currently carries Zika with it and it is not native to Long Island, she said. It’s most common in tropical areas of the world. The latter does not currently carry the virus and is found in certain parts of the United States, including Long Island, she said.

Naval also said Zika can not only be transmitted from a mosquito to a human, but also vice versa — from a human to a mosquito.

“Only 20 percent of people will get symptoms,” Naval said in a phone interview. “Eighty percent of people infected won’t even know they are.”

According to the CDC, symptoms from the Zika virus include a fever, rash, joint pain, headaches and more.

Once infected, the CDC says patients must get rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and take medicine such as acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the New York State Department of Health, in conjunction with the CDC, would offer free blood test screenings for individuals who have traveled to areas where the Zika virus is going on.

“We’re working closely with the CDC and local health departments to address potential cases of Zika Virus, and by offering free testing we are helping to stay ahead of this disease and protect the public health,” Cuomo said in a press release.

Naval said if anyone must travel to the tropic regions, where Zika is a problem, there are some key precautions they can take.

“Make sure to use bug spray with DEET; stay indoors with air conditioning if you can because insects prefer heat; and wear long sleeves and long pants,” she said.

Aside from a warning for all travelers to avoid these tropic areas, there is also an extra precaution for pregnant women, as there is an added risk for a child whose mother has the Zika virus while pregnant.

The baby can be born with microcephaly, a neurodevelopmental disorder where a baby is born with a smaller head than usual, or other neurological and autoimmune complications, officials said.

According to the WHO, in countries like Brazil there has been an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. This specific brain disorder is linked to seizures, developmental delays in speech and walking, intellectual disabilities, feeding and vision problems, and more, according to the CDC.

Mather Hospital is set to join Northwell Healht. Photo from Huntington Hospital

It’s out with the old and in with the new at Huntington Hospital.

As of 2016, North Shore-LIJ Health System changed its name to Northwell Health as part of a rebranding and marketing campaign for the largest private employer and health care provider in New York across 21 hospitals including Huntington Hospital. The institution just finished its first month after a major facelift to the health system, and staffers said they were excited about the changes to the structure.

“Being highly visible and clearly understood within and beyond the New York metropolitan area requires strong brand recognition,” Michael J. Dowling, president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health said in a press release. “The Northwell Health name is a reflection of our past and a beacon of our future. It’s unique, simple and approachable, and better defines who we are and where we are going.”

Huntington Hospital first joined the North Shore-LIJ Health System in 1994, and has been able to expand its resources and services available to medical staff and patients because of this partnership. With this name change, Northwell Health administrators said the health system intends to build recognition and distinguish the organization “in a cluttered health care market,” according to a press release. Dropping a specific reference to Long Island was also an intentional move to broaden the scope of the coverage area, officials said.

“Our trustees recognized the need for a more consumer-friendly name that did not confine us geographically and reflects our emergence as a regional health care provider with a coverage area that extends beyond Long Island,” Northwell Health Board of Trustees Chair Mark L. Claster said in a press release.

Administrators from Huntington Hospital said they see the name change as a positive step forward.

“There’s a general excitement in the hospital over it,” said Susan Knoepffler, chief nursing officer and vice president of nursing at Huntington Hospital. “It has given us a new opportunity to put our hospital and the health system out there to the public.”

Knoepffler said the name change helps bring a focus to the preventative side of medicine and overall wellness that the hospital aims for.

Gerard X. Brogan, executive director of Huntington Hospital, echoed Knoepffler’s sentiment.

“It serves to sum up what our mission is,” he said in a phone interview. “We are focusing on how to promote wellness throughout the community. It’s really something we feel is the core of our mission as a community hospital.”

Reflecting on the history of Huntington Hospital, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Brogan said the objective of this hospital has always been to provide medical care for the public and commit to helping people stay well.

‘The focus is to provide the community with the best healthcare right in their own backyard, and this will help make the community aware of the tremendous resources they have access to,” Brogan said.

