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Heartbeat The Magazine of St. Francis Hospital The Heart Center庐 A Member of Catholic Health Services of Long Island

Small Heart Devices Bring Big Benefits Technical innovation has transformed the world of cardiac devices, offering patients new options

Plus: 路 Carotid Stents Successful at Preventing Strokes, Research Shows 路 Blood Pressure Cuff Brings Unexpected Health Benefits 路 Free Heart Screening for Student Athletes Richard Shlofmitz, M.D., and his patient, Stanley Hirsch, with the Impella heart pump.

Spring 2010

From the


In this Issue

Experience Makes the Difference

From the President 2

St. Francis Hospital’s reputation for excellence in cardiac care is based on several factors: the quality of our medical and nursing staff, our personal approach to care, our technological leadership, and most importantly, our experience. In the last 10 years alone, over 100,000 cardiac catheterizations, more than 37,000 angioplasties, and nearly 20,000 openheart surgeries have been performed at St. Francis, the highest caseload of any hospital in New York State and one of the highest in the nation. Our Arrhythmia Center also performs the highest volume of cardiac arrhythmia procedures in the country, with treatments that include radiofrequency ablation and pacemaker and defibrillator implantation. This kind of experience brings many important benefits. Studies consistently show that patients fare better when they go to physicians and hospitals that perform a high volume of procedures. A large cardiac caseload also provides fertile ground for research studies, from participation in large national clinical trials to our own institutional research to understand the underlying mechanisms of heart disease. And finally, the physicians behind these numbers are not just “doers”; they have also played a significant role in shaping modern cardiovascular medicine and as a result have created an ideal setting for the introduction of new devices and treatment strategies. In this issue, we have striking examples of these benefits. Our cover story describes the features of the newest generation of heart pumps now in use at St. Francis, devices so small that they can be inserted inside weakened hearts to help them pump. We also spotlight a study by St. Francis researchers that explores a novel and potentially lifesaving use of the blood pressure cuff. Another St. Francis physician is part of a landmark study that demonstrates the effectiveness of a pioneering treatment for carotid artery disease, while our new Chairman of Surgery explains the exciting new developments in noncardiac surgery at St. Francis. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the staff in our Emergency and Outpatient Surgery Departments and at our DeMatteis Center for Research and Education for achieving top marks for patient satisfaction from HealthStream Research and Press Ganey Associates. Their hard work and dedication to our mission have earned them these well-deserved honors.

In the News

Alan D. Guerci, M.D. President and CEO

Heartbeat Spring 2010


Features The Noncardiac Factor 6 Dr. Gary Gecelter discusses the promise of new minimally invasive techniques in noncardiac surgery Cover Story

Small Heart Devices Bring Big Benefits 8 page 6

Technical innovation has transformed the world of cardiac devices, offering patients new options

New Study May Show How a Blood 10 Pressure Cuff Could Be a Lifesaver St. Francis researchers hope to show how an everyday medical device could offer surprising benefits for cardiac patients Modern Healthcare Ranks St. Francis as one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare


Giving Back page 8

Family Matters 12 Med Student Aces Being a Volunteer at St. Francis The Visit That Sparked a Legacy 13 Paving St. Francis Hospital’s Future 13 Master Facilities Plan Update 13


Vital Signs page 10


Emergency and Outpatient Surgery Departments Ranked Best in Patient Satisfaction 14 DeMatteis Center Top-Ranked for Patient Satisfaction Hematology and Oncology See Expansion 15 Special Unit Dedicated for Congestive Heart Failure Patients 15


is published by St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®. Questions or comments can be directed to St. Francis Hospital, Office of Development and Public Affairs, 100 Port Washington Blvd., Roslyn, New York 11576. (516) 705-6655. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved. St. Francis Hospital is a member of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, the healthcare ministry of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Editor: Paul Barry. Writers: LaShieka Hunter, Rosemary Gomez. Editorial assistant: Debra Tischler. Contributing photographer: William Baker. Designer: Roger Gorman, Reiner Design.

Best wishes,


Cardiac Screening of Student Athletes 3 H1N1 Flu Advice from SFH 3 Carotid Stents as Good as Surgery 4 Bill O’Reilly Hosts Guild Benefit 4 FMM Wall 0f Faith 4 Cardiac Screening Goes on the Road 5 CPR Marathon Marks Heart Month 5 Mike Francesa Movie Night 5 Two Russian Children Receive Gift of Life

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

In the News Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology, Sean Levchuck, M.D., delivers good news to a student athlete. Richard D’Agostino, M.D. (inset)

St. Francis Physician and Nurse Offer Expert Advice on H1N1 Vaccine

St. Francis Offers Free Cardiac Screenings for Student Athletes St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center has launched a program to conduct free cardiac screenings of high school student athletes. The purpose is to detect and assess potential cardiac abnormalities that can put a strain on an athlete’s heart, particularly when he or she engages in strenuous physical activity. ®

Director of Infectious Diseases Alan Bulbin, M.D., and Respiratory Intensive Care Nurse Jane Billian, R.N., helped to ease the public’s fears over the H1N1 vaccine through several major media outlets. Dr. Bulbin appeared on News 12 in a live, hour-long special of “Long Island Talks” to help explain the CDC guidelines and answer questions from viewers who called in during the show. Dr. Bulbin was also the featured medical expert in a News Radio 880 report focusing on the vaccine and who should be getting it.

