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John T. Mather Hospital

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Rocco's Pizzeria in Mount Sinai donated pizzas to Mather Hospital's Emergency Room staff on April 2.

In his March 27 daily COVID-19 address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the current pandemic will test the mettle of all residents, potentially shaping their person in the long road ahead.

“This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people, makes them stronger, makes them weaker, but this is a moment that will change character,” he said.

As we look around our coverage area, especially at the business owners, we can’t help but hope this crisis will make our communities stronger.

It would have been easy for many owners to just shut their doors when multiple executive orders paused nonessential businesses from offering their services, while requiring restaurants to stop sit-down service for the time being. With many still recovering a few years after the last recession, some are still dealing with low reserve funds, and while federal relief is being made available for small businesses, some owners wonder if the help will be enough.

However, most are being resilient — doing everything in their power to keep offering services to their communities. They aren’t looking at their bank accounts and saying, “We can’t do this in this environment,” they are saying they will do their best.

Restaurants are adapting to the new climate providing curbside pickup and amping up their deliveries, including those who didn’t offer these options in the past. With their finger on the pulse of residents’ needs, they are also offering specials giving patrons a choice of a certain number of trays of food at a value price, so a customer can pick up a meal one night and feed their family for a couple of days.

But even more than that, there are several examples of restaurants giving back to the community by offering free or discounted meals to the elderly, homebound and health care workers. Multiple businesses in Port Jeff have started delivering meals to local hospitals, aided by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Port Jeff Business Improvement District.

Dancing schools, martial arts and yoga studios, as well as other fitness centers, are posting instructional videos to their websites and offering classes via Zoom, Facebook Live or other platforms. Even on-site tutoring businesses have embraced online tools to stay in touch with students and help parents with the current homeschooling situation.

These innovative ideas will help increase the owners’ chances of keeping their doors open once America comes out on the other side of this pandemic. It’s allowed them to keep on some of their staff members and will hopefully allow them to hire back those they had to lay off. It will keep their business names on residents’ minds.

The current challenges facing the business community can be an opportunity for them to grow, and many owners are realizing this. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our towns on Long Island. Thank you to the owners and their staffs for doing everything in their power to keep our communities’ hearts beating and souls hopeful.

Crisis Forces Owners to Get Creative

Stony Brook Trauma Center staff member Colby Rowe and Wang Center Building Manager Scott LaMarsh accept donations for the COVID-19 Donation Center. Photo from SBU

Local businesses throughout Long Island have been hit hard because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it also has brought them closer together. These uncertain times have bred creative and unique ideas in an effort to keep these storefronts afloat. 

Renee Goldfarb of Origin of Era in Port Jefferson hosts daily livestreams demonstrating an item in her stock during the ongoing crisis. Image from Facebook

For Renee Goldfarb, owner of Origin of Era boutique in Port Jefferson, it meant finding ways to further connect with clients and new customers despite them not being able to come into the store. 

“There’s not the heavy foot traffic we are used to seeing, so instead of just sitting in an empty store why not continue to interact with customers online?” she said. 

Goldfarb started what she calls a “virtual shopping experience” where she showcases and models different pieces of clothing from a number of indie and female designers. In these half-hour livestreams, she said it allows customers to get that familiar experience of seeing products in real time and decide what they like.

“I’m very hands on; I want them to see how these pieces look on a normal human being, not just a store mannequin,” the boutique owner said. “The viewers also leave comments and it gives me the chance to talk to them and answer their questions.”

Goldfarb currently produces weekly videos on Instagram Live and Facebook. She said she has already sold a few items from her store and is getting good feedback from customers on the videos. 

 “The business community in Port Jeff is really trying to support one another,” she said.

Though times have been trying, it has not stopped local shops from supporting those who arguably need it the most.

Similarly, the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District is conducting a restaurant delivery program that will send meals to St. Charles and Mather hospitals for the medical staff, to thank them for their service during the ongoing pandemic. The Greater Port Jeff Chamber of Commerce is also assisting in the effort. 

Theresa Skogen, liaison for the Port Jeff BID and the chamber, said they already started to drop off meals at the hospitals earlier last week.  

“We started last Saturday — it’s been a good way to revitalize some of the businesses that had to shut down and it keeps them busy during their slower days,” she said.

James Luciano, owner of the Port Jeff Lobster House and BID secretary, said the BID is donating up to 40 meals at a time to the hospitals on a rotating basis. 

“Any restaurant that is in the Greater Port Jeff area can participate,” he said. “The BID will pay them a flat fee of $500 for 40 meals. We pick up the meals and deliver them to the hospitals for free.”

