Tags Posts tagged with "St. Charles Hospital"

St. Charles Hospital

By Kevin Redding

While many young people look to television, YouTube videos and sports arenas for a glance at their heroes, a 23-year-old Shoreham resident sees hers every night around the kitchen table.

In Rachel Hunter’s own words in a heartfelt email, her parents — Jeffrey Hunter, a respiratory therapist at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue, and Donna Hunter, a neonatal nurse practitioner at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson — are “the hardest working, most loving, supportive and beautiful people” she’s ever known.

Jeffrey Jr., Jake, Rachel, Jeff Sr., and Donna Hunter at Rachel’s graduation party in June of last year. Photo from Rachel Hunter

“My parents exude the meaning of character, integrity, respect, responsibility, kindness, compassion and love,” Hunter said. “I can honestly say I’ve never seen two adults that are more amazing standards for human beings.”

Newfield High School sweethearts, the Hunters have been providing care and service for people across Long Island, consistently going above and beyond to ensure their patients are as comfortable, safe and as happy as possible.

For Jeffrey Hunter, 55, whose day-to-day job is to be responsible for every patient in the hospital — from making sure their cardiopulmonary conditions are steady, to drawing blood from arteries, to being on high alert as a member of the rapid response team — the passion for helping people comes from his upbringing in Selden.

“We lived a simple life, and I was always taught to treat people with dignity and respect … the way you would want to be treated,” he said. “I try to practice that every day of my life, not only in work, but with my daily activities.”

He said while the job can be emotionally harrowing at times — working at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital for 31 years, Hunter establishes close relationships with patients who end up passing away after fighting conditions that worsen over time  — but it’s worthwhile and extremely rewarding when he can help somebody and bring relief to family members.

“Just to see the look on someone’s face if you can make them feel better, even just by holding their hand … it’s the simple things and it really doesn’t take much, but I think the world needs a lot more of that these days,” he said. “I’m just a general people-person and try to comfort patients in their time of need. It can be really dangerous and sad at times, but I just try to remain hopeful.”

“Just to see the look on someone’s face if you can make them feel better, even just by holding their hand … it’s the simple things.”

— Jeffrey Hunter

Rachel Hunter recalled a day when her father came home from work and told her about an older man in the hospital who felt abandoned and forgotten by his kids, who never called or sent birthday cards.

“I held back tears as my dad told me he sent him a birthday card this year,” she said. “Many leave their workday trying as hard as possible to forget about the long, stressful day, but not my dad. He left work thinking ‘what else can I do? How else can I make a difference?’”

Donna Hunter, 54, said her passion for providing care to neonates, infants and toddlers and emotional support and compassion for their parents and families started when she found out her own parents had full-term newborns who died soon after delivery.

She graduated from Adelphi University with a degree in nursing and received a master’s degree as a perinatal nurse practitioner from Stony Brook University. When fielding questions from people asking why she didn’t go through all her schooling to become a doctor, she says, “because I wanted to be a nurse and do what nurses do.”

“I’m one of those very fortunate people that love the career that I chose,” she said. “Every time I go to work, I’m passionate about being there, I’m excited, and it’s always a new adventure for me.”

Highly respected among staff for the 26 years she’s worked at St. Charles, she tends to newborns in need of specialized medical attention — from resuscitation and stabilization to rushing those born critically ill or with a heart condition to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Donna Hunter during the delivery of her cousin. Photo from Donna Hunter

“Babies are the most vulnerable population, but are incredibly resilient,” she said. “Babies have come back literally from the doors of death and have become healthy, and to be part of that in any small way is very satisfying.”

Maryanne Gross, the labor and delivery head nurse at St. Charles, called her “the calm voice in the room.”

“Donna is who you want with you if you’re having an issue or in a bad situation,” Gross said. “She’s an excellent teacher and just leads you step by step on what you need to do to help the baby. She’s great to be around and I think she was born to do [this].”

Hunter has also dedicated herself to creating a better future regarding neonatal withdrawal, saying the hospital is seeing more and more babies in the Intensive Care Unit affected by their mothers’ opioid use.

She recently gave a 45-minute seminar on the subject at a chemical dependency symposium by St. Charles outlining the newborn’s symptoms, treatment options and what it means for future health. She not only wants to help the baby but also the mother, providing resources to help them recover successfully.

Even with all their accomplishments in the field, Jeffrey and Donna Hunter consider family their top priority. With three children — Jeffrey Jr., 27; Jake, 24; and Rachel —  they take advantage of every opportunity they have to be together.

