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Stony Brook University Hospital

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. 

Along Nicolls Road, where dozens of people held signs thanking the hospital workers both leaving and arriving at Stony Brook University Hospital, another truck, one bearing a large screen and speakers, rumbled down the road bearing another kind of thank you to the folks on the front lines.

Christian Guardino, a Patchogue resident, came down to the hospital late on Thursday, May 22 to serenade the workers just after their 8 p.m. shift change. The singer, a America’s Got Talent’s Golden Buzzer and Apollo Theater Competition Grand Prize Winner, sang three songs to a crowd gathered in front of the children’s hospital. Others watched from the windows above, even waving lighters from a dark room as Guardino finished a rendition of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”

He said he too has been stuck at home because of the pandemic, unable to perform because practically all venues have been shut down. First performing at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, he came to Stony Brook to make sure those workers knew they were top in people’s hearts and minds.  

“The one thing I want to say and for them to get out of this is just thank you, how grateful we are for everything they’re doing for us,” Guardino said. “They’re on the front lines taking care of the people who are sick, risking getting the disease and I just want to thank them.”

Nicole Rossol, the chief patient experience officer at SBUH, said Empire Entertainment, a New York City-based event management company, reached out to Stony Brook looking to do a late show. At the same time, the patchogue singer also made mention he wanted to give back to the hospital. Guardino’s mother, Beth, had worked as a nurse at the hospital previously for nearly a decade.

“We thought if we could do it together, it would be a very beautiful thing for our staff,” Rossol said. “I think the staff has been looking for things to keep them upbeat and help them through this time. Every piece of support from the community really makes a difference.

Empire Entertainment, with their Illuminate Our Heroes tour has brought crews from the city, to New Jersey, and now out to Long Island. Alyssa Bernstein, a senior producer for empire entertainment is herself a Setauket native, and she said she made it a point to come back and support her hometown during the ongoing pandemic.

“We decided, what is a way that we can give back and say thank you, and that’s putting on a little show, that’s what we do best,” Bernstein said. “The work that they’re doing means that we’ll get back to work.”

 

Andrew Harris’ therapy dog Ransey helped Stony Brook health care workers with a gymnastics routine, shown to nurses and doctors via video call. Photos by Andrew Harris

By Andrew Harris

Ramsey and I look forward to our Tuesday evening visits at Stony Brook University Hospital. We visit the Child Psychiatry Unit and try our best to bring smiles to the young children who may be going through difficult times. We are part of their Volunteer Pet Therapy program and Ramsey is a trained therapy dog certified through Therapy Dogs International. 

 

“Pet Facilitated Therapy has been a practice at SBUH hospital for many years  and has brought joy and peace to staff and patients during stressful times,” said Rosemaria York, the recreational therapy supervisor at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Ramsey knows when Tuesday comes around and looks forward to visiting. He gets so excited once he sees we are on the campus, and he absolutely adores interacting with the children who love him. Ramsey is used to working — especially with children. He can be seen at the Comsewogue school district often comforting and giving lots of love during stressful times like Regents exams and other high anxiety situations.

The first time that we could not visit the hospital due to the Coronavirus situation, Ramsey was in a sullen mood. I took him for a long walk in the woods instead, but it wasn’t the same. He missed going to the hospital and the adoration from the children and staff members. We always get stopped on our way to the unit by staff members, patients, and family members who want to interact with the dog. Once, we had a special request to go visit a staff member’s friend in the cancer unit. I was amazed by how much joy it brought to her and how great he was nuzzling up to the bed and cuddling with her. What I also saw was how so many staff members came by to say hello. One doctor told us that it was a particularly hard day in that unit so she needed some cuddles too, which Ramsey gladly provided.

“Recently, the Stony Brook Medicine Department of Volunteer Services in conjunction with the Recreation Therapy Department worked together with pet therapy volunteer Andy Harris and therapy dog Ramsey to bring Virtual Pet Therapy to de-stress staff on the units,” said York.

The next thing I knew we got a phone call from the folks at Stony Brook asking if we could possibly do a virtual pet therapy visit — this time for all the nurses, doctors and medical staff at the hospital. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but we were certainly willing to give it our best try to contribute to those fine people on the front line. York told us,  “Volunteer Services and Recreation therapy staff thought why not try Virtual Pet Therapy if we couldn’t have the usual visits? Stony Brook Hospital felt that because their employees were all working so hard and long, and in such a stressful situation, that perhaps a virtual visit might help in the same way that our actual visits benefitted the kids and staff. 