Luciano said they hope to continue delivering meals every day to the local hospitals. 

In addition, the Port Jeff chamber has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help Port Jeff restaurants feed hospital workers at St. Charles and John T. Mather hospitals. GreaterPortJeff.com is sponsoring fundraising efforts for the restaurants involved and the campaign will also help local restaurants. As of today, close to $4,000 has been raised. 

“We wanted to make sure we could provide that service, and be able to employ local personnel.”

-James Luciano

In an effort to further help Port Jeff businesses, the Village of Port Jefferson has created a website page titled Open Today. The page contains a list of over 30 restaurants and other businesses. The BID is also sponsoring a free delivery service  from 12 to 8 p.m. daily.  

Luciano said they wanted to have a centralized delivery system in the village during this time and at the same time have this option available to customers. 

“We wanted to make sure we could provide that service, and be able to employ local personnel,” he said.  

For some entrepreneurs, making sure customers know that they are still present is just as important, despite seeing a dip in business. 

Gabriela Schwender, of Long Island Crafty Ones, a mobile and traveling workshop based in Rocky Point, said a lot of business plans have had to be canceled due to the pandemic. Her craft workshops cater to face-to-face interactions with her clients. 

In the meantime, she has been livestreaming craft workshops on the business’ Facebook page. While she can’t provide art materials like she usually does, Schwender said she has turned to finding common household objects that can make for fun craft projects. 

“Usually when I do these workshops, I’m right there to help them or guide them,” she said. “Right now, I’m answering questions through text.”

Schwender said a number of viewers have already reached out to her saying that they would like to hire her once the pandemic/shutdown is over. 

Gary Pollakusky, executive director of the Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce, said small businesses are going through a difficult time right now, adding the chamber has reached out to all its members in an effort to assist them in any way they can, including giving each other ideas and advice. 

The organization has come up with its own page titled Shop Locally, Distance Socially, which can be found on its website (www.rpsbchamber.org) where it lists a number of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses that are still open and taking online orders. The chamber is also encouraging residents to order a gift card for now, to shop with once life returns to normal.

“These small businesses and mom-and-pop shops need the support of the public more than ever before,” he said. 

The Riverhead testing facility is located at 1149 Old Country Road at the ProHealth site. Photo from Google maps

Suffolk County is adding two additional testing sites for Covid-19 in the coming days, with AFC Urgent Care in West Islip expected to provide rapid testing with results in less than 15 minutes and ProHealth in Riverhead also offering mobile testing for the coronavirus.

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is establishing an emergency fund to help staff. File photo from Mather Hospital

Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, who announced the new testing sites, suggested that residents need to make appointments prior to visiting the facilities.

“No one should walk into an urgent care center and expect to get tested,” said Bellone on his daily conference call with reporters.

The phone number for the AFC site is 631-983-4084 and the number for ProHealth is 516-874-0411.

Bellone also reported that the crime rate in the county had gone down. In the two week period ending on March 29, burglaries declined by 30 percent, grand larceny fell by 18 percent, and felony assault came down 100 percent.

“We did expect to see a reduction in crime,” said Geraldine Hart, the Suffolk County Police Commissioner. “People are at home and businesses are shut down, taking away the opportunities” to commit crimes, as there are far fewer people on the street.

Separately, the Suffolk County Child Care Consortium has added a 13th site that will provide child care for health care workers, first responders and transit workers, Bellone said. The new site will be in Central Islip at the Cordello Avenue Elementary School and will be run by Youth Enrichment Services. The program will be open from Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

For businesses seeking support, Suffolk County has established a new Covid-19 public assistance web page, which residents can access through the web site suffolkcountyny.gov. At the site, residents can use the FEMA public assistance link, where they can fill out a form with any questions.

Amid the ongoing economic strain in the county, Bellone said he spoke with several financial institutions about a number of topics, including the challenge for many people of paying their mortgages once the pause is lifted and business resumes. Bellone said the institutions recognized that people who were struggling to pay their mortgages won’t suddenly be able to provide payments from several months.

Meanwhile, the number of positive coronavirus tests continues to rise, with 6,713 confirmed patients in the county, which is up about 1,000 in the last day. The number of people hospitalized with the virus has risen to 709, with 229 people in the Intensive Care Unit as a result of their infection.

The number of beds continues to rise, with the count adding about 500 beds, bringing the total to 2,803 beds, with 598 available. That includes 397 ICU beds, of which 67 are currently available.

Bellone reported an additional nine deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 53. One of the residents was around 90, with three others in their 80s, two in their 70s, one in their 40s and two in their 30’s. Most of the victims have had underlying medical conditions.