A view of the front entrance to Huntington Hospital on Park Avenue in Huntington. File photo

Hospitals across the North Shore and the country have been adapting to an entirely new set of medical codes over the last two months, completely changing the system in which a patient’s diagnosis is detailed.

As of October, all hospitals across the United States switched to the ICD-10 system, which allows for more than 14,000 different codes and permits the tracking of many new diagnoses. ICD-10, an international medical classification system by the World Health Organization, requires more specificity than the previous code system. Doctors at North Shore facilities said they agreed that although it’s time-consuming and has slowed productivity, it is more beneficial to patients in the end.

Dr. Michael Grosso, chairman of medicine at Huntington Hospital said these new codes should help make it easier for symptoms of various diseases to be tracked.

According to Gross, preparation for the new code started two years ago with a required education program for all physicians that described what all the new codes meant.

“Physicians are being called upon to provide more specificity and detail,” Grosso said in a phone interview. He described the codes as a “vast extension” to what the hospital was previously using and said it should “improve the quality of medical records and increase the amount of information that researchers can obtain and make for the best care for patients.”

Grosso also said that understanding and learning the codes was an important first step, but ongoing feedback on how the codes are being adopted is equally important. A feedback program has been created at each hospital.

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. File photo
John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. File photo

John Ruth, director of revenue integrity and interim chief compliance officer at Stony Brook University Hospital, said Stony Brook used outside resource companies with online courses to teach the new code to their physicians and coding staff.

Ruth said that a new code system was necessary, as the previous system, ICD-9, was created by WHO in the 1970s. He called ICD-10 a natural progression.

“There are a lot more codes for specific organ systems, muscles, muscle tendons and nerves than were required with ICD-9,” he said in a phone interview.

Ruth also said that ICD-9 was mostly comprised of three- and four-digit codes, and ICD-10 is up to seven digits in length, which makes the new coding more challenging but more valuable.

“If a patient has PTSD, we can assign a code from where he got it from, not just that he has it, which is important for planning his future and ongoing care,” Ruth said.

Stacie Colonna, associate director of inpatient coding at Stony Brook University Hospital, said there has been approximately a 30 percent decrease in staff productivity with the changeover to ICD-10 and a shortage of trained staff.

“I get 10 questions a day just from internal staff,” Colonna said. But she also noted that staff frequently asked daily questions about the old system as well. She said she expects productivity to improve in the near future.

At John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Joseph Ng said the staff went through web training, too. One-on-one training was also available if a clinician requested it.

Ng agreed specificity is both the pro and con of ICD-10. “Because it’s so specific, it really allows clinicians to hone in on what’s really going on with patients and be able to communicate better with one another,” Ng said in an email. “But because it’s so specific, sometimes it’s hard to find the right code, especially when it comes to procedures. The codes are not all inclusive.”

Looking forward, Grosso said the new system had a lot to offer for hospitals across the country because of the amount of information people could potentially learn from it.

“A number of private and government parties will benefit from the ability to look at more detailed hospital data,” Grosso said.

Society hosts 25th annual wine event

Huntington Historical Society Trustee Paul Warburg, right, presents Huntington Hospital Executive Director Dr. Gerard Brogan, left, with a plaque commemorating the hospital’s nearly 100 years of operation. Photo by Eric Santiago

By Eric Santiago

The Huntington Historical Society hosted its 25th annual “Evening of Wine Under The Stars” event on Friday night.

Huntington residents celebrated the town’s more than 350 years of history with a night of drinking, dancing and dining on dishes from local restaurants.

The historical society also honored Huntington Hospital, which will celebrate its 100-year anniversary next year. Hospital Executive Director Dr. Gerard Brogan was presented with a plaque commemorating the hospital’s work.

Robert “Toby” Kissam, the historical society’s president, compared the hospital’s founding to that of the society’s, saying that both were founded by groups of concerned citizens.

According to an article written by Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes, the hospital began to take shape as early as 1904 when Huntington residents were frustrated with their lack of a dedicated hospital. In 1911, citizens launched a fundraising campaign to build their own hospital, which was eventually completed by Christmas 1915.

