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wonders
Spring 2009
small
a Publication of maria fareri children’s hospital at Westchester Medical Center
Healing a Little
Boy’s Heart
(Cover Story Pg. 3)
Also in
this Issue
Hope for Kids
with Asthma
Meet Our New
Hospitalists
A Big Help
for Tiny Babies
Spring 2009
cover story
Healing a Little Boy’s Heart
3
25 Years of Caring for Kids’ Hearts
5
Healing a Little Boy’s Heart
Hope for Kids with Asthma
6
A Doctor’s Advice Wherever You Are
7
Meeting a Critical Need
8
Help Your Child Steer Clear of
Colds and the Flu All Year Long
10
Why We Walk
12
Always Here When You Need us
14
Notes from a Hospital Bed
15
A Big Help for Tiny Babies
16
A Place to Belong
18
Kids and Concussions
19
Read Small Wonders online or sign
up to receive it electronically at
www.WorldClassMedicine.com/SmallWonders.
Westchester County Health Care Corporation
Michael D. Israel, President and Chief Executive Officer
Board of Directors
Officers
John Heimerdinger, Chair
Helen Blackwood, First Vice Chair
Mark Tulis, Vice Chair
Joseph Tomaino, Vice Chair
Emmeline Rocha-Sinha, Treasurer
Susan Gevertz, Secretary
A Message from Our Physician-in-Chief
For the past 25 years, Westchester Medical Center, now home to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, has
been providing care to children with congenital and acquired heart defects. Thousands of children have
come to us seeking care for disorders ranging from simple, isolated heart defects to complex syndromes
encompassing multiple heart anomalies.
Thanks to dramatic advances in the field of pediatric cardiology, children who might not have survived
past infancy a couple of decades ago are now able to lead relatively normal lives with few restrictions
on their activities.
For example, in this edition of Small Wonders, you will read about two wonderful
children and their families who are doing well today as a result of the combined
efforts of our talented cardiac surgical experts and interventional cardiology
specialists. In fact, while we treat some of the sickest children in the state, our surgical
success rate continues to exceed the state’s expected success average.
The cardiovascular programs are not the only ones that are growing at
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. In this issue you will also read about our
newly launched pediatric hospitalist program. In 2008, three full-time pediatric
hospitalists joined the staff and two more will be added this year. These
specialists help coordinate care among many sub-specialties and respond to
questions from parents. Around the country, other major children’s hospitals have found that hospitalists
add to quality of care and family satisfaction as well as trainees’ academic experience.
We are also continuing to support high-quality research into the prevention and management of
childhood illness. In this issue you will learn about efforts by our pulmonary specialist to improve
treatment methods for children with asthma. With exciting progress like this, it is no wonder that the
demand for our advanced services continues to increase throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond. In
fact, this high level of need is fueling growth at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. You can read about our
plans for increasing capacity on page 8.
More than ever, as we all face the challenges of our times, we thank you for your continuing support as
we strive to enhance our services and expand our capacity to meet the needs of the children and families
from throughout our region. It is only with your help that we can continue to serve.
Directors
Richard Berman
Gerard Bernacchia
Claudia Edwards
Renee Garrick, M.D.
Herman Geist
Jon Halpern
Mitchell Hochberg
Michael Israel (non-voting)
Patrick McCoy
Alfredo Quintero
Steven Rogowsky
Michael Staib
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center
Michael Gewitz, M.D., Physician-in-Chief
Charlotte Cady, R.N., Vice President, Nursing
At Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and Westchester Medical Center,
we care for the most severely ill and injured newborns, infants, children
and adults from the Hudson Valley region and beyond. Because of
the strong partnerships we have forged with community hospitals in
the region, with managed care companies, with local doctors, with
our patients and within the hospital, Westchester Medical Center has
become a major healthcare resource in the tri-state area. With more
than 3.6 million people in the region, each day hundreds of sick or
injured people need to rely on us…and they can.
2
For physician information, call 1-866-WMC-PEDS
Michael Gewitz, M.D.
Physician-in-Chief
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center
Published by Westchester Medical Center, Department of Marketing and Corporate Communications
110 Executive Offices, Valhalla, NY 10595, 914-493-8024
Kara Bennorth, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications
David Billig, Director, Media Relations
Isabel Dichiara, Director, Community Relations and Outreach
Leslie Mills, Director, Editorial Information
Andy LaGuardia, Director of Communications, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
Katherine Turiano, Marketing and Communications Specialist
Ben Cotten, Gordon Tunison, Digital Imaging
Ellen Lane, Staff Writer
The information in this publication is written by professional journalists and/or physicians. However, no publication can replace the
direct care or advice of medical professionals and readers are cautioned to seek such help for personal problems.
Comments about this publication should be emailed to [email protected] wcmc.com or [email protected]
Domenick D’Addona Gets the Chance to Be a Regular Kid,
Thanks to Cardiac Specialists at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
T
Two days after giving birth to twin boys at her local
hospital in March 2007, Sandra D’Addona was
told one of them, Domenick, had a heart murmur
– a common condition that’s often benign but can
sometimes be a sign of a heart defect. To properly
diagnose his condition, Domenick’s neonatologist
recommended a transfer to Maria Fareri Children’s
Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, the only
advanced care pediatric hospital in the Hudson Valley
capable of diagnosing and treating complex congenital
heart defects.
“They told us, ‘We’re not sure what’s wrong but we’re
sending him to the best place,”’ says Sandra.
Within hours, Sandra and her husband, also named
Domenick, learned their son’s full diagnosis. Little
Domenick had not one but four complex
heart defects collectively known as Taussig-Bing
Syndrome, a condition that affects about one in
100,000 children.