“It’s a juggle as to who’s working, who’s got to go to a meeting, but we make it happen,” Donna Hunter said. “We even take time to play games at our kitchen table … a lot of families don’t do that anymore. We’re very fortunate.”

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.

Putting one foot in front of the other never looked so inspiring.

A freak sledding accident in Vermont in 2009 left Greg Durso, 31, of Stony Brook unable to use his lower body from his stomach muscles down. With the help of St. Charles Hospital’s rehabilitation center, he stood and walked across a room Dec. 13 in front of his family and dozens of hospital personnel for the first time since his accident.

Greg Durso, who is paraplegic, walks at St. Charles Hospital Dec. 13 with help from an Indego exoskeleton. Photo by Alex Petroski
Greg Durso, who is paraplegic, walks at St. Charles Hospital Dec. 13 with help from an Indego exoskeleton. Photo by Alex Petroski

Durso was aided by a clinical trial product called the Indego exoskeleton, which is a wearable robotic frame. St. Charles is one of nine hospitals in the United States conducting the clinical trial, and the only one on Long Island. Durso is the first patient at the hospital to take the technology for a spin.

“It’s just an incredible feeling to be up there and be walking again — putting weight on your legs,” Durso said after his groundbreaking stroll. “Each step is kind of like a leap of faith … a month ago I probably couldn’t have told you I’d be here today, so when I heard about this, I was so happy to have the opportunity to do this.”

Indego is the second FDA-approved exoskeleton device used for lower limbs. The device weighs about 26 pounds, and requires no backpack or external wires, as other similar devices have in the past. Currently the machine is operated by Durso’s chest muscles, but future incarnations of the device will allow electrical stimulation in the muscles so that a patient’s own legs will make the machine work, according to St. Charles Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medical Director Jennifer Semel. The FDA gave the machine clearance in March.

“The future is really limitless,” Semel said in an interview. “It’s really exciting to see people who haven’t been able to stand up in several years not only to be at the same height as their peers, but to be able to walk. It’s really uplifting.”

Semel said Durso has been using the device for about a month, and last week required a walker in addition to the exoskeleton to get around. He progressed to crutches for his Dec. 13 walk. Semel said the plan is for Durso to continue using the device for several months to gain a better understanding of the health benefits and the impact it has on a patient’s gait.

“I think I was a little skeptical because you realize people always tell you there’s going to be advances, there’s going to be this and that in the future,” Durso said. “But when you see this — I actually get up, I actually walk, I gave my sister a hug for the first time in eight years face to face — it’s pretty emotional and empowering, and it’s just exciting to see where the future is going to go with this technology.”

It was an emotional day for the members of the Durso family in attendance. Durso’s older sister, Jessica Giovan, fought back tears trying to describe seeing her brother walk again for the first time in eight years.

‘It’s just an incredible feeling to be up there and be walking again — putting weight on your legs … each step is kind of like a leap of faith.’

— Greg Durso

“I just saw him look so proud and happy,” she said. “He works so hard at everything he does, so to see him put one foot in front of the other, literally, was just unbelievable … the person you see now is the person he has always been. He has not, for one second, wavered in his personality since the accident. In fact, he has only increased his perseverance and his humor, and he lives everyday to make everyone around him feel like it’s okay.”

His dad, Richard Durso, said he couldn’t have imagined he’d be sitting where he was, watching his son walk, when he heard the news of the accident eight years ago. He credited his son’s positive attitude for keeping him on track. His mom, Jean Durso, called what she saw “unbelievable.”

Durso has competed in Iron Man races and marathons in his life — the former both pre and post accident — and said he hopes to be able to regain some of that lifestyle in the future.

“I love to do athletic things. I mean, it could be anything. I just want to be out there, have fun and live my life the way I want to do it,” he said. “For me that’s enough.”

The Indego devices cost about $80,000 each.

Nurses from St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center and St. Charles Hospital have a new contract. File photo by Alex Petroski

The final hurdle was cleared to avoid a work stoppage for nurses at two North Shore hospitals.

Registered nurses from St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract Nov. 10 — they had been working without a contract since March 2015.

The New York State Nurses Association identified inefficient staffing, health benefits and a pay increase as the key issues they wanted addressed during negotiations, and according to a statement, all three were achieved. Additional nurses will be added to shifts at both hospitals, nurses will receive a three percent pay increase and an increase in health benefits, according to a statement from the union.