“We’ve heard too many tragic stories of students collapsing on athletic fields because they had not been previously screened for underlying heart conditions,” says Sean Levchuck, M.D., Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology. “We hope this program will help put the minds of parents and coaches at ease, by helping to prevent these episodes from occurring in the first place.” The program is the brainchild of Richard D’Agostino, Director of Orthopedics at St. Francis Hospital, who teamed with Dr. Levchuck and other Hospital staff members to get it off the ground. “I have had the pleasure of being associated with a number of club and scholastic athletic teams on Long Island,” says Dr. D’Agostino, “and from my experience, I could see how our Hospital was uniquely positioned to provide this vital service.” The assessments will be conducted on a quarterly basis. Students will be asked to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. During the screenings, several noninvasive diagnostic tests will be performed by St. Francis technicians including: • Electrocardiogram (EKG): A test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. It translates this activity into line tracings on paper. • Echocardiogram: A diagnostic test that utilizes ultrasound techniques to provide a twodimensional image of the heart and can detect many cardiac abnormalities. The use of this modality is unique to St. Francis Hospital’s screening. Student athletes will then be seen by one of the Hospital’s pediatric cardiologists who will conduct an assessment, review the findings of the tests and indicate if any additional evaluation is needed. Screenings will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis. Anyone interested in participating in the program can call the Hospital’s Community Outreach department at (516) 629-2038.

Meanwhile, St. Francis nurse Jane Billian was doing her part to get the message out. Billian appeared in the Sunday opinion section of Newsday in an editorial about mandatory flu shots for health care workers. The veteran R.N. said it’s a nurse’s duty to stay healthy and take the vaccine—to protect herself, her colleagues and her patients.

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



In the News St. Francis Cardiologist Leads Long Island Arm of Landmark Study Showing Carotid Stents Are as Good as Surgery George Petrossian, M.D., a leading interventional cardiologist at St. Francis Hospital, knows first hand about the value of using stents for treating carotid artery disease. Dr. Petrossian has treated more than 800 patients with stents to prevent strokes. But now, a newly released study confirms what the doctor has been saying all along, that stenting is as equally safe and effective as surgery. “This is a huge step forward,” Dr. Petrossian told Newsday, after the results of the CREST study were released by the National Institutes of Health.The doctor led an 8-year investigation at St. Francis, the only hospital on Long Island to participate in the study. The analysis involved 30 local patients who had obstructed carotid arteries. The condition can block blood flow to the brain and ultimately lead to a stroke, much like clogged coronary arteries can trigger a heart attack.

O’Reilly Brings the “Factor” to St. Francis: Popular political commentator Bill O’Reilly hosted “An Evening with Bill O’Reilly” to benefit The Guild of St. Francis Hospital. The FOX News host pictured with Anne Maione, Guild President, (r), and Joan Brakman, Event Chair, (l), said he wished every hospital in the U.S. was run as well as St. Francis. His show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” is the most watched program on cable news.

Carotid expert: George Petrossian, M.D.

According to findings, which involved more than 2,500 patients in the U. S. and Canada, stents not only offered patients a less invasive option, but also a quicker recovery.The wire mesh tubes are guided through the skin, into the aorta and to the carotid artery in the neck. They press the blockages of plaque against the walls of the artery, enabling blood to flow more freely. Stroke effects 795,000 people annually, the majority of which are patients 65 and older. “Currently, Medicare will cover carotid stenting only in patients with symptoms and who are at high risk for surgery,” says Dr. Petrossian. He hopes the latest findings will allow Medicare to loosen its restrictions so stenting can become a viable option for a larger population of patients being treated for stroke prevention.


Heartbeat Spring 2010

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Wall of Faith: St. Francis Hospital CEO and President, Alan D. Guerci, M.D., and members of the Hospital’s founding order of women religious, The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, at the dedication of a special tablet commemorating the Sisters’ remarkable contributions to health care and to St. Francis Hospital. The monument is located near the Grotto and Stations of the Cross on the Hospital’s main campus and is designed to provide patients and visitors an area in which to reflect and find solace.

Cardiac Screening for the Uninsured Goes On the Road With plenty of holy water in hand, Fr. John Ephraim blessed St. Francis Hospital’s latest effort to provide much needed cardiac care: its new, state-of-the-art Outreach van. The customized vehicle will travel to underserved communities once a week and on designated weekends to provide cardiac screenings to the uninsured. Directed by Louise Spadaro, M.D., its dedicated staff will provide cardiac, blood pressure, and diabetes screenings to patients who don’t have access to health care. “It is our greatest hope that people see our new van in their communities and recognize it as a welcome sign of our commitment, offering them a safe, comfortable place to privately address their cardiac concerns,” says Dr. Spadaro. The three room van has an exam/EKG area, a lab station/counseling area, and a waiting area with educational material. In addition to onsite screenings, the program will provide referrals for noninvasive testing, treatment of arrhythmias, surgical correction of heart problems through bypass and valve surgery, and the treatment of congestive heart disease. Funding for these services will be provided in part from donations raised through WFAN’s Mike Francesa Champions of the Heart charitable fund. For more information, call (516) 629-2038.

