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a r b ti n g e l e C 15 Years


100 Woods Rd, Valhalla, NY 10595



From the CEO and Physician-in-Chief WHEN MARIA FARERI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FIRST OPENED ITS DOORS 15 YEARS AGO, we introduced a new concept in healthcare. We know the best medical outcomes de‑ pend on the well-being of the entire family, so we creat‑ ed a place where parents could be active partners in the care and treatment of their children. This family-centered approach, coupled with our dedicated staff of more than 150 pediatric specialists, have made Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital one of the most advanced pediatric facilities in the nation. We care for the region’s most seriously ill and injured chil‑ dren and tiniest infants, offering cardiac surgery, neu‑ rosurgery, hematology and oncology treatments, organ transplants and other specialty services. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medi‑ cal Center Health Network (WMCHealth), is home to the area’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Regional Neo‑

natal Intensive Care Unit, Level I pediatric trauma and burn care programs. What sets us apart is our life-saving and life-changing‑ medical care coupled with a philosophy that involves parents, siblings and family members in every step of a child’s treatment. It is this human element that makes Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital such a special place. This year, we will launch a major expansion of our Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, with other im‑ provements on the horizon. It is our hope that the next 15 years will see continued growth and fulfill the dream of the hospital’s namesake, Maria Fareri, who died at age 13. Maria’s wish was for “the health and well‑being of all the children in the world.” And that is our wish, too. Michael D. Israel, President and CEO, WMCHealth. Michael H. Gewitz, MD, FAHA, FACC, FAAP, William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief and Chief of Pediatric Cardiology

A letter from Brenda and John Fareri IN 2019, WE CELEBRATE THE 15TH BIRTHDAY OF MARIA FARERI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, A MEMBER OF THE WESTCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER HEALTH NETWORK. The life‑saving, life-changing, state‑of‑the‑art hospital we have built has undergone many miraculous changes since it first opened. Doctors recently performed a highly publi‑ cized, intricate operation to separate conjoined twin girls and we rank among the top children’s hospitals in the nation in pulmonology and urology. But the advanced care that Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital provides families in the Hudson Valley does not stop at the medical miracles we perform. When we first envisioned this hospital after Maria’s death, it was as a place where parents and children could feel safe and nurtured. That is why our support for programs like the Child Life Program, Healing Arts and our most recent addition, the calming Maria’s Garden, are so in‑


tegral to the work we do. We are grateful to those of you who have been with us throughout the years, and we hope you will join us as we embark on the next phase of growth at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. A series of special events is planned throughout the year to celebrate our 15th birthday and we invite you to attend and see firsthand the work we do. These events will allow us to share more informa‑ tion about the new Maria’s Garden and our other pro‑ grams and to discuss the crucial role of philanthropy in providing the best care in an age of change for the healthcare industry. With appreciation, Brenda and John Fareri Westchester Medical Center Foundation Board Members Lifetime Trustees

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History of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

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2015 2004 Through the generosity of the Fareri family and more than 20,000 friends, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital opens with 104 beds; restructuring raises the bed total in subsequent years.

2005 Companions in Courage Foundation opens its inaugural “Lion’s Den” interactive game and media room at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

2006 Art therapy is added to Child Life’s therapeutic programming.

2011 The 15,000‑square‑foot Ronald McDonald House of Greater Hudson Valley opens steps from hospital.

2012 The Arlene and Arnold Goldstein Family Foundation Athletics Neighborhood opens; bed complement expands to 136.

Named in honor of Stephen A. Galef, the lobby undergoes a complete renovation to enhance experience of patients and their families. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital receives the American College of Surgeon’s Pediatric Center Level I Certification.

2016 $1.4 million Children’s Imaging suite opens, funded by community donations through the Children’s Miracle Network. The Pediatric Emergency Center undergoes renovation and expansion.

2017 50 medical professionals collaborate to successfully separate conjoined twins.

2018 Maria’s Garden, a 20,000‑square‑foot outdoor family respite area, is dedicated with thanks to the Fareri family.

2019 The Preemie Donor Milk Bank opens thanks to corporate, foundation and individual donors. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit expansion is launched.

Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network.


Radiothon broadcast shares stories of triumph and tears FOR THE FOR THE PAST 15 NOVEMBERS, MARIA FARERI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL HAS SHARED THE SPECIAL STORIES OF PATIENTS WHO HAVE BECOME PART OF THE MARIA FARERI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL FAMILY AT ITS ANNUAL 100.7 WHUD RADIOTHON FOR THE KIDS. During an emotional, three-day live broadcast from the hospital, families return to tell their stories and reunite with physicians and staff who changed their lives. 100.7 WHUD radio personalities Kacey Morabito Grean, Mike Bennett, Tom Furci and Andy Bale interview Hudson Valley children and their families who share uplifting and inspiring stories of triumph over significant medical challenges they faced while under the care of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. The annual event is a fundraiser for the hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, and has raised millions of dollars over the years to support the life-changing and life-saving care, including open-heart surgery, brain surgery, cancer treatments, trauma and burn care, organ transplants, advanced neonatal services 4

and other advanced pediatric care. Despite the number of years Morabito-Grean has participated, she is still deeply moved by her interviews with families. “I keep a picture of a young girl I met there years ago. A seemingly typical teenager with funky colors on her nails and in her hair. But she couldn’t eat like a teenager. “She was fed via the hospital’s technology. I was struck by the young woman’s sweet serenity — and by the attention the staff at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital gave not only to her body, but to her spirit. “Witnessing the love at the heart of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital changes you — for good,” she said. Perhaps that is why there is such an outpouring of support throughout the Hudson Valley for the event. Generous contributions from community partners such as All Aboard Childcare Education Center and the school children who collect change as part of the “Change Bandits” program and corporate support from business-

es such as Saw Mill Auto Sales, Tompkins Mahopac Bank and ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. are major contributing factors to the success of this radiothon. ShopRite serves as the Miracle Maker Sponsor, offering a $15 gift card to donors who commit to a $15 monthly donation for 12 months. In addition, ShopRite employees run a point-ofsale fundraising campaign in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, turning over $100,000 in community donations to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital each year. Their 2019 campaign kicks off November 3 and continues through November 23. “Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital has touched the lives of countless families throughout the Hudson Valley region, including many of our customers and store associates, and it’s a great feeling to be able to help make a difference to an organization that contributes so much to our community,” said Tom Urtz, Vice President of Operations, ShopRite Supermarkets. This year’s Radiothon will be held on November 20-22. To learn more, call 914.493.5412.

Happy 15th birthday Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital! Boston Children’s Health Physicians is proud to be part of the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital family at Westchester Medical Center. With over 300 skilled clinicians in more than 25 areas of medical expertise, we are proud to provide outstanding care for children—from birth through adolescence and beyond. Serving kids and their families in more than 60 locations, Boston Children’s Health Physicians is where local families come for answers.

New York & Connecticut 844-4MD-BCHP | BCHphysicians.org



Samantha White was diagnosed with mitral valve insufficiency when she was 3 months old. She underwent a cardiac catheterization at age 6 after echocar‑ diography revealed an anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA). Following a successful open-heart surgery, Samantha contin‑ ues to be monitored by cardiologist Michael Gewitz, MD, William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief and Chief of Pediatric Cardiology. A 2017 graduate from Eastwick College with a degree in cardiovascular sonography, Samantha said, “There are not enough words to express my gratitude to every person I have crossed paths with during my time at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.”

In 2009, four weeks after giving birth to Luke, mom Diana collapsed in the shower and was rushed to the hospital. She was diagnosed with stage IV cho‑ riocarcinoma, a rare form of uterine cancer that can form during pregnan‑ cy. Even more devastating: Luke, as a newborn, also was diagnosed with the disease when tumors were found throughout his body. During 10 months of treatment, both Diana and Luke fought their way back to health. Luke wears hearing aids and has no vision in one eye, but Diana and Luke are in remission. Five years ago, Luke wel‑ comed his baby sister Madelyn. Luke is now 10 and loves math and is a Lego robotics champion.






permission — fulfilled his wish to participate in the charity walk. As Tyler crossed the finish line, his doctors and nurses cheered him on, ready to help him begin a better life with a new liver. Tyler is now a sophomore at Fordham University, ready to pursue his dreams.

