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Stony Brook University Hospital

Colby Rowe and Roseanna Ryan making a delivery of over 100 iPads for patient-family communication. Photo by Scott Lamarsh

While Stony Brook University Hospital staff were taking care of the sickest residents in the midst of the pandemic in Suffolk County, residents did what they could to return the favor.

Colby Rowe’s truck is filled with 3M N95 masks. Photo by Colby Rowe

In addition to cheering for health care workers, first responders and essential employees each night at 7 p.m., numerous residents and businesses made donations of everything from lifesaving N95 masks to food to comfort care.

After 10 weeks of accepting donations from March through early June, Stony Brook had collected nearly one million pieces of personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves and head and food coverings, 33,500 comfort care items such as snacks, hand lotion, puzzles and coloring books, 18,000 meal donations, 575 video messages of support and 435 iPads for telemedicine.

These donations bolstered the spirits of the staff and provided vital comfort during everything from the process of conducting COVID-19 tests in the South P Lot to the recharging breaks doctors, nurses and hospital staff took after caring for patients.

“The comfort piece was a bit more striking for the patients and the staff,” said Roseanna Ryan, director of Patient Advocacy & Language Assistance Services at SBU Hospital. “The need for the staff to have a respite area to recharge during this extremely challenging time was something that we might not have initially anticipated. The donations we were able to use went such a long way.”

Indeed, even some of the smaller items helped the masked men and women health care heroes throughout the hospital system.

During testing, some of the medical professionals worked 12-hour shifts, administering test after test for reeling residents. Items such as breath mints, ChapStick and even eye coverings that would help health care workers take a nap in their car before returning for the next shift proved incredibly helpful, said Colby Rowe, Trauma Center Education & Prehospital outreach coordinator. Rowe worked with the emergency management team at the university, primarily coordinating the donation center.

“I received lots of text messages from people on the receiving end saying, ‘Thank you so much.’ They felt appreciated by the community, Rowe said.

Rowe added that the hospital performed ably in ensuring that the staff had sufficient PPE equipment to help them with their dangerous but important work.

The university took a wide range of assistance. Some donations, like snack food, found a home in the break room. Others, however, wound up helping people in different locations.

Stony Brook received more than 400 Easter baskets. Rowe was on the phone with a civilian friend from the U.S. Department of Defense, who told him that Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn had to postpone an Easter event.

Rowe loaded up his truck and drove the Easter baskets to Brooklyn. That’s not where the community spirit stopped. On the way, several baskets blew out of his truck on Route 347.

Snacks from the hospital break room at SBUH. Photo from Stony Brook University.

“I had about four cars pull over to help me” retrieve the boxes, Rowe said. “That’s a sign of the times.”
None of the boxes, which were donated to the children of soldiers, sustained any damage.

Rowe also said the university worked to make sure support staff, including housekeeping and the people moving the carts to usher patients around the hospital, benefited from these gifts.

The most consistent donated items were the three-dimensional printed face shields and hand sanitizer, which faculty who stayed to help frontline workers made on campus. In total, the university received more than 14,000 face shields and 509 gallons of hand sanitizer.

Ryan and Rowe said the hospital was grateful and humbled by each donation they received.
Several groups offered consistent gifts. The Three Village Coronavirus Forum Facebook group, which Three Village resident Michael Ehrlich led, raised hundreds each week through membership donations. They shopped at Target and Walmart to buy comfort care items.

Frito-Lay donated a couple of truckloads of chips to stock the respite room, while the Three Village Dads Foundation raised money to feed frontline workers.

The donations helped fill in some gaps during the year as well. National Nurses Week and National EMS week both occurred in May. While the hospital typically honors these professionals with gifts to show their appreciation, the response to COVID-19 was the priority during those times. The donations, however, provided material for care packages.

The pandemic triggered needs the hospital never had before, Ryan said.

“We had to identify different ways to allow our patients to communicate with their loved ones, while there was no visitation or limited visitation,” Ryan said. The hospital redeployed nursing staff into family liaison roles to provide friends and family with updates.

