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Stony Brook University Hospital

Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

To kick off National Nurses week, Stony Brook University Hospital rolled out the red carpet for its nursing staff, cheering them on as they made their way into work.

On Thursday, May 6, the 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. shifts were welcomed into the hospital with a red carpet and balloons to thank them for their efforts — especially throughout the last year. 

Since the early 90s, May 6 through May 12 (ending on Florence Nightingale’s birthday), nurses across the country have been thanked for the work they do.

Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

But 2020 showed a new appreciation for nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. SBUH decided last summer to put out the red carpet, as nurses ventured into work during the height of the coronavirus crisis. 

And for the second year in a row, more than 3,400 RNs, LPNs, nursing assistants, nursing station clerks and more were thanked as they readied a 12-hour shift like a celebrity.

Carolyn Santora, chief nursing officer & chief of regulatory affairs, said the red carpet was just one way of saying thanks. 

“Our nurses are stars, and they’re wonderful,” she said. “We wanted to show our appreciation.”

Santora said that throughout the whole week, nurses and nursing staff were recognized for their hard work. One day they were delivered ice cream, another they were given awards. 

“The staff, I can’t say they’re not weary and tired — it’s been a long, long year — but they’ve been incredible,” she said. “They come to work dedicated every single day, take care of our community and support each other in the process.”

Santora said the staff were appreciative of the hospital’s efforts. 

“The importance of this is understanding and recognizing them for their skills, for their dedication, for their talents and for their heart,” Santora said. “Taking care of all of these patients every single day, it’s just remarkable what they do.”

Saline Atieno with her host mother, Kerri Tame, of Coram, outside Stony Brook University Hospital last week. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

By Iryna Shkurhan 

Saline Atieno came to Long Island as a girl in 2012 from Kenya to receive transformative facial surgeries by Stony Brook Medicine doctors. On May 2, she returned home as a 19-year-old young woman with a whole new demeanor after 15 surgical procedures. 

Atieno developed a facially disfiguring bacterial necrosis called Noma as a child, which often occurs in young severely malnourished children. Dr. Leon Klempner, a retired orthodontist and professor at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, met Saline for the first time in 2010 on an outreach medical trip.

“She was beautiful on the inside and through the work of Dr. [Alexander] Dagum and the Stony Brook medical team, they helped match her inside and out,” said Klempner, a Poquott resident. “So, she now has a much stronger self-image.”

Through his charity, Smile Rescue Fund for Kids, Klempner brought Saline to the United States in 2012 until 2014, where she received 10 life-changing surgeries to improve the functions and appearance of her face. Klempner and Dagum, who is chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and their Stony Brook colleagues set a plan to reconstruct her face and mouth to improve her functions and look.

The doctors recount meeting a shy girl for the first time in 2013. Saline only attended school a handful of times because she got bullied too much. 

“She’s blossomed,” Dagum said. “Little by little, she’s gained confidence in maturation and she’s grown into a young woman that we’re all so proud of her.”

Following her return to Kenya, Saline developed recurring infections and scarring from the Noma infection and the healing process of the first 10 surgeries. The charity arranged for her to return to Long Island for additional treatment from February 2019 to January 2020. During this period, Dagum performed more reconstructive procedures to reduce the risk of future infections. He also removed a developing cyst from her cheek and scarring around her lips, face and forehead. 

Saline’s return to Kenya was interrupted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Her stay with a host family on Long Island was extended indefinitely as travel was banned back to Kenya. 

During this extra stay, Saline had additional time to heal and recover with medical guidance from her Stony Brook clinical care team. She also took the time to perfect her English skills and enjoy her adopted home. 

“It’s almost the equivalent of sending your child to college,” Dagum said. 

When she returns home, Saline will attend a boarding school and in the future wants to receive training to become a hairstylist. This wouldn’t have been possible without the medical staff volunteering their time and the university volunteering its services. Smile Rescue Fund also has donated to help support her education when she goes back, find clean water and finance solar lights in her area. 

The pandemic has given Saline added time to heal, adjust and see her future. Now she returns home to Kenya as a young woman.

Saline’s host mom, Kerri Tame, of Coram, said that Saline adjusted well and became one of her children in the past two and a half years. Saline was enrolled at Newfield High School in Selden where she made friends and enjoyed attending classes in person. 

“She became Americanized,” Tame said. “Just like one of our children.”

