Authors Posts by Victoria Espinoza

Victoria Espinoza

Victoria Espinoza
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Victoria Espinoza is the editor of the Times of Huntington & Northport. She once broke her elbow trying to eat a cookie.

Drugs recovered thanks to tips from Crime Stoppers. File photo from SCPD

By Victoria Espinoza

The fight against substance abuse among young people on the North Shore and around Suffolk County is set to enter the 21st century.

Suffolk County Legislator and Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) launched efforts for the county to develop a smartphone application at the June 20 legislative meeting that will provide users with quick and easy access to drug addiction services. It will also provide information on how to recognize and prevent opioid overdoses for families who are struggling with how to protect their loved ones.

“This mobile app will literally put life-saving information directly into the hands of those who need it most,” Gregory said at a press conference in Hauppauge last week. “There is a desperate need for instant access to addiction resources. Just a few weeks ago, 22 people over a two-day span overdosed on opioids in Suffolk. There are so many valuable resources and programs in our county, and we must do all we can to make it easier for those battling substance abuse to reach out for help.”

The app will provide locations of nearby hospitals and treatment centers, links to organizations and support hotlines and information on training to administer Narcan, an overdose reversal medication.

Gregory said he believes the app will be a worthwhile endeavor given the recent launch of New York City’s mobile app, Stop OD NYC, which provides overdose prevention education and connects individuals with local programs. According to his office, Suffolk officials are considering modeling Suffolk’s own app after the city’s version and have been in touch with city health officials as they look to develop the proposal request.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken said the addition of the app is another powerful weapon to use in the ongoing battle against drug addiction.

“Substance abuse affects everyone in the community,” he said at the event. “An application that consolidates information that can be accessed from anywhere on a mobile device offers one more tool in our toolkit for dealing with this public health crisis.”

Suffolk County Community Mental Hygiene Services Director Ann Marie Csorny agreed, saying this idea makes the most sense for the younger generation.

“Today’s youth have come to rely heavily on their smartphones, so putting substance abuse information into a format that is easily accessible to them makes sense,” she said.

Suffolk County is no stranger to the nation’s growing opioid problem. In 2014 Suffolk had the highest number of overdose deaths involving heroin of all New York counties and had the most overdose deaths where prescription opioids were a factor, according to a 2016 New York State Comptroller’s report.

Donna DiBiase, founder and executive director of A2R Magazine, a publication related to journeys in addiction and recovery said branching out to new platforms like cellphones are crucial to winning the fight.

“A mobile app of this nature could be a vital resource at a time when we are losing our next generation to this epidemic,” she said in a statement. “There isn’t a person that I meet who doesn’t know someone — a neighbor, a family member, a friend — who has been touched by this disease. Empowerment and education is so important, and we need to continue to find ways to get information to those who are struggling with addiction, whether it be through an app, a hotline or a magazine.”

The resolution was filed by Gregory at the June 20 meeting and will go before the Health Committee July 20.

Men on the boat stranded in the Long Island Sound wave to officers. Photo from SCPD.

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau officers rescued four men who became stranded in a 10-foot inflatable raft in the Long Island Sound Thursday night, June 29 while a small craft advisory was in place.

Suffolk Police said they received a 911 call at approximately 9:15 p.m. from a man who was stranded in a 10-foot inflatable raft, along with three other male occupants. The men, who launched from Sunken Meadow State Park to go fishing, were pulled out to the Long Island Sound approximately one mile and a half north of the Nissequogue River. Their boat did not have a motor, and they were unable to paddle back due to winds blowing between 20 to 25 miles per hour.

Marine Bureau Officers Charles Marchiselli, Edmund McDowell and Erik Johnson, responded in Marine Bravo and located the men within 15 minutes of the 911 call. The boat’s owner, Marco Murillo, 36, of Massapequa, and three additional men, were taken aboard Marine Bravo and transported along with their raft to Sunken Meadow State Park.

All of the men were wearing life vests and there were no injuries.

File photo

Suffolk County Police today arrested two men in Dix Hills following a pursuit on the Long Island Expressway early Friday morning, June 30.

