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

Mather Hospital’s Emergency Department has received a Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians. 

“Mather Hospital has taken the appropriate steps to meet the needs of seniors in our community,” said Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Adam Wos. “This holistic approach includes fall prevention, medication reconciliation, and discussions about goals of care. Our plan is to ensure that our doctors and nurses have the latest knowledge and equipment to care for the fastest growing population in our nation — people over age 65.”

The voluntary geriatric accreditation provides specific criteria and goals for emergency clinicians and administrators. The accreditation recommends more than two dozen best practices for geriatric care. Northwell Health EDs were awarded a level 3 accreditation, which requires many of these best practices and geriatric education for emergency medicine staff, as well as screenings and programs focused on older adults. Those include: geriatric-friendly equipment availability and policies regarding routine assessments for delirium, dementia or fall risk. 

The accreditation is for three years. Mather was one of 17 Northwell Health emergency departments across Long Island, New York City and Westchester to receive the accreditation. 

“This was an initiative that we wanted to get behind to help the department ensure the best patient outcomes,” said Mather ED nurse manager Julie Tegay, who spearheaded the accreditation project for the hospital. 

Photo from Northwell Health

Huntington Hospital has received a two-year designation as an Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence (AS CoE) by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). The hospital is one of only 35 hospitals nationwide to receive this recognition.

More than 700,000 people die worldwide each year due to antimicrobial-resistant infections. The AS CoE program recognizes institutions that have created stewardship programs led by infectious disease (ID) physicians and ID-trained pharmacists who have achieved standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC core elements for antibiotic stewardship include seven major areas: leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, action, tracking, reporting and education.

Dr. Cynthia Ann Hoey and Dr. Adrian Popp, infectious disease specialists, worked closely with pharmacists Agnieszka Pasternak  and Nina Yousefzadeh to ensure Huntington Hospital met the rigorous criteria to be recognized by the IDSA.

“We are honored to have received this prestigious IDSA recognition,” said Dr. Nick Fitterman, the hospital’s executive director. “We are committed to fighting antimicrobial resistance through our comprehensive training and educational outreach program with all of our infectious disease specialists and pharmacists. The antimicrobial stewardship program will improve patient care and preserve the integrity of current treatments for future generations.”

Pictured from left, Nina Yousefzadeh,  Dr. Cynthia Ann Hoey, Agnieszka Pasternak and Dr. Nick Fitterman.

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.”

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

A historic change at a nearly 90-year-old Port Jefferson institution has been finalized.

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital will officially finalize an affiliation agreement with Northwell Health Dec. 21, according to a Mather board member, who asked not to be referred to by name. Leadership from Mather Hospital signed a letter of intent to join Northwell, New York’s largest health care provider, in August, though the sides had not yet finalized the terms of the agreement at that time. It is the first time in the hospital’s history it will be affiliating with a larger health system, and a signing ceremony is set to take place Thursday, Dec. 21, at 3 p.m. in a conference room at the hospital. The board member said he expects Northwell Health president and chief executive officer Michael Dowling as well as Mather board of directors chairman Ken Jacoppi to attend the signing.

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

“We’re very pleased Northwell has committed to making an investment in our community and bringing their extraordinary capabilities to our community,” the board member said. “They’ve committed to preserve our culture of patient safety.”

The board member said part of the agreement is that Mather’s board and CEO will remain in place through an initial period of five years, allowing the hospital to remain “largely self-governing” during that time with collaboration and cooperation from Northwell. The Mather board member did not specify the total length or any other specifics of the agreement. A spokesperson from Mather confirmed the ceremonial signing will take place Dec. 21 and that the agreement has been reached, but declined to confirm any details relating to the contract.

The board member summed up what the change might mean for hospital patients going forward.

“In the near term the experience should not change at all,” he said. “We happen to believe that’s a good experience, generally speaking. In the long term Northwell has greater capabilities than we do and we’ll gain those. They’re committed to supporting our residency program as well.”

In August, state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) voiced opposition to the agreement, saying he would have preferred Mather affiliate with Stony Brook University Hospital.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision,” LaValle said at the time. “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 if they choose can go to Stony Brook.”

Mather Hospital vice president of public affairs Nancy Uzo said in August Stony Brook was considered an option for affiliation and offered an explanation by email.