A Stony Brook Hospital worker watches Ramsey do stunts via video stream. Photo from Andrew Harris

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic when the hospital was unable to continue business as usual many practices became virtual, telehealth, etc,” York added. “So volunteer Services and recreation therapy staff thought why not virtual pet therapy if we couldn’t have the usual visits?” 

I knew it would be much different then our normal in-person visits and had to come up with some new ideas because we would be doing our thing from the backyard of our house. Simultaneously, the folks at Stony Brook would be working extra hard walking all over the hospital from unit to unit donned in full PPE gear. 

Normally with the kids, we sit down, chat or read a book and just let the kids cuddle with the dog. We demonstrate how Ramsey has learned not to take food from people or off the floor unless he is given permission. We show how he sits, waits patiently and knows all the different commands. As a therapy dog he has learned not to “shake hands” because this and jumping up on them could compromise people with vulnerable skin conditions. He is not allowed to eat any food because this could be a problem too if there are crumbs in the bed or on someone’s gown in a hospital or nursing home setting.

Sometimes the kids like to see the dog “work” and do some finds. They hide some articles of clothing like a glove or hat somewhere in the room as the dog patiently waits outside the room. As soon as he enters he sniffs it out and finds all the articles. Of course he always gets a reward each time he does a good job.

Since my yard is set up with plenty of things to do with the dog, we were ready to not only provide some therapy for the workers, but to entertain and show them what the dog could do. York said, “… so some recreation therapists armed with an iPad with Mr. Harris and Ramsey streaming live brought Ramsey and his athletic agility abilities along with a bark and a close up camera ‘social distanced’ kiss to the staff.”

Andrew Harris’ therapy dog Ransey helped Stony Brook health care workers with a gymnastics routine, shown to nurses and doctors via video call. Photos by Andrew Harris

First I had him doing the normal stuff, retrieve a ball and relayed the typical commands most people are familiar with. As I pointed the camera on my phone at him, I could hear some nurses getting a kick out of it all — so we decided to step it up a bit. The “ooo’s” and “ahhs” were noticeable especially when he climbed up the ladder to our playhouse and went down the slide. He then showed how he could run up the slide. His final performance, and the most difficult, was walking across a twenty foot ladder propped horizontally raised a few feet off the ground. For that he got a round of applause. When we went back inside he was very exhausted, lay down and took a long nap. We were happy to put a little smile to the wonderful staff at Stony Brook. 

York said, “staff stated that they were happy for the opportunity to interact with the therapy dog even if it was brief and virtual as it brought a smile to their day.”

Andrew Harris is a special needs teacher at the Comsewogue school district.

Members of Village Chabad in East Setauket and Lubavitch of the East End organized a car parade to thank the health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital May 12. Dozens of cars were led past Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and the main building by a Setauket Fire Department truck and SBU police. The group was even joined by a music truck for entertainment.

Investors Bank on Route 25A in Setauket. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Investors Bank donated $100,000 to Stony Brook University Hospital to aid during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

Investors, which recently completed the acquisition of Gold Coast Bancorp, granted Stony Brook the funds in April through the bank’s charitable foundation to the university hospital’s foundation. 

“We want Stony Brook to use this grant to fight this pandemic and provide assistance to the real heroes – those doctors, nurses, and administrators on the front line,” Investors Bank Chairman and CEO Kevin Cummings said in a statement. “They are doing a fantastic job under unimaginable circumstances and we want to support them any way we can.”

The original impetus for the grant came from John Tsunis, the former Gold Coast Chairman and CEO and current Chairman of Investors Bank Long Island Advisory Board. He said he was grateful Investors “is continuing that partnership and that its core values echo what the Long Island communities have come to expect from Gold Coast.”

Since the start of the ongoing pandemic, Stony Brook University Hospital has seen support from many sides, from donations such as this to average citizens and local businesses donating hospital supplies and food to beleaguered health care staff.

“Words cannot describe how grateful we are to receive this grant,” said Carol Gomes, the CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital. “We could not get through this without the community doing everything humanly possible to assist. On behalf of everyone, we so greatly appreciate your support, kindness and generosity. It will be put to very good use.”