CPR Marathon Sets New Record for St. Francis Hospital: Our “9 to 5” CPR Marathon in support of American Heart Month resulted in a grand total of 60,000 compressions. The all-day, nonstop event was aimed at raising awareness about the latest “hands only” guidelines. The launch was covered live on News 12 and ran on several other media outlets throughout the day.

A Big Fan of St. Francis: Popular sports radio personality Mike Francesa hosted a private screening of Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks, by award-winning filmmaker Dan Klores. The WFAN host, pictured here with Alan D. Guerci, M.D., (l), President and CEO, said the level of care at St. Francis is unmatched anywhere. Proceeds benefited the Mike Francesa Champions of the Heart Fund to help underinsured working men and women receive lifesaving cardiac care.

Two Russian Children Get New Lease on Life: 7-year-old Lisa Curra (l) of Long Island welcomes two Russian Gift of Life children, 4-year-old Mickhail Zimin (c) and 8year-old Alina Klimakhina (r). Both youngsters received the same lifesaving procedure that Lisa had more than a year ago to repair holes in their hearts. St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



Q&A The Noncardiac Factor Gary Gecelter, M.D., talks about the latest developments in the noncardiac surgical program at St. Francis Hospital.


e entered the halls of St. Francis in 2008, bringing with him expertise in several innovative minimally invasive surgical techniques, as well as a vision for the future of noncardiac surgery at the Hospital. Gary Gecelter, M.D., the Chairman of the Department of Surgery, is an internationally renowned surgeon specializing in surgical oncology and is a master of several pioneering laparoscopic surgical techniques, including the revolutionary, scar-free belly button surgery, which removes the gallbladder through a single incision. Along with his partner, Eugene Rubach, M.D., Dr. Gecelter has performed the procedure on over a hundred patients. We sat down with the South African native to get a peek at what’s going on in the noncardiac world at St. Francis and what may be in store for the future. Gary Gecelter, M.D., Chairman of Surgery, St. Francis Hospital

Heartbeat: Does your work revolve exclusively around minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures? Dr. Gecelter: No, I select patients for laparoscopic surgery whenever possible, but commonly perform open oncologic surgery to achieve the best possible outcome when laparoscopy might not be able to. The role in laparoscopy is to be able to perform abdominal surgery as effectively as an open operation, but without all of the negative effects on the body’s physiology. These include pain and loss of core temperature when the open abdomen is exposed to the low temperatures in the operating room. With laparoscopy, the abdomen is kept closed and consequently, we’re not exposing internal organs to the atmosphere. Patients have less pain, which means a quicker return to normal function, allowing them to return to their families and go back to work more quickly. Another benefit of laparoscopy is less impact on the immune system. The immune system is what helps the body heal and respond to cancers. If you are not using too many resources in healing big scars and recovering because of the effects of an open operation, you have better capacity to fight cancers. Data has shown that laparoscopic colon cancer surgery for locally more advanced cancers is actually better in the long run than open surgery from which it takes a long time to recover. Heartbeat: What are the common conditions for which you perform open surgery? Dr. Gecelter: Usually abdominal cancer, gastrointestinal cancer and large cancers of the liver have to be treated with open surgery because one has to remove a large organ, or a large part of the organ. Major pancreatic


Heartbeat Spring 2010

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

cancer surgery (removal of a large part of the pancreas) takes between four and eight hours, depending how big the cancer is. To perform it laproscopically would double the time, so it’s just a matter of weighing the benefits against the consequences. The beauty of laparoscopy is that when the camera is inside the abdomen you have great visualization and you can see up close with good illumination. Laparoscopic procedures are really very beneficial. Heartbeat: Let’s talk about the 14 new operating suites in the DeMatteis Pavilion. How have they enhanced your ability to perform some of these procedures? Dr. Gecelter: We have the most exquisite operating room complex with state-of-the-art imaging facilities. Having a room with four monitors – three suspended from the ceiling and one on the wall – allows us to project laparoscopy to both sides of the operating table. We can do combined procedures where we perform an endoscopy and colonoscopy at the same time as laparoscopy, and show side by side images, necessary for all advanced laparoscopic procedures. We now have the ability to teleconference and use the operating rooms as a teaching environment. We hope to be able to send images to the DeMatteis Center in Greenvale for educational conferences, making St. Francis Hospital a hub of postgraduate surgical education. Heartbeat: You also specialize in pancreatic surgery and many wellknown people have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steve Jobs. Patrick Swayze died from the dis-

