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Peconic Bay Medical Center

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Raymond J. Janis Jr.

Prepared by Raymond Janis IV

Raymond “Ray” Joseph Janis Jr., of South Jamesport, was a consummate fighter all his life.

His fight began on the football field, where he and his brother helped secure a Suffolk County championship in 1953. He was willing to fight for his country and community, first serving in the U.S. Army Reserves and then volunteering in the Jamesport Fire Department. Later in life, he fought long and hard against heart disease.

Now his fight is over and, for once, he rests easy. Ray died peacefully surrounded by family at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead on Sunday, Feb. 12. He was 88.

Boys from the North Fork

Ray was born on Jan. 23, 1935, with his identical twin, Jerry, at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport. They were the first pair of twins delivered by cesarean in the hospital’s history, their lives etched into local history from the very outset.

Until Jerry’s death in 2012, the twins were inseparable. The farm boys of the North Fork walked to and from school together, tended farm animals together, played sports together and spent the bulk of their lives in each other’s company.

Ray and Jerry both attended Riverhead High School, where they won the famed 1953 county title against Amityville. Also a fierce badminton duo, the pair won the county championship in doubles.

After graduating high school, they both took up carpentry. Renowned artisans, Ray and Jerry opened and co-owned the Twin Builders company, constructing homes along the East End and throughout Suffolk County. The structures they built were meant to last, standing as living relics of their ingenuity and skill, their dynamic collaboration and the special love the two had shared.

Delivering eggs from his family’s farm, Ray met his other partner in life, Rowena Ambrose. Both shy, it took some convincing from Rowena’s matchmaker aunt, Julia, before the two went out on their first date. 

Ray escorted Rowena to a Southampton beauty contest, where the two discovered magnetic chemistry on the dance floor. A floodlight beaming down upon them, they formed an unbroken bond that would span nearly seven decades. They married in 1958 and raised two sons, Raymond III “Randy” and Darrell. 

“A fireman’s son”

As the twin builders went to work building up their community, Ray also went to work protecting it. He joined the Jamesport Fire Department in 1966 and was an active member for the rest of his life. 

Ray held the rank of fire chief in the years 1983-85, serving alongside his brother-in-law Ray Diem, and celebrated 50 years with the department in 2016. 

In reaching this milestone, the New York State Senate commemorated his local contribution with a legislative resolution. 

“Throughout 50 years of devoted service, this volunteer heroically performed, above and beyond the call of duty, those responsibilities which define the task of fire protection,” the resolution said.

But his duties at the firehouse never disrupted Ray’s responsibilities to his family. He was completely devoted to his wife, supporting Rowena through his declining health. He was a kind, loving father and role model to Randy and Darrell. 

On his office wall lies the poem, “A Fireman’s Son,” a visible reminder of the ideals he nourished in his two boys. It reads, “My dad’s a fireman, and proud am I, indeed. For he is someone special, whose wisdom I still need.”

Ray stayed present in his sons’ lives, coaching Little League and youth basketball teams, teaching them to shuck clams and constantly pointing them down a proper course. Randy and Darrell’s characters, generous and warm, are a testament to their upbringing under Ray’s instruction. 

When Randy and Darrell started their own families, they carried Ray and Rowena’s values forward for the next generation. Their children revered their grandfather, affectionately known to them as “Grandpa” (even “G-pa”). 

Some of their fondest memories are those spent with Grandpa — summer carnivals sponsored by the fire department, Christmas parties at the firehouse and backyard Sunday dinners.

A heart

To know Ray is to know his heart — not merely the physical complications that ailed him later in life but also the love, kindness and strength contained within it.

For decades, he battled through frequent strains on his heart. Keeping him alive were innumerable pills, myriad doctor visits and overnight hospital stays and nearly a half-dozen major cardiac procedures. 

Yet, in the face of these hurdles, the fire burning within him to keep living could not be extinguished. In his final two years, his health was largely sustained by the contributions of his sister-in-law, Lucille, whose tireless dedication and tender care helped extend his life. The time tacked on through her efforts is immeasurable and priceless.

During his life, Ray gave much of himself to the people he loved, the causes he backed and the values he upheld. He was the ultimate gentleman, always putting the needs of others before his own, never speaking ill of someone else. The good feelings were mutual, earning him the love of his family and the respect of his community.

Ray reminds us to love unconditionally, to serve others and to never squander the precious moments we have here on Earth. He approached his days with abundant energy, vigor and optimism. He savored every second he had.

For Ray, being alive was a thrill in itself. He embraced life in all its multiplicity, accepting the trials and triumphs as they came in turn. Through it all, his heart was the last of his organs to finally give out — a full heart that kept beating to the very end.

Ray is survived by his wife, Rowena; his sons Randy (Theresa) and Darrell (Bernadette); his grandchildren, Ally, Megan, Alec, Raymond IV and Claire; and his large extended family.

The wake will take place Friday, Feb. 17, from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck. His fireman’s funeral procession will leave DeFriest-Grattan Saturday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. funeral Mass at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead.

Donations in Ray’s honor can be sent to the Jamesport Fire Department.