Domenick’s aorta and pulmonary arteries both
Toddler Domenick D’Addona receives treatment for four complex
arose from the right ventricle, so blood was not flowing
heart defects at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
correctly through his heart. As a result, his organs weren’t
getting enough oxygen and his lungs were overworked. Domenick also had a narrowing of his aorta, or main artery,
that restricted blood flow to the lower part of his body, increasing pressure in the right side of his heart. As an
additional part of the condition, Domenick had a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of his heart.
“Twenty-five years ago, Domenick almost certainly would not have survived,” says Markus Erb, M.D., Domenick’s
primary Pediatric Cardiologist who cared for him along with Suvro Sett, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.
“Thanks to the care he received, Domenick is a kid who will go to school with his brother, play in gym and horse
around at recess as if none of this ever happened.”
continued on page 4
3
25 Years of Caring for Kids’ Hearts
cover story
overcome, the heart surgery was a success and
Domenick continues to grow and develop steadily.
continued from page 3
“Domenick has made tremendous strides in
catching up to his twin brother both physically
and developmentally,” says Dr. Erb. “He was very
small for his age initially. Now he is almost as big
as his brother.”
For now, the biggest challenges facing Domenick,
Sandra says, are a tracheostomy, or opening, in his
throat for breathing, and a gastric tube used for
feeding. Both devices will be removed once his
trachea is repaired in the near future, says Dr. Erb.
Despite these challenges, Sandra says, Domenick
is walking and even talking, “trying to keep up
with his brother” at every turn.
While the clinical care Domenick received was
critical to his recovery, Sandra says, she was equally
as impressed with the personal care she and her
family received at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
Despite his medical challenges, Domenick enjoys games and other activities with his brothers, Matthew (center), and his twin, Giovanni (right).
A Long Road
Domenick’s journey began shortly after his birth on
March 29, 2007. He needed a series of procedures
to essentially re-route the blood flow in his heart,
says Dr. Sett, who has done well more than 1,000
surgeries to correct congenital
heart defects.
Dr. Suvro Sett
4
Domenick’s first procedure,
done when he was two weeks
old, involved placing a band
around his main pulmonary
artery to restrict blood flow to
the lungs. A little later,
Dr. Erb performed the second
procedure, a cardiac catheterization, in which a long,
thin tube was inserted into a blood vessel and
directed into Domenick’s heart to open up the
narrowing in the aorta.
In July 2007, Domenick returned to Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center
for the main event — a
complex, multi-step surgery
by Dr. Sett that re-routed the
blood flow in his heart and
patched the hole between the
two lower chambers. Although
Dr. Markus Erb
he still has some hurdles to
“The nurses in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit) and PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care
Unit), the nurse practitioners, doctors and the
Child Life and music therapists who would visit
Domenick were very compassionate,” says
Sandra. “They made an effort to be there for us
and to help us get through a very difficult and
stressful time in our lives. They not only took
care of their patient physically, they took care
of the family emotionally.”
Domenick D’Addona is just one of thousands of children who have
been successfully treated for congenital heart defects by pediatric
cardiology specialists at Westchester Medical Center since 1983.
Children have come to the Medical Center, now home to Maria
Fareri Children’s Hospital, seeking care for problems ranging from a
hole in the heart to hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which occurs
when a child is born with only “half a heart” or a single pumping
chamber.
To get the best results, specialists in the pediatric heart program
at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical
Center work closely with those in other fields. Although the
hospital has one of the highest case mix indices in the state,
meaning that it treats the sickest patients, our surgical success
rate exceeds the state’s expected success average.
“Part of the reason we can do what we do in the
pediatric heart program is that we are backed by highly
trained specialists in every area of pediatric medicine
from anesthesiology to critical care to pulmonology and
gastroenterology,” says Markus Erb, M.D., Pediatric Cardiologist.
“Complex patients like Domenick need to be in a hospital
where all these people can get together at a moment’s notice.”
The program is supported by a high-tech critical care
unit, dedicated operating suite and full staff of medical and
cardiovascular specialists who work together closely to help
children from all over the Hudson Valley region and beyond.
When Antonietta Golia gave birth at Westchester Medical
Center to her daughter, Dina, who had been diagnosed with
complex heart defects and other congenital anomalies before birth,
Suvro Sett, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, and Gustavo
Stringel, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Surgery, were both on hand to take
immediate action.
“We were able to predict everything that Dina would have to deal
with based on the fetal echocardiograms that were done repeatedly
throughout the pregnancy. That’s why those two surgeons were in
the delivery room when she was born,” says Bernard Fish, M.D., Dina’s
pediatric cardiologist.
“The surgeons worked as a team and were very well organized,” says
Antonietta. “She had a lot of problems and needed her first surgery two
hours after she was born. But they made us feel like it was going to be
all right.” Now four, Dina’s surgeries – she has had five major operations
– are behind her and she’s enjoying pre-school like other healthy children.
“When people hear my daughter’s story and then see her, they can’t
believe it,” says Antonietta.
Dr. Sett says children born with heart defects have a better long-term
prognosis today because surgical techniques keep improving. In recent
years, for example, techniques have evolved to keep blood flowing to
the brain for as long as possible during surgery, reducing the risk of side
effects.
Whenever possible, non-surgical techniques are used to correct
defects. Using cardiac catheterization, a procedure in which a long,
thin tube is threaded into a blood vessel and directed into the heart,
specialists can eliminate irregular heartbeats, close defects using
plugs and open narrowed arteries.
“These children do very well,” says Dr. Sett, who has performed
more than 1,000 surgeries to correct congenital heart defects.
“By giving children as full a repair as possible, we make it
possible for them to lead ordinary lives, with few or no
restrictions on their activities.”