Police said Highway Patrol Bureau Sergeant Peter Clancy observed the operator of a 2016 Nissan Sentra driving erratically west on the Long Island Expressway near exit 62 at approximately 2 a.m. Sgt. Clancy attempted to pull over the vehicle but the driver allegedly fled. The driver of the Sentra and an acquaintance, who was driving nearby in a Chevrolet began weaving through traffic. The drivers refused to stop for the Sgt. and Highway Patrol Bureau Officer Robert Scudellari deployed stop sticks which stopped the Chevrolet. The Nissan continued and Sgt. Clancy was able to bring the vehicle to a stop on the Long Island Expressway at Exit 52 in Dix Hills.

Highway Patrol Bureau charged the driver of the Nissan, Queens resident Robert Richards, 32, with reckless driving and third-degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle. Second Squad detectives charged the driver of the Chevrolet, Queens resident Donzel Raywhyte, 28, with three counts of first-degree possession of a forged instrument for possessing three forged out of state licenses. Highway Patrol Bureau charged Raywhyte with second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and false personation.

Richards was held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip June 30. Raywhyte will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct tonight and scheduled for arraignment July 1. No attorney information was immediately available.

A map of the temporary speed zone restrictions in Huntington during the holiday. Photo from Town of Huntington

The Town of Huntington released a video this week reminding residents to keep safety in mind while enjoying summer boating.

The video highlights the danger of boat wakes and urges boaters to practice safe boating summer-long — especially during the weekend leading up to Independence Day.

The four-minute video is narrated by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) and was jointly produced with the Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs.

“It’s your responsibility to be a safe boater,” Edwards said in the video. “For many of us, being on a boat is the highlight of the summer. Let’s do all we can to make sure that boating is enjoyable for all of us.”

The video features a demonstration of the effects of a boat’s wake at different speeds on kayakers, shore erosion, wildlife and other boats and reminds boaters to heed markings, speed limits and be aware of other boaters on the water.

In the first few moments of the video, Edwards is on a dock talking about the power the wake off a boat can create, and then the wake of a passing boat soaks her.

“Wow, look at the wake of that boat, and look what it did to me,” Edwards said, shaking off the water from her clothes. “If you’re on that boat, creating that wake may be a lot of fun for you, but not for the people that are out of the water.”

For increased boat safety, the town is establishing a 5 mph speed limit from 8:30 to 11 p.m. in all of Northport Bay and Huntington Bay south from the line extending from Target Rock to Buoy One in Coast Guard Cove, as well as Long Island Sound from the easternmost section of the Northport Power Plant to the westernmost end of the causeway on Asharoken Avenue. This restriction began in response to the 2012 tragedy, when three children died off Oyster Bay Cove when the boat in which they were watching a fireworks show capsized as it was returning to Huntington.

“As July 4 approaches, we again ask all residents to follow the rules and celebrate the holiday in a way that is safe to themselves, their families and guests and respects the rights of others,” Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a statement.

This year there are two scheduled fireworks events including one sponsored by Asharoken Village and the other presented by the Dolan family off Cove Neck.

In addition to speed restrictions, some town facilities — Crab Meadow Beach, West Neck/Quentin Sammis Beach, Hobart Beach and the Soundview Boat Ramp — will remain open past sunset, after 5 p.m., but entry will be limited to town residents on a space available basis. Once the parking lot at a particular beach is full, no additional entry will be allowed and police may restrict access on roads leading to the facilities.

The town has been working with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Suffolk County Police Department Marine Bureau and multiple incorporated villages on measures aimed at allowing people to safely get to and get home from fireworks shows. These measures include coordinating patrols and establishing a security zone around the firework barge shooting in the Asharoken area.

To watch the safety video visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1njzVS0NCE.

File photo.

Students at Kings Park, Hauppauge, and Smithtown school districts put in strong efforts this year to come out at the top of their classes. The valedictorian and salutatorian at Kings Park and Hauppauge, and the honored speakers at Smithtown High School East and West shared a little about themselves so the community can get to know them better.