After about 18-months of negotiations, the NYSNA and hospital administration from both facilities reached a tentative agreement for a new contract to avoid a work stoppage Nov. 5, and the Nov. 10 vote made it official.

“Nurses at St. Catherine are always willing to stand up for safe patient care.”

— Tammy Miller

“The nurses at St. Charles Hospital are happy to ratify an agreement that protects both nurses and patients,” Tracy Kosciuk, RN and president of the local bargaining unit at St. Charles Hospital, said in a statement. “The issues were so important to our nurses that we took a strike vote that overwhelmingly passed, by a vote of 96 percent, and we were willing to hold a two-day strike. We are grateful to have a union behind us to speak up and educate the community on these important issues, and we look forward to working with the community in the future.”

Kosciuk, who has been at the hospital for nearly three decades, said in a phone interview last week that the tentative agreement was reached in part thanks to a “marathon” negotiating session that spanned from the afternoon Nov. 4 until about 9 a.m. Nov. 5. Nurses at both hospitals, who are among about 40,000 in New York State represented by the NYSNA, had voted to authorize the union to give notice of a strike in October, though that never manifested.

“I’m happy with what we were able to retain in regards to nurse-patient ratio with the intensive care unit,” Kosciuk said. Typically six nurses are staffed for shifts in the ICU, though Lorraine Incarnato, a nurse at St. Catherine’s in the ICU for nearly 30 years, said, during a picket outside of the hospital in April, she frequently worked shifts with five or even four nurses on duty.

“It’s causing a lot of friction between administration and staff,” Incarnato said in April. “When you have staff working always short [staffed], always extra, and then knowing that there’s not the respect factor there, they’re unhappy. Unhappy staff doesn’t keep patients happy. We try to put on a really happy face, because the patients come first.”

Administration members from both hospitals were also glad to avoid a work stoppage.

Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“We are pleased to have reached a fair settlement and I’d like to commend both bargaining teams who worked very hard to reach this agreement,” Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at St. Charles Jim O’Connor said in a statement prior to the vote. “St. Charles Hospital is proud of our professional nursing staff and the high quality of care they provide to the members of our community.”

Leadership from St. Catherine of Siena expressed a similar sentiment.

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement which is subject to ratification by NYSNA members at our hospital,” St. Catherine’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Paul J. Rowland said in a statement last week.

The more-than-a-year-and-a-half negotiating session featured pickets at both hospitals, with nurses frustrated by inadequate staffing and seeking better health benefits and a pay increase in their next contract.

“All of these issues affect retention and recruitment,” Tammy Miller, a nurse at St. Catherine of Siena, said in a statement in October. “Keeping and attracting experienced nurses are essential to quality care.”

Miller was proud of the efforts put forth by the union and nursing staff since their contract expired.

“Nurses at St. Catherine are always willing to stand up for safe patient care,” she said in a statement after the vote.

by -
0 1328
St. Charles Hospital nurses and other staff wear pink bracelets as a sign of support for Desiree Bielski-Stoff, who is battling breast cancer. Photo from Bielski-Stoff

By Rebecca Anzel

Registered nurse at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson Desiree Bielski-Stoff knows what a lump feels like — she had a small one removed from her left breast when she was 20. Since then, she performed self-examinations regularly and, coupled with her medical knowledge, thought she was “pretty good” at self-assessment.

In September, Bielski-Stoff, who is now 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than a month later, she had a double mastectomy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.

Bielski-Stoff waits to enter the operating room before her double mastectomy Oct. 4. Photo from Bielski-Stoff
Bielski-Stoff waits to enter the operating room before her double mastectomy Oct. 4. Photo from Bielski-Stoff

“I was looking for something like that mass in my left breast, something I could feel,” she said. “It wasn’t like a lighted sign going ‘Bling Bling, you have cancer — you have a mass in your breast,’ and I think that’s what we think we’re supposed to be looking for.”

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Bielski-Stoff has been sharing her story with friends and family in the hopes they will not have to go through what she experienced. Every two minutes, a woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer, a disease that kills more than 40,000 women each year, according to Right at Home, a senior care organization.

On average, women develop breast cancer at age 61. Bielski-Stoff’s diagnosis rattled her family, friends and coworkers. She has worked at the hospital since 2004.

“It’s eye-opening for all of us — I’m her age, you know? You never know,” Kim Audiino, an emergency room nurse at St. Charles Hospital and friend of Bielski-Stoff, said. “I think people need to open their eyes and be more alert about checking themselves.”