The Golias in their family deli, Roma Deli II, in Wappingers Falls
(from left to right): Dina, who was born with heart defects, dad, Roberto,
sister, Martina, mom, Antonietta, and brother, Giuseppe.
5
research update
Hope for Kids with Asthma
Research at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Could Lead to More
Effective Treatment Methods with Fewer Side Effects
The research, funded by a seed grant from the
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Foundation, could
ultimately change the way specialists care for
children with asthma, allowing them to eliminate or
decrease certain medications when inflammation
is low. The research also aims to answer the
question of why polluted air increases the incidence
of asthma in children, which could lead to new
preventive measures.
the body to allergens, injuries and infections.
When the airways are inflamed and a child comes
into contact with a trigger such as pet dander or
pollen, the child may experience asthma symptoms
such as coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Specialists typically prescribe anti-inflammatory
medications such as inhaled corticosteroids to control
inflammation in children with persistent asthma, but
these medications can have side effects.
There is currently no ideal non-invasive way to
measure airway inflammation; however, people with
poorly controlled asthma generally have elevated
levels of nitric oxide in their exhaled breath. Subjects
in the study are asked to exhale into a frozen tube,
which collects condensate, or the fine particles in
their breath. Dr. Dozor measures the levels of nitric
oxide in the exhaled air and then Dr. Balazy takes
the samples of breath condensate to his lab and
measures whether levels of toxic fatty acids, another
possible marker for inflammation, are elevated.
The two doctors will be anxiously awaiting the results
of their research because of the way it could affect
asthma treatment.
“The medications used to treat asthma today are
very effective, but everything has side effects,” says
Dr. Dozor. “If we can accurately monitor inflammation,
we’ll be able to cut down on those medications while
still controlling the asthma, which will have a profound
affect on the way we treat this disease.”
Research Scholars Program
Dr. Allen Dozor leads an asthma research program funded by
the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Foundation.
M
Most parents of children with asthma view the
medications used to control the condition as a
necessary evil. Given a choice, they would prefer
to give their child fewer medications in smaller
doses. Thanks to ongoing research at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center,
someday parents of asthmatic children may be able
to do just that.
Allen Dozor, M.D., Associate Physician-in-Chief and
Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at
New York Medical College, says he and Michael
Balazy, Ph.D., a researcher at New York Medical
College, are searching for a reliable, non-invasive
way to measure inflammation in the airways of
asthmatic children.
6
The project is one of four being funded by the
foundation’s Research Scholars
Program, launched in 2007. The
program awarded $50,000 a year for
two years, or $100,000 per project,
to specialists conducting transitional
Dr. Michael Balazy
research, which links research
concepts to clinical solutions. Other
funded projects are focusing on childhood obesity,
brain hemorrhages in premature infants, and
targeted chemotherapy for childhood brain tumors.
“This is a wonderful program because it allows
researchers to develop new ideas and test new
hypotheses, which, if fruitful, could lead to successful
applications to the National Institutes of Health and
other foundations for large-scale studies,” says
Dr. Dozor. “We’re very grateful and honored that
this project was chosen.”
Studying Airway Inflammation
Drs. Balazy and Dozor are enrolling 80 children into
their study to test new ways to measure inflammation
in the airways. Inflammation is a complex response of
A Doctor’s Advice WhereverYou Are
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Offers Health and Wellness Podcasts
Wouldn’t it be great to have a host of pediatric experts right
at your fingertips to advise you on ways to keep your child
safe and healthy, as well as to shed some light on current kids’
health topics?
With podcasts from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center, anyone with access to the
Internet can easily obtain expert advice on a range of issues
from children’s sleeping disorders to whether asthma should
keep young athletes on the sidelines. The podcasts are audio
interviews with pediatric specialists that can be played on
your personal computer, burned to a CD or downloaded
onto your digital audio player and listened to at your
convenience.
Scoliosis: Why Early Detection is Important, Concussions,
tThe Effects of Maternal Obesity on Newborn Health, and Is
Your Teen Ready to Graduate to an Adolescent Specialist?
The list of available podcasts continues to grow. To find topics that
interest you, visit www.WorldClassMedicine.com/podcasts, and
bookmark the page as new interviews will be uploaded regularly.
“Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is the advanced care
pediatric facility for the Hudson Valley and our health experts
are the region’s foremost authorities in their medical fields,”
says Andrew LaGuardia, Director of Communications for
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “These podcasts tap into
that wealth of knowledge and deliver important health and
wellness information in a casual format.”
Ranging in length from 10 to 20 minutes, the podcasts are
more like conversations between a parent and specialist than
formal interviews, says LaGuardia, a parent of young kids
himself, who handles many of the interviews. Topics currently
available include How to Console a Crying Baby,
Dr. Wallace Jenkins covers an important topic in a
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital podcast.
7
feature article
Meeting a Critical Need
Growing So We Can Treat More Kids With Complex Conditions
An expansion of our Emergency Department now allows us to accommodate the 14,500 pediatric patients who pass through our Emergency doors each year.
A
As a parent, it may seem that every time you turn
around, your child has grown another inch —
or two, or three. At Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
at Westchester Medical Center, we’re having a growth
spurt of our own, fueled by the region’s increasing
demand for advanced pediatric healthcare.
Since opening our doors in the fall of 2004, Maria
Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical
Center has cared for nearly 90,000 infants, children
and teens with a wide range of medical issues including
nearly all forms of complex conditions. Families have
come to us from throughout the Hudson Valley and
beyond seeking care for congenital heart defects, cancer
and neurological conditions, as well as chronic ailments
such as metabolic disorders, diabetes and cystic fibrosis.
The hospital has had an average daily occupancy of
more than 92 percent since 2004, with the inpatient
units at capacity during the last quarter of 2008.
