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St. Charles Hospital

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

By Alex Petroski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Dawn Bailey

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

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

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

Kosciuk expressed a similar sentiment during a picket in April.

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

Victoria Espinoza contributed reporting for this story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family, friends will remember Dr. William T. Konczynin as community staple who proudly served residents

William T. Konczynin. Photo from the Konczynin family

William T. Konczynin, a physician who served Long Island residents for 29 years at both St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and other major community facilities, died unexpectedly on June 3. He was 63.

Konczynin is survived by his wife Barbara, his children William Jr. and Allyson, and his daughter-in-law Meghan. He was also an uncle to seven.

“He was totally, totally devoted to the children and to me. He was the best of the best,” said his wife. “He always loved to host parties at our house, and was happiest with company around.”

Born in 1952 in New York City, Konczynin graduated from Chaminade High School on Long Island in 1970 and then obtained a bachelor of science degree in biology from Georgetown University in 1976. Following his undergraduate degree, Konczynin went to medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico. After graduating in 1980, Konczynin returned to the United States and completed his residency in general surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

In 1985, after finishing his residency, he worked at a family practice in Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue. Eventually he accepted a position at St. Charles, where he was appointed director of the emergency department and, later, director of the alcohol substance and abuse program there.

“It was a natural progression for him to remain involved with the patients in the hospital after they were brought into the O.R. for overdoses,” Barbara Konczynin explained, of how her husband got involved with the substance abuse program.

At St. Charles, Konczynin was also the director of the department of family medicine and the president of the medical staff.

Outside the hospital, Konczynin was the chief physician at the Three Village school district and a hockey coach for his son, William Jr. He enjoyed boating, golfing, tennis and gardening.

Konczynin’s memorial mass was held at St. James Church, where he had served as an usher along with his two children, and his wake, at O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Port Jefferson Station, was attended by more than 2,000 people, his family said.

James O’Connor, chief administrative officer and vice president of St. Charles Hospital, said in a statement that Konczynin will be remembered as an extremely talented and thoughtful physician, but also as a warm and caring friend, and a wonderful colleague who gave freely of his time, advice and expertise.