The exterior of Stony Brook Children's Hospital. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

COVID-19, which was considered especially threatening to the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, may also have triggered an inflammatory illness that is sickening children in several places throughout the world, including in Suffolk County.

An inflammatory illness in children with symptoms that mimic Kawasaki disease has sickened seven in Suffolk County and officials are expecting more cases of the rare condition here and throughout the country.

Stony Brook Pediatric Hospital has admitted two cases of the multi-inflammatory pediatric condition, for residents who are 10 and 19 years old.

With other hospitals showing rare but similar unusual pediatric cases, including in the United Kingdom and New York City, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to release an alert about the inflammatory condition, a CDC spokesman told CNN.

Symptoms of the new illness include an extended fever, a rash, red eyes, red lips, a strawberry tongue, lower blood pressure and abdominal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Stony Brook, Pediatric Hospital has been “treating patients like we would treat and approach Kawasaki Disease,” said Christy Beneri, the Fellowship Program Director in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. The hospital has provided intravenous immunoglobulin, a high dose of aspirin and steroids to decrease inflammation and other medications to help suppress the inflammatory syndrome.

This rare inflammatory process in children has developed weeks after a likely mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19 in mostly healthy younger patients.

Patients can develop symptoms from “days to weeks” after an infection with the virus that has caused the pandemic, Beneri said. The majority of people with this inflammatory reaction are either testing positive for COVID-19 when they come to the hospital or have a positive antibody test, which indicates their immune systems mounted a defense against the virus, Beneri added.

It is unclear to doctors what is causing the progression from a manageable response to the virus to an inflammation that may require a trip to the hospital and to the Intensive Care Unit.

“We are trying to understand how the coronavirus is causing vasculitis,” Beneri said. “It has something to do with how the virus is affecting blood vessels and organs.”

To be sure, Beneri reassured children and their parents that most of the children who are infected with Covid-19 will not develop these inflammatory symptoms later.

“The majority will do well,” Beneri said.

Nonetheless, Beneri anticipated that more pediatric residents in Suffolk County would likely show signs of this inflammatory response.

“If their child is having fever for a number of days, significant vomiting or diarrhea, belly pain, red eyes or a rash, it is important that they speak with their doctor,” Beneri said.

One of the reasons Suffolk County is seeing some cases of this Kawasaki-like response in children now, weeks after the pandemic infected thousands in the area, likely relates to the timing of the peak infections, which occurred in the middle of April.

Based on conversations Beneri has had with other pediatricians who are treating patients with similar symptoms, she said the patients tend to be “healthy kids” who have often had a contact with someone in their house who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19.

The child may have brought the virus into the home and passed it along to a parent, who became sick. The child, however, later develops these multiple-symptom inflammatory issues.

While some children have died from this condition, Beneri said the majority of them are recovering.

The duration of hospital stays has varied, with some patients requiring 10 days in the hospital, while others have recovered within a few days. Beneri said Stony Brook has already sent one patient home.

Beneri added Nassau County has also had several teenage patients come in with the same symptoms. She expects more Suffolk pediatric patients with similar symptoms to come to county hospitals.

Parents should be on the lookout, primarily, for persistent fevers over the course of several days with significant abdominal pain, Beneri said. “If they start developing other symptoms, such as red eyes and a rash and they are not getting better” then parents should contact their doctor or a hospital, Beneri advised.

Stony Brook University's COVID-19 testing site will be closing its ER portion due to declining numbers of people coming through. Photo by Matthew Niegocki

With 694 more people testing positive for the coronavirus, the number of confirmed cases in Suffolk County is now 40,483.

In the Suffolk County hotspot testing sites, the number of positive tests was 1,320 out of 3,412 total tests.

The percentage of positive tests at these hotspots is 38.7, compared with 33 percent for the county as a whole.

Antibody testing for law enforcement continues, with 1,581 law enforcement officers tested by Northwell Health and New York State so far.

The number of people who have died from complications related to coronavirus increased by 21 in the last day, bringing the total to 1,568 for Suffolk County. As of yesterday, the deaths from the virus exceed the number of people killed over 100 years ago aboard the Titanic. The staggering number represents what will likely be a turning point for the county, let alone the entire country which topped 77,000 deaths.