Bielski-Stoff was getting dressed after taking a shower in August when out of the corner of her eye, she noticed her right breast collapsed when she lifted her arm. Her first thought, she said, was that it was due to the 10 pounds she recently lost for her sister’s upcoming wedding. Bielski-Stoff conducted a brief self-exam, finding nothing out of the ordinary — nothing was swollen and she did not feel any lumps.

She showed her gynecologist that Wednesday. Bielski-Stoff said the doctor cocked her head, commented that it looked like a dimple and gave her a script for a mammogram and an ultrasound. The doctor told her it was probably nothing but she wanted to be on the safe side.

Her appointment was Sept. 7 at St. Charles with Dr. Jane Marie Testa, a doctor her coworkers recommended after Bielski-Stoff insisted she wanted to see the best. George, her husband, had asked if she wanted him to go with her, but she said no — she did not want to make it a big deal.

“I remember driving there and pulling up in the parking lot and thinking, either this is going to go in a good way or it’s not,” Bielski-Stoff said, “like, this could be the last time I feel normal.”

The tests took a few hours. When they were over, Testa came in and said she wanted to show Bielski-Stoff a few things with the ultrasound. There was a spot on her left breast the doctor wanted to take a sample of, and one on her right. Then Testa hovered over another spot on her right breast and said she was sorry — it was cancer.

There was no question about what it was, Bielski-Stoff said. It was a classic presentation of a cancerous mass. It was irregularly shaped and had vascularity and calcifications. Questions were flying through her mind about whether her life was over, if she would be in pain and if she was going to be okay, she said.

“The feeling that comes over you when somebody says cancer is just, I started crying,” Bielski-Stoff said. “I thought, ‘How do I absorb this right now. It was everything all at once — fear, a lot of fear.”

Her sister’s wedding was that weekend, so she booked the biopsies for the following Wednesday. Then she set about trying to find a surgeon.

Bielski-Stoff’s insurance company told her there was only one in network near her, so she turned to her coworkers at St. Charles for advice. With the help of her supervisor and the head of human resources, Bielski-Stoff learned the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering were covered.

The surgeon gave her two options: either Bielski-Stoff could get a lumpectomy with radiation or she could get a mastectomy. She opted for a double mastectomy.

“I have to live with this. This is what I can live with,” she said about her decision. “I’m young, 37. I can’t spend the rest of my life panicking that I’m getting cancer again.”

“The feeling that comes over you when somebody says cancer is just, I started crying. I thought, ‘How do I absorb this right now. It was everything all at once — fear, a lot of fear.”

— Desiree Bielski-Stoff

Her surgery was Oct. 3. Two weeks later, all the drains were out and she was sore but doing well. The support from her friends at St. Charles helped her through the experience, she said. They visited her every day, bringing her flowers and food, watching movies with her, checking her dressings, helping her bathe and delivering her medicine from the pharmacy.

“We were pretty much her nanny 24/7 while her husband was working,” Audiino said. “She was never alone, and she had more care than anyone I’ve seen because she’s so well-known and well-liked. We love her to pieces.”

Audiino and another friend, Colleen Miller, raised just about $600 selling over 150 pink bracelets around the hospital. Her Facebook page is littered with pictures of coworkers wearing their bracelets — some say Faith, others say Hope and Survivor. The funds paid for the hotel room Bielski-Stoff’s husband stayed in the night before her surgery.

St. Charles is letting employees donate their vacation time to Bielski-Stoff. She has exhausted hers between her cancer experience and working on the hospital’s negotiating team.

“All of us at St. Charles wish Desiree the best of health — I am very proud of our staff for supporting Desiree during this difficult time,” Jim O’Connor, executive vice president and chief administrative officer at St. Charles, said in an email. “Their gesture also brings awareness to this important health issue and the need for screening and early detection.”

Others have been doing what they can to show their support as well. A former patient’s family drove to her house from the North Shore to drop off supermarket gift cards, and her sister set up a GoFundMe account.

Bielski-Stoff said this experience has been traumatic because it feels like she does not just have cancer, but all her friends and family do. Her diagnosis has made the people around her aware of the importance of conducting self-examinations and going to a doctor regularly.

“It made me have a different look on life and it definitely opened my eyes to making sure that I take care of myself and my children, and that all of my friends keep up with checking for themselves,” Miller, a nursing assistant at St. Charles, said. “In the meantime, we all have to be ‘Dezzy strong,’ as I call it, and be there for her while she’s recovering.”

Bielski-Stoff found out on Halloween she’ll need four months of chemotherapy. 