8
Emergency Department visits have more than
doubled, increasing from about 7,000 in 2005 to
about 14,500 in 2008, according to David Markenson,
M.D., Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Another
sign of increased demand has been the spike in the
number of surgical procedures, which have gone from
about 250 in 2004 to nearly 500 in 2008.
More Patients, More Space
To ensure that the healthcare needs of the region’s
children are met, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center is expanding. In the
first half of 2008, the hospital added six pediatric
emergency department beds, nearly doubling capacity
in that area. In 2009, the hospital will also add four
new inpatient beds by relocating three patient lounge
areas and an office, according to Michael Gewitz, M.D.,
Physician-in-Chief at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
at Westchester Medical Center. Because the hospital
is frequently at
or near capacity,
future plans call
for adding another
neighborhood,
or inpatient unit,
with nine beds by
2011. The new
neighborhood
could be
accommodated
We are also converting existing space
into inpatient rooms to accommodate in the existing
more patients.
building, while
any further expansion would require adding to the
footprint of the Children’s Hospital, Dr. Gewitz says.
“Adding another neighborhood is in keeping with
the overall strategic plan for both Westchester
Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
and is imperative to meet the needs of the children
and families we serve,” says Dr. Gewitz. “Given the
current economic climate in the country and in our
industry, we may not be able to complete these
expansions as quickly as originally planned, but there
is still a need to grow and enhance our services, and
we are committed to meeting it.”
A Partner in the Community
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester
Medical Center is serving the community in other
ways as well. As the core of a hub-and-spoke
arrangement with a large network of community
hospitals in the region, the hospital is working to
prevent illnesses and injuries and enhance the quality
of pediatric healthcare at all levels.
“We thought long and hard about how we could
benefit the families in the region who may never
need advanced care,” says Dr. Gewitz. “We decided
to do it with a big health and wellness effort,
intertwined with the area’s community hospitals.”
One initiative, funded by a grant from the
R Baby Foundation, seeks to improve emergency
medical care for infants, toddlers and children
at community hospitals by ensuring that those
hospitals are equipped and trained in the recognition,
stabilization and referral of pediatric emergencies.
In another outreach, specialty groups from
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westschester
Medical Center are collaborating with physicians at
community hospitals and clinics in Dutchess, Orange,
Rockland, Fairfield and northern Bronx counties.
Medical specialists or support staff members visits these
community hospitals each day to review healthcare
statistics, quality measures and treatment protocols to
ensure that all area providers are up to date.
“These programs are meant to create a seamless
network so kids and their families are confident
they’re getting appropriate care in their community,
while knowing that when they need specialty care,
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is available to them,”
says Dr. Gewitz.
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester
Medical Center is also working on many fronts to
prevent illnesses and injuries. For example, our
Children’s Hospital is one of only two hospitals in New
York State involved in a program to educate every new
mother about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome,
a life-threatening condition that occurs when infants are
handled too roughly. Under the auspices of another
state grant, our experts identify kids at risk for lead
poisoning from lead-based paint and arrange for testing,
treatment and even relocation if the housing they live in
is dangerously contaminated by lead.
“This hospital was conceived from the get-go with
two missions in mind,” Dr. Gewitz says. “One is
to provide advanced medical care for complex
conditions. The other is to be an advocate for
children’s healthcare at every level. That includes
treatment of acute medical problems and also
prevention of these problems.”
9
feature article
HelpYour Child Steer
Clear of Colds and the
Flu AllYear Long
If it seems like your child always has a cold, it’s not
entirely your imagination — kids get an average of six
to eight colds a year, compared to only two to four
for adults. As for influenza, or “the flu,” it is not nearly
as common but is far more serious, says Allen J. Dozor,
M.D., Associate Physician-in-Chief and Chief of Pediatric
Pulmonology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center.
Although there’s no foolproof way to keep a lid on colds
and flu, there are some common-sense precautions — like
frequent hand washing and getting the flu vaccine — that
can reduce the risk of your child contracting these illnesses.
Keeping Colds Away
Colds, which can be caused by any one of more than
200 viruses, are spread by contact — either by touching
an object that has been touched by someone who
has a cold virus on their hands or by inhaling droplets
after someone has coughed or sneezed into the air
near you, says José Muñoz, M.D., Chief of Pediatric
Infectious Diseases at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center.
To combat the spread of colds, Dr. Muñoz says:
• Teach children to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing or to cough or sneeze into the bend of
their elbow. Covering a sneeze with their hands just makes it more likely that the virus will be spread to
the next thing they touch, whether it is a toy, doorknob, stair rail or kitchen counter.
• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water aren’t available. Older children can even keep a
mini-sized sanitizer in their backpacks or desks at school. Do not give sanitizers to children who still put
things in their mouths.
• Open windows a crack when the weather permits. Even a small amount of fresh air entering a room
helps to reduce the presence of viral germs.
• Keep fingers and hands away from the eyes and nose where cold virus germs can be spread.
• If you use hot air heating in your home, consider using a humidifier to keep the air moderately moist.
Dry air makes sinuses and nasal passages more susceptible to infection.
Most colds will get better within a few days to two weeks but you should consult your pediatrician if a child
has unusually severe cold symptoms, a high fever, sinus headache, ear pain, a cough that gets worse while
other symptoms improve or a flare-up of a chronic condition like asthma.
Avoiding the Flu
When it comes to the flu, the best defense is getting the vaccine, says Dr. Dozor. Specialists recommend
getting vaccinated in October or November,
however, the American Lung Association
says it is “never too late” to get the vaccine.
Flu season runs through March and the
vaccine takes only two weeks to take effect.