“I’m not going to be able to do the things I do here, back home,” Saline said. When asked what she would miss most about Long Island, she said, “Everything.” 

The Philips Azurion 7 provides imaging capabilities at ultra-low radiation dose levels. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Stony Brook University Hospital has taken a step in offering cardiac diagnosis and treatment that is even more advanced than in the past.

SBUH’s Dr. Robert Pyo, Dr. Henry Tannous, Dr. Eric Rashba and Dr. Hal Skopicki stand in the new multifunctional lab. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Recently, the hospital announced the opening of its Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Advanced Multifunctional Laboratory in the Stony Brook University Heart Institute at SBUH. The lab consolidates comprehensive cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology services into one location.

The multifunctional laboratory measures 845 square feet to allow room for various medical teams to perform emergency procedures at the same time if needed. The room includes anesthesia equipment, state-of-the-art angiographic suite equipment and the latest electrophysiology technology. In the lab, physicians are able to continue treating a patient even if the scope of a procedure changes from minimally invasive to more invasive.

When it came time to design the multifunctional laboratory, administrative and medical professionals were able to provide input including Cath Lab Director, Dr. Robert Pyo and EP Lab Director Dr. Eric Rashba.

Pyo said it was important to get input not only from doctors but nurses and technicians, who play a crucial part in documenting procedures, information that will be used during a patient’s treatment.

Rashba said time was spent with the construction group to ensure everything was laid out correctly and that it would work for both specialties in the multifunctional lab. He added that work began April 12 to renovate five existing labs, three Cath and two EP, adjacent to the new Cath/EP lab on the main level of the Heart Institute. One lab at a time will be worked on, and while the additional renovations will take several months, Rashba said the number of patients that Stony Brook doctors can treat will increase, and patients will be able to get appointments quicker than in the past.

“What we’ve seen over time in electrophysiology is that you see more and more patients with arrhythmias that need treatment,” he said. “There’s been an incredible growth in ablation procedures, in particular atrial fibrillation. This will allow us to meet the community need with less waiting times for procedures. So, we’re looking forward to that.”

Since the lab opened March 30, both doctors said the imaging has been superior to what they had been using before. The lab includes an image-guided diagnostic and therapeutic imaging system called the Philips Azurion 7.

“We’re replacing systems that have been installed for over 10 years,” Rashba said. “First of all, we can see a lot better what the definition of the structures are we need to see, plus the radiation definition is a lot lower. So, we’re getting better imaging with less dose to the patient.”

Rashba added that some EP procedures can even be done without radiation.

Pyo said the new multifunctional lab also saves doctors precious time when treating heart patients with both catheterization and electrophysiology in the same room.

“The importance of timing, reducing the time to treatment, whether it’s minutes or seconds, is relative,” Pyo said. “I think that in any case, even in patients who come in electively, getting early diagnosis is crucial.”

Being able to respond quicker is especially crucial with treatment of heart attacks.

“Patients who are presenting with a heart attack, minutes, even seconds, count toward early diagnosis and treatment,” Pyo said, adding if patients don’t get treatment early enough they could suffer irreversible damage.

File photo by Kyle Barr

Students from the Stony Brook Medicine Healthy Libraries Program will soon be visiting Com-sewogue Public Library for two special HeLP events designed for community members of all ages. 

The students, who are currently training in the fields of social work, public health, and nutrition, will be available outside on the Library grounds on both April 14 and May 12, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. to provide information and answer questions on a wide variety of vital topics, including how to find community resources, reliable health information, fill out paperwork for social services and find housing.  

During the first hour of each HeLP event, the Long Island Cares Mobile Food Pantry Van will be on-site giving out free food, while supplies last. All are welcome and no ID is required. 

The Stony Brook Medicine Healthy Libraries Program is a partnership between the Public Libraries of Suffolk County, a unique group of healthcare professionals, and graduate student interns working together to provide access to both in-person and virtual healthcare-related resources for public library patrons throughout Suffolk County. 

Comsewogue Public Library is located at 170 Terryvillle Road, Port Jefferson Station. In case of in-clement weather, the events will be moved inside. For questions, call the Library at 631-928-1212, option 3.

Courtesy of Jennifer Quirk-Senyk, adult services librarian at Comsewogue Public Library

Stony Brook University Hospital and other local hospitals are allowing friends and family members to visit patients once again. Photo from SBUH

In response to an easing of state regulations and their approach to patient care, area hospitals are relaxing restrictions about patient visitors.