Gary Gecelter, M.D., performs laparoscopic surgery in one of the new state-of-the-art ORs.

ease last year. Are there hopeful developments in the fight against this deadly form of cancer? Dr. Gecelter: The greatest opportunity is in the area of better early detection. Pancreatic cancer presents a combination of formidable challenges. The first is that it is biologically very aggressive. A small tumor often has spread through the blood stream to other organs before it is recognized. Even when completely removed there is about a 75 percent chance of the cancer returning. However, not all pancreatic tumors are aggressive and what we are seeing today, more than ever, are tumors in a category called pancreatic cystic neoplasms. These tumors are initially benign and look like cysts in the pancreas, but actually contain small polyps that can grow and transform into cancers. The reason you see them so much more commonly today is that many people have CAT scans for other reasons. These pancreatic cysts are called ‘pancreatic incidentalomas’ because they are seen incidentally. So surveillance and testing of pancreatic cystic tumors are important. If you look at Steve Jobs, he had a condition that was most likely a carcinoid or neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas, a nontypical or nongarden variety pancreas cancer. That’s why he has survived so long and stands a chance of being cured. Heartbeat: What role do you foresee for St. Francis in the future? Dr. Gecelter: We have an enormous opportunity at St. Francis to perform topnotch pancreatic surgery, and we are beginning to demonstrate that we are able to do this as well as any other hospital. With big causes, partnerships are essential. So, for example, we would like to develop working relationships with organizations such as the Lustgarten Foundation, the

largest pancreatic research foundation in the country. This foundation essentially supports bench research and translational research for pancreatic cancer. St. Francis can become a center for applying the results of clinical research in this area. Much more research needs to be done to find drugs that work as well for pancreas cancer as the new drugs that fight colon cancer. I’m certain that it will come. Heartbeat: Where else do you see St. Francis Hospital growing? Dr. Gecelter: I would like to see St. Francis be as well-known in noncardiac surgical care as it is for its cardiac care because it has all the necessary components from the compassionate, educated, well-trained staff to the new state-of-the-art infrastructure. I have great hopes for our neurosurgery program. We recently brought on Richard Johnson, M.D., as Director of Neurosurgery and Dr. Lee Tessler, an excellent neurosurgeon, who specializes in brain tumor surgery, to help start our neuro-oncology program. In the orthopedic arena, we are pleased to announce that Dr. Samuel Kenan, who has his own orthopedic oncology institute, has begun performing limb-sparing bone cancer surgery at St. Francis Hospital. These talented physicians are coming to St. Francis because of its outstanding reputation for cardiac care. Our department sees many cancer patients who come here because this is the best and safest place for cardiac patients to receive noncardiac care. Soon many more patients will be coming to St. Francis even if they are not heart patients, because the name is synonymous with top-quality care. That’s my vision of the future.

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



The Strength Within: Tandem Heart patient Alice Wallice (c) with Harold Fernandez, M.D., the surgeon who implanted the pump, and Joan Wallace, R.N., who managed Mrs. Wallice’s care in the intensive care unit.

Small Heart Devices Bring Big Benefits Technical innovation has transformed the world of cardiac devices, offering patients new options


he technical innovation of the past several decades has driven a relentless reduction in the size of electronic devices. Today, computer chips have found their way into most household appliances, telephones fit in the palm of your hand, and music players are as small as a tie clip.


Heartbeat Spring 2010

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Cover Story The Impella device is billed as the world’s smallest heart pump.

Not surprisingly, this same trend has had a major impact on the development

to me,” she says, “in every way St. Francis is outstanding. Everything about

of cardiac devices such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. The

the Hospital – and I have been in a few – puts it at the top of the ranks.”

last issue of Heartbeat Magazine included a report on the nation’s first car-

Wallice’s daughter, Pam Doyle, agrees. “The device is truly amazing,” she

diac pacemaker with remote wireless monitoring. This latest generation of

says. “My mother clearly had the strength of survival within her, but her sur-

pacemakers, the first of which was implanted at St. Francis Hospital, is about

geons and the Tandem Heart truly saved her life.”

half the size of the original devices. Cardiac assist devices have been similarly transformed. First developed in

Avoiding Heart Surgery

the 1960s, but whose evolution has accelerated rapidly in the last several

Stanley Hirsch, an 82-year-old business consultant, also had a history of heart

years, these devices help patients by giving their weakened hearts a tempo-

disease. Nine years ago he had a defibrillator implanted to protect him from a

rary “assist” so they can pump more effectively while they undergo treat-

dangerous cardiac arrhythmia known as ventricular tachycardia. In 2006, he

ment or until they can recover on their own. They are also used as a bridge

needed further treatment, this time double bypass surgery. However, his lat-

therapy for patients awaiting heart transplants.

est health problems began when his defibrillator fired twice, shocking his

Two of these state-of-the-art devices are now being used in the cardiac ORs

heart out of a potentially lethal arrhythmia. Mr. Hirsch immediately came to

and the cardiac catheterization lab at St. Francis Hospital, and they are giving

see David Hoch, M.D., at the Arrhythmia Center of St. Francis Hospital. In order

patients new hope and treatment options they never had before.

to better understand the cause of Mr. Hirsch’s tachycardia, Dr. Hoch referred him to Richard Shlofmitz, M.D., Chairman of Cardiology at St. Francis and one

The Miracle Woman

of the most experienced interventional cardiologists in the country.

