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St. Charles

Rogovitz with his son Gene and his grandson Gavin surfing at Gilgo Beach in Babylon. Photo from Rogovitz

Charles Rogovitz hopes to get bottom dentures so he can relieve the stomach pain he gets from partially chewed food and can eat an apple again. Todd Warren needs to have a root canal to become eligible for a new kidney. 

Rogovitz and Warren are two of the veterans who will attend free Port Jefferson-based St. Charles Hospital’s “Give Vets a Smile” clinic on Nov. 3.

The event, which has become biannual this year and is fully booked, will provide dental care for 20 to 25 veterans.

Currently sponsored by a grant from Mother Cabrini Foundation, St. Charles has been providing an annual dental clinic for veterans since 2016.

“Our goal is to reach out to the [veterans] who do not have traditional insurance through employers,” and who “fall through the cracks,” Dr. Keri Logan, director in the Department of Dentistry at St. Charles, explained in an email. “That includes veterans who are not 100% disabled and perhaps make too much money for Medicaid, those that are homeless and the like.”

St. Charles hopes to “get as much done for them as possible,” which means that appointments typically include a visit with a hygienist as well as a dentist, Dr. Logan added.

Dr. Logan explained that veterans who do not have insurance or the means to go to a dentist regularly for routine cleanings and treatment have an increased incidence of cavities, infections and/or periodontal disease.

The event is in memory of Mark Cherches, who spent 57 years at St. Charles Hospital’s Dental Clinic and played a key role in bringing Give Veterans a Smile day to the hospital.

Dr. Cherches “heard of this from another facility a few years back and he was instrumental in giving us the idea,” Dr. Logan explained.

St. Charles is hosting the event at the Stephen B. Gold Dental Clinic.

Ruth Gold, wife of the late Stephen Gold, who was a pediatric dentist and for whom the clinic is named, appreciates the fact that the clinic is expanding with outreach programs to help the community.

The daughter of World War II veteran Milton Kalish, Gold is thankful for members of the armed forces who are “defending our country.”

Gold added that her husband would be “pleased” with the effort. “These are people who wouldn’t ordinarily go out to get their teeth checked, so this is very important.”

Rogovitz

Indeed, Rogovitz hasn’t been to a dentist in a quarter of a century.

A retired contractor who was a sergeant in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1967, 1968 and 1969, Rogovitz has lost his bottom teeth over the years, pulling them out when they come loose.

A resident of Babylon Village, Rogovitz has visited dentists, who estimated that it would cost $2,400 and about eight months to provide dentures for his lower jaw. He also needs dentures on his upper jaw.

“I’m hoping for the best,” Rogovitz said. “Worst comes to worst, I’ll get a lower denture and I’ll be able to masticate my food properly and not have stomach issues.”

Rogovitz has circled Nov. 3 on his calendar with highlighter in multiple colors.

The retired marine has been eating soft foods.

Rogovitz owes his life to his son Gene, who urged him to see a doctor for a general checkup in 2016. The doctor found early stage prostate cancer, which is in remission.

Rogovitz is convinced he developed cancer during his service in Vietnam, when he was given a bag of defoliant and was told to rip it open and scatter it in the grass. 

In addition, he lay in fields sprayed with Agent Orange.

Despite his health battles, Rogovitz, who calls himself a “young 74,” enjoys surfing with his son and his nine-year-old grandson, Gavin.

In addition to biting into an apple, which he hasn’t done in about 12 years, he hopes to chew on an ear of corn on the cob.

Warren

A veteran of the Navy who went on three deployments during Desert Storm, Warren has received dialysis three days a week for over 18 months.

Warren, whose rank was Petty Officer 2nd Class E5, would like to join the list for a kidney transplant.

“You have to be cleared by all these departments first,” said Warren, who is a resident of Bay Shore. “One of them is dental.”

Unable to do much walking in part because of his kidney and in part because of his congestive heart failure, Warren can’t join the organ recipient list until he has root canal.

“All of that is holding me up,” Warren said. “I have to get this root canal to get this kidney transplant.”

While St. Charles Hospital can’t guarantee any specific treatment, the dental clinic does offer root canal work as a part of that day’s free dental service for veterans.

Warren, who is 53, has sole custody of his nine-year-old son, Malachi. 

An athlete in high school who played basketball and soccer and ran track, Warren is limited in what he can do with his son in his current condition.

Warren had two teeth extracted at the Veterans Administration and is also hoping to fill that hole. When he drinks, he sometimes struggles to control the flow of liquid, causing him to choke on soda or water.

“I’m trying to do the best I can” with the missing teeth in the bottom of his mouth and the need for a root canal in the top, he said.