Kings Park

Salutatorian: Joseph Ribaudo

Ribaudo will be graduating with a cumulative weighted average of 105.89.  He participated in  Model UN, varsity golf, Science Olympiad, math team, National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, trivia team and the business club DECA.  He only recently joined the  DECA program this year and  qualified  to go to the international competition in Anaheim, California.  He also excelled at regional and national science competitions.   Ribaudo  received the National Hispanic Scholar award, which is given to the top 2000 Hispanics in the nation.  He also teaches religion twice a week at St. Joseph’s parish.  Ribaudo will be attending Yale next year, double majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and economics.

Valedictorian: Anjali Verma

Verma will be graduating with a cumulative weighted average of 105.98.  She serves as president of Science Olympiad, student leader of the Kings Park Chamber Orchestra, vice-president of Model U.N. and vice-president of the Independent Science Research Club.  She is a three-season athlete participating in the cross-country, winter track, and spring track teams.  For the past year, Anjali conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. James Dilger, volunteering in his lab to investigate a safer alternative to opioid pain medications.   She has been recognized as a Coca-Cola Scholar, a National Merit Scholar, a Presidential Scholars Program nominee, and was a 3rd place finalist at the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair in the computational biology category.  Anjali will be attending Columbia University next year, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Hauppauge

Salutatorian: Rachel Black, 18

Black will be attending the University of Notre Dame to study mathematics with a concentration in life sciences. Selecting her favorite high school memory is difficult, because there have been so many. She was fortunate to go on the German Exchange trip her sophomore year, and said that it was a blast and she learned so much. Also her freshmen year she ran her last race of the season in cross-country and became an all county runner. But there are so many, even small moments like bonding as a class, or joking around at  extra help, she doesn’t think she could say what her single favorite high school memory was. There are so many things she is excited about for college. She is super excited to be able to focus more intently on one area of study, as well as participating in the service events, club teams and ministry Notre Dame has to offer. She is going to miss the people in her high school the most. Black will miss her friends and  teachers, coaches, and advisors. She will also miss all her sports teams and being a part of the clubs she was involved in. She said Hauppauge High School was her second home and she will really miss it. Black was involved in student council and served as president,  treasurer of the school’s National Honor Society  and German Honor Society, co-president of  Science Olympiad , member of Natural Helpers, and participated in cross-country, winter track and spring track as captain.

Valedictorian: Angela Musco, 18

Musco will be attending Stony Brook University in the fall. She will be in the Honors College as well as the Scholars for Medicine Program (8 year medical program). She plans to major in biology with a focus in neurobiology, as well as  minor in Spanish. As president of Interact Club (a community service club), she helped organize Safe Halloween, an annual event to allow children to trick-or-treat and play games safely. This is one of her favorite memories because she said she likes working with the children. She is most excited to meet more people and make new friends at college. Musco said she is also excited to live on her own and be more independent; she is  looking forward to being exposed to new ideas and starting her journey towards  her career in medicine. She will miss seeing her best friends every single day. While in high school she was a member of  National Honor Society,  vice president of  Spanish Honor Society,  president of  Interact Club,  vice president of the student body,  treasurer of debate club and more.

Smithtown West

Honored speaker: Cory Zhou, 17

Zhou will be attending Yale University to study biomedical engineering or economics. His favorite high school memory is staying overnight every year at Relay for Life. He said it’s an incredible event that raises a ton of money for the American Cancer Society, and to be a part of it with his friends was so rewarding and fun. Zhou is most excited to be able to meet so many new people and form more lifelong friendships, as well as gain more independence to explore many new academic and extracurricular interests. He said he is going to miss the people at Smithtown West the most. All the teachers he had were so incredibly passionate, and he said he developed real relationships with each one. His amazing friends have been through so much with him; the best times he has had were the ones spent with them, and he said it’s going to be so hard not having them with him every day. In high school, he was involved in Academic Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, math team, DECA, Freshman Kickstart Mentoring, varsity badminton, symphonic band, and several honor societies.