Rowe delivers Easter baskets to the families of soldiers at Fort Hamilton. Photo by Colby Rowe.

For the patients, the hospital put together comfort bags, which included activities like word searches, crossword puzzles, stress balls, aroma therapy, eye masks, and dry erase boards to allow patients who were able to write to communicate with nurses outside a door, which helped preserve PPE.

At this point, the university has some supplies left over, which it will likely use during the current, planned reopening of the university side of Stony Brook.

In addition to receiving donations from the community, Stony Brook also benefited from donations from people in other countries, including China, Korea and Germany.

“People sent really moving and emotional notes,” Rowe said. “We saw a lot of good in people” during a difficult time.

Ryan was also grateful for all the support from the university.

“The planning and preparation from senior leadership put us in a position where we were able to be successful in getting to the other side of this,” Ryan said. “Leadership at the state level also helped tremendously with that.”

Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Odeya Rosenband 

Stony Brook University’s newest class of medical residents began their careers head first, graduating early to take on the fight with COVID-19.  Renaissance School of Medicine at SBU led a virtual graduation ceremony that took place two months ahead of schedule, in early April. 

SBU Vice Dean for Graduate Medical Education Dr. William Wertheim. Photo from SBUH

In line with other medical schools such as Hofstra University in Hempstead and New York University, SBU resolved to graduate their medical students in early spring in order to readily transition them into the workforce. This decision was “definitely a natural step,” said Dr. William Wertheim, vice dean for Graduate Medical Education at Renaissance School of Medicine at SBU. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “took away a lot of roadblocks in helping us utilize the staff that were capable of doing this, so that was really helpful.” 

Starting in April, 52 residents began volunteering at SBU Hospital and predominantly focused on emergency COVID-19 cases, rather than their specialties. While resident education typically consists of 80-hour work weeks, the Renaissance School adopted a shift schedule that included five days off following every five days working, given the heightened emotional difficulty residents were facing. 

Beginning July, Stony Brook Medicine welcomed over 300 medical residents across SBU, Stony Brook Southampton and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island hospitals. This number included the residents who had been volunteering with COVID-19 patients.

“Residents are interesting in that they both are doctors taking care of patients, and they are learners in an educational program,” Wertheim said. Aside from in-person training in personal protective equipment, the residents learned other essential information such as employee benefits and payroll over virtual modules. 

“Top to bottom it’s a different place than we were in one year ago,” the vice dean said.

The continued focus on education was also felt by the new residents. Dr. Kelly Ieong, a urology resident and 2020 graduate of the medical school, said, “Going into my residency, I had the expectation that I’m just going to work, not learn much, and just help out as much as possible. But all of the teams did carve out time for our education and we had virtual meetings over Zoom, even during lunch. I felt very safe during my entire shift, unlike my friends who worked in other hospitals.” Additionally, she said residents were each assigned a specific mentor who provided the residents with an extra layer of support. 

After feeling helpless when some of her family were diagnosed with the virus earlier this year,  Ieong knew she wanted to be a volunteer when given the opportunity. 

“I definitely think volunteering was a helpful experience because a lot of the difficult conversations that I was having with my patients and their family members are something that you can’t learn in the books,” she said. “You don’t learn it in medical school, it’s something you have to learn through experience.” 

Although Wertheim said “everything is a bit slower when you can only put two people in an elevator,” he added that SBU was quick to adapt and optimize their eager students. Online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams helped meet the demands for educational conferences, especially as residents may be on rotation at other hospitals. It’s clear that these platforms are here to stay, according to him. 

“Medicine in general tends to adopt things slowly unless we have to… and we really had to,” he said.

In thinking about the possibility of a second surge in coronavirus cases, Wertheim noted, “now that we’ve been through this experience once, as hard as it was, it is going to be easier to swiftly redeploy all of those residents as well as all of the other doctors.” Regardless of the future of the coronavirus, there have been benefits for the medical residents, according to the vice dean.  

 “I think the fact that all of these residents from different specialties had to work together to the same end, even though it was an arduous task, gives them a sense of mission that you don’t always get when everyone’s doing their own thing,” Wertheim said. “And I think that that’s definitely a positive that comes out of all of this.”

