I oversee operations for behavioral health at Stony Brook, Eastern LI, and Southampton Hospital, as well as our ambulatory sites. I help to operationalize new initiatives and maintain regulatory compliance, as well as come up with new ways to deliver services and improve access throughout the system. And when COVID hit, that meant telemedicine. It’s actually something I’d been working on for a while, but it went into warp speed with the pandemic. Telemedicine has always been important in order to help improve access to healthcare. COVID really highlighted the inequities in healthcare, but telemedicine is helping us to bridge some of those gaps. Part of our telemedicine efforts included giving tablets to our COVID units so providers could do virtual consults with patients who were positive for the Coronavirus. iPads were also given to patients so they could talk to their families outside of the hospital. We have also worked collaboratively between our hospitals to help bring services to where the patients are, but the services may not be. Most recently we began doing psychiatric evaluations on patients at Southampton Hospital from our providers at Stony Brook University Hospital in an effort to save the patients from having to take an ambulance trip from out East all the way to Stony Brook. This is helped us to provide even better care and a better patient experience to all of our patients, regardless of where they are located.
I still continue to do this work, but I now also spend a lot of time leading vaccine PODs here. This is the first time in a year that I’ve felt like I’m part of the solution. Up until this point, I’ve felt like I have been helping others to work, live and just simply function in a pandemic. But now, I feel like I’m helping us to get to the other side of this. It finally feels good.
Susan Wilner, LCSW
Assistant Director, Behavioral Health Services Operations
Prior to COVID, I was an assistant director of nursing for adult inpatient Psychiatry. I did daily management of our adult inpatient Psychiatry unit and oversaw our nursing staff. Fast forward to the pandemic, where a lot of our patients were staying home and our unit census was as low as I’d ever seen. We needed to shift focus. We rounded in other units, which was very different for many. We were used to taking care of our own patients, and suddenly we were setting out to help our colleagues. As we continued rounds, we began to see a need and felt the pulse of the hospital - we saw a lot of sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety. We know the effects of trauma on a person’s mental health, and this was traumatic. We wanted to do more. We organized a fundraiser to make wellness baskets for every unit with calming activities, essential oils, teas, and snacks. We were then able to open an Employee Respite Area on 12 North, staffed 24-7 by our Psychiatric nurses who provided support, a calming environment, mindfulness activities, aromatherapy, meditation, a place to rest, snacks and beverages. We had over 19,000 visits to the area between April and July 2020.
I’ve since taken a position at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital to oversee inpatient and outpatient Behavioral Health services, but I can’t stress enough how important it still is to be careful. Wear a mask. Don’t gather in large groups. It’s just too soon. We really need to stay vigilant.
Jessica Marangio, MSN, RN, PMH-BC
VP Behavioral Health Services
Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital
It’s been obstacle after obstacle but at the same time it’s been really empowering to see peoples’ resilience and how we’ve been able to adapt to all types of situations throughout the year. We’ve all adapted to this new norm of being overwhelmed. We are stretched so thin. We’ve all been pulled from our normal roles, which some days is harder than others, but we’re doing the best we can. Sometimes you’re juggling three roles at the same time, but it’s comforting to know that you’re helping and it’s for the greater good. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do anything I can to help move forward and get past this together.
Clinical Pharmacist, Pediatrics
Everybody is tired. A lot of people thought we would have already cured COVID so we can all move on. But it’s not over. Our heroes - the essential workers who continue to sustain this momentum of work - are still working hard every day. Our rapid response team, in particular, is trained for this sort of thing. But even we needed to get creative. We are rescuing patients who get into trouble across all service lines throughout the hospital every day, as well as now caring for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. In fact, our team is integral when it comes to intubating patients in COVID units. We even developed a plan when the pandemic first hit to work with respiratory therapists and anesthesiologists to safely intubate COVID-positive patients while limiting exposure to patients and staff.
I never thought I would see anything remotely related to a pandemic in my lifetime. But here we are. And the spread is more rapid now than ever before because people weren’t going anywhere during the quarantine. That’s not really the case anymore. But we are still here - taking care of our families and yours. We are not giving up. This has been traumatic for a lot of healthcare workers, especially those who had never worked, nor planned to work, in a critical care setting. But we’re doing what we need to do.
Barbara Mills, DNP, ACNPC, ANPC, PNP, CCRN, PCCN
Senior Nurse Practitioner
Clinical Assistant Professor School of Medicine
Director Rapid Response Team/Code Resuscitation
Director of Nurse Practitioners
Our unit specializes in renal care, so we see patients before and after procedures; we prep them for surgeries; we take them for dialysis, endoscopies; and so on. Every now and then we have a rapid response situation, but that doesn’t happen very often. Well, it didn’t. But everything changed when the pandemic hit. I’d say the biggest change in our unit is how we approach patient care. We needed to limit exposure for ourselves and our patients, so instead of a bunch of people in and out of rooms multiple times throughout a given day, we would - and still do - cluster our care. I gear up from head to toe. I wear a gown, gloves, a mask, face shield, and a hair covering. Then, I enter a patient’s room and begin. Bathing, feeding, cleaning, taking vitals. Oftentimes, we spent two hours straight with one patient, which can be a lot when you have four, five, or more patients to care for. Even the vibe has changed on our floor. Patients used to be able to leave their rooms, walk around, and see their families. None of those things are happening right now.
When the pandemic first hit, everybody seemed to be in the hospital for COVID. It was Coronavirus all day, every day. Now, people are once again coming in for other medical reasons, as well, and some just happen to be COVID-positive. So in some ways, it’s even more complicated because care and treatments aren’t as streamlined. There is so much more going on, and to be honest, it’s exhausting. It’s so easy to burn out, and it’s not uncommon for people to put their mental health on the back burner. But it’s important to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. What I will also say is that even though it’s still so scary, we know a lot more this time around. We now have knowledge and tools to tackle this second wave, and that makes me hopeful.
16N, Med/Surg Telemetry Unit
One day, in the height of the first wave of the pandemic, I prayed to God in the hospital parking lot. I asked him to come to us and to help us. I then proceeded to walk into work and turned to my patients and colleagues and said, “Today, we are celebrating life! We need to be happy for today!”
My job is to help patients with whatever they need. Taking their vitals, drawing blood. But everything changed when COVID hit. Patient needs changed. And the way I connected with patients changed. We always do everything we can to brighten their days and provide them with love, hope, and the best medical care possible. But there is just something about this pandemic that opened our eyes and made us look differently at the way we provide care. And for me, personally, it made me realize just how important it is for everybody to remain in good spirits, especially when it’s really hard to do so.
I don’t think we should fear this virus. But we do need to respect it. We need to accept that this is our reality right now and adapt. We need to do what we can to protect ourselves and others.
As a Palliative Care physician, I care for patients with serious illnesses and those nearing end-of-life. The job of the Palliative Care Team is to support patients and their families and bring them together during a very difficult time. COVID has made this rather difficult, so we had to adapt and get creative. We’ve had to figure out a way to enable families to grieve and be with their loved ones. We have utilized technology like iPads and video chatting, which was challenging and didn’t feel natural at first, but we have adapted. And this wasn’t the only challenge we faced. We’ve had a tremendous increase in the number of patients we were supporting, and our consult volume across the hospital went up about 40 percent. We are working to our max, while at the same time sacrificing the time spent with our own families.