Cheryl Miranda, director of Patient Experience at Huntington Hospital, has been planning the new visitation policy since the beginning of the month. Photo from Huntington Hospital

Starting this past Monday, Huntington Hospital will allow patients who do not have COVID-19 to have one visitor per day, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. St. Charles and St. Catherine of Siena hospitals also allow one COVID-19 negative visitor per day during those same hours.

Huntington Hospital is responding to the medical, emotional and personal need its patients have for the support of family and friends during whatever health challenges they face.

“There is nothing like having your loved one at your bedside, holding your hand,” said Cheryl Miranda, director of Patient Experience at Huntington Hospital, which is a part of Northwell Health.

Family also provides helpful information, helping medical professionals know whether a patient’s behavior is different from normal

“As a nurse, I’ve always felt that family is part of the caregiving circle,” Miranda said. “The family knows their loved one better than anyone. They will help us provide better care.”

St. Charles Hospital and St. Catherine of Siena started allowing one hospital visitor per COVID-negative patient per day starting about four weeks ago.

Stony Brook is making several changes to its visitation policy.

As of April 1, the hospital is allowing two visitors for patients in labor and delivery, for pediatric patients and for patients in end-of-life situations. This will increase from one to two.

Patients receiving same day surgical procedures will also be allowed a patient visitor until a procedure begins. The visitor is required to wait outside during the procedure and then can return during the patient’s release from the hospital.

Inpatient child psychiatry will also allow a visitor, as will cancer center and outpatient offices.

Approved visitors to Stony Brook must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth the entire time, will have symptom checks, including thermal scanning, will not be allowed outside the patient’s room, must maintain six feet of distance and must wash their hands on entering and leaving the room.

Hospitals had generally restricted most or all patient visitors over various periods in the last year amid the pandemic to limit the spread of COVID-19. Nurses throughout Long Island and the world have used tablets, phones and other technology to help their patients connect with family members, enabling them to see spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and friends from hospital beds that often had them feeling isolated during their health battles.

Allowing visitors, who are still required to wear masks, will help hospitalized patients feel more normal and receive the kind of support that can brighten their day while shortening their hospital visit.

A hospital employee will screen patients on their way into the hospital, asking them questions about any possible symptoms and taking their temperature.

Visitors who are COVID-19 positive can’t enter. Additionally, visitors who come in from out of the state or whom they believe necessitates a screening will have a rapid swab.

“We are not asking everyone to be tested,” Miranda said.

The hospital is spreading the word about its new patient visitor policy by changing its on-hold messages, is sharing information on TV sets and is telling families directly during virtual visits that one person at a time can come to the hospital.

Patients can determine who visits, which includes family members and friends.

“There is nothing like having your loved one at your bedside, holding your hand.”

Cheryl Miranda

Miranda said the medical staff is well-prepared for an increase in visitors through the hospital.

“I don’t have to tell anybody in this building to follow precautions,” Miranda said. “We’ve all been through this for 13 months now and there isn’t anyone” who needs reminding about personal protective equipment, hand washing or social distancing.

Initially, Huntington Hospital workers will escort visitors to patient rooms, reminding them about safety policies.

During visits, patients and visitors are expected to wear masks. If a family member comes during mealtime or brings food, the patient can eat, but should do so at a safe distance.

Miranda, who has been at Huntington Hospital for 20 years, realizes the suffering patients and their families have endured during the pandemic.

“To tell someone they can’t be here is an awful, awful thing,” Miranda said. “My heart goes out to the families that haven’t been allowed to be here” and to the patients who “haven’t been able to have their loved ones at their side.”

Miranda has been planning this new visitation policy since the beginning of the month.

The hospital has learned numerous lessons about health care, including by providing virtual support for patients.

In addition to bereavement support groups, which have been particularly busy as families mark the one-year anniversary of the loss of a loved one, the hospital is adding a long-haul support group.

Starting on Thursday, April 8 at 2 p.m., Huntington Hospital will offer support to people who have a lingering cough, ongoing debilitating fatigue, body aches, joint pain, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, difficulty sleeping, headaches and brain fog.