Historical Society Trustee Paul Warburg presented the plaque to Dr. Gerard Brogan, the executive director of Huntington Hospital.

Brogan said the hospital’s staff was honored to be recognized.

“I speak for the entire staff at Huntington Hospital when I say we see it as a privilege and big responsibility to take care of you,” he said.

File photo.

A driver was seriously injured in Huntington Station early Friday morning when he hit a utility pole.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the man had been driving south on New York Avenue in a 1991 Mazda SUV at about 2:20 a.m. when his car left the road and hit the pole, just north of Schwab Road.

The man was brought to Huntington Hospital with serious injuries, then transferred to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

Police identified the victim as 50-year-old West Babylon resident Giovanni Saccente.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the case, and the Mazda was impounded for a safety check.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call detectives at 631-854-8252 or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Story last updated on Friday, Aug. 28, at 1:15 p.m.

Joseph Volavka, far left, stood alongside Dolan Family Health Center and Pink Aid members to celebrate the $25,000 grant. Photo from Dolan Family Health Center

Woman can receive free mammograms, sonograms and breast biopsies at Huntington Hospital’s Women’s Center and the Charles and Helen Reichert Imaging Center at Huntington with the help of a new grant.

On Friday, Aug. 7, Pink Aid, an organization that aims to help women receive and survive breast cancer treatment, gave the Dolan Family Health Center a one-year, $25,000 grant.

According to Joseph Volavka, senior administrative director of the Dolan Family Health Center, around 23 percent of the center’s patients pay out of pocket for their regular appointment. The purpose of the grant is to encourage women who may not have health insurance to receive free breast screenings, which can be costly. Most patients usually have enough money to pay for their regular appointments, so the grant gives more women the opportunity to get additional health care than they would otherwise receive due to financial limitations.

“We are very grateful for this grant, which will help so many women to get the medical care that they need, and it will also help their families.” Kathy Giffuni, RN, nurse manager of the Dolan Family Health Center, said in a press release.

Town board, hospital ink helipad agreement

The SkyHealth team. Photo from Huntington Hospital

Huntington Hospital is flying high.

The town board on Tuesday approved a license agreement with the hospital to use a portion of the town’s parking facility adjoining Mill Dam Park as a helipad. The agreement spans from August to July 31, 2017.

With the helipad, the hospital will be air-transporting, via helicopter, patients in need of urgent or emergent care to the most appropriate health care facility to address their needs. The hospital will also transport “harvested organs to and from the Huntington Hospital,” according to the town board resolution.

“North Shore – LIJ Health System has developed a new air medical service program called SkyHealth, which is staffed by highly skilled medical professionals,” Randolph Howard, vice president of operations at Huntington Hospital said in a statement through a hospital spokeswoman. “Developing a heliport in Huntington provides a key location from which SkyHealth can transport critically ill patients who require immediate medical transportation. Through this heliport, SkyHealth will provide a vital service to the residents of the greater Huntington area.”

James Margolin, an attorney with the firm Margolin & Margolin, said the helipad already exists, but it is in need of an upgrade — one that the hospital will undertake.

“We thank the town board for its continuing commitment to getting the lifesaving community service into effect,” he said.

SkyHealth is a partnership with Yale New Haven Health in Connecticut and the North Shore- LIJ Health System. Patients of both health systems in need of lifesaving care for major traumas, heart attack, stroke and other life-threatening brain injuries will receive emergency medical care by helicopter and be quickly flown to the most appropriate hospital, according to the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s website.

The helicopter would be staffed with a nurse, a critical care paramedic, all certified in New York and Connecticut, and a pilot. That would be the “standard crew,” according to Gene Tangney, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of North Shore-LIJ in a SkyHealth promotional video.

Huntington Hospital will pay the town $14,062 upon the execution of the license agreement, and another $14,062 at the end of the agreement, according to the resolution.

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) requested quarterly reports from the hospital to ensure the volume is “consistent with what we agreed upon.” Margolin agreed to the request.