We’ve made a lot of headway in terms of how to deal with this pandemic, however, we are still in it. We are still seeing a rise in cases. I urge people to not underestimate or minimize the reality of what’s happening here. We are continuing to work as hard as we have been since the pandemic first hit. It’s real. It’s here. And we can address this together if we all continue to wear our masks, maintain social distance, and avoid large gatherings. Respect your life. Respect others’ lives. It is going to take all of us to really get through this.
Director, Palliative Care Service, Stony Brook University Hospital
Program Director, Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship
Director, Hospice & Palliative Medicine Education and Clerkships
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
COVID has changed everyone’s lives. It’s impacted our day-to-day. And it’s still very busy here. We’re seeing the post-holiday spikes, and it’s a good reminder to everyone that the virus is still out there, and we still need to maintain vigilance and follow the protocols that have served us well since March.
It’s been a really humbling experience to be part of the vaccine rollout to healthcare workers, specifically. These are the people who have been on the frontlines and saving peoples’ lives. The logistics of rolling out the vaccine to hopefully help protect everyone is an extra challenge, but I think we have the right group of people doing it, and we’re pushing forward.
Pharmacist, administered the first vaccine at Stony Brook University Hospital
Prior to COVID, I was working as a pulmonary educator, talking to patients about pulmonary diseases and how to manage themselves. I don’t think people knew what a respiratory therapist was before the pandemic. It’s not a role you’d normally see in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, and it’s not something you would really even think about unless you or someone you know needed to be put on a ventilator. But then COVID hit, and everything changed. I became exclusively focused on managing pulmonary medications and taking care of ventilators – life support machines. When this all started, we were navigating uncharted territory, forced to treat an unknown and figure out the best management strategies to keep patients alive.
Everything was so chaotic. Whenever a patient comes off a ventilator, we play chimes. But I’d be lying if I said I remember the first time I heard the chimes. Time feels compressed when you are exhausted because of the daily rigorous care you are providing to the most affected patients of the pandemic. The virus is a vulture waiting to latch onto people who are most at risk. However, I am hopeful. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that speaks to the hard work everybody is doing to make that possible.
Every day when I leave the hospital and drive home, I look up at the bright blue sky, and I cry thinking about what I just left behind. I hate leaving work because help is always needed. My job is to transport patients throughout the hospital. This didn’t change when COVID hit, but my life certainly did. The number of patients we move on a given day has grown tremendously, and we now need to put on proper PPE before we can even be with a patient. But the biggest change of all is not being able to interact with patients the way we used to. Moving with patients from point a to point b allowed us to talk to them. This is our way of getting to know them and providing comfort. But patients with COVID have a hard time breathing and are often hooked up to oxygen, so they can’t really talk. That doesn’t stop us from doing what we do, but it’s different. I still talk to patients and have them nod or give a thumbs up. I will always do anything I can to provide comfort. I even visit patients during my breaks on occasion because it can be lonely for them, and sometimes you just need somebody to talk to.
The pandemic has really made clear we are all a team at the hospital. We in transport help the nurses as much as we can - especially right now. But it’s not easy. I am exhausted. According to my watch, I walk about eight miles per day within hospital walls. But I have to say, I have never been more proud to have a job than this one at Stony Brook.
I received a call from Dr. McGovern in early March outlining the need for a community-facing on-site COVID-19 testing location at Stony Brook University’s South P-lot, and I was asked to help oversee clinical operations. Prior to the pandemic, my job as medical director of our Clinically Integrated Network was (and still is) to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care anywhere they go within the health system. I also oversee Stony Brook Medicine’s diabetes program. But when I got that call about the testing site, every appointment on my calendar needed to be pushed to focus on this high-priority initiative. And the testing site wasn’t the only priority. We quickly realized the profound impact that COVID-19 has on hospitalized patients with diabetes. I found myself at the testing location in the mornings and at the hospital in the afternoons, rounding with our diabetes team on critically-ill COVID-19 patients with diabetes in the ICU. And then meetings, of course, were done at night.
While things seemed to be looking up for a while over the summer months, we are now in the midst of a second and more challenging wave. Many are exhausted. But healthcare workers cannot give in to COVID fatigue; we must persevere. We are continuing to fight this virus to help our patients and our team get through these challenging months ahead. All we ask is for people in the community to continue to be diligent about safety measures and help to prevent the spread. I am inspired by my colleagues in healthcare who have given tirelessly to help patients and support one another through these unprecedented challenges and remain #StonyBrookStrong.
Assistant Dean for Clinical Integration
Medical Director of Diabetes Care
I am part of a vital operation at Stony Brook. My job is to deliver linens throughout the hospital every day, regardless of the circumstances. Whether it’s a towel, blanket, or gown, you need to have clean linens in a hospital setting. We even provide hypoallergenic linens for those who need them. Nothing but the best for our patients. It all comes back to providing comfort and the best possible care. And that continues to be the case, even throughout the pandemic. A lot changed, though, behind the scenes when COVID hit. More patients means we are a lot busier. And we take so many precautions now to keep ourselves and others safe. The first few months of the pandemic were particularly scary for me. I worried about bringing something home to my family. We slept apart because I was afraid I might infect them. It was mentally exhausting - and still is, sometimes.
Everybody who works in this hospital is working extremely hard. We are battling every day. I’m proud to work at Stony Brook, and I’m proud to be in my department. We are all pushing forward together.
My life has changed dramatically since COVID first hit. Obviously social distancing, isolation, spending holidays exclusively with my nuclear family, things like that. But in terms of what I do here at the Hospital, I am largely involved with obtaining the PPE and supplies that are critical for taking care of our patients and keeping our staff safe.
I never expected to be working in the midst of a pandemic. It’s a tremendous challenge because the demand for supplies and resources is throughout the country now – not just Long Island and the New York area. But I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re not there yet. We still have a long way to go. We’re in the midst of a second wave, but we can get there. We just have to stay the course. And to anybody who thinks this is no longer a problem, I would say: I wish I could walk you through some of the floors in the hospital, and you can tell me it’s not a problem.
Michael DeMasi, RN, MS
Director of Clinical Value Analysis, Stony Brook University Hospital
I typically care for critically-ill patients from infants to adolescent children. We have a huge breadth of acuity in our unit. But when the pandemic hit, we were faced with doing something we typically didn’t do in our day-to-day. We pitched in to help care for adult patients. This actually turned out to be a very eye-opening experience. We had adult patients introduce us to their kids on FaceTime, and many of us being parents ourselves, it just hit us. It could just as easily be any one of us in that hospital bed. You don’t feel that as much when caring for patients so much younger than you. It really helped us to empathize on a whole new level. We also had a spike in our younger patients coming in with post-COVID Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which was something else we had never seen before. It was just all uncharted territory, but we stepped up. We showed strength and resilience because we had to – for our patients. I think it’s helped us to become better doctors and better people. We were tested, and we proved to ourselves that we can reach higher limits than we ever thought possible.
