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John T. Mather Memorial Hospital

Port Jefferson Village and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital squared off on the open seas for the eighth time Sept. 9 for the Village Cup Regatta, an annual event that features a parade, sailboat race, a reception and even remarks from actor Ralph Macchio. Representatives from both groups man vessels and race in the Long Island Sound near Port Jefferson Harbor for bragging rights and, more importantly, to raise money for cancer research. The Mather team won the 2017 incarnation of the race and proudly took the trophy back from Village Mayor Margot Garant, who had the cup since the village’s 2016 victory. In total, about $65,000 was raised for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and for the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research. The event is hosted by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club.

A boat representing the Port Jeff Brewing Company at a previous race. File photo by Bill Landon
View Memorial Parade of Boats before race

Colorful sailboats of all sizes will descend on Port Jefferson harbor for the eighth annual Village Cup Regatta on Saturday, Sept. 9. A fundraiser cleverly disguised as a sporting event, the regatta is designed to combine the fun and excitement of sporting achievement while raising money for pancreatic cancer research.

The boat race was initiated by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club (formerly Setauket Yacht Club) primarily to call attention to and to support efforts to combat pancreatic cancer, which has claimed the lives of two of its members in recent years. The event also promotes a closer relationship between the club and the village in the wonderful maritime setting they share.

Join actor Ralph Macchio on Sept. 9 in supporting a most worthy cause. File photo by Bob Savage

 

Actor and local resident Ralph Macchio will once again act as a community ambassador for the friendly competition between John T. Mather Memorial Hospital and the Village of Port Jefferson, which raises funds for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation. Over the past seven years, the annual event has raised more than $377,000 for the two organizations.

Macchio’s role as ambassador for the regatta for the fifth year is to help publicize the important work of the two programs it funds. Macchio’s wife, Phyllis, is a nurse practitioner in Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program.

The regatta consists of yacht club-skippered sailboats divided into two teams representing the hospital and the village. Employees from each organization help crew the boats, which race in one of three classes based on boat size. The festivities begin at Harborfront Park, located at 101 East Broadway in Port Jefferson, at 10 a.m.

File photo by Bob Savage

Regatta T-shirts designed by a local artist and signed by Macchio will be available for purchase along with the event’s commemorative T-shirts, hats and nautical bags. The Memorial Parade of Boats begins at 11 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Village dock. All sailboats participating in the regatta will pass by the park dressed in banners and nautical flags.

Following the regatta, a celebratory Skipper’s Reception and presentation of the Village Cup will take place at the Port Jefferson Village Center, a restored 1917 shipyard building located next to the Harborfront Park.

The cup is currently held by the village, which has earned the cup a total of four times. Mather Hospital has won the cup twice, and weather forced the cancellation of the 2012 race. The event is catered compliments of Schafer’s Port Jefferson restaurant and the Port Jefferson Brewing Company.

Businesses, organizations and individuals can support the regatta and the programs it funds by making a donation or purchasing tickets to attend the Skipper’s Reception or view the regatta on a spectator boat. Sponsorships also are available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.portjeffersonyachtclub.com.

New York State Senator Ken LaValle does not approve of the decision

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is set to join Northwell Health. File photo from Mather Hospital

A Port Jefferson institution established in 1929 is set to undergo an unprecedented change, the likes of which has never occurred during its near-90-year history. John T. Mather Memorial Hospital leadership has signed a letter of intent to join Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider, which has 22 hospitals under its umbrella. Prior to the agreement, Mather was one of just two Long Island hospitals unaffiliated with a larger health system. Mather’s board considered affiliation with Stony Brook University Hospital, though ultimately decided on Northwell.

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

“I don’t think it’s a good decision,” State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a phone interview. LaValle is a fervent supporter of the university, often publicly spotted wearing a red SBU baseball cap. “For 50 years-plus there’s been a culture in place if people needed tertiary care they would go from Mather to Stony Brook. Stony Brook will still be in place, will still offer services and people still if they choose can go to Stony Brook.”

LaValle said he didn’t know why Mather decided to go with Northwell, and members of Mather’s board declined to discuss specifics of the agreement with Northwell because discussions are ongoing. The changeover could take place as soon as prior to the end of the year.

“I would have wished that the Mather board would have been considerate of the people in their area rather than for whatever other reasons they made this decision,” LaValle said. “I don’t know whether Northwell came in with a bag of cash and that’s why they made the decision; but if they were making the decision based on the people they serve in their catchment area they would have gone with Stony Brook.”

