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Stony Brook University Hospital

Stony Brook University Hospital

The Stony Brook Heart Institute at Stony Brook University Hospital is expanding its advanced treatment options for those with high blood pressure. The Heart Institute is among the first in the nation to perform ultrasound renal denervation — a groundbreaking, minimally invasive technique to treat high blood pressure for those with resistant hypertension. Resistant hypertension is a form of elevated blood pressure that does not respond to lifestyle changes or medication.

“Our first renal denervation patient had been treated for high blood pressure for many years and was looking to reduce the number of medications as well as the side effects,” says John Reilly, MD, interventional cardiologist at Stony Brook Medicine, Chief of Cardiology at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and was the principal investigator at Stony Brook Medicine for the technology used in the procedure. Dr. Reilly performed the first case at Stony Brook University Hospital. “The procedure, lasting about 75 minutes, went smoothly and I’m happy to report that the patient went home the very same day.”

The new technology that was used in the procedure is specifically designed to rein in the blood pressure of those with resistant hypertension. Called the Paradise® Ultrasound Renal Denervation (RDN) system and approved by the FDA on November 7, involves applying ultrasound energy in the renal artery to ablate the nerves that run just outside the artery. This ablation interrupts the nerves communicating between the kidneys and central nervous system, which brings the blood pressure under better control. Stony Brook University Hospital is the first on Long Island to use this specific technology and was one of only a select number of centers nationwide to have participated in the RADIANCE CAP trial that demonstrated the safety and effectiveness prior to FDA approval.

“Durable and effective therapy for hypertension that may reduce the need for life-long treatment with medications is a milestone in the treatment of this disease,” says Robert Pyo, MD, Director, Interventional Cardiology and Medical Director, Structural Heart Program at Stony Brook Medicine and Associate Professor, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “In the hands of our expert Heart Institute team — everyone from our cardiac researchers, imagers and interventional cardiologists — we are continuously seeking the most innovative solutions for our patients.”

Over 122 million Americans have high blood pressure (HBP), which is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and stroke. Reducing blood pressure by 10mmHg can reduce the risk of stroke by 27%. Three quarters of Americans with HBP do not have their condition under control, and twenty percent of those Americans whose blood pressure is uncontrolled do not respond to lifestyle modification or medications, and up until now had no other treatment options.

“Pioneering research allows Stony Brook University Hospital the ability to offer patients additional options when their current treatments are not working,” said Hal Skopicki, MD, PhD, Co-Director, Stony Brook Heart Institute and Chief, Cardiology at Stony Brook Medicine and Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Chair, Cardiology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “It is an exciting and transformative time both for cardiovascular patients and the medical community.”

“Our ever-growing program continues to raise the bar for cardiovascular care on Long Island, allowing us to provide our community with a full array of options to diagnose and treat the most complex of cardiovascular conditions. Renal denervation is a unique opportunity to treat patients with hypertension and represents an entirely different treatment form for hypertension that is resistant to medical treatment. I couldn’t be prouder of our team that remains focused on delivering the best-in-outcomes for our patients,” says Apostolos Tassiopoulos, MD, Chair, Department of Surgery; Chief, Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Stony Brook Medicine and Professor of Surgery, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.

To learn more about the Renal denervation (RDN) procedure and the team at the Stony Brook Heart Institute, visit heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu

About Stony Brook Heart Institute:

Stony Brook Heart Institute is located within Stony Brook University Hospital as part of Long Island’s premier university-based medical center. The Heart Institute offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The staff includes full-time and community-based, board-certified cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as specially trained anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, surgical technologists, perfusionists, and other support staff. Their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. And while the Heart Institute clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and blood vessels through basic biomedical studies and clinical research. To learn more, visit www.heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

Photo courtesy of SBU Hospital

For the second year in a row, Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) has achieved the highest level of national recognition as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals from Healthgrades, a leading resource that evaluates approximately 4,500 hospitals nationwide. This achievement places SBUH among the top 1% of hospitals nationwide reflecting its commitment to exceptional patient care. SBUH is the only hospital on Long Island to be ranked among the 50 Best Hospitals. As part of this ranking, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital also shares in this recognition.