“That’s going to change me as well and make the fight a little bit harder,” she said.

Bielski-Stoff’s friend Jimmy Bonacasa is hosting a fundraiser for her at the Harbor Crab in Patchogue Sunday, Nov. 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $20.

This version was updated Nov. 1 to include Bielski-Stoff’s treatment plan.

Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

By Alex Petroski

Registered nurses at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson have been working without a contract since March 2015, but they may be nearing a tipping point.

Nurses from both hospitals voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike this week, according to a statement dated Oct. 17 from the New York State Nurses Association, a union that represents about 40,000 registered nurses in the state.

Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“We are very frustrated with management,” Tracy Kosciuk, a St. Charles nurse in the maternal child unit who has been with the hospital for nearly three decades, said in a statement. Kosciuk is also the president of the union’s executive committee for St. Charles. “We feel a total lack of respect. Our community appreciates our dedication and management should too.”

Spokespersons from both hospitals responded to the union’s actions in emailed statements.

“We are working diligently to resolve all issues and have made great progress toward that goal,” separate statements from St. Charles executive director for public and external affairs, Marilyn Fabbricante, and St. Catherine’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Paul Rowland, each said. “We look forward to a mutually satisfactory collective bargaining agreement which rewards our nurses and meets the needs of our hospitals.”

Fabbricante added that St. Charles has not yet been informed by the union of plans to go on strike. Carl Ginsburg, a spokesman for the union, said they have strike authorizations from members at both hospitals, though negotiations are ongoing and no dates have been determined for the strikes. Unions are required to give health care institutions at least 10 days notice prior to a strike, according to the National Labor Relations Board — and Ginsburg said that had not yet occurred.

According to the release from the union, its members are frustrated by inadequate staffing and are seeking better health benefits and a pay increase in their next contract. In 1995, performance of nurses and other health care professionals became subject to ratings based on patient surveys conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, according to its website.

“You can’t have two people lifting a patient all the time…When people are going out with back injuries, then [hospital administration members] wonder why.”

—Dawn Bailey

“All of these issues affect retention and recruitment,” Tammy Miller, a nurse at St. Catherine of Siena, said in a statement. “Keeping and attracting experienced nurses are essential to quality care.”

Dawn Bailey, a registered nurse and labor bargaining unit executive committee member of the NYS Nurses Association, said during a picket outside the Smithtown medical center in April that working a shift without adequate staff can be dangerous not only for patients, but for nurses as well, on top of the potential damage it can do to ratings.

“You can’t have two people lifting a patient all the time because there’s not that other person available,” Bailey said. “When people are going out with back injuries, then [members of hospital administration] wonder why.”

Kosciuk expressed a similar sentiment during a picket in April.

“Unfortunately the mentality … nowadays in the industry is [that] all hospitals are short staffed,” she said. “That’s not acceptable to have that mind-set.”

Victoria Espinoza contributed reporting for this story.

by -
0 845
Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Members of the New York State Nurses Association had drivers honking their horns near St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson on Friday, as picketers called for increased staffing of nurses.

Between 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 8, nurses and supporters marched and chanted outside the hospital to spread awareness of their cause. According to the nurses’ association members, some nurses tend to 10 or more patients and those working in St. Charles’ Intensive Care Unit are exceeding what they call a safe limit of one to two patients per nurse.

Increased staffing would help nurses devote more time to their patients, according to group members, which is better for the patient.

Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Nancy Joly, the New York State Nurses Association’s deputy director, said the organization has data showing that when ICU nurses have more than two patients “the chances of death are skyrocketed.”

The picketing comes as the St. Charles nurses’ union is negotiating with the hospital on a new contract, after the previous one expired in March 2015.

According to a statement from the hospital, the facility bases staffing guidelines on various factors, including when nurses call in sick, how much nursing care a patient needs, the number of patients who need care and guidelines set in previous union contracts.

Tracy Kosciuk, a St. Charles nurse of 27 years and president of the state nurses’ association’s executive committee for St. Charles nurses, said when they have too many patients, it’s difficult for nurses to give their “100 percent” and care for each patient, including teaching the patient and their family about their health.

“Unfortunately the mentality … nowadays in the industry is [that] all hospitals are short-staffed,” Kosciuk said. “That’s not acceptable to have that mindset.”

But St. Charles said the nurses and the hospital share the same goal of providing their patients with high-quality care. While the group has a right to picket, according to the hospital statement, it would prefer to discuss the nurses’ contract in a formal meeting.