“The influenza virus is not that common;
most colds and viruses are not due to
influenza,” says Dr. Dozor. “But if you get the
flu, it is really bad. Children run high fevers,
have persistent coughs and generally feel
awful. Kids who have asthma will not only
be sicker with the flu than non-asthmatics,
but the flu will sensitize them for up to six
months, turning a child with mild asthma
into one with severe asthma.”
In the most severe cases, when the flu is
complicated by a bacterial pneumonia or
infection of the lungs, the flu can even lead
to death. “I see parents every year who can’t understand how their child ended up in the Intensive Care
Unit from the flu. It can be a very serious illness, and parents need to do everything they can to protect
their kids from it,” says Dr. Dozor.
• Encourage children to wash their hands frequently — before and after using the bathroom, before and
after eating and before and after touching high-use surfaces like computer keyboards or shared toys.
10
11
foundation news
Why We Walk
Go the Distance Supporters Speak Out
A
Are you ready to Go the Distance? Since its inception
in 2005, more than 20,000 people have turned out for
this inspiring walk and family fun day to raise funds for
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical
Center -- the all-specialty children’s hospital for the
Hudson Valley region.
extended family members and friends. “That’s why
we walk. We want to support the hospital as much as
possible.” (Marcello has a rare metabolic disorder that
prevents his body from converting certain fats into
usable energy.)
The Go the Distance event, coming up this year on
Sunday, April 19, is expected to draw more than 6,000
participants to the hospital’s Valhalla campus, including
patients, family members, neighbors, friends, hospital staff
and corporate and community groups.
How does it work? These participants form teams,
complete with customized t-shirts to wear on walk day,
and each team member collects donations from various
supporters in their community. Don’t have a team? No
worries! Individuals can gather donations on their own
or just come out on walk day to enjoy the festivities.
This event also brings out an impressive list of sponsors,
such as Atlas Air, Emergency Medical Associates, ENT
Faculty, Key Bank, New York City District Council of
Carpenters, People’s United Bank and the Journal
News, just to name a few. Last year’s walk raised
approximately $500,000 for enhancing and expanding
the services offered at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
With all this in mind, we surveyed some of the various
team members and sponsors and asked them, “Why
do you walk?” Here’s a sampling of what they said:
12
It started with teddy bears. William B. Meyer, Inc., a
transportation and storage company, wanted to do
something for children who were hospitalized. So
the company donated teddy bears to hospitals in its
service area, which stretches from New York City to
Boston, to put smiles on children’s faces during the
holiday season. “When we came to deliver the teddy
bears to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, we were so
impressed by what a remarkable place it is,” says Tom
Gillon, president of William B. Meyer, Inc. “We decided
right then and there that we wanted to do more and
came to participate in the walk, which is a fabulous and
fun event that we look forward to doing again this year.”
Team Kayla’s Journey
“Twelve years ago, I gave birth to a healthy baby,” says
Michelle Mattson, Kayla’s mother. “But when she was
eight she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis,
Raynaud’s phenomenon, mixed connective tissue
disease and a clotting disorder.”
Rene and Cris Lemieux will never forget the “care
we received as parents when our son Tyler was in the
NICU” in 2004. “They held us when we cried,” says
Cris of the staff. “When we couldn’t support each
other, they supported us.”
Although Tyler was born with severe heart defects and
succumbed to a serious infection a few weeks after his
birth, Cris says,“The NICU environment and staff allowed
us to bond with our son and have some wonderful
memories.”
Team KeyBank
Team KeyBank is committed to providing the community
with resources it needs to improve quality of life.
Team Tyler is one of the largest teams that participates
in Go the Distance each year.
The KeyBank Team provided free water bottles
to walkers at the 2008 event.
Kayla Cappello-Mattson (right), age 12, and her friend, Mary,
enjoyed the festivities at the 2008 event.
Team Tyler
The William B. Meyer team will again be a valued sponsor
at the 2009 walk event.
Although Kayla is doing well now, Michelle says,
she and her husband, Doug, and younger daughter,
Kara, and family and friends walk “because you
never know when you are going to need a really
wonderful children’s hospital. We want to give
back, and we want other families to know that
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is here.”
Team William B. Meyer, Inc.
“That’s why Key is so proud to support
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital,” he adds.
“By providing severely ill and injured kids with the
most unique and advanced care available, the facility
and its staff help to keep the future bright and full of
hope for so many of them.”
To express their gratitude, the Lemieux family, along with
25 to 50 family members and friends who continue to
participate in the walk every year, have raised more than
$100,000 for a new program in fetal medicine.
Marcello Archetti, the inspiration for the Archetti family team,
served as Grand Marshal for the Go the Distance walk in 2006.
Team Archetti Family
“Our son Marcello is doing great, but he wouldn’t
be here today without the care he has received and
continues to receive from the wonderful doctors and
staff at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital,” says
Lisa Archetti, who walks along with her husband, David,
Team William B. Meyer, Inc.
“Nowhere is this more important than in the level
of healthcare available to our region’s children,” says
Michael Orsino, president of the Hudson Valley/Metro
New York District.
If you would like to participate in the
Go the Distance event
on April 19 or would simply like more
information, please call
(914) 493-2575 or visit
www.WorldClassMedicine.com/walk.
13
feature article
child life
Always Here When
You Need Us
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Launches Pediatric Hospitalist Program
L
Like many infants born with complex medical problems,
11-month-old Danny Torres is under the care of a
team of specialists including a cardiologist, a radiologist,
an endocrinologist, a pulmonologist, a geneticist and a
gastroenterologist. His mother, Joanna Guzman, has high
praise for all of the physicians treating her son but says the
doctor she relies on the most is Dinabel Peralta-Reich, M.D.
Dr. Peralta-Reich is a
pediatric hospitalist, a
physician who specializes
in caring for patients while
they are hospitalized.