“Stony Brook’s steady increase in rankings — from the top 250 since 2015, to the top 100 since 2019, and now the top 50 for two years in a row is a reflection of our steadfast commitment to bring the best in care to our patients,” says William A. Wertheim, MD, MBA, Interim Executive Vice President, Stony Brook Medicine.

“The exceptional care found at Stony Brook is only possible when a hospital commits to the highest standards of quality and continuous improvement throughout the organization,” says Carol A. Gomes, MS, FACHE, CPHQ, Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Hospital. “I am grateful to our physicians, nurses and all our healthcare professionals for their dedication to excellence.”

To determine the top hospitals for 2024, Healthgrades evaluated risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates for more than 30 conditions and procedures at approximately 4,500 hospitals nationwide. The 2024 Healthgrades analysis revealed significant variation in hospital performance, making it increasingly important to seek care at top-rated programs. From 2020-2022, if all hospitals, as a group, performed similarly to America’s 50 Best Hospitals, 176,124 lives could potentially have been saved.

“Healthgrades commends Stony Brook University Hospital for their leadership and continued dedication to high quality care,” says Brad Bowman, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Data Science at Healthgrades. “As one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals, Stony Brook University Hospital is elevating the standard for quality care nationwide and ensuring superior outcomes for the patients in their community.”

Stony Brook University Hospital has also been recognized with national Healthgrades Excellence Awards, five-star (the highest level) national ratings and New York State top five rankings for several specialties.

  • Cardiac Care Excellence Award™ (2015-24) and Five-Star Distinction for Heart Attack (2022-24) and Heart Failure (2014-24)
  • Neurosciences Excellence Award™ (2016-24) and Ranked #2 in New York State for Neurosciences (2024)
  • Cranial Neurosurgery Excellence Award™ (2020-24) and Five-Star Distinction (2020-24) for Cranial Neurosurgery (2020-24)
  • Stroke Care Excellence Award™ (2016-24), Five-Star Distinction for Treatment of Stroke (2015-24) and Ranked #2 in New York State for Stroke Care (2024)
  • Gastrointestinal Care Excellence Award™ (2024), Five-Star Distinction for Treatment of GI Bleed (2024) and Ranked #4 in New York State for Gastrointestinal Medical (2024)
  • Critical Care Five-Star Distinctions for treatment of sepsis (2015-24), pulmonary embolism (2024) and Respiratory Failure (2021-24)

To learn more about how Healthgrades measures hospital quality and access a patient-friendly overview of how Stony Brook rates, visit Healthgrades.com.

 

By Daniel Dunaief

For the first time since May 2023, Brookhaven National Laboratory required masks on site at its facility starting on Jan. 8, as the rate of hospital admissions for the virus that caused the pandemic climbed.

Following the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, BNL, which is a Department of Energy-sponsored site, reinstituted the mask policy once Covid admissions climbed above 20 per 100,000 people in the county, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The CDC level rose to 24.8 on the evening of Jan. 5 and the lab re-implemented its mask requirement on the following Monday. Area doctors said they’ve seen an increase in illnesses tied to Covid, particularly after people traveled during the December holidays.

“We’ve seen a lot more Covid,” said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Nachman said people who are talking to friends and neighbors are hearing regularly about those who are sick with Covid.

Stony Brook University Hospital is not requiring masking at all times. The hospital is recommending that people consider wearing masks. Medical staff entering patient rooms are wearing them.

People walking into the hospital will see “more people wearing masks” in general, she added. In addition to Covid, hospitals in the area are also seeing a “huge amount of flu,” Dr. Nachman said.

 

Alicia DelliPizzi and Daryl Costa welcomed their son Theo Everest Costa to the world on New Year’s Day at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Weighing eight pounds, twelve ounces, the new baby boy was born at 2:09 am, about two hours into the start of 2024. Theo was delivered by Kathleen Sharrott, CNM and Catherine Leonard, RN.

“This New Year surpasses all others because we’re stepping into it with you in our arms,” said the couple from Medford as they celebrated the arrival of their third child.