“A lot of people think this is a virus affecting the elderly, and it certainly is,” Bellone said “But is it not just the elderly. People with compromised immune systems, underlying medical conditions, and past illnesses” are all vulnerable to the virus.

The Suffolk County Police Department continues to see an increase in the number of people with the virus. As of today, 35 sworn officers and five civilians had tested positive. None of the county’s finest has required hospitalization. The police force continues to see an increase in the number of compliance incidents, with officers responding to 182 calls. Of those, 15 calls were not compliant. The officers decided that no enforcement actions were necessary as all locations voluntarily complied. The police have also installed intercom systems at the public entrance doors to all seven precincts to allow screening for visitors for potential COVID-19 infection.

While Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has sought volunteer help from elsewhere in the country to assist with the anticipated need for more health care workers, the Police Department believes the staffing levels are sufficient and has taken measures to protect officers.

Separately, Mather Hospital has created an emergency fund to support hospital staff and patients during the pandemic. The hospital has received donations of food and medical supplies and is asking for monetary donations to the Covid-19 Emergency Fund. People can make donations through the web site: www.matherhospital.org/emergencyfund or they can mail them to JTM Foundation, Mather Hospital, 75 North Country Rd., Port Jefferson, NY 11777.

Tents like the one above are being used during Stony Brook University Hospital’s drive-through testing for the coronavirus. Photo by Kyle Barr

Hospitals along the North Shore of Western Suffolk are changing the way they operate to keep the number of coronavirus cases down.

Stony Brook University Hospital

Stony Brook University is asking that all patients who have cold and flu-like symptoms to go directly to its emergency room department area and not get out of their cars, according to its website. Between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., patients driving to the emergency department entrance will be greeted and screened while in their vehicles.

Stony Brook University’s Ambulatory Care Pavilion COVID-19 Triage area. Photo from SBUH

Those with cold and flu-like symptoms and mild respiratory symptoms will be directed by staff members to go to the hospital’s new triage area located in the nearby Ambulatory Care Pavilion. The triage area will be staffed by emergency medicine physicians and nurses.

According to Stony Brook Medicine, “The triage service is to separate patients with cold and flu-like symptoms from others seeking emergent care, in order to provide all patients with a streamlined environment for care and treatment.”

Dr. Eric Morley, clinical associate professor and clinical director of the SBU Renaissance School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, said in an email the new procedure has been successful.

“The process has gone very well, and we are seeing an increasing number of patients in the triage and treatment area located in the Ambulatory Care Pavilion,” he said. “Our staff have adapted very well to the new process. The level of teamwork and dedication of our staff is clearly the driving force behind this success.”

He said doctors have seen patients with both cold and flu-like symptoms, and also those who fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for COVID-19 testing.

On March 18, a drive-through testing site for the coronavirus opened in the commuter P Lot on the southern end of the SBU campus. According to the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), those wishing to be tested must call 888-364-3065 to schedule an appointment. No referral from a doctor is needed but operators will ask callers questions such as age, symptoms, if they have any underlying health problems and if they have been out of the country. The information will be given to the New York State Department of Health, which will call back with an appointment confirmation if testing is deemed necessary.

SBUH has revised its visitors policy. In response to New York State declaring a state of the emergency due to COVID-19, the hospital will no longer allow visitation until further notice.

“While we understand the important role that family members and visitors play in a patient’s healing process, this is a necessary step we need to take at this time for our adult units,” a statement from SBUH officials said, adding that exceptions will be made in pediatrics, labor and delivery, maternity and neonatal intensive care, also end of life on a case-by-case basis.

Catholic Health Services of LI: St. Charles and St. Catherine hospitals

Catholic Health Services of Long Island, until further notice, has suspended visits to all its hospitals as well as skilled nursing facilities, according to its website. Hospital officials said exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis, which will entail hospital and nursing home leadership making a decision in conjunction with its infection prevention department and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for screening for the coronavirus before allowing visitation. CHS may make exceptions for end of life and newborn delivery.

On the CHS website, Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy, executive vice president and chief clinical officer, explained the screening on the system’s website.

“At all CHS hospitals emergency departments, in our skilled nursing facilities and throughout our regional nursing service, we are actively screening, asking patients about recent travel and looking for signs and symptoms of the virus,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Symptoms include fever and respiratory issues. Also, we are taking these precautionary steps at our owned physician practices.”

CHS has canceled all elective surgeries from March 23 through April 24, according to its website.

Northwell Health: Mather and Huntington hospitals

Northwell Health Labs announced March 11 in a press release that it began semi-automated testing for COVID-19 through its Lake Success facility.