People interested in joining that group can email Kacey Farber at [email protected]

Dr. Jean Cacciabaudo, associate medical director at Huntington Hospital and a cardiologist, will sit on the long haulers support meeting. Cacciabaudo, who had COVID-19 and has some long haulers symptoms, will attend not just for herself, but to provide the physician’s perspective.

Miranda said the bereavement support groups have helped family members amid a loss.

“It’s the beauty of humanity, when we reach out and help each other,” Miranda said. “There’s no magic solution for grief and loss. For some people, it’s just about remembering all the wonderful things they had when they had that person and sharing that with other people. It’s about not being isolated. That’s a big key.”

Doug Jansson spent 63 days away from his family, battling and almost dying from COVID-19. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Doug Jansson finally got to spend Christmas with his family — nearly two months after the holiday.

Friends and family gathered outside St. Charles Hospital to cheer Doug on. Photo by Julianne Mosher

On Dec. 12,  the 42-year-old pastor was brought into Stony Brook University Hospital after he and the rest of his family contracted COVID-19 in late November. He was intubated in the Intensive Care Unit on Christmas Eve, and placed on life support where it was thought he wasn’t going to make it.

“I think I remember him being sick only a handful of times in the 20 years we’ve been married,” his wife, Kelly, said back in January. “When we got COVID, he was worried about me — nobody was worried about him getting hit this hard.”

But now, the lead pastor of Living World Church in Hauppauge is back home in Smithtown after 63 days.

On Feb. 12, the father of three was wheeled out of St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, where he was undergoing rehabilitation for nine days, since being discharged from Stony Brook on Feb. 3. Jansson said he was able to get up and walk out because of prayer. 

Early on in the pandemic, Jansson organized prayer parades with his church, often visiting local hospitals to support essential workers and victims of the virus. 

Doug embraces his family after two long months apart. Photo by Julianne Mosher

But then he became ill, himself. After being in the ICU for not even two days, he began complaining of severe pain. A CT scan revealed a pleural effusion (fluid in the chest), a secondary pneumonia, pleurisy and a small pneumothorax (air in the chest). His right lung collapsed.

That’s when his wife knew she had to share his story. Kelly logged into his Facebook account and began updating his friends, family and followers of his progress. Some days were better than others, but one thing she kept asking of everyone was to keep praying. 

Kelly said she began receiving messages from people all over the world, telling her they were keeping Doug in their thoughts and prayers. Now he’s finally home.

Doug embraced by his wife, Kelly, while hospital workers cheer on. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Feb. 12 was always a special day for the couple, Kelly said outside St. Charles Hospital the day of his release. Twenty-one years ago, on the same date, he proposed to her. 

And to celebrate his release, nearly 100 people gathered outside with balloons, signs and streamers to cheer the pastor on as he got in his car, ready to go home.  

“I’m thankful that we’re here and so grateful,” Doug said before he addressed the crowd outside. “I know that God has set it up to be just a miracle and something that we can’t express that we know we don’t deserve. But he’s giving, so we’re really thankful.”

When asked how this whole experience made him feel, his voice broke. 

“I would say two words keep coming to mind when people ask me that,” he said. “One is painful. It’s been very difficult, fighting through this and being away from my family. But the other word is, in a weird way beautiful, because I’ve gotten to see doctors and nurses and health care people in a different light and really get to know them.”

He said the essential workers have been there for him and his family. 

“I also feel like God’s put me through this to try to be there for them, to encourage him, pray for and bless them,” he added. “I know that, for whatever reason, this story has impacted people and, you know, that makes going through it worth it because I know people are being drawn to Jesus.”

The family pet, Chewy, was happy to see his dad again. Photo from Kelly Jansson

Nearly a week home, one of his first requests, he said, was to get a slice of pizza from Ciro’s in Smithtown. And on his way home, the pizzeria donated two large pies to the family to celebrate his homecoming. 

The family was finally able to celebrate Christmas, and their dog, Chewy, was so happy to see his dad again.

“He’s doing really well,” Kelly said on Feb. 15 in a phone interview. “He’s working so hard on getting stronger. There’s still a way to go, but we will help him get there.”

And Doug said his couldn’t have done it without the support from his family, church, faith and the prayers from strangers. 

“I am so grateful to God to be home with my family after all this time,” he said. “We are enjoying every second of it.”

A 42-year-old pastor from Long Island gets a special thank you from a New York Jets legend after battling COVID-19 at Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH).