 

Left, Dr. Robert Schwaner, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine and chief of the Division of Toxicology at Stony Brook University Hospital. Right, Dr. Jennifer Goebel, emergency room doctor at Huntington Hospital. Left file photo from Stony Brook University; right from Northwell Health

With summer in full swing on Long Island, local doctors urge residents to stay hydrated and remain aware of the potential health effects from heat and sun, particularly for vulnerable age groups.

“We worry about our elderly population,” said Dr. Jennifer Goebel, emergency room doctor at Huntington Hospital. “They have a little less reserve and can become dehydrated very easily.”

Part of the challenge for the elderly population is that their efficiency in sweating isn’t as high as it was when they were younger, doctors added.

People with heart disease and/or diabetes can also be at risk as the heat index rises.

This summer has reached numerous temperature records around the country and the world. On Monday, a buoy in the Florida Keys measured a temperature of 101.1 degrees, breaking the previous world record for sea surface temperature set in Kuwait Bay in the Persian Gulf. 

Locally, in anticipation of a heat advisory for this Thursday, July 27, the Town of Huntington has opened several cooling centers, including at the Dix Hills Ice Rink and the Dix Hills Park Swimming Pool, as well as at the Elwood and Manor Field Spray Parks.

Amid high temperatures, doctors suggested residents make sure they drink enough water, particularly when active outdoors.

“Water is not light, but you should have enough access to as much water as you need,” said Dr. Robert Schwaner, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine and chief of the Division of Toxicology at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Before he attended medical school, Schwaner worked for a few years seal coating driveways. The heat helped the driveways but not the people working on them. Schwaner said he could go through several gallons of water each day.

Signs of heat exhaustion

People can display a variety of symptoms of heat exhaustion.

For starters, they can get headaches and nausea. That, Schwaner said, can be problematic, as both of those can also be signs of other problems.

“Those are the earliest things you start to feel,” Schwaner said. “If you don’t pay attention, it could be a slippery slope.”

People can also develop myalgia or pain in a muscle or group of muscles. Heat can also cause muscle cramping, aching and dizziness.

When body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, that person can also experience confusion or become unconscious.

“We advise any patient or bystander to call 911 for medical attention,” said Goebel.

Before medical help arrives, people can help by providing water or ice and removing equipment such as protective masks or chest protectors during sporting events.

“Small things can go a long way before medical attention” arrives, Goebel added.

People often develop problems with their thinking and central nervous systems when body temperatures climb in the heat.

When he was a fellow at Bellevue Hospital, Schwaner saw some fit athletes who were confused or aggressive come to the hospital. Sometimes, they couldn’t recognize friends and family members who brought them in for medical help.

Water wins

Doctors urged people to choose water when the temperature and heat index rise.

“People forget that water is always the best,” Goebel said. “We recommend that people stay away from coffee, tea and soda,” which can go through their systems rapidly.

Doctors particularly cautioned against consuming alcohol during extreme heat.

Adult beverages “already put people behind the eight-ball in terms of dehydration,” said Schwaner.

Weekend warriors

Adults who work all week sometimes race out on the weekends, hoping to recapture some of their previous athletic glory from their younger years.

These would-be athletic superstars, often described as “weekend warriors,” are more likely to suffer from torn hamstrings, rotator cuffs or anterior cruciate ligament damage than from heat-related injuries.

“Most weekend warriors can’t last long enough” running at top speed or racing around on a field to develop heat-related injuries, said Schwaner.

People can improve their heat resilience by doing aerobic exercise for 15 to 20 minutes twice or three times a week, Schwaner noted. “You can rev up the body’s ability to cool yourself,” he said.

By Melissa Arnold

Spending any amount of time in a hospital setting is bound to be taxing, not just physically but emotionally. Sometimes, a little reminder that you’re being thought of and supported can make all the difference. 

Since 2008, the Stony Brook Stitchers have volunteered their time and skill to knit, crochet and sew gifts for patients that could use a pick-me-up.

Melissa Shampine

In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), families might receive a cute knit cap for their little one. In difficult situations where a baby passes away, a special wrap for the baby can be used to take treasured photos, and parents are given a memory pouch to hold mementos like a lock of hair. Patients in other departments, such as the cancer center or pediatric hospital, might curl up with an afghan, lap blanket or prayer shawl during their stay. Residents at the nearby Long Island State Veterans Home receive donations as well.