County Executive Steve Bellone’s (D) office distributed another 163,000 pieces of personal protective equipment yesterday, bringing the total number of such life-saving items to over four million since the crisis began in March.

Bellone didn’t have the closely watched hospitalization information today because the reporting system was down.

Separately, Bellone said the county was able to honor the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

“Today, we would normally be bringing together our veterans and particularly our World War II veterans to honor them and thank them for what they did for our nation,” said Bellone during his daily call with reporters.

A group including Suffolk County Chief of Police Stuart Cameron and Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency Director Thomas Ronayne raised an American flag above Armed Forces Plaza today. The group saluted the flag and then brought it to the state veteran’s home.

That home has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. As of May 5, the home reported 65 residents have passed away due to the coronavirus. Additionally, 68 residents have tested positive, where out of those four are receiving treatment at neighboring Stony Brook University Hospital. 30 of those veterans are in the post-COVID recovery phase.

Bellone said the county also celebrated the graduation of 70 members of the police academy. While the ceremony was different than it otherwise would have been prior to the pandemic, the event, which was broadcast on Facebook, was watched by more than 25,000 people.

“Their willingness to step forward at any given moment to risk their lives for strangers is an extraordinary thing,” Bellone said. “We thanked them and their family members.”

Separately, as for the national and local elections coming this November, Bellone said he hopes the bipartisan cooperation that has characterized the response in Suffolk County and New York will continue.

“I don’t know if we’re going to see that on a national level [but] at the local level, we are working together in ways we haven’t in many years, maybe not since 9/11,” Bellone said. “That’s what we should do.”

Bellone suggested the county didn’t have “time to spare to worry about partisan nonsense.”

He pointed out how he and Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr. (R), who ran against Bellone to become county executive, have been “working closely together to address issues here. I’m hopeful that will continue.”

Stony Brook Closes Satellite ER

Stony Brook University is closing the emergency room field satellite in the South P Lot amid a decline in the number of patients.

The hospital will keep equipment inside the tents in case of future need. The health care workers who had been staffing the field site will return to the hospital.

Stony Brook had seen approximately 2,600 patients at the coronavirus triage sites.

The drive-through testing site in the South P Lot will remain open. That site has tested 27,515 patients.

Residents who would like a test need to make appointments in advance, by calling 888-364-3065. The site is open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Stony Brook University Hospital’s Team Lavender, and a Staff Support Team, delivered care packages to the employees at the Long Island State Veterans Home. The team put together 170 containers filled with donated items from the community including gum, chapsticks, drinks and snacks. They also included trays of home-baked goods, crocheted ear savers, and masks made by a veteran.

Team Lavender volunteers include doctors, nurses, social workers, patient advocates, chaplains, a faculty and staff care team, employee assistance program and employee health program. The team provides emotional, spiritual and psychological support for faculty and staff after an adverse or unexpected event.

Team Lavender completed a successful pilot during the last year in the NICU and maternity units. Team Lavender has worked together with the Staff Support Team to provide hospital wide support. Their efforts, previously performed in-person, are now available virtually for faculty and staff.

Amanda Groveman, a Stony Brook Medicine Quality Management Practitioner, holding a "My Story" poster for Kevin, who enjoys bowling among his hobbies. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Patients battling COVID-19 at Stony Brook University Hospital have allies who can see them and their lives outside the context of the current pandemic.

Thanks to a team of nurses at Stony Brook who are calling family members to gather information and putting together pictures the family members are sending, over 89 patients have received the kind of personalized support they might have gotten if their family and friend network were allowed in the hospital during the pandemic.

“You get everything,” said Amanda Groveman, a Stony Brook Medicine Quality Management Practitioner, who has worked at the hospital since 2006 and created a Power Point template for the information. Family members are sending pictures at of them during Christmas, of people playing various sports, of pets, of other family members, and even a wedding picture from the 1930’s.

Once the nurses gather this information, they print out two copies and laminate them. One copy goes in the room, where the patient can also see it, and the other is in the hallway, where the doctor or nurse who is about to walk in can get a broader look at the life of the patient in the bed on the other side of the door.

The effort, called “My Story,” is an extension of a similar initiative at the hospital for patients who have Alzheimer’s Disease and might also have trouble sharing their lives with the health care workers.

