Local News

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

In an effort to provide assistance to victims of human trafficking, Northwell Health has joined five other healthcare systems in the United States — Baptist Health in Florida, Advocate Aurora Health in Illinois, Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health in New Jersey and Harris Health System in Texas — in a pilot study designed to help health care providers identify the “red flags” of this menacing societal issue.

Northwell Health’s Santhosh Paulus, MD, Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, Co-Founder of Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking, and human trafficking survivor Jasmine Grace Marino

The study, which will eventually help the World Health Organization create a standardized set of protocols, provides guidelines aimed at properly identifying human trafficking victims and helping them get to safety. The latest research reveals that up to 88% of human trafficking victims and survivors seek help in a healthcare setting. These visits could serve the critical purpose of providing trafficking victims with options of care, if handled by medical staff who are sensitive to their specific needs.

During a press conference held at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Jasmine Grace Marino, a human trafficking survivor, spoke of the years she spent in virtual servitude to a man who used her for profit. Now a happily married mother of five children and a published author, Marino acknowledged that during the time of her ordeal, she saw a doctor about every three months at her local hospital.

To date, nearly 4,000 Northwell employees, both medical and nonclinical, have received training in the area of human trafficking via the health system’s electronic iLearn platform; another 1,100 have participated in a 90-minute, in-person educational session.

Global Strategic Operatives for the Eradication of Human Trafficking recently honored Northwell — one of six health systems nationwide — for placing an emphasis on identifying and helping human trafficking victims who pass through its facilities.

For more information about Northwell’s human trafficking task force, go to northwell.edu/news/identifying-human-trafficking.

When the call came for volunteers to help residents of Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes that continue to shake the island nation, two mental health professionals from Catholic Health Services (CHS) quickly raised their hands.

Yamith Soacha and Karen Camargo

Yamith Soacha and Karen Camargo were among a team assembled by the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) and sent to Puerto Rico to provide mental health services.

Soacha, a resident of Ronkonkoma, is a clinical social worker for CHS’s Good Shepherd Hospice. Camargo, a Farmingdale resident, is a licensed master’s social worker at CHS’s Mercy Medical Center. They were in Puerto Rico from February 3 to February 10 as part of the GNYHA team.

Soacha and Camargo felt compelled to volunteer after seeing the struggles Puerto Rico residents have had in recovering from natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. During their time in Puerto Rico, Soacha and Camargo visited several communities, including Guayanilla, Guánica and Ponce, where they spoke with residents and provided information about available services. They listened to local residents and provided mental-health tips to help earthquake survivors cope with the difficult situation they face.

Northwell Health is expanding ophthalmologic services for New York area residents with the creation of the Northwell Health Eye Institute, anchored by a new $2.5 million, 5,178-square-foot facility that recently opened at 4300 Hempstead Turnpike in Bethpage.

Northwell Health Eye Institute’s ribbon cutting

The new state-of-the-art facility provides services for the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye conditions by specialty trained ophthalmologists Jung Lee, MD; Alina Djougarian, MD; Farihah Anwar, MD; Richard Braunstein MD; and Sara Yoon, MD. The office has 12 exam rooms, a procedure room and cutting-edge diagnostic tools.

Northwell Health Eye Institute physicians specialize in a range of ophthalmology services and partner with the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research so patients can participate in clinical trials and other innovative research. The institute also collaborates with the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell’s residency and fellowship programs to train and develop future clinicians and scientists.

Mercy Medical Center, a member of Catholic Health Services (CHS), has earned a Commission on Cancer (CoC) Three-Year Accreditation with Gold-Level Commendation to its cancer program. The CoC is a quality program of the American College of Surgeons. To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. This is the fourth consecutive survey that Mercy has earned this recognition and has received perfect scores. Other CoC accredited CHS facilities include St. Francis Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center and St. Charles Hospital.

Cancer care at Mercy continues to expand. In early January, CHS opened a 12,350-square-foot CHS Cancer Institute at Mercy. The CHS Cancer Institute provides patients and their families with a one-stop, multidisciplinary approach to cancer. It features a 15-bay infusion center, five physician offices and 10 exam rooms, with flexible space that can be converted to accommodate for additional growth and services. Patients get their diagnostic images at the same time and place as they come to consult with as many as three oncologists in one visit: a medical oncologist/hematologist, a surgical oncologist and a radiation oncologist.

Catholic Health Services (CHS) expanded its network of cancer care on Long Island with the opening of its new Cancer Institute at Mercy Medical Center. The 12,350-square-foot facility, located in the Miracle Pavilion (south of the Emergency Department), will provide patients and their families with a one-stop, multidisciplinary approach to cancer care.

Cancer Institute at Mercy Medical Center ribbon cutting

The new institute features a 15-bay infusion center, five physician offices and 10 exam rooms, with flexible space that can be converted to accommodate for additional growth and services. The CHS Cancer Institute at Mercy is part of CHS’s robust group of new centers including the institutes at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip and St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.

The Ellen Hermanson Foundation announced that it awarded $326,000 to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital in 2019, including the latest grant of $251,000 on Dec. 17 and $75,000 in April 2019. The funding benefits the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center; Ellen’s Well, a program that provides psychosocial support to breast and gynecological cancer survivors; and the Pink Shawl Project, an outreach program providing screenings and education at the Shinnecock Indian Health Clinic.

Anne Tschida Gomberg, Edna Kapenhas, MD, Julie Ratner, MD, and Robert Chaloner
Photographer: Rachel Siford for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital

In addition to funding numerous programs and services, the Foundation is directing funds toward the purchase of a second Siemens ACUSON Sequoia ultrasound system for the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center. The system enables high-resolution imaging that adapts to patients’ size and personal characteristics, contributing to more confident diagnosis.

Last year the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center performed over 12,000 screenings, including 3,500 ultrasounds.

“With new recommendations for ultrasound for patients with dense breasts, the Breast Center is struggling to give patients timely access to breast ultrasound with its current single unit,” says Julie Ratner, MD. “Installing a second ultrasound system would increase access to care and reduce wait times. It is our goal to fully fund this vital equipment in 2020.”


A new law recently went into effect in New York that requires drivers to keep infants and young toddlers in rear-facing child safety seats until they are at least two years old or reach the maximum height and weight for the seat being used. The new law seeks to better protect vulnerable babies and toddlers, who often have disproportionately large and heavy heads and are at risk of serious neck, head and spinal injuries when thrown forward in forward-facing car seats. More than 4,000 children ages 4 and under were injured or killed in car crashes in New York State from 2017–18. NYU Winthrop Hospital, which sees many pediatric emergency room visits due to vehicle collisions, is heralding this safety improvement that was championed in the State Legislature by AAA Northeast. AAA was recently at NYU Winthrop to explain the new law, with an AAA technician also demonstrating proper installation of rear-facing car seats.

Many states already have similar rear-facing car seat safety laws in place, including neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut. Children in cars that are driving to or through those states must have rear-facing seats. Additional states with the law include Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, California, Oklahoma and Oregon.

Safety is also compromised by improper car seat installation. Parents in New York can arrange for a child safety seat technician to inspect their seat installation by visiting safeny.ny.gov/seat-per.htm. Most car seat manufacturers also have online videos demonstrating proper installation.