Mather Hospital Vice President of Public Affairs Nancy Uzo, said Stony Brook was considered an option for affiliation and offered an explanation by email as to why it was ultimately spurned.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision.”

— Ken LaValle

“Our goal through this process is to ensure that our communities continue to have access to advanced, high quality care and superior satisfaction close to home and to serve the best interests of our medical staff and employees,” she said.

Mather Board of Directors Chairman Ken Jacoppi and President Ken Roberts declined to comment further through Uzo.

“Our community, employees and medical staff have a deep commitment to Mather Hospital,” Roberts said in a press release. “We chose a partner that would support our culture of caring as well as our future growth.”

Stony Brook University Senior Vice President for the Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Ken Kaushansky declined to comment on Mather’s decision via email. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. did not respond to a direct request for comment nor through a university spokeswoman.

In 2016 the American Hospital Association released research suggesting hospital mergers like the one Mather is set to undertake result in cost savings and quality improvements. According to the research, mergers decrease costs due to economies of scale, reduced costs of capital and clinical standardization among other efficiencies. An analysis showed a 2.5 percent reduction in annual operating expenses at acquired hospitals. Other benefits include the potential to drive quality improvements through standardization of clinical protocols and investments to upgrade facilities and services at acquired hospitals, an expansion of the scope of services available to patients and improvements to existing institutional strengths to provide more comprehensive and efficient care.

New York State Sen. Ken Lavalle did not agree with Mather’s decision to join Northwell Health over Stony Brook University Medicine. File photo

Huntington Hospital joined North Shore-LIJ in 1994, which became known as Northwell Health in February 2016. After the merger is official, Mather and Huntington hospitals will be the only Northwell hospitals on the North Shore in Suffolk County.

“Mather Hospital is known for patient-centric care both in the community and throughout the industry,” Michael Dowling, Northwell’s president and CEO said in a statement. “That deeply embedded sense of purpose is the type of quality we want to represent Northwell Health, along with an excellent staff of medical professionals and physicians. Together, Mather and Northwell will play a crucial partnership role expanding world class care and innovative patient services to Suffolk County residents.”

In what some view as a related move, Stony Brook announced in a press release Aug. 1 that Southampton Hospital would become a member of the Stony Brook Medicine health system.

“Today we celebrate a unique opportunity in which academic medicine and community medicine can come together to benefit our entire region,” Stanley said. “We will continue to build on successful collaborations achieved over the past ten years, which have already brought many new programs to the East End, including a robust number of internship and residency programs at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and where students enrolled in graduate programs in the health sciences on the Stony Brook Southampton campus can put their training to good use as the next generation of allied health professionals to help address the shortage of providers on the east end and beyond.”

The acquisition will result in new offerings at Stony Brook including a provisional Level 3 Trauma Center, with 24-hour coverage by emergency medicine doctors and a trauma surgeon available within 30 minutes, a Hybrid Operating Room with sophisticated imaging capabilities and a new cardiology practice in Southampton with Stony Brook cardiologists, among other benefits.

LaValle declined to classify Mather’s decision as a “loss” for Stony Brook and added he expects Mather and the university to continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship going forward.

“Stony Brook is close by and they will reach out and still try to encourage both local physicians and people to come to Stony Brook,” he said.

This version was edited Aug. 7 to include comments from Michael Dowling.

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital Director of Engineering, Design and Construction Kevin Koubek monitors the hospital’s electricity generation. Photo by Alex Petroski

A Port Jefferson-area hospital is setting trends in reducing its environmental impact. A number of new initiatives at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital have turned the facility into an energy efficiency machine, but the hospital’s director of engineering, design and construction said they’re not done trying to improve.

“I would say Mather is one of the most progressive hospitals on the Island in terms of green energy renewable technology and reducing carbon footprint,” Brian Hassan, PSEG Long Island lead account manager for health care, said in a phone interview. He added if other hospitals followed Mather’s lead it would be beneficial to reducing substantial carbon footprint that can be left by facilities that consume large amounts of energy. The glowing assessment can be attributed in large part to the efforts of Kevin Koubek, the engineering director at Mather who is constantly working to improve the hospital’s efficiency.

“I think we’ve shown we’re trying to do everything physically and humanly possible to reduce our demand on the grid,” Koubek said in an interview. Between air conditioning and heating, heavy-duty medical equipment, elevators, kitchen equipment, lighting, gift shops, coffee shops and various waiting rooms, the amount of power required to run a hospital is obviously substantial. Koubek said the hospital is always looking for ways to reduce energy requirements.

“Trying to offset some of this electrical demand is huge, and that’s one of the reasons we have tried to identify where we can minimize our loads,” he said.