“Since we began manual testing Sunday evening, we processed about 133 tests,” said Dr. Dwayne Breining, executive director, in the press release. “Moving to this semi-automated system will enable us to increase our testing capacity immediately to about 160 a day, and then to several hundred a day later this week.”

Dr. John D’Angelo, senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health’s emergency medicine service line, said in an email that changes have been in place for a while in its health care system.

John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is sending tests to Northwell’s Lake Success facility. File photo from Mather Hospital

“We instituted changes from normal practice long ago, starting with 100 percent screening of all patients on arrival with positive screens being masked immediately and escorted directly to a private room for further investigation,” D’Angelo said.

He added that a decision was made soon after to mask every employee after emergency department changes.

“I believe we were the first in the region to institute such a mask mandate,” he said. “Lastly, as traditional screening (travel to CDC level 2/3 countries or known close contact) became less relevant, we decided to mask everyone — all patients, all visitors and all staff — while we continue to aggressively cohort patients with potential COVID-like symptoms.”

Emergency department volumes in the Northwell system have remained at or below average, according to hospital officials.

“The public is listening and staying home,” said Dr. Leonardo Huertas, chair of emergency medicine at Huntington Hospital.

D’Angelo said a surge plan is in place for all Northwell system emergency departments which can be used if the overall general volumes increase “or if there is a surge of COVID-suspected patients.”

He added that if a plan was needed “an exterior ‘split-flow’ model” would be put in place. This would enable those who may possibly have COVID-19 but aren’t that sick to be treated in an alternative care site adjacent to the emergency room, while “those arriving with COVID symptoms but are too sick for the alternative care site will be brought directly into a predetermined, cohort isolation area within the emergency department. Every site has such plans.”

Northwell has also canceled all elective surgeries. These surgeries, endoscopies and other invasive procedures in the outpatient setting will continue when doctors determine that they are clinically necessary.

A Mather Hospital official also said that the junior and adult volunteer programs have been suspended, and the hospital is working with Northwell on childcare alternatives for staff members.

Mather is one of four separate Northwell hospitals approved for a catheterization lab. The hospitals are looking to compete for services amongst some of the larger health entities in New York state. Photo from Northwell

Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson will soon be joining nearby Stony Brook as one of the few places on Long Island to contain a cardiac catheterization lab to provide less invasive heart-related services.

New York State approved Northwell Health, which includes Mather in its group, to open four cardiac labs at different locations in New York. Alongside Mather, Lenox Health Greenwich Village, Plainview Hospital and Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco have been approved for labs. The lattermost was approved in December.

According to a Northwell release, these labs specialize in using X-ray guided catheters help open blockages in coronary arteries or repair the heart in minimally invasive procedures — ranging from stenting to angioplasty and bypass surgery – that are less traumatic to the body and speed recovery. 

The approval means a big leap for the Port Jefferson hospital, which plans a $11.4 million, 3,644-square-foot addition that will include catheterization and electrophysiology labs. The construction is expected to finish and both labs be open by early 2021.

“With the investment in these four new PCI programs, we are able to advance our mission of improving access, as well as bringing high quality complex cardiovascular services to our patients in their local communities,” William O’Connell, executive director of cardiology services at Northwell Health, said in a release. 

Mather president, Kenneth Roberts, has said in a previous interview with the Port Times Record that a big reason the hospital signed on with the health care network is to have the ability and room to innovate at the hospital and keep up with the times. He echoed that sentiment in a statement.

“With Northwell’s guidance and the diligence of our Mather team, Mather received approval from the New York State Department of Health to provide advanced cardiology programs which include cardiac catheterization, PCI and electrophysiology services,” he said. “Approximately 150 patients every year are [currently] transferred from Mather or St. Charles to have these services elsewhere.”

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Hospital Prez Looks Back at His 34 Years, End of Community Hospitals Across LI

Kenneth Roberts, Mather Hospital president, signs a banner that will be hung shortly outside the hospital to celebrate its 90th year. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Julianne Mosher

It all started with a dream from a local businessman and third-generation shipbuilder who lived in Port Jefferson. 

John Titus Mather passed away in 1928, but he was a huge part of the shipbuilding community during the later 19th century and early part of the 20th century. Before he died, he knew that he wanted to leave a legacy that would help the Port Jeff community for years to come. If only he could see it nine decades later. 