At the height of the pandemic, Doug Jansson organized prayer parades with his church, Living Word Church, at a few locations on Long Island, including Stony Brook University Hospital, where his mother-in-law was being treated for COVID-19 back in March. Doug, his wife Kelly and members of their church would drive around the hospital, signs and all, and stop to pray for staff and the patients they were treating. Their kindness didn’t stop there as they even organized grocery donations and drop-offs across Long Island.

Things came full circle on December 12, 2020 when Doug was admitted to SBUH after testing positive for COVID-19. Doug wound up in the ICU and on Christmas Eve he was intubated and placed on life support. The people he had been praying for were now caring for him.

Led by Dr. Paul Strachan and Dr. Allison McLarty, staff from nearly every division and department at SBUH helped care for Doug. Teams in pulmonary, CT surgery, ID, Medicine, Psychiatry/palliative care, GI, Hematology, Cardiology, Vascular and more helped on his road to recovery.

Doug was taken off ECMO on December 29 and extubated on January 5, 2021 before being discharged on February 3, 2021. He and his wife say the staff of every unit became like family and it seemed that the entire hospital was involved and routing for his recovery.

“The staff at Stony Brook were fighting for Doug and rooting him on. They were so encouraging to us. I am speechless over the care we’ve received,” said Kelly Jansson.

Rob Nocito, a resident in Emergency Medicine at SBUH, was one of the physicians who assisted in taking Doug off the ventilator. Nocito noticed Jansson was a hardcore New York Jets fan from the team’s memorabilia hanging in his room. Nocito happens to be good friends with Erik Coleman, a former defender on the Jets. He gave Coleman a call and he quickly agreed to talk to Jansson.

“My job is to make people feel better, and that doesn’t always mean medicine,” said Nocito.

Jansson was speechless as he met the NFL star via FaceTime. Coleman wished Jansson well and thanked him for everything he has done. See the moment here.

His wife Kelly couldn’t believe somebody would be so kind and do this for him. “We are so grateful to the staff at Stony Brook. They go above and beyond every single day,” she said.

As Doug was discharged, staff lined the hallways to wish him well.

Doug now looks forward to returning home to his wife and three children as well as getting back to the work he loves with his church.

Photos courtesy of SBUH

Stony Brook University Hospital

Stony Brook University Hospital has once again been named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals™ for 2021 by Healthgrades – the only hospital on Long Island to receive this distinction for the past three consecutive years. The distinction places Stony Brook University Hospital in the top two percent of nearly 4,500 hospitals assessed nationwide for its consistent, year-over-year superior clinical performance as measured by Healthgrades, the leading resource that connects consumers, physicians and health systems. Only five hospitals in New York State were named among America’s 100 Best Hospitals this year. 

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky

“This is the equivalent of receiving another A+ on our annual report card for quality care,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Stony Brook Medicine. “It places us among the top 2 percent of hospitals nationwide. More importantly, it measures results that make a significant difference in the lives of our patients every day.”

Healthgrades analyzes hospitals nationwide to examine in-hospital complication rates and mortality rates. From 2017 through 2019, patients treated in hospitals achieving the award had, on average, a 26.1 percent lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award, as measured across 19 rated conditions and procedures for which mortality is the outcome.* And during that same period, if all hospitals performed similarly to those achieving the Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals Award, 172,298 lives could potentially have been saved. 

“These outcomes are the direct result of the high-quality care provided by our staff every day,” said Carol A Gomes, MS, FACHE, CPHQ, Chief Executive Officer for Stony Brook University Hospital. “Their daily commitment to our patients drives these outstanding results, which literally save lives.”

Stony Brook University Hospital has been recognized as One of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care™ for seven years in a row, One of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Coronary Intervention and Stroke Care™ for six years in a row.

In fact, Stony Brook is the only hospital in the northeast** region of the U.S., and one of only five hospitals in the nation, to achieve 2021 America’s 100 Best Hospitals Award and America’s 100 Best in Cardiac Care, Coronary Intervention and Stroke Care.

“These types of consistent awards are not achieved by accident,” said Meadow P. Jaime, MA, Director of Quality Solutions for Healthgrades. “This recognition is validation of the ongoing effort and focus that Stony Brook’s dedicated teams have devoted to providing high-quality care and clinical excellence.”