Mather is the first Long Island hospital to install a thermal ice storage system to help with cooling the hospital during warmer months. It was installed and became operational earlier in 2017. The system serves to shift a portion of the hospital’s peak electrical load from daytime to nighttime, when electricity is more plentiful, less expensive and generated more efficiently by creating ice using larger air conditioning equipment during off-peak hours, then storing ice in 24 tanks that are used with pumps to generate cool air during the day.

“The day-to-day benefits would be that we’re not turning on this large machine, we’re pulling off the electric grid,” Koubek said.

In the past, before the hospital focused on energy efficiency initiatives, Koubek said much like homes in the summertime, the hospital’s cooling systems had a hard time meeting demand.

“We have to recognize [we] do have patients that for whatever reason, they’re here,” he said. “Their comfort is paramount.”

The chiller was approximately $2 million, though the hospital is expecting a rebate check from PSEG Long Island to cover half the cost.

Mather was also the first Long Island hospital to install solar panels. A 50-kilowatt photovoltaic ground-mounted solar panel was installed in the rear of the parking lot in 2011, and Koubek said the hospital has considered adding more.

“[Hospital administration] would love to do that, it’s just very expensive,” he said.

Koubek added the hospital is also in the process of replacing about 300 standard lighting fixtures of the roughly 3,000 at Mather with LED ones. Standard fixtures require about 180 watts of power while LEDs require about 30 watts.

“That’s the one thing that is sort of flying under the radar, but is making a huge impact on us is the fact that we’re on a track to replace every lighting fixture in the hospital and go to 100 percent LED,” Koubek said.

The hospital is also using lower cost hydropower, or electricity created by utilizing moving water, to reduce its energy costs by $2.5 million through the ReCharge NY award from the New York Power Authority. ReCharge NY is a program designed to retain and create jobs through allocations of low-cost power, half of which is made up of hydropower.

Koubek seemed to embrace the idea that Mather is setting trends for other hospitals in increased efficiency.

“I’d have to say we’re probably one of the leading hospitals on the Island, if not in the state,” he said.

“Eat well, live well” was the tagline for the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce annual Health & Wellness Fest, which was held April 22 at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School in Port Jefferson. Attendees were instructed on how to do both by vendors set up at tables in the school’s gymnasium, featuring representatives from Stony Brook Medicine, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, St. Charles Hospital and many others.

“It’s been growing every year, and in the last two years, we were so fortunate as to have St. Charles Hospital provide us with the healthy snacks, and that’s really helped us boost the attendance,” Chamber President Jim Karras said in an interview during the event.

Chamber director of operations Barbara Ransome was also pleased with the number of vendors who turned out to offer advice to interested community members.

“We had no extra tables this year,” she said. “We had over 80 tables this year…I think there were like 45 individual vendors…All of our local nonprofits, we don’t charge them, so we feel like this is giving back to our community.”

Karras said he is proud of what the chamber has built with the annual event.

“There’s a lot of health and wellness events in the area, but I think we’re the only one that has the three major hospitals sponsoring them,” he said. “That makes a big difference.”

Ransome thanked the district for their hospitality.

“We want to put a shout out to our school,” she said. “Fred Koelbel, who is the superintendent of buildings here for the Port Jefferson School District, and for them to allow us to use this great facility, we have elevated this event.”

Other vendors included Jefferson’s Ferry lifecare community, L.I. Botanical Wellness, Save-A-Pet, Paws of War, Port Jefferson Hearing and many more.

Mount Sinai anesthesiologist Richard Melucci, below, drowned in the Long Island Sound, scene above, after falling overboard off his 25-foot boat April 15. Photo from Facebook

A Mount Sinai anesthesiologist has died after falling off a boat in the Long Island Sound April 15.

Milford Fire Rescue received a 911 call from a woman saying her husband, Richard Melucci, 43, had fallen overboard as they were boating on the Sound near Milford, Connecticut at about 6 p.m. Melucci’s wife, Maryann, was below the deck when she heard the splash, police said.

Richard Melucci. Photo from O.B. Davis Funeral Homes

Police say Melucci, a 1991 Ward Melville graduate, was not wearing a life jacket when he fell into the water, so his wife attempted to throw a life ring out several times without success, according to Captain Kieth Williams of the Connecticut State Police Department.

Milford’s dive team and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene and rescued Melucci from the water about 55 minutes later, authorities said. Melucci and his wife were taken to Milford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An avid boater, Melucci worked at Long Island Anesthesia Physicians in Rocky Point and was affiliated with John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. He was on his new 25-foot vessel, which was taken to Milford Landing, where authorities are conducting a full investigation.