Smithtown East

Honored speaker: Kyle DiPietrantonio, 18

DiPietrantonio will attend  George Washington University double majoring in international affairs and Spanish. His favorite high school memory would be attending DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Anaheim this past April. He said it was an amazing time spent with his teachers and friends. As this year’s co-president for Smithtown East, it was an excellent and full-circle way to end his DECA experiences. Aside from competing, some highlights included bonding with his peers, watching the sunrise, and visiting Universal Studios with 19,000 other DECA members from around the world. He is most excited about being in the vibrant city of Washington D.C. and in a new environment. He is also excited to meet new people from all walks of life and expand his perspective. DiPietrantonio will miss a tremendous amount about his school, especially the unforgettable people he was fortunate enough to cross paths with and all of the memories they shared. He said Smithtown has always been so supportive of him and has given him a solid base to succeed in his future. He is leaving high school knowing he genuinely took advantage of every opportunity, from intriguing clubs and classes, and even several trips abroad. DiPietrantonio was very involved in his high school’s extracurriculars. This year, he was the co-president of DECA as well as the vice president of Suffolk County DECA. Additionally, he was the co-president of the Spanish Honor Society and the co-president and captain of the Academic Quiz Bowl team. He was also part of the Smithtown Industry Advisory Board as a member of the international business committee. He was an active member in the leadership class the past two years where he led the Friends Dance committee that supported students with autism at the Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism. Finally he was involved as a member in the National, Social Studies, Business, Math, and DECA honor societies.

Northport High School. File photo

Students at Huntington, Northport-East Northport and Harborfields school districts put in strong efforts this year to come out at the top of their classes. The valedictorian and salutatorian of each district answered a few questions to let their community get to know them a little better. The graduates were asked the following: (1) What were you involved with at your high school? (2) What college are you attending and what are you studying? (3) What is your favorite high school memory? (4) What are you most excited for in college?  (5) What will you miss most about your school?

Huntington

Salutatorian: Miranda Nykolyn, 17

1. I was involved with Key Club (secretary), varsity rowing, varsity tennis, Mathletes, and Science National Honor Society (treasurer).  Science research is among my favorite activities.

2. I am attending Stanford University and majoring in mechanical engineering/applied mathematics.

3. My favorite high school memory would have to be winning the New York State Scholastic Rowing Championships in the Women’s Varsity Single.

4. I am most excited to be living on my own, and being responsible for my own actions. College is a great time to grow and find a healthy balance between schoolwork and fun.

5. I will miss most the amazing people in my community and the great programs offered. Huntington High School has many AP classes and a variety of extracurriculars that allow for any interest to be fostered.

Valedictorian: Steve Yeh, 18

1. I was involved with Stocks Analysis Club, Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, Chinese Foreign Exchange Club, Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl, piano, tutoring at Huntington Station library and Natural Helpers.

2. I am attending Cornell University next year majoring in math and economics and minoring in physics.

3. I don’t necessarily have one favorite high school memory, but as a whole I loved being around my friends, having meaningful discussions and debates in history and government courses and helping out my classmates with academics and regular daily problems and vice versa; this makes it more of a community rather than just a school.

4. I am most excited about meeting new people who come from diverse backgrounds and also being able to study a variety of courses across a breadth of disciplines while also learning more in-depth about respective content material.

5.   I will miss my friends and teachers the most.  I have learned so much about various subjects, but more importantly, I have learned more about myself.

Northport-East Northport

Salutatorian: Sarah Abodalo, 17

1. I was involved with varsity soccer (captain), named All Conference and All County (2015, 2016) and Newsday Top 50 Players (2015, 2016). I also was All County SCMEA (2014, 2015), NYSCAME for Voice (2016), NYSCAME for horn (2015), marching band, symphonic winds, tour choir (officer), pit orchestra, and Tri-M Music Honor Society.

2. I am attending the Honor’s College at Hofstra University, with majors in English and French language and education.

3. My favorite high school memory was when I toured England and Scotland with our tour choir in the summer 2015.  Performing in some of the most historical places in the world was one of the most gratifying experiences I have had the opportunity to partake in.