Residents prepare July Fourth at-home firework shows in Port Jefferson Station in 2018. Photo by Kyle Barr

For the past month or so, the sounds of fireworks have rang throughout the night in many parts of Long Island. Despite fireworks being banned in New York State for decades, Suffolk and Nassau officials have acknowledged seeing an increase in the number of complaints to police departments about illegal fireworks. 

The increase could be attributed to the lack of official Fourth of July firework display due to the coronavirus pandemic, or simply boredom. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone held a media briefing with Suffolk Police Chief Stuart Cameron prior to July 4 to warn residents about the dangers of using illegal fireworks. During the event, they showcased the dangers and destruction of fireworks by igniting a collection of pyrotechnics in a camper. 

This past holiday weekend there have been several firework injury incidents in Suffolk County. A man in Port Jefferson Station was injured when he attempted to light a firework that explored and injured one of his eyes. Additionally, a 29-year old man in Central Islip was severely wounded in the hand from an exploding firework. The man was at home on Tamarack Street when the injury occurred around 9:10 p.m. He was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Facebook community groups have also taken notice of the increase in illegal fireworks, People on community Facebook pages have made a number of posts throughout the past couple of months with complaints over fireworks. People not only recognized the negative effect it had on animals, but others mentioned a child with special needs constantly being woken by the loud bangs outside. 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 230 people a year are treated in emergency rooms because of injuries caused by fireworks. In 2017, sparklers caused 1,200 injuries.

“Every year, we do these reminders and talk about the dangers of fireworks,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during a call with media after the holiday weekend. 

Suffolk County Police Department Chief Stuart Cameron said the county did have a higher incidence of fireworks-related calls, due to the limitations on large crowds at the usual fireworks shows.

Stock photo

The Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center at Stony Brook University Hospital has ten safety tips this July 4th Weekend as families continue to practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many will spend the holiday in their backyards for barbecues, cookouts or build fire pits where there’s a greater risk to sustain a burn injury. To avoid injury, Dr. Steven Sandoval of SBU Hospital says “The best way to do this is to prevent the burn in the first place with safety tips and precautions to eliminate potential dangers.”

1. Fireworks are safe for viewing only when being used by professionals.

2. Sparklers are one of the most common ways children become burned this holiday, even with a parent’s supervision.

3. Do not have children around any fireworks, fire pits, barbecues or hot coals. Teach them not to grab objects or play with items that can be hot. Go through a lesson where they learn to ask permission.

4. Limit the use of flammable liquids to start your fire pits and barbecues. Use only approved lighter fluids that are meant for cooking purposes. No gasoline or kerosene.

5. Don’t leave hot coals from fire pits and barbecues laying on the ground for people to step in.

6. When cleaning grills, the use of wire bristle brushes can result in ingestion of sharp bristle pieces requiring surgery.

7. If you are overly tired, and consumed alcohol, do not use the stovetop, fire pit or a fireplace.

8. Stay protected from the sun. Use hats and sunblock, and realize that sunblock needs to be reapplied after swimming or after sweating.

9. Use the back burners of the stove to prevent children from reaching up and touching hot pots and pans.

10. Always use oven mitts or potholders to remove hot items from the stove or microwave. Assume pots, pans and dishware are hot. 

Yolanda Reed-Anthony took this selfie 15 minutes before her transplant.

By Daniel Dunaief

Yolanda Reed-Anthony’s grandparents, Dr. Frank Darras, and an anonymous donor likely saved the life of this devoted wife, mother, and daughter.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) to shut down most of New York’s economy and limit hospital activities to emergency procedures, Reed-Anthony had an unusual dream. In the dream her late grandparents, William and Rose Evans, brought her a white box. When she opened it, multicolored butterflies fluttered around her.

Intrigued by the dream, Reed-Anthony read that it suggested a new transition in life.

Sure enough, later that day, the Holbrook resident received the kind of call her brother Richard Reed, Jr. and her father, Richard Reed had gotten for themselves: a kidney was available, thanks to an anonymous donor who was a match for her.