“St. Charles remains committed to negotiating a fair contract … that supports our caregivers and the communities we serve,” the hospital said. “We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the union.”

Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Stony Brook resident Barbara Cea was among the nurses chanting outside St. Charles and celebrating when drivers honked their horns in solidarity. She has worked at the hospital for the past 32 years.

“They seem to be ignoring our pleas to increase the nurse-to-patient ratio so that we could provide adequate and safe care, which is more and more important,” Cea said. “We have to keep the nurses at the bedside.”

Cea supported the hospital’s statement that it’s trying to establish fair contracts with appropriate staffing guidelines, but said it’s been a slow process.

“Nobody knows when they’re going to end up in the hospital,” Joly said. “A lot of people are worried about their community hospitals being well-staffed. You really need to have good staffing everywhere.”

Danielle Stenzel and David Delligatti Jr. welcome Jaxon Abel Delligatti at St. Charles Hospital. Photo from the hospital

Danielle Stenzel and David Delligatti Jr. rang in the new year with a bundle of joy when the mama delivered baby boy Jaxon Abel Delligatti at 6:20 a.m. on Jan. 1, the first baby born at St. Charles Hospital in 2016.

The Port Jefferson hospital presented Stenzel and Delligatti with a gift basket to celebrate the birth.

The couple is from Lake Grove and they are first-time parents.

‘CinemAbility’ film director Jenni Gold with actress Jane Seymour. Photo courtesy of ‘CinemAbility'

St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson invites the public to a free week of movies filled with inspiration, perspiration and determination. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, St. Charles will host a moviethon from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. Each night, starting at 6 p.m. at the Wisdom Conference Center, the hospital will host films that share stories of people with different abilities.

The movies include “Wampler’s Ascent,” which chronicles Stephen Wampler’s remarkable climb to the top of El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. Confined to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, Wampler nevertheless did the equivalent of 20,000 pull-ups over the course of five nights and six days to make what is often a landmark rock climb.

“This is a story about a gentleman who is very visibly disabled,” said Jennifer Semel, medical director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at St. Charles and one of the organizers of the event. “He is in constant motion. He has to lean on his limbs to quiet them down. It shows what perseverance can do.”

Semel said her work at the hospital centers around making patients as functionally independent as possible, which, she said, “goes hand in hand with the ADA.”

Semel’s goal is to take people who have spinal injuries or strokes and return them as much as possible to their quality of life. Her staff also works with children born with cerebral palsy or other conditions. Semel finds her work “very rewarding” because she and her staff can help people with various challenges gain independence.

The movies may help members of the community understand the world of people with disabilities better and may inspire them to become involved and contribute where they can, she said. “Exposing individuals who don’t have physical or developmental challenges to the world that does gets them to see the world through those people’s eyes,” Semel said.

All of the films “expose us to different sides of disabilities,” she said. “Some of the challenges and successes re-instill in all of us the importance of equal rights for people with disabilities.”

While the movies will provide a window into the lives of people with different abilities, they aren’t as effective as a day of real life experience, Semel said. When she was training as a physician, she had to spend a day in a wheelchair.

“You never know what that’s like until you’ve done it,” she said. “Not having a curb on a Manhattan sidewalk can be the end of an outing. The challenges in our world that we don’t recognize as people without physical disabilities are hard to capture” completely in the movies.

Semel is encouraged by the progress she sees in the community. “There have been tremendous strides in terms of making places, restaurants and public places accessible to individuals,” Semel said. “There’s no question that there’s a long way to go.”

Semel coordinated the moviethon with Mike Apostoli, the care coordinator in the Community Re-Entry Program at St. Charles. Apostoli facilitates the Patient and Family Advisory Council, which is a group of patients and caregivers who have been through the rehabilitation program. The group meets monthly and was pleased to provide feedback on the movie choices.

“We tried to stick to movies that were consistent with what it is that we do here,” Apostoli said. “It reflects the patients we see with similar challenges, limitations and assets.”

Apostoli said stroke, spinal cord and brain injuries are often like a tsunami for people’s lives, transporting them to another world. “If we can give people who have not gone through that a glimpse into what that’s like, we will have met a very large challenge to begin to formulate better attitudes,” which includes getting services approved through insurance.

The movies profile compelling people who have sometimes achieved something extraordinary. Apostoli suggested the public can become aware that the average person with a disability may not achieve something as remarkable, but they can overcome obstacles to have a meaningful day. “They may not be climbing mountains, but that doesn’t mean what they are doing isn’t just as difficult,” he said.