Alice Wallice, a 79-year-old grandmother with a career in real estate and retail

Dr. Shlofmitz performed a diagnostic angiogram and discovered the problem,

sales, has had a history of cardiac issues. She underwent open-heart bypass

a coronary artery that was 95 percent blocked. He recommended opening the

and valve surgery in 2006 and had to return to St. Francis last May for open-

blocked artery in the Cardiac Cath Lab and inserting a stent to keep it open. To

heart surgery to replace her mitral and aortic valves. The 12-hour surgery was

relieve the strain on Mr. Hirsch’s heart during the procedure, Dr. Shlofmitz

complicated and left her heart extremely weak, so much so that her physi-

employed the Impella, a device that is billed as the world’s smallest heart

cians were concerned about the chances for her survival. Fortunately, her sur-

pump. The Impella is so small it can be inserted through an opening in the

geon, Newell Robinson, M.D., Chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at St.

femoral artery in the patient’s groin and guided up into position in the heart,

Francis Hospital, and his colleague, Harold Fernandez, M.D., had recently

where it can take on some of the work of its pumping action. Mr. Hirsch’s pro-

begun exploring the use of cardiac assist devices, and they believed that one

cedure was a success.

of them, called a Tandem Heart, might serve as a much-needed life preserver.

Dr. Shlofmitz says that St. Francis is on track to have the highest caseload of

Dr. Fernandez performed the surgery to attach the device, connecting a

patients in the region who benefit from the Impella heart pump. “We now have

small external pump to Wallice’s circulatory system via thin input and output

10 interventional cardiologists trained in the procedure,” he says, “and we

tubes called cannulas. The device then began its work to supplement the

expect to perform 30-40 cases this year alone.” He says it is just the latest

pumping action of her heart, relieving the burden long enough so that it

example of the advanced technology available to patients at St. Francis

could recover the strength to pump on its own. The surgeons’ gamble paid

Hospital and the results that can be achieved when these high-tech tools are

off, and in a week, Wallice was strong enough to have the pump removed,

placed in the most experienced and caring hands.

and not long after, she went home. Nearly a year later, she is once again enjoying the pleasures of life. “When I returned to the Hospital for a follow-up visit, the nurses who cared for me called me ‘the miracle woman’,” says Wallice. “They were wonderful

Stanley Hirsch doesn’t have to be convinced. “It’s amazing,” he says, “so many people will be saved and will be spared open-heart surgery.” And he has reason to believe. He was leaving in a matter of days for a long-awaited trip to Israel. St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



Cuff Link: Dr. Nathaniel Reichek, Director of Research at St. Francis, is exploring how this simple, everyday device could reduce serious complications from heart surgery.


Heartbeat Spring 2010


St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ÂŽ

New Study May Show How a Blood Pressure Cuff Could Be a Lifesaver St. Francis researchers hope to show how an everyday medical device could offer surprising benefits for cardiac patients

Modern Healthcare Magazine Names St. Francis Hospital One of the Best Places to Work in the U.S. St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center® has been recognized as one of the nation’s best places to work in healthcare by Modern Healthcare, the leading industry magazine. St. Francis was the only hospital in New York to make the select list of 100 top organizations to work for in the U.S. The winners were recognized by industry segment (provider, payer and vendor) and number of employees. “It is a great honor to receive this national


recognition. We are deeply grateful to our staff for their efforts to build and maintain a culture

nyone with high blood pressure knows how crucial a blood pressure cuff can be for monitoring the condition, but it may also prove to be a lifesaving tool if used prior to a cardiac procedure by preventing serious complications such as a heart attack. A new study led by Nathaniel Reichek, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.H.A, Director of Research at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®, examines the way that this common, inexpensive medical device may have a positive impact on a cardiac patient’s survival subsequent to undergoing a procedure such as an angioplasty.

of excellence,” said Alan D. Guerci, M.D.,

The study, which began this year, will explore exactly how remote ischemic reconditioning (RIPC), or constricting a blood vessel in the arm using a blood pressure cuff, helps to stimulate a protective response in the coronary arteries and the heart. A blood pressure cuff will be inflated during three, 5-minute intervals and the response of the coronary arteries and the heart tested using cardiac MRI and blood tests. In addition, a companion study will test the effectiveness of RIPC prior to insertion of a stent in patients with coronary disease in protecting the heart and improving longterm outcomes. Although a previous study in England showed benefits from using the RIPC technique, these are the first studies to be conducted using powerful MRI data and sophisticated blood testing to evaluate cardiac protection produced by nothing more than a blood pressure cuff.