The family has struggled with a kidney condition known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), which necessitates the use of dialysis at least twice a week.

The timing for Reed-Anthony made the decision about whether to accept the incredibly rare gift of a new organ problematic. “The thought” of passing up the kidney on March 12, in the midst of the pandemic “crossed my mind, but I quickly dismissed it because of the dream,” she said in a recent interview.

 

Yolanda Reed-Anthony with her brother Richard Jr. after his kidney transplant in January.

Reed-Anthony entered Stony Brook University Hospital, where Dr. Frank Darras, the Clinical Professor of Urology and Clinical/ Medical Director of the Renal Transplantation Program at Stony Brook Renaissance School of Medicine, awaited, along with a transplant team.

As Suffolk County became an epicenter for infections, with the number of sick in hospital and Intensive Care Unit beds increasing, people in need of organs faced increasingly difficult odds of finding a life-saving organ.

For starters, every person who became sick or died from COVID-19 was immediately ineligible to be a donor. Without effective treatment or a cure for the virus, the transplantation of an organ from an infected person into someone who needed the organ but likely couldn’t survive the infection raised the risk of such an operation above the benefits of the procedure.

The immunosuppressant drugs each organ recipient takes after the operation reduces the likelihood that the person will reject the organ. These drugs also, however, raise the chance that an infection of any kind, much less a lethal virus, would threaten the health and life of the recipient.

Reed-Anthony said the Stony Brook staff let her know that the hospital process would be different even than for her brother, who received his kidney in January.

The doctors and nurses made sure no one who wasn’t supposed to be in her room entered. “They were like secret service for me,” Reed-Anthony said. “They took precautions for me that were different than for my brother and father,” adding that she was well aware of the viral struggle that so many others in the hospital were enduring at the same time. She was in the hospital for five days by herself, with no visitors other than the medical staff.

Reed-Anthony said the staff was ad-libbing in the precautions they took with her, minimizing the risks during her period of extreme vulnerability. Several days after surgery she needed to walk, which is something her brother and father did up and down the hospital hallway. She never left her room, circling from the bed to the window to the bathroom at least six times.

Yolanda Reed-Anthony with her father Richard after his kidney transplant.

The social workers, meanwhile, stood by the door to ask questions, while the dietician wasn’t allowed in the room, with the nurses bringing the food tray in and out of the room.

Dr. Darras, who performed the surgeries for Yolanda, her father and brother, explained that the transplant team understood and appreciated the extreme demands COVID-19 placed on Stony Brook University Hospital and on the health care system throughout Long Island.

“We knew we had to work within the framework of the administration and the hospital to try to do what we needed to do for our patients without infringing on the big picture,” Darras said. “We knew we had to be good team players because every department had to have a redeployment of staff into other areas of the hospital.” Still, within the unprecedented needs of the rest of the hospital, the transplant team still felt like they could do what they needed safely for patients working against the unkind ticking of a clock.

While it took significant effort to find safe areas for the transplant group to use, Darras and other surgeons performed life-enhancing and saving surgeries in the midst of the COVID-19 firestorm.

Indeed, Darras led one of the transplants at 3:30 am on a Saturday night, when so many of the staff might otherwise have been sleeping, relaxing or stepping away from the intense health care drama that surrounds them. The mood in the room, however, was positive.

“Everybody that was involved felt that it was a really happy moment,” Darras said. “You couldn’t have found a happier group of people.”

The health care workers appreciated the opportunity to use their training towards a positive outcome. “Out of being in the fire, something good was happening,” said Darras. “It was a happy surgery. It gave people a reprieve and they wanted to do this again.”

Darras appreciates the heroic efforts of so many of his colleagues, who have done yeoman’s work in the face of the pandemic. He also believes the efforts of the transplant teams were heroic in taking care of patients who had life-altering surgeries in a unique environment.

At the same time that doctors and support staffs found safe places for these procedures, LiveOnNY, which is the nonprofit organ procurement organization for New York City, Long Island, Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley, has struggled to find donors during the pandemic.