4. Next year I will be playing on the Hofstra University women’s soccer team. I am beyond ecstatic and honored to be playing at such a high level with such talented individuals.

5. I will greatly miss being a part of the fantastic music program that Northport provides its students. Choir and band have been a major part of my life and I am sad to have to say goodbye to all the wonderful teachers I have had over the years.

Valedictorian: Cybele Laisney, 18

1. I volunteered at the Atria, provided free tutoring for those in need, and at the Huntington YMCA. I was in French Club (president), Grandfriends (vice-president), National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society, and Technology Honor Society. I also played varsity tennis.

2. I am attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in bio-engineering.

3. I will remember meeting with Martha, a resident at the Atria, to sit down and chat every Tuesday. She offered a lot of wisdom and always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I’ll miss her a lot next year,

4. I’m most excited to be surrounded by new people in the Cambridge/Boston area. I know the people I will be surrounded by will only inspire me to push myself further.

5. I’ll miss the people I’ve met along the way. I’ve gotten to know some truly wonderful people throughout high school, and although it is heartbreaking to be apart from the people I’m close to, I know they will do bigger and better things in college.

Harborfields

Salutatorian: Ishaan Lohia, 17

1. I was involved in the Harborfields Theatre Company, National Honor Society, science research and Mathletes.

2. I will be studying physics at Northeastern University.

3. My favorite memory is senior playfest.

4. I am most excited to study the things that I love at college.

5. I will miss the friends that I have made at Harborfields.

Valedictorian: Casandra Moisanu, 18

1. I was involved in All-County girls varsity soccer, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Mathletes.

2. I’ll be studying environmental science at Cornell University.

3. I’ll remember being a part of the soccer team here at Harborfields High School.

4. I am most excited to learn new things at a higher level.

5. I’m going to miss the family feel that we have here in Harborfields.

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

By Victoria Espinoza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Rep Suozzi waves from the field during the game. Photo from Suozzi’s office

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) made his way to the dugout to play in the congressional bipartisan baseball game last Thursday, June 15. The game came one day after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) was shot by a gunman, along with four others, during a practice just outside of Washington D.C.

Suozzi said the experience was very unique.

“To be one of only 20 players, and a freshman, on the Democrats congressional baseball team was an awesome experience,” he said in a statement. “After the shootings last Wednesday, the game took on a more important meaning, and the experience was truly humbling. Since day one I have talked about bipartisan cooperation and civility. It’s a shame it took a tragedy, but now it’s a part of the national conversation.”

Suozzi said he and his teammates first learned of the shootings at the Republican practice in Arlington, Virginia, around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning while the Democrats were practicing at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

“After the initial shock, confirmation of the events and being instructed by police to shelter in place at the dugout, the entire Democratic team circled together and prayed for our Republican colleagues and the other victims,” he said.

Before Thursday night’s game, both teams kneeled at second base at Nationals Park, where Scalise was supposed to have played, in a show of bipartisan unity. Democrats and Republicans prayed for the victims and their families as well as to come together as one united Congress.

The game raised a record $1.5 million for charity and was attended by nearly 25,000 fans. This was the 80th game of a tradition dating back to 1909. Capitol Police officer David Bailey, who was injured in the attack, threw out the first pitch.

Suozzi said the show of unity was very important.

“I sincerely hope we use this unique opportunity to show the American people that we’re here to try and get things done — together as Americans,” he said.

Suozzi had a hard-hit line drive to the shortstop and a ground ball to the third baseman, leaving him 0 for 2.

“It was still a fantastic experience and I hope I get to play again next year,” he said.

The Democrats won the game 11-2, and following their victory gave this year’s trophy to the Republicans to place in Scalise’s office until he recovers.

“I will continue to pray for Steve, the injured officers and other victims, and for our country,” Suozzi said. “We have important work to do. The people are sick of politics and politicians, and we need to work together on these life and death issues and actually get things done — together.”

Kings Park High School students celebrated during their graduation ceremony Thursday, June 22. Family members, friends and community members lined the new turf field to cheer on the graduates.