Mather held its cornerstone dedication ceremony May 4, 1929. Photo from Stu Vincent

This year celebrates the 90th anniversary of Mather Hospital, formally known as the John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, named after the man who envisioned the institution. His will clearly outlined that his family and loved ones were to be taken care of, and instructed his executor to “incorporate under the laws of the State of New York a nonsectarian charitable hospital, to be located in said village of Port Jefferson … so designed and constructed as to permit future enlargement, assuming that future needs may justify such action. It is my sincere hope that the citizens of Port Jefferson and vicinity will give their liberal and devoted support to said institution and endeavor to make it a success and a credit to the community,” the Mather website stated. Today, the hospital is decorated with a nautical theme to honor its founder. 

Opening Dec. 29, 1929, the hospital became a staple on Long Island, featuring 54 beds and state-of-the-art technology of its time. 

“Mather Hospital was the first community hospital in the Town of Brookhaven,” said Kenneth Roberts, president of the hospital. “So, for a long time, it was the gem of the community and it remains so to this day.”

And every 10 years or so, it seems like the hospital is adding a new service or wing, constantly evolving to become better than before. In 1962, a new surgical suite, emergency facility and an intensive care unit joined in. The expansion resulted in additional beds, totaling 110. A new psychiatric unit was added in 1973, upgrading the hospital to 203 beds and by 1997, the hospital reached its
current bed count of 248 spots. 

The reason for the constant upgrades was to continue better serving the community, the hospital president said. 

“Technology has changed dramatically,” Roberts said, “And has changed the delivery of health care here.”

Roberts became president of Mather in 1986 and has pioneered dozens of changes throughout the campus. For starters, people don’t smoke on the campus, anymore, which if one weren’t around at that time, came as a shock to the multitudes of hospital staff who weren’t shy of smoking. 

Mather Hospital was also the first hospital on Long Island, including Brooklyn and Queens, to have a successful in vitro fertilization program that started up in 1988. Being a leader in that program, it eventually became available elsewhere, so in 2008, the program closed to make room for others. 

“We just change with what the community needs,” Roberts said. 

Alongside the hospital, Roberts has also seen the community expand. 

Mather Hospital’s original facade. Photo from Stu Vincent

“I think it’s grown a lot,” he said. “Obviously the traffic, the expansion, the adding of lights on 347, the construction of the third lanes… there’s been a lot of growth in housing and in population out in this area. So basically, we made an attempt to change with the needs of the population.”

As the area grew, so did the competition from St. Charles Hospital down the road, and Stony Brook University Hospital just 15 minutes away. 

“We were the first community hospital and then St. Charles converted itself from a polio institution to a community hospital and we work closely with them to not compete in major services,” Roberts said. “But at the same time, to provide all the services that the community needed.” 

When St. Charles redesigned itself to a hospital in the 1940s, it actually ended up helping Mather which was at 120 percent patient occupancy. 

In 2013, it was recognized as a Magnet-designated hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which recognizes health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. 

Mather employs over 2,600 people, and has more than 600 staff and affiliated physicians. In 2016, the hospital cared for more than 12,500 inpatients and over 40,000 emergency patients. 

In December 2017, Mather formally joined the Northwell Health system as its 23rd hospital, something the hospital president constantly lauded. 

“It was a once-in-a-century decision going from an independent hospital to joining a larger system,” Roberts said. “Once you join a larger system, you’re in that larger system forever and it’s a big decision to make. We were extremely happy and pleased with the amount of resources that Northwell brings to the table.”

A group of nurses at Mather during its early years. Photo from Stu Vincent

Roberts added that there are no independently owned community hospitals on Long Island anymore. It’s a trend that’s predicated on costs and need, something, he said, a single standalone hospital would have a very difficult time doing on its own. Roberts said he sees a future where all hospitals and similar institutions are consolidated under just four or five health care companies.

“There’s a whole host of reasons why hospitals are going the same route, like all the other industries,” he said. “We see in the whole economy everybody’s changing: Airlines are basically consolidating, the big accounting firms … newspapers are consolidating.”

And although things have changed at Mather, Roberts is happy with what the
future holds. 

“I think that the future of Mather Hospital looks very good because of our affiliation with Northwell,” he said. “The services we will provide on a very high-quality basis, and we will continue to innovate and provide the services that the community needs.” 

He added that he is waiting on an approval to start a cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology service at Mather, and plans to grow its outpatient care over the next decade.

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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. 

Many businesses in the Village of Port Jefferson and Port Jefferson Station will be ‘dressed in pink’ throughout the month of October.

Pink pumpkins, chocolate nights and yoga classes will be part of this year’s Paint Port Pink, Mather Hospital’s month-long October breast cancer awareness community outreach in Port Jefferson and Port Jefferson Station. The event was created in 2015 to raise awareness about the disease, share information and education and foster solidarity in the community.