From left, Judith Jedlicka, Caregivers Center Founder; Amy Loeb, EdD, MBA, RN, Peconic Bay Medical Center Executive Director; Tim Hubbard, Riverhead Town Councilman; Tara Anglim, Tara Anglim, LCSW-R, ACHP-SW, Assoc. Exec. Director of Culture & Experience Peconic Bay Medical Center. Photo by Jim Lennon
Over 60 family caregivers attended the event

Peconic Bay Medical Center’s (PBMC) Caregivers Center recently held its 8th annual Caregivers Retreat to help provide advocacy and valuable resources for Suffolk County residents who are supporting their loved ones. As part of the event, guests had the opportunity to hear from a panel of caregiving experts, connect with attorneys and financial advisors, participate in relaxation and meditation workshops, and connect with other caregivers. The event took place at the Hotel Indigo East End, and it was the first time since 2019 that the event was held in person.

“As Long Island’s first hospital-based, caregiver-dedicated facility, we are proud to uphold our position as a community-and-family-focused hospital,” said Tara Anglim, LCSW-R, ACHP-SW, associate executive director of Culture and Experience at PBMC. “The annual Caregivers Retreat is our way of showing family caregivers across Long Island that they are not alone. Caregivers are compassionate, patient, and dedicated individuals who play an incredibly important role in their loved one’s life. We are here every step of the way to help them navigate the challenges of caregiving.”

The annual retreat was part of the Peconic Bay Medical Center’s ongoing recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, is celebrated each November and aims to raise awareness of the myriad challenges caregivers face. Caregivers are individuals who provide support to a loved one suffering from acute, chronic or disabling conditions and they play a crucial role in patient’s treatment and recovery processes. They provide a broad range of care, including operating as personal advocates when dealing with insurance companies; attending to clients’ medical visits and legal matters; assisting in eating, bathing, toileting, dressing and household chores; and acting as a social, spiritual and leisure guides. In the last year, approximately 43.5 million family caregivers have provided unpaid care services to a loved one. 

Town of Riverhead Councilman Tim Hubbard was also in attendance at the event and acknowledged Peconic Bay Medical Center’s ongoing efforts to support local families by presenting a proclamation to PBMC executive director Amy Loeb, Tara Anglim, and Caregivers Center founder Judith Jedlicka.

“The entire Town of Riverhead thanks the Peconic Bay Medical Center for offering both much-needed guidance and comfort to caregivers,” said Riverhead Town Councilman Tim Hubbard “So many Riverhead residents are caregivers and may not realize they have someone looking after them while they’re helping others. Events like these are crucial, and the PBMC Caregivers Center is a pillar of our community.”

“The need for caregiving is universal and lasts throughout everyone’s lifetime. We thank all those who help our older adults to live a more comfortable life due to illness, injury or a disability,” said Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.  

The hospital’s Caregivers Center, which opened in 2018 as Long Island’s first hospital-based center dedicated to supporting family caregivers at any point in their caregiving journey. The center offers help from a designated social worker as well as trained volunteer Caregiver Coaches available Monday-Friday. To learn more about the Caregivers Center, visit https://www.pbmchealth.org/caregivers-center

About Peconic Bay Medical Center

Located in Riverhead, NY, Peconic Bay Medical Center is a 200-bed nonprofit hospital committed to providing exceptional care and improving the health of the communities it serves. Peconic Bay Medical Center offers wide-ranging, full-scope services and programs, including advanced surgical, cardiac, orthopedic and womens health care, comprehensive inpatient medical care, palliative care and an extensive range of outpatient services, along with state-of-the-art technology. Peconic Bay Medical Center joined Northwell Health in 2016. For more information, visit PBMCHealth.org and follow us @PeconicBayMedicalCenter on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

Photo from Facebook

Colon Cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable. Early Detection Saves Lives

In support of Colorectal Awareness Month, Northwell Health Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) has adopted the recommendation to lower the minimum age to start colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45 years old. In partnership with the Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County, free screenings can now be administered to those 45 and older, conveniently, and discreetly at home to people who are uninsured, underinsured, or at-risk.

The Colorectal Surgery Program at PBMC has expert surgeons who treat patients with conditions affecting the colon and rectum, intestinal tract and pelvic floor, as well as the anal canal and perianal area.  Brett E. Ruffo, MD, colorectal surgeon and Ashanti L. Franklin, colorectal surgeon, lead the program using minimally invasive techniques such as robotic-assisted surgery which offers leading-edge precision for treatment of life-threatening cancers of the colon and rectum.

“Colorectal cancer is traditionally one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but it is treatable and beatable if caught during the early stages before it spreads. Making screenings more accessible at a time when younger people are being diagnosed will save lives,” said Dr. Ruffo. “With timely screenings, we can remove dangerous polyps before they become cancerous. Don’t wait for symptoms to get tested. Recommendations for colorectal cancer screening options vary for individuals. Please discuss with your primary care provider to determine the best option for you and your family.”

The United States Preventive Services Task Force has lowered its recommended age for colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk from age 50 to 45. Recent studies have also found that adults born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared to adults born around 1950.

Those with a family history of colorectal cancer or other bowel disease are at a higher risk and may need to begin screening before age 45. According to the National Cancer Institute, other heightened risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for residents of Eastern Suffolk to get back to regular, on-time screenings,” said Maureen O’Connor, director of The Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County. “Talk to your health care provider about your risks for colorectal cancer and your testing options. Regular screening for colorectal cancer can save lives.”

Colorectal screenings are covered at little or no cost by most insurance plans. The Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and the Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County offer free colorectal, cervical, and breast cancer screening to eligible adults who do not have insurance. Call Maureen O’Connor, director of The Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County at (631) 548-6320 for any questions and to find out if you qualify for free cancer screening. Visit http://www.pbmchealth.org for more information.