“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.

Dowling commented similarly about Mather Hospital’s reputation around the letter of intent signing in August, and as to why Northwell would be a good fit for Mather.

“Mather Hospital is known for patient-centric care both in the community and throughout the industry,” he said. “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.”

A public relations representative from Northwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This story was updated Dec. 19 to include a Mather spokesperson’s confirmation of the signing ceremony.

 

Huntington and Northport residents could cruise into a different era at the Hecksher Park ballfields in their choice of classic cars Aug. 27.

The Northport Centerport Lions Club hosted the 54th annual Robert J. Bohaty Memorial Lions Classic auto show featuring dozens of classic cruisers dating back to the 1930s. This year’s show was dedicated to the Lions’ past district governor Howard Wilson and past president Clinton Strait.

Attendees had the opportunity to look, but not touch, Ford Roadsters, Chevy Coupes, a Chevelle SS Convertible, Ford Thunderbirds and even a Crown Victoria that previously served as a police squad car.

Proceeds from the show provide monetary support to the Cleary School for the Deaf in Nesconset, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, and the Lions Eye Bank for Long Island, a part of Northwell Health.

Donated funds are also used to support local Cub and Boy Scouts, food pantries, little leagues and aid victims of natural disasters.

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.

The Nightingale phone helps connect patients with their nurses immediately, no matter where the nurse is in the hospital. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

Huntington Hospital is breaking new ground in patient care with the Nightingale phone, a communication system that helps put patients in connection with nurses quicker than ever before.

The hospital has been piloting the new phone in the oncology wing of the hospital since 2015, and has seen a significant improvement in patient care and a decrease in wait time from when a patient calls for a nurse and when the nurse arrives to give treatment.

Patients are raving about the new invention.

Mary Ellen Cantone, a patient at the hospital, said the response to her call was immediate.

“I hit the button and someone was talking to me instantly,” she said in a statement. She said once at 2 a.m. she called for her nurse for ice chips, and the nurse came in right away with them.

“It has really improved nursing care and nursing work.” — Shanell Blanchard

“It’s a wonderful thing to use, it saves them time and they just know everything,” Cantone said. “They’re the best nurses here, and God picks the nurses for this floor, the oncology floor.”

The phone, created by Marie Roggenkamp, nurse manager at Huntington Hospital, has a red nurse button on the back that, when pressed directly, calls the device the patient’s nurse is wearing so that the patient can talk to his or her nurse immediately without the typical wait time.

Stephen Smith, manager of site communications at the hospital, worked with Roggenkamp to create the phone, which is an improvement from the call bell system hospitals use now.

“The call bell system requires a nurse to be close enough to hear the call bell or see the light go off outside the patient’s room, and may take longer to get a response,” he said in a statement. “This allows the patient to connect with the nurse no matter where they are on the unit.”

Roggenkamp said she saw success in patient satisfaction scores in the oncology wing after the Nightingale was implemented back in July 2015. She said call bell responses could take anywhere from seven to eight minutes, but with the Nightingale, a nurse could be in the room with medication within two minutes.

One of the most important features of the Nightingale phone is the call forward feature.

A concern with having nurses wear a device that can immediately connect them with a patient is the opportunity for increased error if the nurse is already performing a procedure when a call comes from a new patient.

“In the event a nurse is hanging chemotherapy [drugs from an IV], she can have a call [from the Nightingale] forwarded to a nursing assistant,” Roggenkamp said. If the assistant is also busy, the call will then go to the nurse manager, and then the call desk.

This pilot program is also cost effective; to add a speed-dial button to the hospital phones only costs an extra 50 cents.

The nurse manager said Huntington Hospital hopes to have the Nightingale phone installed in every unit by the end of 2016.

Nurses at the hospital like the new system as much as management.

“It has really improved nursing care and nursing work,” nurse Shanell Blanchard said. “I know what they need before going in there. Before, a call bell could be going off in another room, but it might take me five minutes to answer it. I need to finish with the patient I am with, wash my hands, ask what they need and then go get it.”

Blanchard said patients have also enjoyed the fact they have more control in their care.

“It’s a great feeling of independence,” she said. “To know if I press that button I can get to my nurse directly.”

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.