The nurses involved in the program include: Chief of Regulatory Affairs Carolyn Santora, Assistant Director of Nursing Susan Robbins, Director of Quality Management Grace Propper, Lisa Reagan, the patient coordinator and Nurse Practitioner April Plank.

“It’s not just a bullet point checklist,” Groveman said. “It’s creating a history of this patient.”

Some patients like to hear a particular type of music. Indeed, one patient routinely listened to so much “Willie Nelson, that was all he wanted to listen to.”

Grovemen said the contact with the family also connects the nurses to that family’s support network, which they now aren’t able to see in eerily empty waiting rooms.

“You speak to these families and then you feel like you do know this person well,” Groveman said. “At a certain point, it’s not just about the patient. It’s about the whole support system. You’re pulling not just for them, but for their whole family.”

The pictures serve as an inspiration for the nurses as well, who get to share their passion for pets or for sports teams.

These connections are especially important, as some patients have been in the ICU for weeks.

Each time a person leaves the hospital, the staff plays the Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun,” which has also been encouraging to the hospital staff who has been treating them.

When Groveman returns to her family, which includes her husband Matt and their two children, each night, she puts her clothing in the washing machine and takes a shower before she enjoys her own family time.

“As soon as I walk in, they say, ‘No hug yet,’” Groveman said. Her kids have been “really good” about the new nightly pattern.

A by product of her new routine is that Groveman has also been washing her hands and wrists so often that she has developed what her daughter calls “lizard skin.”

She insists on disinfecting everything that comes in the house, which means that she has a collection of cardboard boxes on her porch that wait there until recycling day.

Amid all the public health struggles she and her fellow nurses see every day, she appreciates how Stony Brook has set up a room where nurses can meditate and relax.

Groveman said she’s surprised by the number of people who are coming in who are in their 30’s and 40’s. One of the more challenging elements of caring for patients is, for her, that she sees people who come in who are not in bad shape, but “unfortunately, with this, it can just be all of a sudden someone takes a downturn.”

Groveman had previously worked in pediatrics, where she said she recognized that any treatment for children also benefited the broader family.

“You are treating the family as well,” she said. “You really want to make that connection. Being a nurse is about making that connection.”

Health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital crowd together after the flyover April 28. Photo by Kyle Barr

Even as the emergency health care community is due for a break after an intense surge in patients who had COVID-19 finally subsides, hospitals are seeing an increase in demand for surgeries and procedures residents had put off amid the crisis.

About 10 days ago, Stony Brook University Hospital saw a rise in admissions that were unrelated to COVID-19, said Dr. Todd Griffin, the President of Medical Staff and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine.

Indeed, in the last few days, the non-COVID admissions have been higher than the COVID-driven admissions, Griffin said.

“Patients were staying at home so long” during the pandemic that some of them “had to go into the emergency room,” Griffin said.

Stony Brook had been at pandemic level D during the worst of the crisis and is now getting ready to transition to Pandemic level C, which will allow them to operate on more semi-urgent patients.

These patients either have chronic pain that needs surgical remedies, cancers that are low grade but where waiting more than 30 days could exacerbate the condition, spinal cases that, if left untreated, could lead to more permanent disabilities, or cardiac cases.

“We’re really looking at starting up semi-urgent cases first, then we’ll look at the elective cases” some time later, Griffin said.

A medical team is looking at these types of decisions, trying to determine what falls into the semi-urgent arena and what becomes more of an elective procedure.

Up until recently, the ambulatory surgery center had been acting as an Intensive Care Unit. The hospital is thoroughly cleaning that area to make sure it’s safe for reentry for the general patient population, Griffin said. They are also assessing whether they have the staff to address medical issues that extend beyond helping people battling the virus.

“We are still far from a return to business as usual,” the medical staff president said.

Stony Brook is making sure it has enough personal protective equipment. One of the challenges in preparing hospital rooms for future surgeries is that the material used to make the drapes is the same as the material for surgical masks and gowns.

“A lot of that material was diverted,” Griffin said. The hospital wants to make sure it has enough drapes to meet the medical need.

Patients coming to Stony Brook hospital will need testing for COVID-19 before they receive treatment. The hospital is also considering whether they can test visitors and how that would be done to limit exposure for everyone in the hospital.
Stony Brook Hospital is also considering testing staff and physicians. The availability of testing will determine how many tests they administer and how frequently.