Uchechi Oddiri, MD, FAAP
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine
Pediatric Intensivist, Stony Brook Children's Hospital
I’ll never forget my first experience with COVID-19. I went up to the CEO’s office, and Senior leadership was all there. They told me they needed us to renovate a floor ASAP. So, that’s exactly what we did. In just three days, we completely updated and transformed a floor to accommodate COVID-positive patients. I was so impressed with and proud of my team, and that pride only continued to grow as things escalated. We also secured and installed 95 negative pressure machines to filter the air in COVID-positive patient rooms, which was no small feat. It was just teamwork I had never seen before. Plant operation, housekeeping, project management, construction, architecture, nursing – everybody worked together amid this uncharted territory. And I had a whole new level of appreciation for every single team and department at Stony Brook. Everybody understood the risks and did what they needed to do. And they still are.
The pandemic just feels so surreal. It’s something you can’t make up. Even just being on a COVID floor in the hospital – it changes your life. I guess at the end of the day, all I have to say is a lot of special people work at Stony Brook.
Associate Director of Facilities and Support Services
I work at the Stony Brook Cancer Center and help get patients onto clinical trials for different treatments, radiation, surgery, and other interventions. I help get them into the studies and monitor them throughout their time in the trials, as well as during follow up. When COVID hit last spring, I was reassigned to a COVID-19 study that was meant to take donated plasma from those who recovered from the Coronavirus and infuse it in existing COVID-positive patients. The study has since ended, but I am definitely keeping busy back at the Cancer Center. COVID changed a lot for cancer patients. Not only do they have an extra layer of concern being immunocompromised, but they can’t have loved ones physically with them right now while they receive treatment. It’s an extremely difficult time for everybody.
While being called a hero is flattering, I don’t really consider myself to be one. Or at least I’m no different from my colleagues. Everybody has been impacted by COVID, and everybody has stepped up. In my book, everybody is a hero.
Oncology Research Nurse
COVID is a public enemy – but one we can’t physically see. It’s something that required us to step up and do things we’ve never done before. What that meant for my team was surface and airborne decontamination using a hydrogen peroxide vapor technology. Everything that involved patients and healthcare professionals was cleaned with this new technology. Patient rooms, nursing equipment, cell phones – you name it, we cleaned it. And I have to say, I don’t consider myself a hero. My staff are the heroes in all of this. They are the ones facing the pandemic every day, and I am just here to support THEM.
I honestly never thought I would experience something like this. But it’s taught me a lot. For example, don’t be selfish. Nobody is immune to this, and you never know when the virus is going to touch your life, if it hasn’t already. This is no joke. We need to stay alert. And if you have the opportunity, get vaccinated.
Historically, systems are set up that oppress and discriminate and make typical daily functions more difficult for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Psychiatry and psychology also have a long history of mislabeling sexual and gender identity as “disorders,” further marginalizing and oppressing this community. This is why proper mental health and emotional support are key components in LGBTQ+ healthcare and overall well-being. I think a lot about this in my profession, particularly in the context of those who are doubly or triply marginalized. There are voices that don’t get heard as much as they should. Some never at all. That is why participating in the LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment Survey is important. What is it like for somebody who is part of both the black community and the LGBTQ+ community? Well, the survey will allow these stories to be told. We will be able to more clearly see and better understand this intersectionality as well. The complex marginalization of being Black and a member of the LGBTQ+ community has led to people being overlooked far too often as this group seeks the acceptance and validation they deserve. I also try to give people a platform in my own way, I run a transgender adolescent group, where we talk about gender and what young people are dealing when it comes to misgendering, dealing with discrimination in classrooms and hallways, and more. And I do this work as a heterosexual black male. I understand marginalization and power imbalance, and I use this to inform my allyship.
Wilfred Farquharson IV, Ph.D. (He/Him)
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic
“Healthcare is important for everybody, but unfortunately, some patient populations are marginalized. I want every patient to know that they are welcome in our office. We want you to feel safe and validated, and we want you to know that your privacy and choices are respected. That’s what I’m all about – the patient experience. More specifically, I am a board-certified ob/gyn and an attending gynecologist at Stony Brook. I do exams, work with patients who have STDs and STIs, etc. I also see a lot of patients who are taking hormones, whether that’s contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy for patients going through menopause or those who are transitioning. The patient journey is unique to every single person, and that should be respected and celebrated.
Participation in the LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment Survey is important for members of the LGBTQ+ community on Long Island. It will allow us to identify gaps in the healthcare system and help us to figure out how to fill said gaps. No patient should hesitate when it comes to seeking out healthcare services for fear of lack of respect in communication or privacy. So, awareness and participation in this survey is critical. Everybody deserves the best care possible.”
Polly Kanganis, MD, FACOG (She/Her)
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Smithtown Women’s Health, Stony Brook Medicine
Phone: (631) 265-4567
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I believe healthcare focused on LGBTQ+ needs is crucial. I had a recent experience that I faced where I had to be an advocate for myself and my healthcare needs at the doctor’s office. This doctor was unfamiliar with certain LGBTQ+ focused healthcare needs. As a healthcare provider, myself, I understand how valuable an open and honest conversation between provider and patient can be in establishing trust, as well as working together to make the best decisions for the patient. I have been fortunate to have had previous providers who have opened this discussion with me and provided me with valuable information, as well as resources, so that I could become aware and better educated. Together, my doctor and I could make the decisions that could promote my health in a comfortable, safe manner. This is why I believe participating in the LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment Survey is important. We need to bring awareness to our healthcare providers so that they can become informed and educated about LGBTQ+ healthcare needs. As healthcare providers, we undertake this responsibility to do what’s best and right for our patients. Although my profession is not specific to LGBTQ+ healthcare, the basic principles of communication and respect still hold true. My patients have special needs, and I feel that it’s my responsibility as their provider to be able to have these open, sometimes difficult, conversations with all assigned to their care so that we can give each patient the best care for them. Advocacy can take place in many different places and different forms, but even the smallest step can help bring awareness to providers of communities that may be underserved.”
Dr. Ted Uotani (He/Him)
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Special Needs Dental Fellow
Stony Brook Medicine
"Our role is to keep the hospital prepared and ready to respond to emergencies. Whether that means inclement weather, mass casualties, or even a pandemic, we take care of planning, training, reviewing and evaluating plans, and overall just being ready for when those things happen. I’ve been working on pandemic planning for many years now. It’s been on hospitals’ radars for quite some time. Resources, patient surges, infection control – we planned for it all. I am unbelievably proud of our staff for what they have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It was uncharted territory for many, and everybody just stepped up and did what needed to be done.
Our EMS agencies are first responders. They are heroes. They are oftentimes the difference between life and death. They are on the scene when people are in trouble, whether it’s a health emergency or a traumatic injury. They are highly trained and able to respond very quickly and effectively, and they get patients to the right place with the right care. Many times that’s Stony Brook University Hospital’s Level I Trauma Center. That’s actually where I first became familiar with Stony Brook’s EMS agencies. I used to be a transport nurse in the Emergency Department, and I worked side-by-side with our EMS transport office, both ground and air. These people are truly amazing. They are disciplined, they work as a team, and they have a level of expertise that is simply unmatched."