For starters, everyone who contracted the virus became ineligible to donate an organ. Even those people who had filled out organ donor cards couldn’t save or extend the lives of others if they had the disease. “With so many deaths related to COVID, the potential for organ donation has been drastically reduced,” Helen Irving, the CEO of LiveOnNY said. In January and February, LiveOnNY was involved with 51 organs donations each month. In March, that number surged to 67. In April, as New York reached its viral peak, the number of organ donations fell to 10.

While Stony Brook University Hospital performed organ transplants during the pandemic, other donation programs slowed or stopped due to the virus. That is starting to normalize now, according to LiveOnNY.

Irving said the reduction in the ability to perform these operations is “quite devastating.” She has been acutely aware of the hospital deaths during the pandemic. New York State law requires hospitals to call any death into the organ procurement organization. At one point, LiveOnNY was receiving over 600 calls each day, when the normal number is closer to 150.

Additionally, with people avoiding the hospitals, even when they might have life-threatening conditions, the potential for organ donation also declines.

In normal times, LiveOnNY receives about 12 referrals per day from cardiac arrests or strokes. During the peak of the pandemic in early April, they averaged four. “If someone dies at home, there is no potential there to be an organ donor,” Irving said, although they can become a tissue donor.

Through the pandemic, Irving suggested that LiveOnNY will continue to search for the needle in a haystack that saves or extends someone’s life. The nonprofit is a part of a network that extends across a wider geographic area beyond New York. The group is part of 58 organ procurement organizations nationwide.

Irving encouraged New Yorkers to sign up to become donors, particularly in a post-COVID world. Typically, she would be making the case for signing up to become organ donors through community events. At this point, however, most of those events are no longer being held because of limitations on large gatherings.

“We have to educate the community that needs to know that organ donation is still possible,” Irving said. “Patients can’t wait on a transplant list. That message is far more important today than ever before. You can save someone’s life by signing up on the registry.”

People who would like to sign up can do so through the LiveonNY.org web site, by calling (866) NY-DONOR (693-6667) or through [email protected]

Organ donations were “always a miracle to begin with,” Irving said. “Now we’re asking for a bigger miracle.”

Reed-Anthony has signed up to be an organ donor herself. She is prepared to donate any organ a recipient might need. After all she and her kidneys have been through, she suggested those organs might not be the best choice.

Evidence seized in the arrest of Robert Roden. Photo from SCPD

Updated June 11 with details about the contents of Roden’s backpack. Also includes details about his unnamed partner’s need for medical attention at the Stony Brook Emergency Room and Roden’s arrest in 2019 for third degree menacing.

Robert Roden. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police arrested Robert Roden, a Mastic Beach resident, for allegedly bringing three explosives into the Stony Brook University Hospital on the night of June 9.

The hospital evacuated two floors of the building around 9 p.m. Tuesday, including the Emergency Room, which reopened at 1:30 a.m.

The police were alerted to Roden’s presence after a hospital security guard from the State University Police called the SCPD because of a suspicious package inside Roden’s backpack.

Roden and a male partner with whom he lives traveled from their residence in Mastic Beach to the hospital, where the partner, whom the police didn’t name, received medical attention.

Police are questioning the partner as well as the person who dropped the two of them off at the hospital.

In addition to the three explosive devices that the police described as being about the size of a grenade with a fuse, Roden also had a hatchet and handcuffs. He had a BB gun in his waistband, which was loaded with 9 millimeter ammunition.

Any potential motive or even target for the use of these weapons is still under investigation, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said on a conference call with reporters.

In mid December of 2019, Roden, 33, was charged with menacing in the third degree. That case remains open.

Earlier Wednesday, June 10, police executed a search warrant at Roden’s home. The SCPD Arson Section, with help from the Suffolk County Emergency Service Section Bomb Squad and Canine Unit officers, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the State University Police at Stony Brook found multiple explosive devices at Roden’s residence.

Police said the FBI is evaluating the devices.

The police charged Roden with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, criminal contempt in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. Additional charges are pending.