Reposing took place at O.B. Davis Funeral Homes, 4839 Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station. Visitation was help April 19, and will be held today, April 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral Mass will be help April 21 at 10 a.m. at the Chapel at St. Charles in Port Jefferson. Interment to follow at Washington Memorial Park in Mount Sinai. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rick Melucci Family Fund at https://www.gofundme.com/rick-melucci-family-fund. As of press time, after two days, the GoFundMe raised $76,425 of the $100,000 goal.

Yakub Gangat donated $1,000 to the fund, and left the message: “An outstanding clinician and leader. Fun loving with infectious personality. He’ll be forever missed.”

Jennifer Bednar, who donated $100, also said he will not soon be forgotten.

“A devastating loss,” she wrote. “I will miss that infectious smile. My whole heart goes out to Maryanne and family.”

Teresa Schully Habacker left a similar sentiment with her $200 contribution: “What a loss for the medical community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. I will miss his competent care and his great sense of humor.”

File photo.

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a pedestrian in Coram on the evening of March 24.

Douglas Redmond was crossing Middle Country Road, 500 feet west of Mount Sinai-Coram Road, when he was struck by a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado at approximately 11:20 p.m. The driver of the Chevrolet, Tyler Miazga, stayed at the scene.

Redmond, 31, of Coram, was transported via Coram Rescue to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, where he was pronounced dead.  Miazga, 29, of Coram, was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.

Mount Sinai Harbor. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Police officers and firefighters from the Mount Sinai Fire Department rescued three hunters after their boat capsized in Mount Sinai Harbor the morning of Jan. 22.

James Knipe and his son, also named James, along with Kendrick Pisano, were duck hunting in a boat in Mount Sinai Harbor when their vessel took on water and overturned. After the three entered the water, they clung to the overturned boat and the elder Knipe, 47, called 911 on his cell phone.

Suffolk Police notified the United States Coast Guard and the Mount Sinai Fire Department. When Sixth Precinct officers arrived on scene, they observed all three clinging to the overturned boat and holding onto life jackets. Members of the Mount Sinai Fire Department launched an inflatable vessel and rescued the younger Knipe, 17, and Pisano, 16, from the water. Suffolk Police Marine Bureau Officers John Castorf and Christopher DeFeo, aboard Marine November, pulled James Knipe from the water.

All three victims were brought to the boat ramp and transported to local hospitals for treatment of exposure and hypothermia. Pisano, of Miller Place, was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson and the Knipes, of Middle Island, were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Marine Bureau officers recovered and secured the vessel, the victims’ belongings and three shotguns from the harbor.

The water temperature at the time of the incident was approximately 45 degrees. The Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau reminds boaters and hunters that New York State Law requires that personal flotation devices be worn at all times on vessels less than 21 feet in length, from November 1 to May 1.

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is set to join Northwell Health. File photo from Mather Hospital

No one wants to be sick enough to require a hospital visit, but North Shore residents learned last month they live near three of the best facilities in the Long Island/New York City area if that day should come.

Data compiled by Medicare based on patient surveys conducted from April 2015 through March 2016 and released in December ranked John T. Mather Memorial Hospital and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, as well as Stony Brook University Hospital, among the top seven in overall rating, and the top nine in likelihood patients would recommend the hospital to a friend or family member.

A patient receives care at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, one of the top hospitals in the Long Island/New York City area based on patient survey data. File photo from Mather Hospital

Overall patient satisfaction ratings were based on recently discharged patient responses to survey questions in 10 categories, including effectiveness of communication by both doctors and nurses, timeliness of receiving help, pain management, cleanliness and noise level at night, among others.

Mather finished behind just St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn of the 27 hospitals considered in the New York/Long Island area in their overall rating. St. Charles ranked sixth and Stony Brook seventh. Mather was also the second most likely hospital for a patient to recommend to a family member or friend, with St. Charles and Stony Brook coming in eighth and ninth places, respectively. St. Francis also topped that category.

Stu Vincent, a spokesperson for Mather, said administration is proud to be recognized for its quality.

“The driving force behind everything we do at Mather is our commitment to our patients, their families and the communities we serve,” he said. “We know people have many choices in health care and we continually strive to ensure that our hospital exceeds their expectations through our employees’ commitment to continuous quality and patient satisfaction improvement.”

A spokesman from St. Charles expressed a similar sentiment.