Connie Kraft, RN, MSN, MS, CEN, CNE
Department of Emergency Management
Stony Brook Medicine
"One of my focuses over the past 13 years has been to provide culturally-competent care to the LGBTQ+ community. Historically, this population has never really been able to truly access culturally-competent healthcare. They have always had barriers. I, however, am a provider who supports this community. I see myself as a partner in my patients’ healthcare. The fact of the matter is that we simply need more providers who listen to their patients and understand their concerns; providers who don’t judge their patients for who they are, how they express themselves, or how they identify. I think there are a lot of providers out there who want to help their patients in this community but just don’t have the knowledge and tools to do so. That’s why participating in the LGBTQ+ Health Needs Assessment Survey is important. It has the potential to give providers on Long Island an opportunity to better understand the healthcare needs of patients in the LGBTQ+ community.
I understand what patients in this community are looking for, and I am always open to continuing to learn and grow. Simply put, I listen to my patients. I don’t just assume. I set the tone for a safe and comfortable environment. I ask what their preferred names and pronouns are. I provide services such as PEP, PrEP, STI testing and gender affirming care. I meet my patients where they are and provide the best care possible so they may live long and happy lives."
Justin Waryold, DNP, NP-C, GS-C, FAANP (He/Him)
Partners in Primary Care
Phone: (631) 418-8069
“The care of children is extremely specialized. Children are not simply little adults. The ways they present illness can be very subtle and often overlooked by someone who doesn’t have a trained eye. Here at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, we are able to provide that specialized care. And we provide a calmer environment for our patients, as well. Kids don’t need to be in the midst of adult illness, which can sometimes be scary for them to see. The minute a child walks into our facility, I think they feel like it’s a safe place. It evokes a playful, trip-to-the-aquarium type of feeling. And it can settle a parent’s anxiety, as well.
I love working with kids, so going into pediatrics was an easy decision for me in medical school. And as I became more familiar with the world of pediatric emergency medicine, it became clear that’s where I wanted to be. I enjoy the fast-paced environment and being able to see immediate results from the work that I do. I feel anything but stagnant in this area of medicine. And it’s not just what I do, but it’s also where I’m doing it. The people in our pediatric ED are a team. I was an athlete growing up and always loved that team environment. And that’s what we have here at Stony Brook. Everybody steps up and puts their best foot forward so we can provide the best care possible.”
Caitlin Feeks, DO FAAP
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Attending Physician, Stony Brook Children's
"I played a lot of sports when I was younger: football, hockey, baseball, to name a few. I ended up injuring my knee and had to have surgery. And that’s when I knew...physical therapy was the profession for me. As physical therapists, it’s our job to help patients make a safe transition into their next level of care and help them to maintain an optimal, functional life. And we treat patients with all kinds of ailments. Whether it’s a physical injury or a medical/surgical condition, physical therapy often plays a role in the recovery process. It’s ageless, as well. It doesn’t matter if you are a neonate or centenarian; physical therapy can help if you need it.
I’ve been at Stony Brook for 29 years now, and I have to say, it’s a wonderful place to be. It’s a tremendous learning environment, and I am afforded the opportunity to work with the greatest people every day. The teamwork is foundational here, and it’s something we should all be proud of. A perfect example of that teamwork is this past year. In all my years here, I have never experienced anything quite like the pandemic. We were all scared because we didn’t know a lot about COVID. But we pushed that fear aside and did what we needed to do. We all worked to mitigate the spread and protect our patients, staff, and community. And I am so proud of my staff for stepping up the way they did. We even conducted a special program, in partnership with Rec Therapy, called, “Breathe, De-Stress, Exercise.” We went to COVID units throughout the hospital and tried to help staff get through this time with yoga, stretching, and by being there if they needed someone to talk to. Despite all of this, I don’t consider myself a Healthcare Hero. I took an oath to practice physical therapy and treat patients who are sick. It’s my responsibility, and I don’t take that lightly."
Joseph Giglio, MA, MS, DPT, CWS
Interim Supervisor of EEG
Associate Director of Inpatient Physical Therapy
Sherif R.Z. Abdel-Misih
"I wear several hats at Stony Brook, all of which help to make me both personally and professionally fulfilled here. My clinical focus is surgical, mostly concerning gastrointestinal and abdominal cancers. I also do surgical education, currently acting as program director for surgical resident training. As a surgeon, you can only help one patient at a time, but as an educator, you have the ability to impact countless patients through training our future surgeons. And lastly, I also sit on a number of committees that look at the big picture, reviewing institutional practices and such. To summarize, I try to leverage my interests and strengths here in hopes that I can make an impact in this community.
I embrace some of the most advanced cancer cases to not only challenge myself, but more importantly, to provide these patients with the best care possible. And that care is not limited to the technical aspects of surgery. In medicine, we have come to understand there are things that happen to patients related to a disease that are physiological, of course, but then there’s also the psychological impact, the recovery, and getting them through the many challenges they may face. I enjoy the interactions and relationships I develop with my patients. I believe it’s important to help them to manage the psychosocial factors of a disease, as well as the disease, itself. In other words, I like to figure it out and fight with them. And I do all of this in collaboration with an incredible, multidisciplinary team. Together, we remain innovative and dynamic in the ways in which we approach the diseases we face."
Sherif R.Z. Abdel-Misih, MD FACS
Associate Professor of Surgery
General Surgery Residency Program Director
Stony Brook Medicine Department of Surgery (Surgical Oncology)
Stony Brook University Hospital
"I was called to the profession of midwifery as it allows me to support and care for women. As a midwife, one of my responsibilities is caring for postpartum parents who choose to breastfeed, and Stony Brook University Hospital affords me the opportunity to provide evidence-based midwifery and lactation services to diverse populations.
As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding (when one is able to, of course). While it is normal for new parents to experience fear of the unknown surrounding breastfeeding, the Stony Brook Midwives are here to support new parents and babies with lactation services. With proper guidance and support, most women are able to successfully nurse. The benefits of breastfeeding for both parents and babies are endless. Optimal nutrition and reducing the risk of diseases and depression are just the tip of the iceberg.
Here at Stony Brook, lactation support is open to all patients and not just those who are cared for in the midwifery practice. Our appointments can serve a variety of needs ranging from the fundamentals of lactation and providing skilled support for parents in their breastfeeding journey to assisting parents in developing a pumping plan for their return to work. As part of providing lactation support to the Stony Brook community, I personally had the privilege of preparing and guiding my daughter and family through a successful, exclusively breast fed grandson who was born at Stony Brook this summer."
Joan Nastasi, CNM, IBCLC
Midwifery/Obstetrics & Gynecology
"I studied cognitive neuroscience in college. The subject matter was the right fit but it wasn’t hands-on enough for me. It wasn’t until I eventually discovered surgery, and more specifically, neurosurgery, that I found a field I was willing to dedicate my life to. Within neurosurgery, it’s spinal disease that really interests me the most. It’s extremely varied in terms of the cause and types of surgeries, and I thoroughly enjoy helping people with these problems.
Fast forward to now - I’m fellowship-trained in complex and minimally-invasive spine surgery. From trauma to degenerative disease and scoliosis - what I deal with runs the gamut. The specialized extra training I received in spine gave me a unique toolbox of surgical skills necessary to offer each patient the highest standard of care available. This includes minimally-invasive techniques that can lessen blood loss and recovery time, to help people get back to their everyday activities faster. I also have additional training in neurotrauma. Helping patients and their families get through devastating and unexpected injuries is something I’m passionately committed to.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that being a strong doctor or surgeon is more than just being surgically skilled. It’s also about creating a balanced approach — an agreed-upon therapeutic plan that’s aligned with the goals and expectations of both the patient and doctor. This is a critical part of my practice. I listen to my patients closely. I understand how the body functions and bring the latest techniques and approaches to the table to help patients meet their goals. I’ve dedicated my life to this work, and I’m glad to be doing it at Stony Brook now. I am very excited to be serving this community."