During the 2021 study period (Medicare Fiscal Years 2017-2019), Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals Award recipients are recognized for overall clinical excellence and providing top quality care across multiple specialty lines and areas. These hospitals showed superior performance in clinical outcomes for patients in the Medicare population across at least 21 of 32 most common inpatient conditions and procedures — as measured by objective performance data (risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications).

“Now more than ever, it is important to celebrate the physicians, nurses and extended care teams that are working around the clock to keep our nation safe. For the select hospitals that have been recognized with a Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals Award, we extend our heartfelt appreciation and commend them for their ongoing commitment to delivering the highest quality healthcare,” said Brad Bowman, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Healthgrades.

To learn more about how Healthgrades determines award recipients, and for more information on Healthgrades Quality Solutions, please visit www.healthgrades.com/quality.

About Stony Brook University Hospital:

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) is Long Island’s premier academic medical center. With 624 beds, SBUH serves as the region’s only tertiary care center and Regional Trauma Center, and is home to the Stony Brook University Heart Institute, Stony Brook University Cancer Center, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and Stony Brook University Neurosciences Institute. SBUH also encompasses Suffolk County’s only Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center, state-designated AIDS Center, state-designated Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, state-designated Burn Center, the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence, and Kidney Transplant Center. It is home of the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. To learn more, visit www.stonybrookmedicine.edu/sbuh.

*Statistics are based on Healthgrades analysis of MedPAR data for years 2017 through 2019 and represent 3-year estimates for Medicare patients only.

**Northeast region is defined by the Census Bureau as Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York & Pennsylvania.

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According to the governor’s office, temporary state field hospitals, such as the one at Stony Brook University, were prepared for the winter with the removal of roofs and emptying the structures of equipment. Photo by Sue Wahlert

The state’s field hospital set up on the Stony Brook University grounds earlier this year has looked a little different over the past few weeks.

At the end of April, five climate-controlled structures were completed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide SBU Hospital and other local medical centers with more beds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents passing by the alternate care facility structures recently have noticed that they are roofless and the interior walls — used to create mini rooms — are now dismantled.

According to state officials, several temporary state field hospitals were prepared for the December winter storm, which included snow. Part of that prep work included emptying the structures of equipment and fixtures. At SBUH, the fabric tenting materials were also removed. However, the field hospital is not being dismantled completely in case it needs to be opened for patients. The 1,000-bed facility in Stony Brook has never been used.

According to state officials, all of the components that were removed were inventoried and are ready for use wherever needed, whether in Stony Brook, on Long Island or across the state.

The hospital extension was slated for patients with health care issues outside of COVID-19 in order to free up bed space in the hospital and other local medical centers to treat patients with the virus. The final cost for the alternate care facility was some $155 million, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. All work done by USACE for the construction of alternate care facilities was funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency mission assignments to USACE.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said when the alternate care facilities were assembled little was known about the pandemic’s course.

“At the time that they were built, the hospitals in Queens had so many bodies that they were tying refrigeration trucks together in the parking lots, just to store the bodies,” he said, adding the hospitals couldn’t process and bury the bodies fast enough.

“To put it in perspective, that was the environment in which the governor’s office basically made a decision,” he said. “I think they were informed by the seriousness of space limitations.”

He added early on no one knew that the infection rates would be down by the summer.

“The reality is that hindsight is 20/20,” Englebright said. “At that point in time, they did not have the benefit of knowing the scale, magnitude or speed of the pandemic. The governor was successful in suppressing New York’s acceleration in those months in the spring. And so, I think you have to look at the current dismantlement of the hospital as a testament, not of wastefulness, but of merciful success in suppressing the acceleration of the pandemic in New York.”

Nicole Tahlor and Brian Tahlor from Nesconset hold their baby girl born just one minute after midnight Jan. 1. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Nicole Tahlor and Brian Tahlor from Nesconset welcomed their daughter, Briella Nicole, to the world on New Year’s Day at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Weighing 7 pounds, 1 ounce, the new baby girl was born at 12:01 a.m., just one minute into the start of 2021, according to a press release from Stony Brook Medicine. She was delivered by Dr. Charissa Dinobile, Dr. Rabale Hasan, Dr. Diana Calero Kunda and Ashley Etienne, RN.

“2021 has already brought so much to look forward to,” said Nicole Tahlor.

This is the first child for the new mom and second for the dad who has another daughter.