Roden is being held at the Seventh Precinct and is scheduled to be arranged in First District Court in Central Islip June 11.

*Original Story*

Device Outside SBU Hospital is ‘Real,’ Police Have Made an Arrest

Suffolk County Police Department confirmed that a device they discovered outside of Stony Brook University Hospital on Tuesday night was “real.”

The police department has made an arrest and has recovered additional devices, according to a spokesman for the SCPD. The department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the investigation is continuing.

On Tuesday night around 9 p.m., Stony Brook University Hospital temporarily evacuated two floors of the hospital after receiving a report about a suspicious man wearing a tactical vest. The Emergency Room reopened at 1:30 a.m.

Officers found the person, who has no university affiliation, and recovered a BB gun. The officers also noticed a suspicious object in his backpack, which led to the temporary evacuation.

Suffolk County’s Emergency Services Unit searched the backpack and removed items for further analysis, according to University Police Chief Robert Lenahan. The backpack was rendered safe and items were removed for further analysis.

There were no injuries.
This is a developing story.
Updated at 9:30 p.m. June 10 to add information from SCPD.

Gary Degrijze thanks healthcare heroes that cared for him at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Gary Degrijze, an Army veteran, has climbed out of a deep health hole caused by COVID-19.

Gary sees his wife Ana for the first time in over two months. He was admitted into Stony Brook University Hospital on March 22 and discharged on June 5. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

A Bellport resident and father of four, Degrijze, 48, spent seven weeks on a ventilator at Stony Brook University Hospital, clinging to life.

“When he was in the [Intensive Care Unit], he lost his pulse at least two times,” Jerry Rubano, a doctor in Trauma/ Acute Care/ Surgical Critical Care in the Department of Surgery at Stony Brook Medicine, said in a press release. “His kidneys stopped working for about a month where he was on continuous dialysis and his lungs were probably some of the worst that we’ve seen. He was as sick as can be.”

The medical team at Stony Brook stayed in touch with Gary’s wife Ana Degrijze every day, providing updates on his health.

“I had a nurse calling me every day after the rounds were done,” Degrijze said in the release. “I thought that was so great.”

Degrijze had a tracheostomy and was taken off the ventilator on May 11. After he no longer needed the ventilator, he saw his wife and four children after two months.

“I don’t remember anything that happened while I was intubated,” Degrijze said..

Degrijze, who was discharged on June 5, is in rehab, where he will work on regaining motion in his arms. He would like to serve another five years in the Army Reserve and retire after 20 years of service.

Degrijze has “truly made a remarkable recovery,” Rubano said. “His determination and the dedication of the team taking care of him have made all the difference.”

From left, Callie Brennan, Kristin and Barry Fortunato
Kristin and Barney Fortunato. Photo from WMHO

Fort Salonga residents Kristin and Barney Fortunato (pictured on right) have joined the ranks of many helping to make a difference in the lives of all the health care warriors on the COVID-19 front lines.

Maintaining a massive backyard garden that neighbors and friends lovingly call the “Fortunato Farm” is one of their passions. Kristin, a teacher in the Huntington School District and Barney, in construction management, originally started the garden as just a hobby. Over the years, it grew into a large-scale project that continued to expand growing produce, plants and beyond.  They now have 16 raised garden beds with 700 square feet of growing space. All produce is grown from seed using organic growing practices.

Kristin and Barney Fortunato. Photo from WMHO

This year they had an amazing bounty and wanted to share not only with family and friends but also those healthcare workers in need. They organized a huge plant sale and raised almost $700, all of which was donated to their friends Callie and Tim Brennan, owners of Crazy Beans Restaurant in the Stony Brook Village Center. This donation helped Callie (pictured in top photo on the left) and Tim in their ongoing efforts to create and deliver even more lunches to those dedicated Stony Brook Hospital workers.

“I love gardening. I love the feeling of my hands in the dirt, the ability to provide healthy food to my family and friends and community. I was able to both share my passion for gardening and healthy living with the community, while doing good and giving back to front line workers in the hospital. It was a win – win,” said Kristen.