Harry Mushlin, MD
Neurosurgical Director, Complex Spine and Deformity Program
"My job is to help coordinate the day-to-day functions and meetings for our Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. I also assist all of our nurse managers and nursing supervisors with any needs that will enhance their ability to do their best work. My work has been particularly rewarding throughout the pandemic. It’s been so challenging on the staff, so whatever I can do to put a smile on someone’s face, make their lives easier, or recognize the sacrifices they make every day is just really important to me. I always wish I could do more, but I do feel satisfied knowing I am doing what I can to help, regardless of how big or small a given task might be.
Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is a special place. The level of care and compassion given to patients is unmatched. And internally, we just have the best people working here. Everybody is so supportive. I always try to make people feel as supported and welcome as when I first started here. I have an open door policy, and I always want people to know I am here for them. We are like a family. I look forward to my future here as I continue to grow with Stony Brook. In fact, I see myself here for quite some time."
Administrative Assistant to Chief Nursing Officer & VP, Patient Care Services
Stony Brook Southampton Hospital
"I love what I do at Stony Brook Medicine - overseeing our ambulatory practices and making sure people have a quality, uniform Stony Brook experience. But my job drastically changed when COVID hit, and more specifically, when we started hosting large vaccination events. We had never done this before, but led by Dr. McGovern, we got together as a team and figured out how to do mass vaccinations safely. We chose to do a number of events in Commack, so we put a plan together for how to get people through the door quickly, provide them with medical consultation should they need it, get them vaccinated, have them observed, and help them to schedule their second dose. This experience gave me a chance to work with hundreds of Stony Brook employees I’d never even met before. We all had our day jobs, and then we’d go there on the weekends for back-to-back vaccination events. You’d think people would be exhausted, but the energy level was amazing. You could see the team smiling underneath their masks. The enthusiasm never waned. It was also a very emotional experience. People were so happy to be vaccinated. Once, a florist came in and gave a tulip to every single person working the pod. I will never forget that day. My job has morphed into something bigger than myself over the past year and a half, and I could not be prouder to be doing this work and to be leading the team that I do.
I’ve worked for other healthcare systems before, but when I had the opportunity to come to Stony Brook, I came because of the leadership and the culture here. And it’s actually something my daughter sensed, as well. She’s in pediatric emergency medicine at Stony Brook. We never would have thought our paths would cross professionally like this. But we both felt the people, the culture, and the mission here were just right. It’s that team-oriented structure and spirit that, amongst other things, sets Stony Brook apart."
Anne Walsh-Feeks, MS, FACHE
Assistant Dean and Chief Operating Officer
"Art is its own language. Sometimes we don’t have words to express the experiences we go through, and art can fill that gap, acting as our vehicle of communication. Art and written expression are, admittedly, an unusual approach in a hospital setting. But I’ve been doing it for 16 years, and it works. We make people feel seen and heard. Our sessions are strategically developed with our patients in mind. What are they struggling with? What do they need? Whether it’s a group activity or a one-on-one session, we’re always exploring feelings and enhancing perspective.
Hospitals are a difficult place to be. But it’s clear to me that our patients benefit from art therapy. Of course we need science but the addition of art can very effectively inform medical treatment. It’s also where we are able to get a better understanding of who the patient is. Their illnesses and struggles. We had a patient once who had some real behavioral struggles. They were really aggressive and volatile. It was very clear they struggled with emotional regulation. But you saw their best self when we did art with them. The improvement over time was magnificent. And they even continued art beyond their stay at the hospital.
Simply put, art is an important service to have."
Jennifer Hacker-Johnson ATR-BC, L-CAT
Tara L Kaufmann
"I was first introduced to #dermatology during a summer clinical research project while I was a medical student at Stony Brook University. I quickly realized the field of dermatology was broad and exciting, and it really resonated with me. Dermatologists treat both acute and chronic patients, perform many procedures including skin cancer surgeries, and contribute to the development of medical therapies through clinical research.
One of the most important things we do as dermatologists is diagnose and treat skin cancer. It’s important for people to be aware that even a small new or changing mark on their skin could potentially be a serious medical issue. It is supremely gratifying to enter an exam room and use my trained eyes and clinical acumen to diagnose a patient’s condition and moreover, to see their impassioned relief that we have not only identified the condition, but also, and more importantly, we have a treatment plan.
Stony Brook Dermatology provides cutting-edge treatment with a personal touch. Not only are we interested in our patients’ medical conditions, but we also want to understand their lives.
We strive to provide wonderful care allowing science to guide our treatments, but never forgetting that the patient is a person, and that they always come first."
Tara L Kaufmann, MD, FAAD
Clinical Assistant Professor, Vice Chair
Department of Dermatology
Adrienne M. Haughton
"My goal is to have a transformational impact on people, and dermatology allows me to do that. If you can help someone improve their dermatologic condition, it can have a significant impact on them psychosocially. For example, skin and hair are easily seen and can cause people a lot of anguish if it’s something they are struggling with. And if we’re talking about a life-threatening disease like skin cancer, you can even save, prolong or enhance someone’s life.
I came to Stony Brook because I wanted to spend some time teaching residents, in a collegial environment, and treat patients holistically using a multidisciplinary approach. I have to say I’m quite pleased. The physicians here are at the forefront of therapeutic, medical and surgical treatment options and are invested in providing the gold standard of care to patients. I’m proud to be part of that. Being at Stony Brook also allows me to really focus on treating patients with alopecia, which is a great example of how dermatological issues can impact people regardless of age, sex or race. I’m a local expert in the treatment of hair loss, and I understand just how anxiety-provoking it can be. Therefore, if you are struggling with this and you decide to come and see me, you will receive a thorough evaluation and diagnostic approach and comprehensive treatment regimen."
Adrienne M. Haughton, MD, FAAD
Clinical Assistant Professor, Director of Medical and Cosmetic Services - Commack
Department of Dermatology
Stony Brook University
"I was with my husband and six-month-old son at JFK Airport in early December. We were waiting to go through security when my husband urgently tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see a young woman seizing on the ground. I immediately lifted my son out of my carrier vest, handed him to my husband, and ran over to the woman. At this point, the woman was not breathing and lost her pulse. I started chest compressions and instructed someone to get me an AED. We administered three shocks to this woman and continued chest compressions for about 20 minutes. EMS finally arrived and confirmed that the woman had regained a normal cardiac rhythm after our interventions.
This was my first time administering CPR outside of a hospital setting, which has less than an 8 percent survival rate. This was a perfect example of how early defibrillation and high-quality CPR can make the difference. They can literally save a life. A colleague said to me that not a lot of people would do what I did, but I disagree. I think that more people would absolutely help if they knew how. Less than a third of cardiac arrest victims get bystander CPR, and education can help close that gap. My CPR certifications made me confident in the care I delivered in this woman's time of need."