The project is a grassroots effort that began with hospital staff who wanted to brighten patients’ days.

Stitchers co-director Melissa Shampine grew up attending a small parochial school in Manhattan, where the boys were taught chess and the girls learned to crochet. 

“Even though it was mandatory, I found that I actually liked it, and eventually learned to knit as well,” she recalled. “I really enjoyed being creative in that way.”

Shampine now works as a teaching hospital staff assistant at Stony Brook University Hospital. One of her former coworkers, Shakeera Thomas, was also a knitter, and together they began to brainstorm ways they could use their talents to benefit patients.

The idea spread through word of mouth, first among hospital staff, then across the street to the university. Nurse directors and health care providers identified patients who might want a gift. Students and employees from both campuses began donating yarn and got to work. Their numbers grew, and over time, even the surrounding communities got involved.

Jan Tassie

While the project is united under the Stitchers title, there are no official members or meetings. Some people work together at their churches, libraries or other small group settings, but countless others simply knit at home when they have the time. 

In 2015, Jan Tassie responded to an email from Shakeera Thomas, inviting hospital employees to learn to crochet. 

“I always wanted to learn to crochet, and someone tried to teach me years ago when I was pregnant with my first son, but it didn’t work out,” said Tassie, who recently retired from the university’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services. “When I met Shakeera, she promised that when she was done with me, I’d be able to crochet. And at the end of one day, I could.”

Thomas relocated shortly thereafter, and Tassie stepped into the role as co-director for the Stitchers.

“In the hospital and university settings, you always have people who come and go, so the numbers wax and wane. But Jan is motivated — she is the kind of person who will chat up people in the yarn aisle at craft stores, or through networking, so there are always hands to help. Our website is a labor of love for her, too. She’s done so much,” Shampine said.

The Stitchers come from all walks of life and skill levels. Some have been knitting for decades, while others learned recently with the intent of supporting the project.

Among them is Jack Domaleski, a 24-year-old from New Suffolk who took up knitting during the pandemic quarantine.

Jack Domaleski with two knitted baby hats.

“During COVID, I taught myself to knit by watching videos on YouTube because I was bored and looking for something to do. It was easy to learn,” said Domaleski, who works in the restaurant industry. “My mom did it when I was younger, and it’s nice to end up with a finished product that you can share with others. I thought that it would be nice to donate to the hospital in some way, and when I wrote to them, they told me about the Stitchers.”

He was also inspired to knit by his own story. Domaleski was born several months premature, and spent nearly 90 days at Stony Brook’s NICU before he was strong enough to go home.

Today, he knits baby hats while thinking of other families going through similar circumstances.

“It helps me to feel connected to my own story, and anything you take the time to make is especially meaningful for the people that receive it,” he said. 

For information about volunteering or donating yarn or handmade items to the Stony Brook Stitchers, visit www.stonybrookstitchers.com or send an email to Jan Tassie at [email protected].

Canadian wildfire smoke reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the ground over Long Island. Photo by Terry Ballard from Wikimedia Commons

Brian Colle saw it coming, but the word didn’t get out quickly enough to capture the extent of the incoming smoke.

Dr. Jeffrey Wheeler, director of the emergency room at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. File photo from St. Charles Hospital

The smoke from raging wildfires in Quebec, Canada, last week looked like a “blob out of a movie” coming down from the north, said Colle, head of the atmospheric sciences division at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. As the morning progressed, Colle estimated the chance of the smoke arriving in New York and Long Island was “80 to 90 percent.”

Colle, among other scientists, saw the event unfolding and was disappointed at the speed with which the public learned information about the smoke, which contained particulate matter that could affect human health.

“There’s a false expectation in my personal view that social media is the savior in all this,” Colle said. The Stony Brook scientist urged developing a faster and more effective mechanism to create a more aggressive communication channel for air quality threats.

Scientists and doctors suggested smoke from wildfires, which could become more commonplace amid a warming climate, could create physical and mental health problems.

Physical risks

People in “some of the extremes of ages” are at risk when smoke filled with particulates enters an area, said Dr. Jeffrey Wheeler, director of the emergency room at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. People with cardiac conditions or chronic or advanced lung disease are “very much at risk.”