pany policies, practices, benefits and demo-

President and CEO. “Our capacity to provide the best medical care depends on our ability to attract and retain the best healthcare professionals. It makes this award especially gratifying.” The survey collected information from both employers and employees and was open to companies with at least 25 employees. Employers were asked to give details on comgraphics. Employees were given an in-depth set of questions in core areas including culture and communications, working environment, training and development, pay and benefits, and overall satisfaction. “Modern Healthcare congratulates all of the 100 organizations named to the magazine’s list of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare for 2009,” said Fawn Lopez, its publisher. “These healthcare employers demonstrate

Improving Post-Procedure Complications “Currently, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not well understood, but now we hope to get a clearer picture using our state-of-the-art imaging techniques,” says Dr. Reichek, one of the country’s leading researchers in heart disease. “A blood pressure cuff may offer a low-risk, low-cost and easily available method to improve outcomes of interventional cardiac procedures and heart surgery.” Sixty volunteers will be enrolled in the study, which should take up to a year and a half to complete. Dr. Reichek and his team will then begin a clinical study involving 240 patients, who will be followed a year after undergoing cardiac procedures to see if using the cuff helped keep them free of complications.

that building a culture in which employees are supported and engaged benefits not only patients and customers but the employers’ financial performance as well.” For more information, you can go to

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



Giving Back Meet the Gilberts

Family Matters Giving back to the community and supporting St.

tionally difficult time. “My father appreciated St.

Francis Hospital has become a way of life for Jay and

Francis,” remembers Jay. “The kindness and warmth

Annie Gilbert and their family.

shown to him, the special care given, and the treat-

The Gilbert family began their relationship with St.

ment of our family was above and beyond. The entire

Francis in 1988. At the time, as Jay explains, his

hospital staff gave us free rein to come and go as we

father Harvard had heart surgery and subsequently

needed. St. Francis Hospital made all of my dad’s

remained under the care of Richard Shlofmitz, M.D.,

stays and his final days as easy as possible for all of

Chairman of Cardiology, and internist Michael

us. This is something that will never go unappreciat-

Bradford, M.D., for many years.

ed or be forgotten.”

Since then, Jay and Annie’s children and many of

Jay and his wife, Annie, along with his mother and

their relatives and friends have been treated at St.

sister, began to pledge funds to St. Francis Hospital.

Francis Hospital. “The care administered by the

“Annie and I have been involved with various chari-

emergency room doctors, nurses and staff is unsur-

ties for the better part of our lives, but clearly St.

passed,” notes Jay.

Francis was so exceptional, we felt we wanted to

Jay himself recently chose to have surgery performed at St. Francis under the care of Dr. Gary Gecelter, Chairman of Surgery. “Even though St. Francis is known as a heart center, we all chose to go there

become a part of it.” Their friends are fully aware of their support and many have also become donors of the hospital. “My family and friends know that St. Francis is our hospital of choice,” Jay

for different reasons due to the excellent experiences we had witnessed dur-

says. “The accomplishments we have witnessed during the last five years

ing my father’s hospital stays.”

have been remarkable. I strongly feel that those who can give back to the

It was during his father’s final illness that Jay and members of his close family were particularly moved by how comforting the care was during an excep-

community should do so. The funds raised make St. Francis Hospital an incredibly fine institution, one we are happy to support!”

Meet Bishay Faris

Med Student Aces Being a Volunteer at St. Francis Medical school bound Bishay Faris says he knew he wanted to be a doctor after his father suffered the second of three heart attacks. “We almost lost him. I was only 12 years old at the time, but knew from that moment that I wanted to be a cardiologist,” says Bishay – or “Shay” Tops in His Class: Soon-to-be medical student Shay Faris for short – to his friends at (l.) gets a St. Francis watch for dedicated service from St. Francis. Barry Baretela, Director of Volunteer Services. Since then, the 23-yearold from Little Neck, Queens, has been on a pre-med track. He began volunteering at St. Francis in 2004 while he was a senior at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset. He went on to earn a B.S. in Biology with a Chemistry minor from Molloy College and a Master’s degree from Mercy College in Health Service Management.


Heartbeat Spring 2010

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

“I remember when my father was in the hospital, my little sister and I were sitting in the lobby. The volunteers got us drinks and talked to us,” says the aspiring doctor. “It was nice not to be left alone.” Shay will be attending medical school this year in the West Indies at Ross University in Dominica, but will never forget the many real-life lessons he learned from being a volunteer at St. Francis. “I’ve been everywhere from Endoscopy to the Cath Lab to the ER and have gone from helping to discharge patients from their hospital rooms to working in the Volunteer office,” says Shay. “It’s taught me a lot about patient relations – what to say and what not to say. I was able to shadow doctors and learn how every department works to get such a great job done. It’s cool to see how things are interrelated.” After spending a year and a half in Dominica, Shay will spend six months in Miami and then be back in NewYork for clinical rotations. He hopes to one day be a doctor at St. Francis and highly encourages other young people to be a volunteer. “Come in with an open mind and get involved. The more you do, the more you learn, even if you don’t want to be a doctor,” says Shay. “It’s all about people – that is what’s so nice about volunteering.”