Christine Russo, MSN, CPNP-PC, TCRN, CPEN
"I was an ER nurse at a community hospital for six years before I came to Stony Brook. One might think you’d get lost in the shuffle at a bigger hospital, but that just isn’t the case here. You still get that tight-knit, community feeling. We are a family. And I’ve been with this family for 10 years now. During that time, I went on maternity leave for a while and returned at the height of COVID. It was terrifying in general but then to be a new mom, as well, and to worry about bringing something home to your baby was just the worst. But when I walked into this hospital upon my return, there was a sense of comfort. It was neighbors helping neighbors. Everybody had each other’s backs regardless of what unit or department they belonged to. And that’s Stony Brook.
But it’s not just that community feeling that’s kept me here. There is so much that Stony Brook has to offer its employees. The biggest thing it had to offer me was the opportunity to learn and grow. And I’m STILL learning and growing. I started here in the Emergency Department. I did that for a little over six years. Then, I wanted change. But I didn’t need to leave Stony Brook for that. I had the opportunity to work in the Medical ICU. Then I ended up in the Neuro ICU, which is where I am now, and it’s a great fit for me.
Growing up, my mom always said I should be a nurse. And, of course, I would always blow it off. But one day after high school I was like…maybe I should go to nursing school. And here I am. I love my job. Taking care of patients is my calling. The best feeling is when somebody you’ve cared for gets better and you can join them and their family in rejoicing. It’s moments like that when I think of just how proud my mom would be of me today. She always knew this is what I would end up doing one day."
Kate Faranda, RN, BSN
Black History Month
“Black History Month is a time when people are paying attention to black stories, black issues, and black people. It shouldn’t be the only time, but right now is when we have peoples’ attention. Therefore, we feel this is a good time to feature Black Excellence in Medicine at Stony Brook. More specifically, highlighting the work of faculty in the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.
Unless a student has a class or rotation with a faculty member, they often won’t have the opportunity to get to know these people who are doing amazing work in their fields. And there is also a lack of awareness about the contributions of black people in medicine. That is why the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) at Stony Brook has decided to highlight black faculty this month in a daily student email. Some of these faculty members will also be featured on Stony Brook Medicine’s social media channels, as well. We hope that these efforts will do a number of things: create a way for students of color to see what faculty of color are doing and to be inspired by them and even motivated to reach out for mentorship and other opportunities; emphasize the importance of diversity in medicine; and ensure that students of color see themselves represented when looking at success.
Black Excellence in Medicine means seeing black people thriving in healthcare; dispelling the stereotypes that are often placed on us; doing more than what is typically expected of us; proving no challenge to be unsurmountable; and so much more.
Reflecting on the past is important but it’s not enough. We also need to look at the present in order to pave the way for a promising future.”
Adaora Ezike, MS1
Adaora has always had a passion for women’s health and wants to be able to provide culturally-competent sexual and reproductive health to women. She is particularly interested in addressing maternal mortality and access to quality healthcare both in the U.S. and in her home country, Nigeria.
Anecine Dalmeus, MS1
Anecine intends to help people who look her, not only as a physician, but also to set an example about what a black woman can achieve.
Chimdi Obinero, MS1
Chimdi would like to open his own practice one day, giving him the freedom to organize missions abroad, particularly for communities in Nigeria.
"One of my primary motivators for going into academia was the opportunity to look at some of the experiences I had as a student and try to change them for others. It’s one thing to say that something shouldn’t have happened or been a certain way, but it’s entirely different when you can get involved in the medical education process and implement change. One way I can make an impact in this arena is through my involvement in SBHOME (Stony Brook Health Outreach and Medical Education). SBHOME is a pro-bono clinic run by medical students and supervised by physicians. The clinic provides primary care to uninsured adults across Long Island at no cost. These efforts help underserved communities while making our students better healthcare providers. This experience teaches our students to be more aware of social determinants that might impact patient care. The experience also emphasizes the importance of understanding the communities we serve.
I also hope that as an educator and physician, students look at me and see somebody they can relate to. And that doesn’t just mean through race. It can also mean that someone comes from a similar background as my own. Seeing an individual in a position of power or success who you can relate to and understanding the path they took to get where they are can help provide a template for how to make your own success. My mother would always send me articles of prominent physicians of color. I would read about them and see these people in this space constantly achieving and doing great things. Something like that – seeing this representation - makes you feel confident in your ability to contribute, as well. It allows you to aspire to achieve. That’s what it did for me. And I hope I do that for others – not just in medicine, but in life."
Jedan Phillips, MD
Medical Director, SBHOME
"Excellence in medicine is critically important. I believe that in America, there is sometimes this impression that what is produced by black people is not quite as good. Of course, there are exceptions, but that’s the problem – excellent black doctors are often considered exceptions. Frankly, I find this to be offensive. I was raised to be the best that I can be without consideration of the color of my skin. However, I suppose I’ve always felt this extra responsibility to excel because I am black, so as to exemplify black excellence.
I think we are working towards a day when “excellence” does not need to be hyphenated by a race or ethnicity. I feel it’s part of my charge as a professional, teacher and mentor to emphasize the point that excellence is possible regardless of the color of one’s skin. So, to sum this up, I think black excellence is important, but I think excellence should not be defined by color.
We absorb our environment much more than we realize. What we see modeled before us imprints itself, therefore seeing one’s self represented really matters. For example, my mother was a working mom. She excelled in her career and was very well-respected. I saw her hard work and excellence while I was growing up, and it had a very powerful impact on me. When I became a cardiothoracic surgeon, there were few women, never mind black women, for me to emulate. But I had this image of a successful black female leader that I had observed throughout my life to guide me and that has been invaluable throughout my career. So I endorse the importance of having role models that look like us, even if not found in one’s specialty.
We are all standing on the shoulders of giants who came before us. It’s our responsibility to make sure we continue this important work for those coming after us."
Allison McLarty, MD
Surgical Director, Ventricular Assist Device Program
Associate Professor of Surgery, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University
"For me, nursing is more than just working in healthcare. It’s about connecting with patients. Nobody wants to be admitted to the hospital. It’s difficult, particularly during times like the holidays. So, getting to be a light for patients is really what drew me to this profession, and honestly, it’s what keeps me here, as well. I originally wanted to work at Stony Brook because I loved that it was a teaching hospital. I wanted to learn as much as I could. Since being here, I’ve realized that the learning never stops. You can grow and advance your career here. You can even become the teacher or the mentor, which is something I really enjoy, as well. I recently joined unit-based council, which has been another incredible opportunity. We get together with nurses from other units and see what’s working best in other units and strategizing how to best implement different things around the hospital. I feel like I’m really making a difference here.
I find my work so very rewarding. I take something away from every shift that never ceases to make me feel so lucky to be a nurse. We are helping people every day. Special people – with their own incredible stories. And I just happen to work with the best team. Our unit is a family. So again, I just feel very lucky."
Jennifer McCoy, RN-BSN
“My grandmother was a physician in the former Soviet Union. Although she never practiced in the United States, she was always a doctor in her heart and mind. So, I saw from an early age what it looked like to be a woman who people could look up to and rely on. That sparked my interest in wanting to help and advocate for people. As I continued to pursue the field of medicine, I realized general surgery is where I’m meant to be. I found it to be a very hands-on specialty where my extroverted personality would be most welcome. The range of cases I will be taking on throughout my career is exciting to me, as well. And I look forward to narrowing down which type of surgery I want to focus on in the future.