Employees at Mather Hospital will celebrate Wear Pink Day on Oct. 9.

New this year are Pink Your Pumpkin and Pink Your Windows contests and chocolate-making classes. It Takes a Village Wellness will offer yoga classes with a portion of the registration fees going to the Fortunato Breast Health Center’s Fund for Uninsured and Underinsured. 

Paint Port Pink begins on Oct. 1 with Turn Your Pink Lights On!, when local merchants and residents will be asked to light up Port Jefferson and Port Jefferson Station. On Wear Pink Day, Oct. 9, Mather employees and community residents will be encouraged to dress in pink and to post their photos on Facebook and Instagram using #paintportpink. 

Local residents and merchants can Pink Their Pumpkins and Pink Their Windows in contests designed to raise awareness about breast cancer. Month-long promotions by local businesses will raise funds for the Fund for Uninsured and Underinsured. Mather has teamed up with about 120 local community partners — businesses and professional offices — to help spread the word about the importance of breast health.

Mammograms can help save lives

The American Cancer Society reports that the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer in her life is about one in eight. That is why increased awareness, education and early detection are important parts of breast health care.

Fortunato Breast Health Center co-medical directors Dr. Michele Price and Dr. Joseph Carrucciu.

A mammogram can reveal a tumor as much as two years before you or your health care professional can feel it. Following the American College of Radiology guidelines, the Fortunato Breast Health Center recommends that you get annual mammography screening starting at age 40. In some higher risk situations, earlier mammography screening or additional breast imaging studies, such as ultrasound, may be recommended. To make an appointment, call 631-476-2771, ext. 1.

If you are uninsured or underinsured, you may be eligible for no cost or discounted screenings through the center’s Fund for Uninsured and Underinsured. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and need financial assistance, contact Pink Aid at www.pinkaid.org.

Women receiving their annual mammograms will now have even more accurate screenings thanks to two new state-of-the-art 3-D mammography units at the Fortunato Breast Health Center. Advances in imaging technology deliver highly detailed images that enhance a radiologist’s ability to provide accurate diagnoses. Improvements in ergonomic design allow for improved patient comfort and relaxation. The units also protect patients by delivering the lowest radiation dose of all FDA approved 3-D mammography systems.

“The mammographic images are very clear and detailed, which helps us to identify abnormalities at the smallest possible size,” says Dr. Michelle Price, co-medical director of the breast center. 

Above, one of the new 3-D mamography units at Mather Hospital

The new devices allow for improved detection rates and diagnostic accuracy over older mammography technology through the addition of tomosynthesis, also known as three-dimensional (3-D) mammography. This allows radiologists to see more than what is shown on a standard digital mammogram. “A traditional mammogram offers a top-down picture from compression of the breast tissue. With tomosynthesis, the ‘3-D’ portion of the exam, we get thin cross-sectional images so we can see what it looks like at different angles — in that respect, it is almost like a CAT scan,” said Price.

Having your mammogram done by the same center year after year allows your doctor to compare prior images and look for subtle changes or abnormalities. This can allow for early detection of breast cancer, which in turn can lead to life-saving treatment. “Being able to look back at a history of breast images and compare with prior films is critical for being able to interpret studies correctly. That’s a major advantage of coming to a place where you have established your medical records,” said Price. “It improves the accuracy of the reading.” 

Special community events

Paint Port Pink will offer several events throughout the month of October hosted by Mather’s community partners. Register for events at www.paintportpink.org.

Monday, Oct. 1: Turn Your Pink Lights On!

Thursday, Oct. 4, 6 to 8 p.m.: Chocolate Making Class, Chocolate Works, Stony Brook. Join them for some sweet fun molding and decorating your own chocolate creations! Registration is required.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, Noon: Wear Pink Day, Mather Hospital, Port Jefferson. Get dressed up in your best pink outfit, take a photo and post using #paintportpink

Wednesday, Oct. 10: Pink Sale, Mather Hospital, Port Jefferson. Come and find some pink treasures at the Mather Hospital Thrift and Gift Shop lobby sale. 

Saturday, Oct. 14, Noon & 1 p.m.: Community Reiki Circle, It Takes a Village Wellness, Port Jefferson with two chances to participate in and learn about the power of reiki. Registration is required.

Friday, Oct. 19, 6 to 7 p.m.: Meditation Session, It Takes a Village Wellness, Port Jefferson. Attend a meditation session to enhance your health and tune in to mindfulness. Registration is required. 