Dr. Robert Schwaner, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine and chief of the Division of Toxicology at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Stony Brook University

Dr. Robert Schwaner, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine and chief of the Division of Toxicology at Stony Brook University Hospital, believed the health effects of wildfire smoke could “trickle down for about a week” after the smoke was so thick that it reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the ground.

Amid smoky conditions, people who take medicine for their heart or lungs need to be “very adherent to their medication regimen,” Schwaner said.

Physical symptoms that can crop up after such an event could include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or breathing difficulties, particularly for people who struggle with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

When patients come to Schwaner with these breathing problems, he asks them if what they are experiencing is “typical of previous exacerbations.” He follows up with questions about what has helped them in the past.

Schwaner is concerned about patients who have had lung damage from COVID-related illness.

The level of vulnerability of those patients, particularly amid future wildfires or air quality events, will “play out over the next couple of years,” he said. Should those who had lung damage from COVID develop symptoms, that population might “need to stay in contact with their physicians.”

It’s unclear whether vulnerabilities from COVID could cause problems for a few years or longer, doctors suggested, although it was worth monitoring to protect the population’s health amid threats from wildfire smoke.

Local doctors were also concerned about symptoms related to eye irritations.

Schwaner doesn’t believe HEPA filters or other air cleansing measures are necessary for the entire population.

People with chronic respiratory illness, however, would benefit from removing particulates from the air, he added.

Wildfire particulates

Dr. Mahdieh Danesh Yazdi, an air pollution expert and environmental epidemiologist from Stony Brook University’s Program in Public Health. Photo from Stony Brook University

Area physicians suggested the particulates from wildfires could be even more problematic than those generated from industrial sources.

Burning biomass releases a range of toxic species into the air, said Dr. Mahdieh Danesh Yazdi, an air pollution expert and environmental epidemiologist from Stony Brook University’s Program in Public Health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done a “fairly decent job” of regulating industrial pollution over the last few decades “whereas wildfires have been increasing” amid drier conditions, Yazdi added.

In her research, Yazdi studies the specific particulate matter and gaseous pollutants that constitute air pollution, looking at the rates of cardiovascular and respiratory disease in response to these pollutants.

Mental health effects

Local health care providers recognized that a sudden and lasting orange glow, which blocked the sun and brought an acrid and unpleasant smell of fire, can lead to anxiety, which patients likely dealt with in interactions with therapists.

As for activity in the hospital, Dr. Poonam Gill, director of the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at Stony Brook Hospital, said smoke from the wildfires did not cause any change or increase in the inpatient psychiatric patient population.

In addition to the eerie scene, which some suggested appeared apocalyptic, people contended with canceled outdoor events and, for some, the return of masks they thought they had jettisoned at the end of the pandemic.

“We had masks leftover” from the pandemic, and “we made the decision” to use them for an event for his son, said Schwaner.

When Schwaner contracted the delta variant of COVID-19, he was coughing for three to four months, which encouraged him to err on the side of caution with potential exposure to smoke and the suspended particulates that could irritate his lungs.

Stony Brook University Hospital

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) has achieved the highest level of national recognition as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for 2023, according to new research released by Healthgrades. This places SBUH in the top one percent of hospitals in the country.

SBUH has steadily increased its rankings — from the top 250 since 2015, to the top 100 since 2019, and now the top 50 — a reflection of its commitment to bring the best in care to its patients.

“I’m delighted with this significant accomplishment, which places us among the top one percent of hospitals in the country,” said Hal Paz, MD, MS, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, Stony Brook University, and Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Medicine. “It reflects the ongoing efforts of everyone across our hospital to continuously deliver outstanding clinical outcomes and an unwavering dedication to our patients.”

“The exceptional care found at Stony Brook University Hospital is only possible when a hospital commits to high standards of quality and continuous improvement throughout the organization,” said Carol A. Gomes, MS, FACHE, CPHQ, Chief Executive Officer for Stony Brook University Hospital. “I am grateful to our physicians, nurses and all staff for their tireless hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence.”  

“We’re proud to recognize Stony Brook University Hospital as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for 2023,” said Brad Bowman, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Data Science at Healthgrades. “As one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals, SBUH consistently delivers better-than-expected outcomes for the patients in their community and is setting a high national standard for clinical excellence.”