On behalf of himself and other veterans, Warren is grateful to St. Charles Hospital.

“I appreciate what they’re doing,” Warren said. “Let’s take care of the vets who were willing to put their lives on the line for this country.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce teamed up with local health care providers for their 12th annual Health and Wellness Fest. 

According to Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the chamber, the fair is usually held at Port Jefferson High School — but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was moved to a new venue, The Meadow Club, located at 1147 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. 

“We’re very happy to have the event after not having it for one year,” she added. “The new venue is working out great and it could be a new tradition for us.”

The purpose of the Port Jeff Health and Wellness Fest is to promote good health to all in the local areas of Port Jefferson by providing important information for all of one’s health and wellness needs. 

Ransome said that over 50 vendors participated this year, including Stony Brook Medicine, Catholic Health, Northwell Health, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists and other chamber partners.  

Stony Brook University students with Music and Medicine performed songs for visitors throughout the event. 

“I’m very pleased,” she said. 

Little ones who came with family members were able to trick-or-treat out of cars and received other goodies from the vendors, some who were in costume. 

From left to right: Middle Island Fire Chief Bill Nevin, Chuck Prentis, Dr. Jeffrey Wheeler, Nursing Assistant Drew Saidler. Photo from Catholic Health

Chuck Prentis, 59 of Centerport, was at the right place at the right time this past May, when he was bicycle riding up a very steep hill in Port Jefferson and suddenly went into cardiac arrest in front of St. Charles Hospital on Belle Terre Road.

All of the stars aligned that day for Prentis. St. Charles nursing assistant Drew Saidler was in the emergency room and heard the outside cries for help. He immediately sprang into action and performed life-saving CPR on the lawn where the rider had fallen from his bicycle. 

A St. Charles security officer alerted the emergency room staff of the incident and the medical team immediately ran out to assist Saidler. At the same time, Middle Island Fire Chief Bill Nevin happened to be driving by the scene at that very moment, jumped out of his car with an automated external defibrillator. 

Prentis was placed on a stretcher, with nurse Kirsten Connolly on top, performing life-saving compressions as Chuck was being rushed into the emergency room.

As it turns out, Chuck suffered from a widow maker which is the most severe kind of heart attack, where there is almost 100% total blockage in a critical blood vessel called the left anterior descending artery. 

Prentis has a family history of heart disease. His father passed away at a young age of a heart attack, his older brother had open heart surgery and also survived a widow maker and his older sister required a stenting procedure due to blockages. 

Knowing that he had a family history, he lived a healthy lifestyle and exercised frequently on the Peloton bike – about 130 miles a week. He never had any symptoms prior to that day in May when he went into sudden cardiac arrest. 

Once stabilized at St. Charles, Chuck also required another procedure to implant an Impella device typically used in patients with severe heart failure, to help flow of blood to the heart.

Prentis is not quite back on the Peloton, but for now enjoys playing golf and spending quality time with his wife and three sons. He and his family are extremely appreciative of the emergency room staff who sprang into action that day. Each one was instrumental in saving his life. One might say, it is a miracle that Prentis was at the right place at the right time and received the lifesaving care he desperately needed.

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The statue of St. Charles outside the hospital. Photo by Marilyn Fabbricante

So much attention has been paid to the people who come down with COVID-19, the inability to breath, being put on a ventilator and the struggle to deal with the massive influx of patients seen just a few short months ago. 

Laura Beck, the VP of rehab at St. Charles, says they have taken what they learned from other rehab programs and used them for COVID patients. Photo from St. Charles

However, not nearly as much focus has been paid to those who struggled and survived the ordeal, particularly those with lasting health impacts.

That’s something St. Charles Hospital is trying to rectify with a new Post COVID Rehabilitation Program, which offers physical therapy for those who are still feeling the health impacts of living with the virus.

The rehab program officially started Sept. 7, and currently has two people starting their recovery. Hospital rehab officials said they are hosting evaluations with more people to initiate them into the group setting.

Laura Beck, St. Charles’ vice president of rehabilitation, said there is very little available data that discusses exactly what are the health impacts of people after they’ve already suffered through the virus, but anecdotally, people have described profound muscle weakness, joint pain and many issues with patients’ ability to breath, even long after they have come off a ventilator. One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association back in July, showed that close to 87% of hospitalized COVID patients reported lingering symptoms for two months or more after the fact.

Building off the rehabilitation program the hospital has for pulmonary patients, St. Charles has designed the new COVID rehab with the same mindset.

“The most frequently reported symptom that does exist is shortness of breath and fatigue, followed by joint pain,” she said. “All three of those things are frequently addressed by physical therapy, and were commonly addressed in our pulmonary rehab program. We had the staff and experience to address these things.”