There aren’t as many female surgeons out there as one might think, and so I don’t take it lightly that I am pursuing a career in a historically male-dominated field. With that said, there happen to be a lot of incredible female surgeons here at Stony Brook. Throughout my rotations, I have worked with numerous female surgeons who have been advocates for women in medical school. It’s really empowering to be mentored by these surgeons who feel so deeply about lifting women up, and particularly women in medicine. I have taken what I have learned from them thus far and applied it to my own efforts in making a positive impact. Thinking about my grandmother, I know she is proud of the work I am doing, as well. She always knew I’d be a doctor.”
MS3, General Surgery
Stony Brook University
“My interest in medicine started when I was five years old because of my pediatrician, Dr. Bhatia. She was loving, kind, highly knowledgeable, and able to share complex information in a way that even my young mind was able to comprehend. I will never forget the first time we went to see her. One of my sister’s braids had fallen out, and our doctor took the time to re-braid her hair. Who does that? A doctor who genuinely cares about her patients. My parents felt like their kids were in good hands, and I want to provide that same peace of mind for my patients. As I got older, I just knew I wanted to be part of this profession where I can make a difference and serve with compassion. My pediatrician was my first female role model in medicine, and she is one of my biggest advocates to this day. She even took a chance on me and let me shadow her, which is when I got to see, for the first time, that this profession was everything I hoped it would be.
I think one of the most important ways we, as women, can make a difference is by actively contributing to and being part of our communities. For me, it’s medicine. Remembering those who worked and sacrificed to build this foundation for us; ensuring we support and look out for everyone who walks beside us; and standing for and clearing the path for those who come after. I hope I make a difference by listening, being a voice and an ally, and by standing with my classmates and colleagues every day.”
Soumya Mandava, MS3
Interest in Anesthesiology
Stony Brook University
“Back when I first started at Stony Brook as a nurse intern in 1988, I thought I would only be here for a few years. I could not have been more wrong. It didn’t take long for me to discover that the nursing care here was second to none. Stony Brook was cutting edge even back then. It’s such an exciting and intellectual environment to work in – so much so that I don’t even mind my long commute.
I’ve always felt like I was born to be a nurse. I even used to help take care of my grandmother when I was a teenager. But to be in healthcare and to be a nurse, you have to be adaptable to change. And what’s so great is that Stony Brook is just as adaptable to your own personal changes, as well. If you want to learn and grow, you can do that here. If you want to explore different units and departments, you can do that too. And that’s exactly what I did. I was a SICU RN for a long time. Eventually, I was ready for change, so I transferred to outpatient surgical oncology in 2006. After three years there, I became an oncology-certified nurse (OCN), and then I became a nurse educator for the entire Cancer Center when they were in their old location. Fast forward to now, where I am currently the unit educator for the MART Multidisciplinary Clinic. I also recently earned my master’s degree in nursing education.
Lastly, I can’t go without mentioning the people here. I lead a really great staff, and I try to always give them the right tools and empower them to be able to practice at the highest level.”
Regina DiBlasi, RN, MSN-Ed, OCN
Nurse Educator-T&R III
Stony Brook Cancer Center
Multidisciplinary Oncology Clinic
“I consider myself to be an advocate for patients and for my staff. And I love what I do. I supervise the crisis prevention team, preventing and managing crisis situations throughout Stony Brook University Hospital. It’s great to not only be able to help patients, but staff, as well. Doing what we do allows other staff throughout the hospital to continue doing their jobs uninterrupted. Altogether, this leads to optimal care for our patients.
My team is amazing. Everybody always gives 110%, and each person brings something different to the table. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different life experiences, and we just complement each other really well. This is particularly important given what we do. Anything can trigger someone’s behavior, and sometimes it can be scary helping people through their worst behavioral crises. But we work as a team, supporting one another and always having the patient’s best interests in mind. And that leads to great outcomes. Our goal is always to help our patients to recover both physically and mentally."
Jennifer Burdish, MS.Ed, BCBA, LBA
Behavioral Health PMCS Coach
Stony Brook University Hospital
Department of Psychiatry
Helene V. Fall
“I’ve spent my entire career in community-based organizations. So, after I retired and we settled into our new home, I knew I wanted to volunteer. Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital was an obvious choice for me. Having SBELIH nearby was very important for me and my husband because we knew having quality healthcare was going to be a significant part of our lives as we matured. Six weeks after we moved here and all the boxes were unpacked, I saw an ad in the local paper. I knew it was time for me to get involved. I started volunteering in the Opportunity Shop (thrift shop), and a few months later, I was asked to sit on the Eastern Long Island Hospital Auxiliary Executive Board. Fast forward ten years later to now, and I’m currently in my third term as Auxiliary President and remain an active in-Hospital volunteer, with 10,000 hours of volunteer service through the end of 2021.
I always aim to be heavily involved in my community, and the Auxiliary allows me to do that. The Auxiliary, which helped found the Hospital in 1905, remains a vital partner today providing 20,000 volunteers hours on average each year. We have donated close to $12 million dollars since our inception to assist the Hospital in providing critical services for our community. We consider ourselves community ambassadors for SBELIH, really. People even recognize me at the grocery store after work when I still have my volunteer smock on. We are highly identifiable and staples in the community.
I am so proud to be part of the Auxiliary, and I’m grateful for the affiliation with Stony Brook as it ensures our continued success. We have phenomenal people who work here and throughout the health system. It means a lot to belong to this community."
Helene V. Fall
President, SBELIH Auxiliary
“When I was younger, I had some personal family experiences at Stony Brook University Hospital. And those experiences helped take a very difficult time and make it honestly really positive. They were so impactful, in fact, that it’s what led me to want to go into medicine in the first place. And what’s more, I always wanted to be here at Stony Brook. It’s a special place for me. Stony Brook is where I had my first nursing job (2005). It was in general surgery. Over time, a lot of changes happened within my area, and the scope of patients we cared for started to expand. I became increasingly interested in working with kidney transplant patients. Working with them just gave me a different feeling. A special feeling. There’s nothing quite like seeing a patient before having a transplant and then literally watching as their new organ kicks in.
One day, there happened to be an opening for a transplant coordinator here, so I took a leap of faith. I just knew there was more I could do in this field. I became an outreach coordinator for the transplant program in 2012. And now I’m the administrative director, where I oversee all the daily operations of the transplant program, which includes both living donation and kidney transplantation. I’m also a certified transplant coordinator, so I am clinical, as well as administrative.
Nobody wants to be in the hospital. It’s anxiety provoking to say the least. And I believe the more supported a patient feels, the more successful their recovery will be. It’s the confidence that you give them as their healthcare providers and caretakers. I want our patients to know they can rely on us. I want them to feel safe, and I want them to know they are family. Every patient has a unique situation and their own story. And I make sure I know them all. I may be a healthcare administrator and a nurse, but I am human first. And my patients are human first. Simply put, we are in this together.
Dawn Francisquini, MSN, BS, RN, CCTC
"I’ve been at Stony Brook for over 30 years now. I started as an officer and worked my way up to where I am now as the Director of Public Safety. On paper, the job is security. And although that is crucial, it’s more to us than just that. We don’t just sit in booths all day. We are out in the community building relationships and protecting the hospital and the university.