Healthgrades evaluated patient mortality and complication rates for 31 of the most common conditions and procedures at nearly 4,500 hospitals across the country to identify the top-performing hospitals. This year’s analysis revealed significant variation between America’s Best 50 Hospitals and hospitals that did not receive the distinction. In fact, if all hospitals performed similarly to America’s 50 Best, over 150,000 lives could have been saved*.

Cardiac Care: 

These newest national and state rankings come on the heels of Healthgrades naming SBUH as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery™, now for two years in a row (2022-2023). SBUH is one of only two hospitals in New York State to be named among America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care™ for nine years in a row (2015-2023). For more information, visit heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu/healthgrades

Stroke Care: 

SBUH is also proud to be the only hospital in New York State to be named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Stroke Care for eight years in a row (2016-2023). In addition, Healthgrades 2023 rankings named SBUH as the #2 ranked hospital in NY for both Neurosciences and Stroke Care for 2023 — and one of only two hospitals on Long Island* in the top five. See other Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute-related Healthgrades achievements at neuro.stonybrookmedicine.edu/strokehealthgrades2023.

Hysterectomy Procedures: 

Additionally, for 2022 SBUH received a 5-star rating for Hysterectomy procedures, Healthgrades found that there is a significant variation in hospital quality between those that have received 5 stars and those that have not. For example, patients having a Hysterectomy in hospitals with 5-stars have, on average, a 65.1% lower risk of experiencing a complication while in the hospital than if they were treated by hospitals with 1-star. For more women’s health-related Healthgrades achievements, visit womenshealth.stonybrookmedicine.edu/news/healthgrades

“Year after year, our hospital’s Heart Institute and Cerebrovascular and Comprehensive Stroke Center continue to shine, providing a level of care few hospitals anywhere can match,” said Dr. Paz. “And our five-star rating for Hysterectomy places us among our nation’s Hysterectomy leaders.“

*Statistics are based on Healthgrades analysis of MedPAR data for years 2019 through 2021 and represent three-year estimates for Medicare patients only.

*Long Island is defined as Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Stony Brook University Hospital

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) for pledging ongoing action to decarbonize the health care sector and make health care facilities more resilient to the effects of climate change. SBUH has formally committed to pursuing the White House’s climate goal of reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and has already begun:

“I’m delighted that Stony Brook University Hospital has signed on to the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge as we continue to be recognized locally and nationally as a leader in sustainability efforts,” said Hal Paz, MD, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, Stony Brook University and Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Medicine. “We remain focused on these initiatives and accelerating the health system’s progress toward a climate-conscious approach to care.”

“At Stony Brook University Hospital, we have made it our mission to support sustainable healthcare initiatives and reduce our carbon footprint,” says Carol Gomes, MS, FACHE, CPHQ, CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital. “We look forward to working with the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to make environmental changes that benefit not only our planet, but also our patients, employees and communities for years to come.”

A September 2021 consensus statement from more than 200 medical journals named climate change the number one threat to global public health. It exposes millions of people in the United States to harm every year—with disproportionate impacts on historically disadvantaged communities—through increases in extreme heat waves, wildfires, flooding, vector-borne diseases and other factors that worsen chronic health conditions. The healthcare sector also contributes to climate change, accounting for approximately 8.5 percent of U.S. domestic emissions.

The HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, developed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge to help focus industry response to climate challenges. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint, signatories also commit to producing detailed plans to prepare their facilities for both chronic and acute catastrophic climate impacts.

One hundred and two prominent health companies in the U.S. have signed the White House/HHS Health Sector Climate Pledge, including organizations representing 837 hospitals as well as leading health centers, suppliers, insurance companies, group purchasing organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Federal systems like the Indian Health Service (IHS), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and Military Health System (MHS) are working together to meet similar goals to those the private sector organizations have embraced. Combined, over 1,080 federal and private sector hospitals have made such commitments, representing over 15 percent of U.S. hospitals. 

“HHS returns this year to COP27 to report great progress,” said Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health for the Department of Health and Human Services. “Through the efforts of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity and several other HHS agencies, we have made significant strides in introducing resources and support to help communities and care providers accelerate their work to reduce harmful emissions and increase climate resilience in the health sector.”