Post-COVID patients are given an initial evaluation and then are put into a group setting to be treated by a physical therapist, similar to what St. Charles does in other rehab settings. Toward the end of each patients’ time they are given another quality of life assessment as well as an endurance test to see how much they improve physically. 

A few outpatient care facilities have launched post-COVID rehabilitation, but St. Charles is one of the first major hospitals on Long Island to offer an in-house clinic in a traditional group setting. 

How many physical therapists eventually get involved depends on how large the program becomes. Currently the class size is kept small to try and space people out and adhere to social distancing. For patients that cannot tolerate a group program, Beck said they do plan to offer a more one-on-one situation until they can be put into the full exercise class.

Director of St. Charles’s Rehabilitation Services Pattianne Ruppel said most likely people who are feeling lasting effects of COVID are older, though that’s not always the case. Those who were young and/or asymptomatic likely wouldn’t feel any lasting symptoms. 

Because so little is known about what are the true lasting health effects from being crippled by the coronavirus, the St. Charles officials in charge of rehabilitation said this is also a chance to start gathering data on what is common amongst post-COVID patients. If they get enough people in the program, the St. Charles officials said they could even look to put out their own information.

“We would all love to say that some time in the future we won’t need this program,” Ruppel said. “We still see people with these lasting respiratory symptoms, so I definitely see a need for sure.”

Dr. Edmunde Stewart had a passion for riding horses. Photo Courtesy of the Steart family

By Vicky Stewart

Dr. Edmunde Andrew Cameron Stewart, 80, died Dec. 6 in St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, surrounded by the love of his family. Stewart had been fighting pneumonia. For the past several years, after being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his lungs were compromised.

The Stewart family is most known for living on Old Field Road for many years, where he and his wife, Norma, raised their three children. Stewart was an orthopedic surgeon working at St. Charles Hospital and Mather Hospital, serving as the chief of orthopedics at Mather, for many years, and as a past president of the medical staff at both St. Charles and Mather. He had a private practice on Elm Street in Port Jefferson.

Stewart was also an exceptional equestrian and had a passion for foxhunting. He was the master of the Smithtown Hunt Club and a president of the Smithtown Hunt Horse Show. He is remembered affectionately by fellow foxhunters as “Doc” as he would often help injured riders, during a foxhunt. For many years, he moderated the hunt breakfast, to benefit the museums at Stony Brook. He also served three terms as a trustee for the Village of Old Field.

Although medicine and horses were his passions, his greatest love was his family. Right until the end, with family by his side, he was letting them know how much he loved them.

His legacy will live on through his loving family, who adored him. He leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Norma; his son Greg; daughters Victoria and Gillian; and son-in-law Juan. He was a loving grandpa to his four grandchildren, Olivia, Cameron, Benjamin and Emilia, all who affectionately called him “Deda.”

Stewart was a native of Dundee, Scotland. He was predeceased by his father Andrew Stewart, mother Winifred Byrd Lennox and sister Winifred Lennox Govan.

Stewart entered St. Andrew’s University Medical School in Scotland at the age of 17. Upon graduation in 1961, he did two specialty residences in Scotland: internal medicine and orthopedics. In 1962-63, he taught anatomy at St. Andrew’s University. He came to the United States in 1963 and served his residency in orthopedics at Nassau Hospital, Meadowbrook Hospital and here at St. Charles. He became a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1971, and the following year he received his fellow of American College of Surgeons. He also served in the Army Reserve, as a reserve commissioned officer  for the United States Army.

The doctor was a man of many talents. His children remember him playing the trumpet and the piano. Prior to entering medical school, he had spent many years on the stage, as a member of the Dundee Repertory Theatre, with starring roles in productions of “Oliver Twist” and “Great Expectations,” to name a few. At the same time, although busy on the stage and with his studies, Stewart managed to find some time to participate in one of his favorite sports. For two years, he was the junior champion of the West End Lawn Tennis Club, a prominent private tennis club in his native Dundee.

While at St. Andrews, Stewart was a member of the university’s fencing team, touring England, Ireland and Scotland and in the process obtaining his “full blue” for the university.

He was laid to rest Dec. 10 at the Caroline Church of Brookhaven in Setauket, on a beautiful sunny day, with a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” in the distance.

“Every man dies, not every man lives” is a quote he was fond of, by William Wallace, a freedom fighter from Scotland near the end of the 13th century. This quote is a great testament to the fact that Stewart truly lived and lived with passion, until the very end. His fighting spirit and love for life will live on in all who knew him.