Planned Giving

Just One Look The Visit That Sparked a Legacy

Master Facilities Plan Update Thanks to the generosity of many devoted patients and friends, the Capital Campaign for St. Francis Hospital continues to progress smoothly. Here is a

According to Jeffrey Lang, his life story is quite ordinary. However, to future generations who will need the exceptional care that is provided at St. Francis, Jeff is actually extraordinary. A very healthy 57 years young, Jeff had a longstanding fear of hospitals. So when Jeff first experienced shortness of breath and noticed that his heart was pounding a bit more, he resisted a visit to the nearest hospital. Fortunately for Jeff, his friends insisted that he get checked at St. Francis. When he arrived at the Hospital’s Emergency Department, he was a bit apprehensive. A short time later, as he was lying in his hospital bed, he was greeted by Richard Shlofmitz, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Cardiology. “Dr. Shlofmitz stood at the foot of my bed, gave my toe a light pinch, and said ‘everything will be all right’ and then I just knew that it would be,” recalls Jeff. His cardiac tests came back fine, and it turned out that an ulcer was the cause of his discomfort. That was Jeff’s only personal experience at St. Francis Hospital, but it was enough for him to know that the Hospital is a very special place. When Jeff recently had his will prepared, he knew that he wanted to leave a substantial portion of his estate to an organization that he trusted to make a real difference to the local Long Island community where he lived. For Jeff, that choice was obvious – it was St.Francis Hospital. Jeff is proud to know that his gift will help ensure quality care for future generations – and that knowledge helps him breathe a little easier.

timeline of our Master Facilities Plan, which features projects that have already been completed, as well as future renovation goals.

2006 2008 2010

Parking Garage opened June 2006

DeMatteis Pavilion opened July 2008

Heart Center renovation began September 2008

Cath Lab Support Space opened February 2010

Renovated K-2 Patient Unit opened March 2010

Pharmacy, Radiology, Kitchen projects to be completed April 2010

St. Elizabeth’s Courtyard to be completed April 2010

Emergency Department renovation begins June 2010

Exterior Chapel renovations to be completed June 2010

North Roadway Landscaping to be competed June 2010

Chapel and Convent Gardens to be completed June 2010

Renovated P-2 Patient Unit opens November 2010

New Cardiothoracic ORs opens November 2010


Seventh Cath Lab to be completed June 2011

Renovated K-1 Patient Unit opens August 2011

Paving the Way for the Future of St. Francis Hospital: Don’t miss this opportunity to become a part of the legacy of St. Francis Hospital. For more information about purchasing a personalized engraved brick, please contact Mary Lou Murphy at (516) 705-6655 or

Emergency Department renovation to be completed December 2011

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



Vital Signs St. Francis Hospital’s Emergency and Outpatient Surgery Departments Ranked Among the Best in Patient Satisfaction Two critically important departments at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®, have been top-ranked in patient satisfaction, according to a recent national survey. The Hospital’s Outpatient Surgery and Emergency Departments were rated number one and number two respectively for overall satisfaction among large hospitals surveyed by HealthStream Research, a leading patient satisfaction assessment company. HealthStream surveyed 22 percent of all the hospitals in the U.S. – more than 1,100 healthcare facilities nationwide. In both ER and Outpatient Surgery categories, St. Francis received near-perfect patient satisfaction scores. “St. Francis prides itself on providing the highest standard of patient care,” says Alan D. Guerci, M.D., President and CEO. “This recognition is a tribute to our staff who work hard to ensure that all of our patients have the best possible hospital experience.” “This is a remarkable accomplishment, particularly for a hospital in the Northeast, where patient expectations and demands are great,” says Mark Hoornstra, M.D., Chairman of the Emergency Department.

Chairman of Emergency Medicine, Mark Hoornstra, M.D. (left), and his highly trained ER team earn top marks for patient satisfaction from HealthStream Research.

Staff from the Hospital will receive Excellence through Insight awards for patient satisfaction at the upcoming HealthStream Summit to be held in Nashville, Tennessee. More information on the rankings is available on the HealthStream website at:


Heartbeat Spring 2010

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

DeMatteis Center Top-Ranked for Patient Satisfaction

Seated (l to r): Elaine Stevens, R.N., and Julia Vinsky holding the 2009 Summit Award. Back row (l to r): Joe Gorelin; Dr. Rodney Ganey, Founder, Press Ganey; Mary Gallagher, R.N., Rick Siegrist, Jr., President and CEO, Press Ganey and Dr. Irwin Press, Founder, Press Ganey.