This year, SBUH was also named among the Top 25 in the nation for Environmental Excellence, which is the highest honor awarded by Practice Greenhealth. The hospital was previously honored for Environmental Excellence in 2021 and presented with the Top 25 award in 2020.

For more information about how Stony Brook University Hospital is responding to our nation’s climate challenges, visit stonybrookmedicine.edu/sustainability.

Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

The American College of Cardiology has recognized Stony Brook University Hospital as the only hospital on Long Island to have achieved the prestigious Chest Pain Center with Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention & Resuscitation designation in 2022. The designation recognizes the high-level of staff expertise and exceptional integration of the Stony Brook Cardiology Program, Emergency Medical Services and Cardiovascular Surgery Program. The accreditation also recognizes Stony Brook Medicine’s commitment to treating patients with chest pain. Stony Brook University Hospital is the only facility on Long Island to have received this accreditation during back-to-back cycles.

“Our ACC designation affirms that Stony Brook provides the most advanced and timely evidence-based heart attack or cardiac arrest care to the patients in our community,” saysRobert T. Pyo, MD, Director, Interventional Cardiology; Medical Director, Structural Heart Program and Associate Professor, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “This can only be achieved through the exceptional skill of our cardiac and emergency services teams in offering the best quality emergency cardiac care available anywhere.”

The Chest Pain Center with Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention & Resuscitation designation means that Stony Brook University Hospital is optimally equipped, trained and staffed to care for patients during or after a heart attack or during a sudden cardiac arrest (when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating). Patients arriving at Stony Brook University Hospital’s ER with symptoms of a cardiac emergency are treated according to quality-of-care measures that are proven to achieve better patient outcomes.

Dr. William Lawson, Vice Chair, Department of Medicine, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, noted that “Using Stony Brook’s “Code H” protocol, the Stony Brook Heart Institute has reduced the amount of time between a heart attack patient coming into the hospital to the opening and clearing of the blocked arteries with a stent or balloon-tipped catheter (angioplasty) to an average of just 54 minutes. This is a spectacular achievement, being over thirty minutes sooner than the 90 minutes or less specified in American Heart Association guidelines.”

“If you’re having a heart attack, every second counts,” says Julie Mangum, RN, Stony Brook Heart Institute’s Chest Pain Coordinator. “The key is to get treated as quickly as possible so there is less chance of heart muscle damage. Few hospitals can offer the diagnostic testing and the complete array of on-site interventional options that are available at Stony Brook.” In addition, for patients suffering from a cardiac arrest, Stony Brook University Hospital provides a robust hypothermia program that lowers a patient’s body temperature allowing for the best possible chance of meaningful recovery.

Hospitals that have earned ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI and Resuscitation Accreditation have proven exceptional competency in treating patients with heart attack symptoms and have primary PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) available 24/7 every day of the year. In addition, Stony Brook maintains a “No Diversion Policy” for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients which means that at no time are ambulances diverted away from our emergency department.

“By earning this distinguished chest pain center accreditation at Stony Brook, we’re again demonstrating to Long Island that we provide the highest level of cardiac care, even in the most complex cases,” noted Hal Skopicki, MD, PhD, Co-Director, Stony Brook Heart Institute and the Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Chair of Cardiology at Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. “When having a heart attack, It is crucial to immediately seek care from the closest and most skilled facility available. For our community, I’m proud to say, that’s Stony Brook University Hospital.”

For more information about what it means for Stony Brook Heart Institute to be the region’s only accredited Chest Pain Center, visit this link.

About Stony Brook University Heart Institute:

Stony Brook University Heart Institute is located within Stony Brook University Hospital as part of Long Island’s premier university-based medical center. The Heart Institute offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The staff includes full-time and community-based, board-certified cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as specially trained anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, surgical technologists, perfusionists, and other support staff. Their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. And while the Heart Institute’s clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and blood vessels through basic biomedical studies and clinical research. To learn more, visit www.heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

About the American College of Cardiology:

The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its 54,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC bestows credentials upon cardiovascular professionals who meet stringent qualifications and leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC Journals, operates national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. For more, visit acc.org.