Each night, a senior member of the staff will introduce the movie. Semel said she hopes to invite individuals with disabilities and the community to join the celebration. She is also hopeful that this may become an annual event.

Semel said the group screened 27 films and narrowed the list down to five. Along with “Wampler’s Ascent,” which will be screened on Sept. 29, the screenings will include “CinemAbility.” Narrated by Jane Seymour, the film takes a look at the evolution of disability in entertainment by interviewing filmmakers, studio executives and celebrities, including Jamie Foxx, Helen Hunt, Marlee Matlin, Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Geena Davis, on Sept. 28.

“Endless Abilities,” a movie about four best friends who have physical disabilities who drive across the country seeking adaptive sports for people like them will be screened on Sept. 30. The movie includes footage of these athletes water skiing, snow skiing and surfing.

“The Intouchables,” the French subtitled film based on a true story about a friendship between a handicapped millionaire and his ex-con caretaker who refuses to take pity on him, will be screened on Oct. 1 followed by “A Whole Lott More” on Oct. 2, which examines the impact of Lott Industries’ struggles and examines the world of employment options for people with disabilities while focusing on three people who each have a different attitude toward work. The film was the winner of the Cincinnati Film Festival for Best Documentary in 2013.

St. Charles Hospital is located at 200 Belle Terre Road, Port Jefferson. The moviethon is free but advance reservations are required for each film by calling 631-474-6797.

1-800-Checks
An Oakland Avenue florist in Port Jefferson Station reported on June 20 that a box of business checks had been stolen from their office.

Ripped from the headlines
Between June 17 at 10 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. on June 18, a person rummaged through a 1999 Pontiac on Piedmont Drive in Port Jefferson Station and damaged the vehicle headliner.

Chest bump
Police responded to a road rage incident on Route 347 in Port Jefferson Station on June 17 at about 11:20 a.m. According to police, a woman reported that a man’s car bumped mirrors with her own vehicle and he began cursing at her. The woman also said the man bumped her with his chest after the two exited their vehicles.

Taking advantage
Between June 18 and 19, two Port Jefferson vehicles on Vantage Court were robbed. At some point between 6 p.m. on June 18 and 6 p.m. on June 19, someone stole a laptop, prescription glasses, headphones, a car charger and an iPad charger from a 2010 Ford. On June 19 between midnight and 9 a.m., someone stole a wallet with cash from inside a 2015 Subaru.

Impatient
A St. Charles Hospital employee reported that a patient at the Port Jefferson hospital had slapped her on June 18.

The gravity of the situation
A 22-year-old Port Jefferson Station man was arrested at the local Long Island Rail Road station on June 19 for fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Police said they were notified about a man with a knife and found a gravity knife in the man’s pocket.

Holey moly
Things were busy on Oakland Avenue in Miller Place last week, as police reported two separate incidents. On June 18, a resident reported that someone had made a small hole in their home’s front window and vinyl siding on June 18. Two days later, a person stole a GPS, a Blackberry and a bag from an unlocked 2007 Toyota.

Street smarts
Someone took a wallet containing cash and credit cards from a vehicle parked at Centereach High School on June 17.

Gassed up
A woman struck a man in the head and face at a Selden gas station on Middle Country Road on June 21 shortly after 4 p.m.

Buzzed
A man reported being assaulted by three males and one female at The Hive on Middle Country Road in Selden on June 17 at around 2:40 a.m. According to police, the man suffered from lacerations to his head and face and had a broken tooth. He was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment. No arrests have been made.

Suspended
A 24-year-old Selden man was arrested for third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle on June 20. According to police, the man was driving a 2008 Cadillac south on Dare Road in Selden when he was pulled over and police discovered his license had been suspended or revoked.

Found with drugs
Police arrested a 25-year-old Dix Hills man and charged him with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Police said the man was found with substances inside a 2002 Honda Civic at the corner of Straight Path and Burrs Lane in Dix Hills on June 19 at about 6:50 p.m.

Punched out
A 36-year-old Huntington Station man was arrested in Huntington on June 18 and charged with third-degree assault, with intent to cause physical injury. Police said on May 9 at about 12:10 a.m. he assaulted another man, punching him until he fell to the ground on New York Avenue. He continued to punch the person, who required treatment at Huntington Hospital. He was arrested at 6:09 p.m.