Friday, Oct. 19, 7 to 9 p.m.: Chocolate Making Class, Chocolate Works, Stony Brook. Join them for some sweet fun molding and decorating your own chocolate creations! Registration is required. 

Monday, Oct. 22, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Yoga for Health class, Mather Hospital, Port Jefferson offered through It Takes a Village Wellness in Mather Hospital’s conference room B. Registration is required.

Friday, Oct. 26, 12 to 2 p.m.: Wellness Luncheon, Nantucket’s, Port Jefferson. Hosted by It Takes a Village Wellness, attend their “whole health” wellness luncheon and learn about staying healthy naturally. Registration is required. 

Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m to 1:30 p.m.: HealthyU, Mather Hospital, Port Jefferson, a seminar series and health fair focused on physical, emotional and financial well-being. Registration is required. Call 631-686-7879.

Wednesday, Oct. 31: Winners of the Pink Your Pumpkin and Pink Your Window contests will be announced. 

* Proceeds from all events benefit the Fortunato Breast Health Center Fund for Uninsured and Underinsured.

Month-Long Promotions

Chick-fil-A, Port Jefferson Station: $1 from all milk shake sales during the month of October will benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

LI Pour House, Port Jefferson Station: Hosting Wine Down Wednesdays. Every Wednesday during the month of October a glass of wine will be $4 with 10 percent of your purchase benefiting the Fund for Uninsured.

East Main & Main, Port Jefferson: $1 from all pink donut sales during the month of October to benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

Amazing Olive, Port Jefferson: $1 from all extra virgin olive oil sales during the month of October to benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

Luck Soap, Port Jefferson: 40 percent of all Luck Soap Pink Ribbon soap sales (available for sale at Amazing Olive, Port Jefferson and Patchogue locations) during the month of October to benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

The Soap Box, Port Jefferson: 20 percent off Pink Sugar Kiss items during the month of October.

Yogo Delish, Port Jefferson: Donate $1 with your purchase during the month of October and get a $1 off coupon for your next visit.

Tapestry Salon, Mount Sinai: A portion of all pink hair extension sales during the month of October will benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

Cutting Hut, Port Jefferson Station: 10 percent of all pink hair extension sales during the month of October will benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

The Pie, Port Jefferson: Give a donation during the month of October and receive a free Pink Lemonade.

MAC Hair Salon, Mt. Sinai: Pink hair strands for $15 or $10 per pink foil during October with 50 percent of the proceeds to benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

Theatre Three, Port Jefferson: Receive a 20 percent discount on the purchase of your tickets in October when you mention Paint Port Pink.

For more information, please visit www.paintportpink.org.

All photos courtesy of John T. Mather Memorial Hospital

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president for Health Sciences at Stony Brook University; said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.; and Dennis S. Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City shake hands during the signing of the agreement for the two hospitals to partner. Photo from Stony Brook University School of Medicine

By Talia Amorosano

Two major medical institutions have agreed to team up, and the partnership could lead to big scientific breakthroughs.

In order to create more academic research opportunities and streamline and expand clinical care initiatives, Stony Brook Medicine and Mount Sinai Health System, in New York City, have entered into a comprehensive affiliation agreement. The change will promote inter-institution collaboration encompassing all five of Stony Brook’s Health Science schools, Stony Brook University Hospital, all 25 academic departments of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System facilities and Medical School, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai inclusive of seven hospitals and an expanding ambulatory network.

Facilitators of the partnership believe that the expansion of clinical trials and research opportunities for both institutions will prompt research and studies that could lead to major discoveries, especially in the treatment and understanding of disease.

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president for Health Sciences at Stony Brook University, noted that the alliance will make use of the strengths of each individual institution.

“What we both get out of the affiliation is enhanced possibilities for science and education,” he said. “Multiple groups of investigators [with members from each institution] work together and look at things in slightly different ways.”

In a press release, he noted Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine for its strong biomedical, clinical research and health policy expertise and Stony Brook University for its advanced mathematics, high-performance computing, and physical and chemical science departments to illustrate the point that these institutions can accomplish collaboratively more than each can do alone.

“In the long term were gonna roll out more and more in the way of clinical interactions,” said Kaushansky, who mentioned Stony Brook’s recent recruitment of two new cardiac surgeons from Mount Sinai. “We don’t do heart transplants, but Mount Sinai does.”

He emphasized the new potential for patients to easily seek services from either hospital. In fact, joint research programs ranging from fields of biomedical engineering and computer science to medicinal chemistry science, neurology, psychiatry, therapeutics and more are currently in the works.