Even during the pandemic, Stony Brook has still been conducting about 10 to 15 procedures per day, which is well below the 70 to 80 patients who typically received treatment.

The individual departments have remained in touch with patients throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our outpatient offices have still been open,” Griffin said.

Indeed, separate from responses to COVID-19, some areas of the hospital have become even busier, including obstetrics and gynecology.

Over the last three or four weeks, the hospital has received about 80 to 100 transfer patients, which is considerably higher than the five to 10 it receives in a typical week.

Some of those patients are residents of New York City and came to Stony Brook because hospitals in other regions had stopped allowing a support person during delivery.

Additionally, Stony Brook has single bedded units in its maternity ward, which means mothers have their own room throughout the process.

“We were trying to have as normal an experience as we can in a pandemic,” Griffin said. “I am so proud of the staff and nurses during this difficult time. They created the best experience for patients possible.”

Even with the hospital scheduling some additional surgeries in the weeks ahead, however, Stony Brook will follow Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) guidance, remaining at or below 70 percent capacity in the event of another surge in demand from COVID-19.

Griffin is concerned that he will “see a second surge during the summer,” which planners are keeping in the “backs of their mind” as they add more patients to the surgery schedule.

Additionally, the medical community has spoken broadly about the combination in the fall or winter of a second wave of coronavirus at the same time as rising infections from the flu.

As the hospital prepares for more surgery patients, they will continue with procedures that protect patients and hospital staff, which includes wearing masks and more rigorous and frequent hand washing.

“Patients need to understand that if they come to Stony Brook Medicine, they are coming to a safe environment,” Griffin said. Griffin suggested that “coming to the hospital is still safer than going to the supermarket.”

Update: This article has been updated to indicate that the number of OB transfers over the last three to four weeks has been a total of 80 to 100, rather than 100 per week over that same time period. It also indicates that Stony Brook is considering whether the hospital can test visitors and how that would be done and that it is getting ready to transition to Pandemic Level C.

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Barry Chandler delivers food to the Suffolk County Police Headquarters. Photo from Nissequogue Golf Club

It was a hole in one for Stony Brook University Hospital workers April 5 when the Nissequogue Golf Club donated 600 meals to the facility. The club followed up that act of kindness with a donation of 120 meals to the Suffolk County Police Headquarters in Yaphank April 16.

Nissequogue Golf Club staff members deliver food to SBU hospital. Photo from Nissequogue Golf Club

According to the club’s general manager, Barry Chandler, the hot, homemade meals included meatballs and rigatoni. The club also donated 25 cases of bottled water to the hospital.

Chandler approached the club’s president Art Seeberger with the idea of donating to the hospital and Seeberger then asked the club’s board for approval. The club’s president then made the initial contribution of $500, and Chandler matched it.

The planning process began with Chandler contacting the hospital to ensure all the details were covered before the delivery. The 1,600 meatballs, 200 pounds of rigatoni and 110 gallons of sauce which made up the first meals for hospital workers were prepared by the club’s chef Joseph Badalato and his kitchen crew. Chandler said meatballs were an easy choice for the meals.

“Our chef is Italian, and we love his meatballs,” he said. “So he gets the whole gang together in the kitchen, anyone who can help, and we start rolling meatballs based on his specifications.”

When it came to the delivery to Stony Brook University Hospital, club member Ann Shybunko-Moore lent her truck to transport the meals, and Seeberger, Chandler, Badalato and sous chef Vince Minelli made the delivery. Chandler said SBU had someone greet them at the door with carts and hospital employees brought the food in so the volunteers didn’t have to step inside the hospital.

According to the golf club manager, other hospitals and first responders were reaching out to its offices to see if they too may have their first responders fed by Nissequogue Golf Club. A wife of one of the workers at Suffolk County Police Headquarters heard about the golf club’s good dead and asked if food could be delivered to the Yaphank facility. Chandler said the club received a card after the delivery signed by more than 50 of the employees at headquarters.

The golf club staff is currently discussing the next group to feed, which most likely will be health care workers at another hospital.

Pictured, Nissequogue Golf Club staff members deliver food to SBU hospital, top and bottom left; bottom right Barry Chandler delivers food to the Suffolk County Police Headquarters.