Maria Fareri Children’s
Hospital at Westchester
Medical Center recently
hired three pediatric
hospitalists and plans to
Dr. Caroline Moon
hire two more in the
near future, which will ensure round-the-clock coverage for
inpatients by attending physicians, which isn’t the case at all
hospitals. The other two hospitalists now on staff are: Elissa
Gross, M.D., and Caroline Moon, M.D.
Dr. Elissa Gross
“There are many benefits to
the hospitalist program,” says
Robin Altman, M.D., Chief of
General Pediatrics and Acting
Director of the Pediatric
Hospitalist Program. “If a
child has a sudden change in
condition such as experiencing
respiratory distress or a
seizure, the hospitalist is there
to help manage it — even in
the middle of the night. The
hospitalist provides families
with a level of comfort.”
Hospitalists also coordinate a child’s care, ensuring that tests
and procedures are ordered and carried out in a timely
manner and that discharge planning is done efficiently.
14
What’s more, the hospitalist is available on a regular basis to
speak with families about their child’s progress and treatment.
For Guzman, Dr. Peralta-Reich has been an invaluable
resource. “She is excellent. When something is wrong with
Danny, like he’s vomiting, she comes right away and checks
him. Sometimes it is not serious, but sometimes it is, so it
is great to have her here,” says Guzman. “She has a good
way of explaining things, too. She brought together all the
information from the specialists and explained it to me. She
makes things easier.”
Notes from a Hospital Bed
Teen Theater Troop Gives Voice to Patients’ Poetry in a Benefit Performance
“I look out my window and what do I see? The birds, the bees and
really tall trees. And beautiful butterflies fluttering in the breeze.”
I
It’s part of an ode to a beautiful summer day -- cheerful on the
surface but spurred by the sadness of a seriously ill teenager
spending her days and nights in the hospital instead of enjoying
“Summer’s Beautiful Bounty,” as the poem is titled. For Arianna
Salas, writing the poem in a poetry workshop at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center was a
release, a way to express her sadness at a time when her body
was betraying her.
But when she had the opportunity to see her poetry enacted
in a benefit performance called “Notes from a Hospital Bed,”
it took on a whole new dimension. “I felt as if the teen actors
gave our numerous pains and sufferings a voice -- a voice that
we were able to reach out to other people with, telling them,
in a way, about our lives,” says Arianna.
The theatrical performance combining acting, music, dance
and video montage came together quickly after Angela Uzzo,
a volunteer in the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy
Department at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, came upon a
binder of collected poems written by patients.
Dr. Dinabel Peralta-Reich
Hospitalist programs have been growing in popularity since
the concept was conceived in the mid-90s. Studies suggest
that having hospitalists on staff can improve coordination of
patient management, leading to better patient satisfaction
and reduced lengths of stay, says Dr. Altman.
For her part, Dr. Peralta-Reich says she enjoys hospital-based
medicine: “I love inpatient care. I like working with children
with a variety of diagnoses and helping parents during a very
stressful time.” In addition, the pediatric hospitalists lead a
team that includes sub specialists, residents, medical students,
nurses and other healthcare professionals.
“The hospitalist program is just another example of the
continuing commitment of the leadership at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital and Westchester Medical Center to
providing leading edge, patient-centered, high-quality care,”
says Dr. Altman.
- Arianna Salas
With permission from Child Life Therapist Jeannie Sweeney,
whose Friday morning Poetry Corner generated the written
works, Uzzo jumped into high gear. She contacted Trish’s
Ribbon, a Katonah-based, not-for-profit organization dedicated
to raising funds for worthwhile local groups, to host the event.
And she also reached out to the Infinity Repertory Co., a teen
theater troop housed in the Pulse Studio in Bedford Hills, to
provide the talent to bring the poems to life. From there the
project took on a life of its own.
Trish’s Ribbon, which is run by Trish and John Burton, went all
out organizing the event, which included a silent auction and
receptions both before and after the show. The group also
handled the bookkeeping and ultimately raised more than
$100 per seat, although tickets were priced at just $75 each.
Jennifer Dell, co-founder of Pulse Studio, donated the studio
space for the performance, while Paul Perez, Executive
Director of the Infinity Repertory Co. and co-founder of
Pulse Studio, worked with the young actors to put the show
together. Perez says he received a pile of poems in July and
passed them on to the two teen directors of the troop,
Maxine Builder, 16, of Armonk, and Kendall Collins, also 16, of
Ridgefield, Conn.
“The kids kept coming up with ideas of what the poems
represented and how to carry them out,” Perez says. “They
really wanted the audience to experience the emotions of the
poets. And since the authors were teens, the actors felt very
connected to them.”
Members of the Infinity Repertory Co. performed an “unplugged”
version of the show in the Children’s Hospital lobby.
“I was so moved by the poetry,” Uzzo says. “I really felt that
these poems had to be heard.”
In September, the troop performed an “unplugged” version
of the show in the lobby of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
And in October, they performed for a sold-out house at Pulse
Studio, raising about $14,000 for the Child Life and Creative
Arts Therapy Department at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
“Everyone has their own stories,” Sweeney says. “And I believe
in stories. Seeing the kids’ poems on stage was the most
incredibly moving experience of my life.”
15
donor spotlight
A Big Help for Tiny Babies
How One Generous Donor Has Made a Vital Difference in the
Care of Newborns at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
Indeed, the NICU at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center is one of only 17 Level IV units
-- the highest level -- in New York State, and the only one
between New York City and Albany, says Dr. La Gamma. “We
are a resource for all seven lower Hudson Valley counties
and Fairfield County in Connecticut, which account for about
30,000 births a year,” he says. “Of those, about 700 babies
a year need treatment at our NICU for premature birth,
congenital anomalies, metabolic diseases, enzyme defects
and the like.”