“Stony Brook Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are two powerhouses of research that when partnered will definitely yield more than just the sum of their parts.”

—Lina Obeid

In terms of education, University students will now be afforded the unique opportunity to take classes offered on either or both campuses, and participate in a variety of summer programs geared toward students of all ages. The two schools plan to facilitate joint graduate and medical educational programs in a wider range of subjects than ever before, and have agreed to invest a collaborative $500,000 for the development of academically challenging pilot programs to be supervised by a joint committee.

“The joint pilots in research have immense promise to advance health at the most exciting time in the biomedical sciences, including advanced computational, bioinformatic and engineering approaches,” said Lina Obeid, MD, dean for research and vice dean for scientific affairs at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “Stony Brook Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai are two powerhouses of research that when partnered will definitely yield more than just the sum of their parts.”

Other leaders of each institution have already expressed similar enthusiasm about the affiliation, which was effective immediately upon signing, and many have verbalized hopes that groundbreaking research will take place as a result of this strategic partnership.

Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, president and chief executive officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, said, “Together [Mount Sinai and Stony Brook] will use our outstanding resources to create changes in medicine.”

“Each institution has so much to offer,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., “this is an opportunity that will prove to be beneficial to all — now and in the future — as we explore and grow this incredible collaboration.”

Looking toward the future, Kaushansky said that Stony Brook has more affiliation agreements in the works, contingent upon state approval.

“We are working very hard with our friends in the state of New York to get approval for affiliation with Southampton Hospital and Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport,” he said.

Also pending is a potential partnership with John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. “In April, Mather Hospital asked a number of healthcare systems — us included — whether they were interested in affiliating with Mather Hospital, and we said yes,” Kaushansky said. “We made a proposal to the Mather hospital board … and they were supposed to decide [with whom they wish to affiliate] back in June.”

About a year ago, Kaushansky said he wondered aloud how it is that the insistution could make a bigger impact on clinical medicine, education and research. He now expresses confidence that Stony Brook’s affiliation with large city medical center, Mount Sinai, and future mutually-beneficial partnerships with Long Island hospitals and medical centers, is the most surefire way to achieve such an impact.

Linda Hallock, Jennie Sweeney, Kathy Sciacchitano, Jane Del Prête and Betty Baumach pose with their dollhouse. Photo from Mather Hospital

The women of Crafters for a Cause usually help their students learn to paint, but this summer the ladies decided to help people outside of the classroom.

Members Betty Baumach, Linda Hallock, Virginia Sweeney, Jane Del Prête, Kathy Sciacchitano and Martha Palermo recently donated a handmade dollhouse to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to help fight breast cancer through its Fortunato Breast Health Center. The dollhouse will be raffled off at next year’s Families Walk & Run for Hope, an annual springtime fundraiser.

The women started building the roughly 2-foot-tall dollhouse in June. According to Baumach, a Lake Grove resident who leads the group, which meets at the New Village Recreation Center in Centereach, the volunteers teach people various forms of painting year-round — except during the summer.

“During the summer the teachers don’t teach,” Baumach said in a phone interview. “We still wanted to get together anyway so we said, ‘Oh, what could we do this summer to fill the time?’ so I suggested building a dollhouse.”

Baumach got the idea to donate the house to the Port Jefferson hospital because she brought her sick aunt to Mather in the past.

She had previously built five or six dollhouses, including this particular model of house, so drawing the plans was simple. Like all of Baumach’s dollhouse projects, it was made without a kit — the women designed and built each component by hand.

Until it is raffled off, the dollhouse will reside in the office of Cindy Court, the hospital’s development coordinator.

The eight-room house includes a living room, a dining room, a bedroom, a bathroom and a sewing room, among others. According to Court, the crafters brought individual boxes of furniture to decorate the house the day they donated it to the hospital.

“Each builder was responsible for decorating and furnishing one of the eight rooms,” Court said in an email. “They precisely [placed] each piece, down to the smallest detail.”

The group didn’t plan on furnishing the dollhouse until Sweeney found furniture on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Baumach provided the materials to build the house and was responsible for its exterior.

Court said the group used tongue depressors to make the roof shingles.

“I think it’s wonderful this group of women put so much time and love into this dollhouse and then donated it to Mather to help raise funds for the Fortunato Breast Health Center,” Dr. Joseph Carrucciu, who specializes in radiology at the center, said in an email.

While Crafters for a Cause enjoyed giving back to their community, it remains to be seen whether the dollhouse will become an annual effort.

“I think this was a one-shot deal as far as dollhouses go,” Baumach said in a follow-up email interview. “But they are trying to convince me to do another next summer.”