The DeMatteis Center for Cardiac Research and Education has been named a 2009 Summit Award Winner by Press Ganey Associates, Inc. The prestigious annual healthcare award recognizes top performing facilities that sustain the highest level of patient satisfaction for three or more consecutive years. The Center, which is located in Greenvale, was one of the nation’s 74 organizations to receive the honor after receiving a 95 percent satisfaction score for three years in a row. It was the only outpatient facility in New York to be recognized for this outstanding achievement. Press Ganey currently partners with more than 10,000 health care facilities—including over 40 percent of U.S. hospitals—to measure and improve the quality of their care. The company’s databases are the largest in the industry, and allow facilities nationwide to benchmark their results against peer organizations. Richard B. Siegrist, Jr., president and CEO of Press Ganey, notes, "We are proud partners of St. Francis Hospital. The DeMatteis Center continues to maintain a high level of patient satisfaction over the past three years. Their efforts benefit Long Island and lead to improved delivery of health care." “St. Francis Hospital is proud to receive this award for the remarkable work that is being done at our DeMatteis Center,” says Ruth Hennessey, EVP and Chief Operating Officer. “It is a tribute to the highly dedicated team at the Center that is absolutely focused on delivering the best patient care.” The DeMatteis Center is located approximately four miles east of the main campus of the Hospital.The Center is home to Cardiac Research and Education, leading edge technology for Cardiac Imaging,The Women’s Center, Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Services, a Diabetes Care Center, Conference Management and many other community programs.

Hematology and Oncology See Expansion hen Rita Weiss, M.D., Director of Hematology and Oncology, first joined the St. Francis staff in the early 1980s, the Hospital was treating oncology patients, but generally they would move on to other hospitals for continuing care. Today things have changed. Dr. Weiss and her colleagues realized that St. Francis had some of the basic elements to care for these patients – such as a great blood bank and an outstanding nursing staff. According to Dr. Weiss, “It didn’t seem fair that someone who had open-heart surgery or a defibrillator implanted and needed to be treated for a malignancy had to taken away from their primary doctors, put into a strange hospital, when we could just treat them here.” Soon after, a hematology and oncology floor was designated at the Hospital and nurses were sent to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for training programs. Now 2 West in the DeMatteis Pavilion has become the designated floor and most of the nurses are fully trained in managing oncology patients and their special needs.


“Our department is in a state of growth and expansion,” says Dr. Weiss. “It’s been a gradual process over the years, but we have expanded the focus of St. Francis from purely cardiac to being able to manage other conditions that our cardiac patients develop.” The hematology and oncology department is seeing many different cancer cases: lung, colon and breast cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “We have a large number of expert surgical oncologists affiliated with St. Francis who are highly experienced at performing ambulatory breast biopsies and surgery, including lumpectomies and mastectomies,” explains Dr. Weiss. Dr. Weiss would ultimately like to see further expansion of the department. Her department is becoming busier than ever. “When you have patients who are now living longer because of open-heart surgery and other interventional procedures, it is comforting for them to know that St. Francis Hospital is there for them if they face serious noncardiac medical issues,” she says. “Now they can expect the same quality of care.”

Special Unit Dedicated for Congestive Heart Failure Patients

Hospital now has a new unit dedicated to treating this chronic cardiac condition. Located in 2 East of the DeMatteis Pavilion, the 38-bed unit has a staff specially trained and focused on taking a multi-disciplinary approach in caring for patients whose principle diagnosis is congestive heart failure (CHF). This highly dedicated team is comprised of nurses, PAs, dieticians, pharmacists and care managers who have completed training on CHF treatment, documentation and medication management. “Having a dedicated floor allows patient care to be managed by specialists, ensuring that appropriate guidelines are followed,” says Justine Lachmann, M.D., FACC, Chairperson of the Congestive Heart Failure Program. “A nutritionist trained in low-sodium diets will be able to provide education and menu options that are easier for patients to adhere to once they are discharged in an effort to avoid readmission. Case managers are also available to provide personalized care and specialized treatment options at home.” Patients are referred to the Hospital’s CHF Outpatient Program upon discharge. The ultimate goal is to keep them well balanced on a diet and medication regimen aimed at preventing episodes of worsening CHF requiring recurrent hospitalizations.

Congestive heart failure is the second most common cardiac diagnosis requiring hospitalization at St. Francis – preceded only by coronary artery disease (CAD). In an effort to streamline medical care for congestive heart failure patients and reduce repeated emergency admissions, the

A Team Effort for Treating CHF: Dr. Justine Lachmann (center right) and Dr. Patrick Monteleone (center left), surrounded by staff of the new CHF unit, 2 East, take a specialized approach to helping patients with congestive heart failure.

St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center ®

Spring 2010



St. Francis Hospital The Heart Center ®


100 Port Washington Boulevard Roslyn, New York 11576

Get Connected Visit us on our new website at

MarkYourCalendar St. Francis Hospital Events

May 4 The Guild of St. Francis Hospital Spring Luncheon and Fashion Show Americana Manhasset will be sponsoring this popular annual event.

June 7 St. Francis Hospital’s 36th Annual Golf Classic at Meadow Brook Club and The Creek Men, women and foursomes are welcome. Golf reservations will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

For more information or tickets, call (516) 705-6655

Heartbeat Magazine - Spring 2010  

Heartbeat is published by St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®.

Heartbeat Magazine - Spring 2010  

Heartbeat is published by St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center®.