“At St. Charles, the quality of care that we provide to our patients is first and at the center of everything we do,” Jim O’Connor, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at St. Charles said in a statement. “That commitment to quality is evidenced by these wonderful patient satisfaction scores and the successful number of high level accreditations St. Charles received recently.”

Stony Brook hospital spokeswoman Melissa Weir emailed a statement on behalf of hospital administration regarding its rank among other area facilities.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve, and are continuously developing new approaches to ensure that our patients have the best experience while they are in our care,” she said. “One of our goals is to achieve top decile performance with a focus on matters such as improving communication, reducing noise, addressing pain management and implementing nurse leader hourly rounding and hourly comfort checks.”

Mather’s ratings were at or above average for New York and nationwide in nearly every category as well as the likelihood to be recommended by a patient. St. Charles beat New York averages in nearly every category and was above the national average in likelihood to be recommended. Stony Brook was also above average compared to the rest of the area in most categories.

All three hospitals received their highest scores in communication by doctors and nurses, along with their ability to provide information to patients for effective recovery at home. All three hospitals were given their lowest ratings in noise levels at night and in patient’s understanding of care after leaving the hospital.

For a complete look at the ratings visit www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare.

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Members of Mather Hospital’s leadership team break ground on a new ambulatory surgery center in Port Jefferson Station Nov. 22. Photo by Kevin Redding

With construction officially underway in a secluded lot on Route 112, North Shore residents are one step closer to an efficient and cost-effective surgery center that will provide in-and-out care to its patients while eliminating many of the hassles associated with visits to the hospital.

On Nov. 22, staff from John T. Mather Memorial Hospital and 19 community surgeons stood on the site in hard hats and broke ground on what will be the freestanding Port Jefferson Ambulatory Surgery Center in Port Jefferson Station. The outpatient facility will feature six operating rooms equipped to handle procedures in orthopedics, ophthalmology, pain management, general surgery, neurosurgery and otolaryngology. The project, which cost approximately $12 million and has been in the planning stages for about five years, will be far less expensive to run than a hospital, which means cost savings for patients and the health care system overall. It will also open up more space at Mather for patients that require a more complex procedure and a lengthier hospital stay.

“…at the surgery center, you seem to be able to get in and out more efficiently and that saves you personal time, saves money, and saves cancellations. It just makes the overall patient experience so much better.”

— Michael Fracchia

Those involved in the project said they hoped for the facility’s doors to officially open in the summer of 2017. For now, though, they’re just pleased things are finally moving forward.

“As we’ve been saying — at long last,” Kenneth Roberts, chief executive officer of Mather Hospital, said during the groundbreaking. “We’ve been working on this project for a long time now, so we’re very happy to see it finally getting pushed forward.”

During an indoor celebration after the groundbreaking ceremony, Mather’s Director of Orthopedic Surgery Michael Fracchia said he was excited about what the center will mean for the community.

“People love these types of facilities because they can get in-and-out service and it’s truly less intrusive on their lives,” Fracchia said. “If you have something done in a hospital, it’s always an all-day event, no matter what it is. But at the surgery center, you seem to be able to get in and out more efficiently and that saves you personal time, saves money, and saves cancellations. It just makes the overall patient experience so much better.”

Fracchia said the facility will be able to run more efficiently because it won’t need the sort of complex technologies often found in hospitals. A patient might need an intensive care unit or an MRI or CT scan, he said, and while these are wonderful technologies, they’re also expensive and require maintenance. By eliminating these systems, the surgical centers can treat more patients at a quicker pace.

“We want to provide more care,” said Brian McGinley, orthopedic surgeon and president of the project. “We can potentially do more while maintaining our inpatient surgery at Mather. The community will have access here, rather than having to go to Nassau County or into the city.”

McGinley said that while planning the project, the team interviewed many companies that specialize in developing ambulatory service centers around the country. They found a fitting partner in Pinnacle III, a company based in Colorado that has successfully facilitated the opening of comparable facilities nationwide. This will be the first Pinnacle III facility in New York State.

In a press release, Robert Carrera, the CEO/president of Pinnacle III, said the company is excited to partner with and assist the local physicians as well as Mather Hospital in bringing high quality and cost-effective services to the Port Jefferson area.

The doctors all agreed on the project’s mission: to provide cost-effective quality health care to as many people on the North Shore as possible.

“You come in here, you drive in, you get taken care of and you don’t have to go through all the hoops that you would at a hospital,” Port Jefferson-based general surgeon Nicholas Craig said. “The doctors have all been in the community for a long time. We not only work here, we live here, so you get taken care of by people who care about their community … and when you care about your community, you care about the people in your community, and that’s what this is all about.”

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