Westchester Medical Center’s original neonatal unit, which
opened about 25 years ago, had just 6,000 square feet of
space. Thanks to the Kaplan donation, today’s more cheerful
and hospitable unit, nearly four times as large at 22,500 square
feet, has become a national model for how such facilities should
be designed. “When other centers plan their NICUs, they come
to see how this one is laid out,” says Dr. La Gamma.
And what they see goes beyond what he calls “hard medicine.”
According to Dr. La Gamma, “It’s also a place where babies are
M
Kaplan’s role as a donor to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
has made a significant difference in the care given to
sick babies in the Hudson Valley. “Naomi Kaplan is a
perfect example of a leader within our community who
recognized a need at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital
and so generously committed to making a donation that
would change the lives of so many children,” says Janelle
Hraiki, Executive Director of the Maria Fareri Children’s
Hospital Foundation. “Not only is it important for us as a
foundation to raise funds in support of our hospital and its
programs to stay on the cutting edge of medicine, but it is
also crucial that we show donors such as Mrs. Kaplan how
their contribution has helped us maintain that status.”
Donor Naomi Kaplan “cuddles” a baby girl
in the NICU she helped build.
Many people love babies, but few love them as
Naomi Kaplan does. “Every Tuesday, you’ll see me at
my local hospital holding the babies,” says Kaplan. She
admits to being “over 80,” but she still makes the trip from
her Larchmont home every week to take her post as a
“cuddler”— a volunteer who holds infants in the Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to add a special level of warmth
available only by human touch.
Kaplan’s involvement with the NICU at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center began
when the new unit was first proposed almost a decade ago.
But her affinity for babies goes back much further. Born in
Poland, she moved to Mexico with her parents at five years
old, then to New York about 10 years later. She married
Isaac in 1942, and he built a successful real estate company
while she raised their five children.
But Kaplan has done more than cuddle. She is the single
biggest private benefactor to the NICU at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. When it
opened in 2004, the Naomi and Isaac Kaplan Family NICU
was named in honor of her and her late husband. Kaplan’s
gift helped to create a facility with the latest equipment,
warm lighting and colors, easy accessibility and a less
stressful, more home-like environment for families dealing
with seriously ill newborns.
“I loved being a mother,” she says. “Those were the best
years of my life.”
“Her generosity was critical in getting this ICU built the way
it is now,” says Edmund F. La Gamma, M.D., Chief of the
Division of Newborn Medicine and Director of the Regional
NICU. “Other than the National Institutes of Health, which
fund much of our research, and the patients we serve, she has
been the single largest contributor helping us build this unit in
its current form. Without her, there would be no NICU.”
16
cared for so they can grow up to live happily every after.”
He explains that human touch is crucial for babies to reach
both physical and emotional developmental milestones.
“Research proves that this ‘soft’ medicine is very important,” he
says. “And Naomi is an especially warm person who has taken a
keen interest in the need for personal touch in newborns.”
After Isaac died in 1991, just shy of their 50th wedding
anniversary, with her own children grown, Naomi “wanted to
do something worthwhile,” she says. She contacted people
she knew at her local hospital, Sound Shore Medical Center,
part of Westchester Medical Center’s network of affiliated
institutions. “I thought I could do something with children.
So I went to the neonatal unit in New Rochelle, and
Dr. Steve Piazza asked if I’d like to hold a baby. I said,
‘Oh, I’d love it!’ And that was it.”
A few years later, she learned that Westchester was planning
to build a new, state-of-the-art NICU at Maria Fareri Children’s
Hospital that would serve the entire lower Hudson Valley and
Fairfield County, Connecticut. “They said it would be one of
a kind, and I wanted to help,” she says.
Surrounded by the blue lighting used to treat jaundice in infants in the NICU,
Dr. Edmund F. La Gamma, Director of the NICU, speaks with Mrs. Kaplan.
17
staff spotlight
A Place to Belong
Mary Delaney Builds a Home Away from Home for Families
A
As a missionary worker for Maryknoll in Nicaragua in the 1980s,
Mary Delaney, now Director of Family Support and the
FamilyResource Center at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center, arranged for the medical care
in the United States of an
orphaned boy who needed
spinal surgery. Because the U.S.
did not have diplomatic relations
with Nicaragua at that time,
getting permission to bring the
child to this country, Delaney
says, required the intervention of
former President Jimmy Carter.
It also required that Delaney
accompany the child and stay
Mary Delaney
with him throughout treatment.
These days, it’s a lot easier for Delaney to help children and families
in need – all she has to do is come to work. In her position in the
Family Resource Center at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Delaney
hopes to strengthen and enhance the hospital’s commitment to
family-centered care by increasing support services.
multiple specialists, Delaney, along with members of the social work
team, helps facilitate meetings between a child’s entire healthcare
team and the family.
One of the questions Dr. Allen
Dozor
andtime
his research
team
“Having all the specialists sit down
at one
with a family
answer:
and answer questions can make it muchhope
easiertofor
parents to
understand their child’s condition and treatment
options,” she says.
Could medication
for acid
refluxboard
In addition, Delaney plans to create a family
advisory
help prevent
to provide ongoing input on ways to improve the hospital
asthma flare-ups?
experience for patients and families. By having patients’ family
members serve on an advisory board with a physician, nurse,
social worker and Delaney, it will ensure that the needs of families,
whether emotional, medical or practical, are kept in the forefront.
Perfect for the Job
The oldest of four children growing up in Jersey City, N.J.,
Delaney went to Boston College where she earned a degree
in special education. For the next several years, she put her
training to use with children in need, teaching severely disabled
children at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in her hometown,
teaching remedial students in the Bahamas and teaching orphans
in Nicaragua during a time of war.
