People in the News

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) President Bea Grause announces the appointment of Sandi Toll as HANYS’ new General Counsel. Toll was most recently first assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Toll served as first assistant counsel to the governor beginning in July 2015, after serving nearly two years as assistant counsel to the governor, where she advised the governor and policy staff on legal matters related to health issues.

Before that, Toll was a partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block LLP in Chicago and a member of the healthcare litigation and complex commercial litigation practice groups. She represented clients on healthcare fraud and abuse matters and supervised and conducted internal investigations. While at Jenner & Block, she was named an Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star in health care. She also maintained an active pro bono practice, including representing clients asserting civil rights violations, clients facing the death penalty and clients seeking habeas relief.

Toll has a J.D. magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Bachelor of Science degree with distinction from Cornell University. She succeeds former general counsel Mark Thomas.


NYU Winthrop Hospital is pleased to announce two major appointments in its Department of Surgery. Toyooki Sonoda, MD, has joined as Chief of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, and Patrick Hartendorp, MD, has joined as a colorectal attending.

Dr. Sonoda is board-certified in both general surgery and colon and rectal surgery. He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Sonoda completed his internship and residency at UC San Francisco followed by The Cleveland Clinic. He was a laparoscopic fellow and instructor in surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center and then went on to complete a colorectal fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Hartendorp is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he received his Bachelor of Science in pre-professional Studies (Premedical Science). He received his Doctor of Medicine from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Most recently, he completed a colon and rectal fellowship at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.


Each year, Catholic Health Services (CHS) seeks nominations from its staff for the Patrick J. Scollard Award for Leadership. This year’s winner of CHS’s highest honor is Maribeth McKeever, LCSW-R, ACHP-SW, Director of Bereavement Services for CHS’s Good Shepherd Hospice. Chosen from among colleagues across CHS, she was recognized at the system’s 14th annual leadership conference.

After identifying a gap in services, McKeever created specialized bereavement groups for the Hispanic population, and in particular, children who have experienced a significant loss through death. Good Shepherd offers groups for grieving children and their parents, but these sessions were offered in English. Hispanic children may be comfortable speaking English, however, their parents were unable to understand concepts of pediatric grief presented in English.

One of the two leading finalists for the Patrick J. Scollard Award is CHS’s Catholic Home Care’s Director of Performance Improvement Igor Nemov, MSN, APRN, GNP, BC. Nemov has a contagious spirit that allows him to lead his staff and peers through collaboration, creativity and a quest for clinical quality excellence, high levels of customer service and strong operational performance all while using his sense of humor to engage those involved.

The other finalist for this notable honor is Karen Fee, RN. A Nurse Manager in Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU), Fee continually seeks to enhance patient safety. Many SICU patients have traumatic brain injuries, requiring close observation. To best care for these patients, Fee developed and implemented a “safety watch” program on her unit. The process was so successful it was adapted throughout the hospital.


(Top row, L-R) Good Shepherd Hospice, Pastoral Care’s Rabbi Kathleen Novick, Laurie Smith, Hospice Home Health Aide Supervisor, Janice Remmers, Hospice and Catholic Home Care’s Director of Patient Accounts, Gail Silver, Chief Operating Officer for Home Care and Hospice. (Bottom row, L-R) Susan Mary O’Keeffe, pastoral care, hospice, Dawn Turpin, pastoral care, hospice, MaryEllen Polit, Chief Administrative Officer for Home Care and Hospice, Scollard winner Maribeth Mckeever, Director of Bereavement, Kerrianne Page, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Hospice, Palliative Care and Home Care, Alan D. Guerci, CHS President and CEO, and former president and CEO of CHS and St. Francis Patrick J. Scollard

Robert A. Duarte, MD, Director of Northwell Health’s Pain Center in Great Neck and President of the New York State Pain Society, has been appointed a Captain in the New York Guard (NYG), New York state’s defense force. The swearing-in ceremony took place earlier this month at Camp Smith in Cordtlandt Park.

Dr. Duarte is the physician appointment representing Long Island and Queens. As a NYG Captain, Dr. Duarte will be responsible for providing medical evaluations for new NYG recruits and those who are reenlisting. In addition, as part of his training for the NYG, Dr. Duarte will participate in Camp Smith’s emergency preparedness, soldier readiness and state disaster relief missions and provide medical direction for mobile trauma units deployed across the state.



Richard R. Barakat, MD

Northwell Health has appointed Richard R. Barakat, MD, to lead all of its cancer services and research.

An internationally recognized surgeon and clinical investigator who specializes in robotic and laparoscopic treatment of uterine cancer and radical debulking procedures for ovarian cancer, Dr. Barakat will serve as Physician-in-chief and Director of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute, Senior Vice President of the health system’s cancer service line, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He will also work closely with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as part of a strategic affiliation with Northwell on future cancer research and treatment collaborations.


Souhel Najjar, MD, has been promoted to Chair of Neurology Services at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Dr. Najjar currently serves as Northwell Health system’s Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Neurology and Chair of Neurology at Lenox Hill Hospital and Staten Island University Hospital. He will also continue as Chair and Professor of Neurology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.



Left to right: Souhel Najjar, MD; Steven Pacia, MD; Ruben Kuzniecky, MD

Northwell added two neurologists affiliated with New York University. Steven Pacia, MD, will serve as Vice Chair of Neurology at NSUH, Director of Neurology for Northwell’s Eastern Region and Associate Professor of Neurology at the Zucker School of Medicine.

Dr. Pacia served as chief of neurology at Lenox Hill Hospital and director of the hospital’s Epilepsy Center and EEG Lab from 2004 to 2015. He was previously an associate professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine and a principal investigator there since 1993 and received numerous grants for his epilepsy research.

Ruben Kuzniecky, MD, will serve as Vice Chair of Academic Affairs and Director of Clinical Research Programs within the Department of Neurology, and Professor of Neurology at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

Dr. Kuzniecky previously co-directed the NYU Epilepsy Center while serving as a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine and director of epilepsy research. Dr. Kuzniecky began and furthered his career at the EEG Laboratory at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He also has extensive experience in epilepsy research and been published widely. Dr. Kuzniecky has lectured across the country and abroad.



Philippe Marambaud, PhD

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor Philippe Marambaud, PhD, was awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) and a four-year, $1.6 million award from the National Institutes of Health for separate studies to identify existing FDA-approved drugs that can be repurposed to treat the rare bleeding condition called hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). The DOD grant is the largest ever awarded to research HHT and is part of a multi-institutional consortium led by S. Paul Oh, MD, from the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Each study has the potential to fast-track the first therapies to treat the disease.

In this multi-site DOD study, Dr. Marambaud, along with Feinstein Institute Associate Professor Lionel Blanc, PhD, will identify potential drug candidates from existing FDA-approved medications to help reduce the loss of blood vessel function associated with HHT. Dr. Marambaud’s findings will then be tested in human clinical trials at Toronto University, which houses the largest HHT care center in North America. Other institutions involved in the study include the Barrow Neurological Institute, Duke University and Pittsburg University. The DOD has placed a research focus on vascular pathologies, like HHT, that might affect military personnel. HHT, although relatively rare, can be highly debilitating and is expected to affect military personnel at the same prevalence as the general population.