This type of role is in my blood. Fun fact: I was born in Scotland and came to the U.S. when I was six. My dad was in the military. We lived in Ocean Beach on Fire Island, where my dad was a police sergeant. His profession absolutely inspired my own. I grew up watching him work hard and save so many lives. So, I pretty much always knew I wanted to be in law enforcement.
In addition to what I do at Stony Brook, I’m also a volunteer firefighter. Along with many other first responders, I was on the ground in Manhattan during 9/11. That experience affected who I was both personally and professionally. I saw the hatred that came out of those devastating events, and I do my best to keep hatred like that out of this community – my community. I love working at Stony Brook. And I love what I do. We are a family here. I see people walk in and out of here experiencing both life and loss. Being able to be there for them in any case is the reason we do this."
Director of Public Safety
SBU Office of Enterprise Risk Management
Associate Directors of Public Safety
Meet Joe Murrin, Dwayne Raye and Chris Seidensticker, Associate Directors of Public Safety here at Stony Brook Medicine.
Joe: Safety and security – it’s what we do. And keeping children safe in our facility is a priority. It’s my priority. In fact, I helped spearhead our infant protection system, so no child would be able to leave the hospital without a parent or guardian. Ultimately, we provide our patients and family members a safe and secure environment in our facility. When you walk through these doors, you are family. And we protect our family. And we all feel this way. I know this because I help to onboard new hires, as well. We train, set expectations, and make sure every single officer is ready for each and every day. The fact that I take on these extra responsibilities is a testament to how much I love my job. I am blessed to be here at Stony Brook.
Dwayne: I have a strong passion for critical thinking and strategy that is matched with a real desire to protect. Here at Stony Brook, I get to do it all. I work to identify potential risks or things that might make us vulnerable and then craft policies to prevent anything negative from happening. Education and communication are the key to success in security and healthcare, the more we teach and show our employees the safest way to work the better prepared we are for events as they arise. It’s about situational awareness. We need to give our staff the tools to operate autonomously but also effectively and carefully. My job is all about being proactive in a society that is predominantly reactive. And it’s all to keep the Stony Brook community safe.
Chris: Our job is to keep this community safe, and I think we do a great job, but we can always do more! I strive to make this a safer environment every single day. Part of my job is to evaluate our incident reports, and make strategic recommendations informed by my data analysis. This is so we can drill down, identify deficiencies and implement mitigation strategies across the Stony Brook Medicine Health System. I also have the opportunity to participate in the “Putting Safety First” program which provides opportunities to talk about global safety issues and receive feedback on how we can enhance the Public Safety program. I really enjoy what I do. Stony Brook is a second home to me, and my colleagues are like family. Working with them to protect our community is everything.
"Like many who work at Stony Brook Medicine, my office is in Tech Park on Belle Mead. It’s a very busy road with a heavy Stony Brook presence – staff and patients alike. About four years ago, a goose was hit by a car and killed right in front of our building. It was very upsetting. As I was driving home later that day, I passed some lawn signs and it hit me. I came into work the next day, and with the help of my colleagues Anita and Donna, we created and printed signs to try to get people to slow down on Belle Mead. It was a real group effort. We needed to connect with property management, traffic safety, and the police department to make this happen. We even secured more speed patrolling in the area. And four years later, I do think it’s helped. We unfortunately still lose geese, but I feel like people have slowed down and are more cautious because of our efforts.
I’ve been at Stony Brook for nine years now, and I love what I do. I work in marketing and communications with some of the smartest, most hard-working professionals I know. We are responsible for messaging, both internally to staff and externally to the community, and that includes everything from COVID protocols and new hospital services to highlighting SBM’s pioneering research and programs. And we ensure the integrity of the Stony Brook Medicine brand. I think communication is what life is all about – sharing our ideas, thoughts, hopes and dreams with each other to hopefully ensure a more peaceful world. And that’s what I think these signs do. They communicate to the drivers that they are not the only ones on the road. We are a community-minded health system. And anything that affects our community matters, whether it be footed or feathered."
Office of Marketing and Communication
"I’m a nurse scientist at Stony Brook University Hospital. This is actually a new role nationwide. I’m going to help bridge the gap between research and practice for nurses at Stony Brook. On average, it takes about 17 years for research to be put into practice, so I’m here to expedite that process. When COVID first hit, I was in the middle of my doctoral project, and I ended up changing it to something more relevant. Since it was all hands on deck during the pandemic and people were just helping where they could, I created an educational program at Stony Brook for nurses who were being sent to the ICU for the first time. I went through the entire research process from designing the program to implementation, measurement of results and publication of the study. We had great results: the program significantly increased knowledge and confidence in the skills of the nurses. In a time when we were all in uncharted territory, I wanted to make sure that our most critical patients were being cared for by nurses who had the tools they needed to rise to the challenge. It was really rewarding to be successful in that goal.
The fact that this is a new role is really exciting to me. I like challenges, and I enjoy building things from the ground-up, making them my own and setting the tone for what’s to come. I want to make sure that Stony Brook Nursing is on the forefront of nursing science so that we can continue to elevate the care that we provide to our patients."
Meghan Doelger, DNP, RN, CCRN
Pia York and John Marco Manzella
“As Concierge Supervisors, we are very fortunate to work with an amazing team of people. The Concierge staff bring lots of different skills to the table and are collaborative, supportive, flexible and exemplify teamwork. As Concierge staff, our goal as part of the Patient Experience team is to assist individuals with their needs. We are the first touch when people enter the facility, and we want to make sure we leave them with an overall therapeutic experience.
Our front desks are titled, “Information Desk,” but we are so much more than that. Whether we are walking someone to an elevator, assisting with a wheelchair, or helping them to find their way, we want to leave people with an overall good feeling. We are active listeners, liaisons, de-escalators, facilitators, communicators, problem solvers and advocates. We understand people are not always here under the best of circumstances, and we empathize. Each and every one of us as human beings have, at some point, experienced some form of illness, loss or suffering. We keep this at the forefront of our minds and treat people the way we would want to be treated in their situation.
Though we are not clinical, we strive to provide a compassionate and caring approach. We hope to be remembered for being helpful and making someone’s hospital visit a positive experience. We always aim to make a difference and to be the difference."
Stony Brook University Hospital
John Marco Manzella
Stony Brook University Hospital
"Stony Brook is a big part of who I am. I graduated from Stony Brook University back in ’84, and I’ve worked across all Stony Brook Hospitals. I know a lot of people, and we all work really well together and have each other’s backs. And I think this was illustrated and reinforced throughout the pandemic. It didn’t matter which Stony Brook facility you were part of. We all banded together and did what needed to be done. We were, and continue to be, one Stony Brook.
As respiratory therapists, we are there for the critically ill, as well as those with chronic illnesses. We are all encompassing. I think people really started to see our impact when the pandemic hit. A respiratory therapist is critical to any healthcare team. I’m very proud to be a respiratory therapist, and I’m proud of all my colleagues in this profession. I also have great supervisors who make sure their staff are taken care of and have what they need to perform at their very best. That’s integral for our success and for the well-being of our patients."
Shari Hymes ‘84