“It is a dream come true for me to be able to develop programs
and help families who are going through a very stressful period in
their lives,” says Delaney, who is fluent in both English and Spanish.
A Comfortable Yet Practical Escape
For example, Delaney has established both English-speaking
and Spanish-speaking support groups for families with children
in the hospital.
“The support groups bring together families in similar
circumstances,” says Delaney. “But any group that brings parents
together to talk about their fears and frustrations is helpful.”
Because many of the children cared for at Maria Fareri Children’s
Hospital at Westchester Medical Center require the services of
18
Time to Get Your Head in the Game
F
For most parents, the term concussion conjures up images of
a child knocked unconscious while playing sports – a football
player getting tackled, a hockey player hitting the glass or a
soccer player butting heads with another child. While contact
sports are a major cause of concussions, this type of head injury
also can occur when a child tumbles off a bicycle or a toddler
missteps and falls. Concussions can even occur when an infant
or young child is handled too roughly by a caregiver.
Regardless of the cause, concussions are not to be taken lightly.
“A concussion is defined as a temporary disturbance of brain
function,” says Michael Tobias, M.D., Co-Chief of Pediatric
Neurosurgery, along with Avinash Mohan, M.D., at Maria Fareri
Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.
“Not all concussions cause a loss of consciousness.”
A parent should suspect a concussion if a child seems confused
or dazed, has a staring spell or memory problems, seems
unfocused or very emotional, complains of a severe headache,
vomits repeatedly or can’t walk properly following a blow to
the head. If any of these symptoms occur, you should call your
pediatrician immediately or take the child to the emergency room.
bottom of stairs, place a self-latching lock on basement doors
and cover or soften table edges. Make sure your baby or
toddler has a safe place to play and never leave a young child
unsupervised.
For older children, the best prevention is the consistent and
appropriate use of helmets. Children should wear helmets
when bicycling, roller skating, skateboarding, skiing,
snowboarding or when playing contact sports like football.
In fact, Dr.Tobias says, studies have shown that 80 percent of
head injuries sustained from bicycle accidents could be prevented
with helmet use.
“As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I don’t meet kids who use helmets,”
says Dr.Tobias. “I meet kids who don’t use helmets or who
didn’t use one on the day an accident occurred. Supervision and
education are the keys to preventing head injuries.”
Most children recover from a concussion with no lasting health
problems, provided they follow certain precautions, says
Dr. Tobias. But children with an undiagnosed concussion may
be at risk for long-term complications like learning difficulties,
headaches or even worse outcomes.
“When you have a concussion, the brain revs up and remains
in a hyper metabolic state for seven to 10 days,” says Dr. Tobias.
“During this time, the brain is more vulnerable to secondary
injury. As a result, we want to be sure that the brain has healed
before returning a child to sports and other normal activities.”
Located on the first floor of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center, the Family Resource Center looks
like an oversized family room with comfortable sofas, tables
and chairs, a fireplace, shelves full of children’s books, and five
computers for family use.
“It is an escape for families who are spending most of their time
at the bedside,” says Delaney.
Kids and Concussions
feature article
Mary Delaney counsels a family in
the Family Resource Center.
After six years in Nicaragua, Delaney returned home to the
United States and obtained her master’s degree in social work.
As a social worker, she has served breast cancer and AIDS
patients at a New York City hospital and burn and trauma
patients at Westchester Medical Center.
“Everything I have done up to this point has helped prepare me
for my position here,” Delaney says. “I am thrilled to be putting
my experience to such good use.”
A concussion occurs when the brain, which is floating in
cerebrospinal fluid in the head, strikes the inside of the skull.
This happens when the head is moving and something causes it
to stop suddenly. If a child falls down stairs and strikes his head,
for example, the brain may be bruised and blood vessels may
be torn.
There are three grades of concussion: Grade one involves a
brain disturbance with no loss of consciousness that lasts 15
minutes or less; grade two involves a brain disturbance with no loss
of consciousness that lasts more than 15 minutes; and grade three
involves a loss of consciousness for any length of time.
Although most concussions heal on their own with rest, no
parent wants a child to suffer a head injury. For infants and
toddlers, the best prevention is childproofing your home. To
prevent falls, for example, install safety gates at the top and
Dr. Avinash Mohan (left) and Dr. Michael Tobias are Co-Chiefs of
Pediatric Neurosurgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
19
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U.S. Postage
PAID
Permit No. 9523
White Plains, NY
Department of Marketing and
Corporate Communications
110 Executive Offices
Valhalla, NY 10595
www.WorldClassMedicine.com/MFCH
Upcoming Events
100.7 WHUD Kids’ Fair
Saturday, April 18
Now in its 14th year, the 100.7 WHUD Kids’ Fair, presented by Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, is an
event that unites thousands of families for a day of fun and learning at the Westchester County Center. In addition to the educational
displays, games and interactive exhibits, the fair also features a live radio broadcast, other live entertainment and much more, for
toddlers to pre-teens. Listen to 100.7 WHUD for more information or call the County Center at (914) 995-4050.
Go the Distance
Sunday, April 19
Join us for our “Go the Distance” Walk and Family Fun Day to raise funds for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at
Westchester Medical Center. The 2008 event raised more than $500,000 and everyone who attended had a blast.
For more information, visit www.WorldClassMedicine.com/walk or call (914) 493-2575.
For more information on events benefiting Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, contact
Margie Ostrower, Director of Special Events, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Foundation, at (914) 493-5414 or [email protected]
To learn more about giving opportunities, please contact the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Foundation at (914) 493-2575 or visit www.WorldClassMedicine.com/MFCH.
Want to hear from us? Sign up for a free weekly children’s health-related email, called Advance Notice, at www.WorldClassMedicine.com/MFCH.