Parking lot DWI
A 77-year-old woman from East Northport was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 of 1 percent. Police said the woman struck another parked vehicle in a parking lot on Larkfield Road in East Northport on June 19 at 1:45 p.m. She was arrested at the scene.

Crash ‘n dash
Police arrested a 47-year-old woman from Centerport and charged her with leaving the scene of an accident where there was property damage. Police said the woman crashed a 2011 Toyota into a telephone pole in front of a home on Washington Avenue in Centerport on June 20 at 6:20 p.m., damaging the pole. She was arrested at the precinct at 1 p.m. on June 22.

Car keyed
A 2009 Honda Accord parked on Ridgecrest Street in Huntington was keyed sometime between 9:30 and 11 p.m. on June 22. There are no arrests.

Boat burglarized
Someone stole power tools out of a 2002 Catalina boat at Coneys Marina on New York Avenue in Huntington. The incident occurred sometime between 3:30 p.m. on June 21 and 10:30 a.m. on June 22.

Quad missing
A 2006 Suzuki quad was stolen from the yard of an Alsace Place home in East Northport on June 21 at 1 a.m. There are no arrests.

Jewelry stolen
Someone stole a bracelet from a home on Altessa Boulevard in Melville sometime between noon on May 23 and noon on June 13.

Punch it up
Police arrested a 21-year-old man from Deer Park at the 4th Precinct and charged him with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury. Police said the man punched somebody in the face several times on June 7 at 6 :05 p.m. on Portion Road in Ronkonkoma. He was arrested on June 19 at 9:54 a.m.

On a roll
A 44-year-old Nesconset woman was arrested at the 4th Precinct and charged with criminal mischief with intent to damage property. Police said she punctured the two rear passenger-side tires of a 2014 Kia Soul. She was arrested at about 7 p.m. on June 19, and police said the crime happened on Adrienne Lane in Hauppauge.

Phone jacking thwarted
Police arrested a 28-year-old Hauppauge man on June 19 and charged him with petit larceny. Police said he stole a cell phone from a Walmart on Veterans Memorial Highway in Islandia at 9:35 p.m. on June 7.

Rifle-happy
A 61-year-old Lake Ronkonkoma man was arrested at the 4th Precinct on June 18 at 8:30 a.m. and charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, possessing three or more firearms. Police said that the man possessed four semiautomatic rifles at his home on Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

What a tool
Someone stole tools from an unlocked shed in the driveway of a Ridge Road home in Smithtown, sometime between June 20 and June 21. The tools included a saw, compressor, chain saw and floor jack.

Cards swiped
Someone entered an unlocked 2015 Grand Cherokee in the driveway of a home on Poplar Drive in Smithtown and removed several different credit and debit cards. The incident occurred between June 16 at 1 a.m. and June 17 at 3:20 p.m.

Door damaged
An unknown person shattered a storm door by unknown means at a Nesconset home on Marion Street sometime between June 17 and June 20. There are no arrests.

Window woes
Someone stole a 2012 Jeep plastic rear window from Smith Haven Jeep on Route 25 in Nesconset. The incident occurred between June 16 and June 18.

Hateful graffiti
Someone reported graffiti of a swastika on the boys’ bathroom wall at Kings Park High School on June 19 at 8:45 a.m. There are no arrests.

Pesky kids
A man told police an unknown object was thrown at his vehicle while he was driving a 2001 Ford Explorer southbound on Ashland Drive in Kings Park. The object damaged the door window. Police said it’s possible youth were involved. The incident occurred at 10:55 p.m. on June 18.

License-less
Suffolk County Police arrested a 20-year-old man from Central Islip in Stony Brook on June 19 and charged him with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police said the man was driving a 1994 Honda westbound on Nesconset Highway with a suspended or revoked license. He was arrested at 11:30 p.m. at the scene

Snatched on the down Loews
Someone took a camera bag containing a camera, a Nintendo gaming system, games and a backpack from a 2007 Hummer parked at AMC Loews Stony Brook 17. The incident happened on June 17 between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Gadgets gone
Someone broke the passenger window of a Toyota pickup truck parked in a Nesconset Highway parking lot in Stony Brook and took a backpack, iPad mini, a GoPro camera and accessories. The incident occurred sometime between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on June 17.

Phoning it in
Police said a man concealed merchandise in his pocket and walked out of Walmart on Nesconset Highway in East Setauket with a charger and a cellphone screen protector on June 19 at about 5:10 p.m.

I see stolen underpants
A woman stole undergarments after entering a fitting room at Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in East Setauket on June 18 at about 2:20 p.m. There are no arrests.