For information on making your own donation to Stony Brook eateries, call the Ward Melville Heritage Organization at 631-751-2244.

Photo from WMHO

Stony Brook Village restaurants, shops, community residents and others throughout Long Island are continuing in their efforts to support the hometown heroes at Stony Brook University Hospital during this ongoing pandemic.  

Three Village Inn/Lessing’s, Fratelli’s, Crazy Beans and Sweet Mama’s have delivered over 11,000 meals to these dedicated medical professionals, and some of the restaurants are donating extra meals with deliveries. 

Other participating shops in the village include The Crushed Olive, Village Coffee Market, Chocolate Works, Premiere Pastry, Brew Cheese and Penny’s Car Care who have delivered a variety of snacks, cheeses, pastries, cookies, drinks and much more. 

Donations have also been received from private citizens throughout towns in Nassau and Suffolk County as well as out of state.

If you would like to help show your support for healthcare professionals, you can donate to Stony Brook eateries or call the Ward Melville Heritage Organization at 631-751-2244. Your donation is fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law and every dollar will go to this cause. 

The new front entrance of the emergency room. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

With the decision of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to lift the elective surgeries ban in Suffolk on May 16, area hospitals will be able to resume an important aspect of their day-to-day operations. 

Hospital officials have praised the news because elective and emergency procedures are seen as a vital source of revenue for these facilities. 

James O’Connor, president of St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and chief administrative officer of St. Catherine of Siena Hospital in Smithtown, said it’s good news that both facilities can resume these important procedures. 

“It’s a public health issue, you have these patients that were holding off on these urgent and vital surgeries,” he said. “Those needs didn’t go away because of COVID-19.”

O’Connor said between them the two hospitals perform around 750-800 surgeries a month. Orthopedic, bariatric, spine and general surgeries are the most common. The hospitals have already started to bring back staff and furloughed workers have been contacted and will report back to work. 

Elective/urgent surgeries have been put on hold for nearly two months, in an effort to ensure there were sufficient hospital beds and medical staff available to handle the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The St. Charles president said that he expects the hospitals to be back “at full volume” in performing surgeries by sometime next month.

“After week one, we will be ramping up the percentage of surgeries that will be done,” he said. “The first week will be at 25 percent and then we’ll keep going forward.”

Stony Brook University Hospital has begun bringing back personnel to the Ambulatory Surgery Center, main operating room and other areas. 

“The hospital is looking forward to rescheduling cases to provide the care necessary for its patients and addressing their surgical needs as soon as possible,” said Carol Gomes, chief executive officer at Stony Brook University Hospital. 

On average, approximately 100-120 cases daily are performed at the hospital. Those include general surgery, orthopedics, neurosurgery, surgical oncology, cardiac surgery, trauma, kidney transplants, urologic procedures and gynecologic surgery. 

The return of these services will help hospitals who are in the midst of financial hardship from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.  

According to a report from the American Hospital Association, U.S. hospitals and health systems have lost around $50 billion per month on average during the COVID-19 crisis. From March 1 to June 30, the association estimates a total of $202.6 billion in losses. 

“Hospitals and health systems face catastrophic financial challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the AHA said in the report. 

The association also predicted more financial hardship as millions of people could be left unemployed and lose health insurance. It could lead to increased uncompensated care at hospitals. 

O’Connor said without those services health care systems would cease to function. 

At Huntington Hospital, a member of Northwell Health, officials have started to implement a daily symptom screening policy for all staff and developed a non-COVID care pathway for all elective/urgent procedures — from parking and presurgical testing to discharge. For the last eight weeks the hospital has been performing surgery on emergency cases. 

“I am confident we are prepared to safely take the next step with elective surgeries,” said Dr. David Buchin, director of Bariatric Surgery at Huntington Hospital.

Stony Brook University Hospital will also implement a number of safeguards in preparation for elective surgery patients. In addition to expanding on the use of telehealth, it will test all patients prior to surgery and have them self-isolate prior to operations. 

For St. Charles and St. Catherine hospitals, O’Connor said all patients will be required to undergo a COVID-19 test 72 hours before a planned procedure.