Struggling with a failing liver since age 6, Tyler Mejorado received a liver transplant at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at age 10. Coincidentally, his surgery was scheduled for the same day as the hospital’s 2011 Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day. As the surgery team prepared for his transplant, Tyler — with his doctor’s

When the left side of Sophia Mercado’s daughter’s face began to droop and Melissa lost mobility in her left hand, Sophia Mercado’s mother, Melissa, brought her to a local community hos‑ pital, where she was told her daughter had bleeding in her brain and needed to be transferred immediately to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels con‑ necting arteries and veins in the brain, Sophia underwent intensive brain sur‑ gery. She went on to write a book about her medical journey. Sophia, who also has epilepsy, had her fifth brain surgery in April 2017. Determined to enjoy life to the fullest, the 12th grader spends her downtime laughing and connect‑ ing with her friends via FaceTime.



An avid athlete, Ryan Reyes was diag‑ nosed with nonHodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2013. He was cared for by the hematology, oncology and stem-cell transplantation team at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Ryan discovered an unexpected passion for art during his six months of chemotherapy treatment at the hospital, and working with the hospital’s board-certified art therapist, Ryan’s artistic talents blossomed. He was the winner of the 2014 White Cloud Tissue Box Design Contest, and it was the art portfolio he created in therapy that secured his admission to the High School of Art and Design in New York City. In remission for four years, Ryan is studying at the Parsons School of Design.



After being thrown from her horse during a riding lesson in 2015, 7-year-old Emilié Saltzman was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a severe trau‑

matic brain injury (TBI) and associated hemorrhage. She was placed in a medically induced coma. Staff from the pediatric ICU, neurosurgery and neurology departments monitored her closely. After spending a week on life support and four months in rehabilitation learning to walk, talk and eat again, Emilié is a healthy, thriving fourth grader who can walk, run, skip and sing her favorite songs. Emilié, now 11, says she wants to be a doctor so she can help others. She and her sister, Ella, are already finding ways to make a difference through “Ella’s Threads,” a nonprofit that donates clothes and care packages to children in long-term hospitalizations nationwide.

battling complications with her heart and lungs. “There were three episodes where she literally stopped breathing,” said Patsy. “But the nurses came to the res‑ cue.” Thanks to the expertise and timely medical care of RNICU physicians and nurses, Yashwini overcame her extreme prematurity. Yashwini’s father, Raj, also a doctor, says that since she was in the womb, Yashwini has been creating her own destiny. Her name in Hindi means to be successful in life. Now at age 4, Yashwini has a vibrant personality, is full of energy and loves to laugh, run, dance and play. Yashwini is also an ambassador for Westchester Medical Center’s 2019 Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day.




Yashwini’s mother, Patsy, was only six months pregnant when she went into pre-term labor. A pediatrician herself, Patsy feared the worst. She drove to a local community hospital, where phy‑ sicians transferred her to Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the West‑ chester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). After careful monitoring of her labor, at the Westchester Medical Center, Patsy gave birth to Yashwini, a micro-preemie who weighed a mere 1 pound, 11 ounces. Yashwini went on to receive advanced care at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU), the only one of its kind in the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County in Connecticut. She spent four months in the RNICU


In August of 2016, brothers Shane and Eli Williams were riding in a UTV, a three-seater off-road vehicle, in front of their Sullivan County home. The boys did not wear safety belts or helmets. So, when the vehicle accidentally hit a neighbor’s mailbox and flipped over, they were ejected nearly 35 feet. Shane sustained third-degree burns, a broken nose and orbital fractures in his right eye, while Eli suffered third-degree burns over 11 percent of his body. At Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, the boys underwent numerous surgeries, procedures and skin grafts to help heal their wounds. Today, Shane and Eli are doing great. They love to play basketball and video games and enjoy spending time with their family. They were recently named 2019 National Ambassadors for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.


Conjoined twins separated successfully in groundbreaking surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital THE SKILL OF A TEAM OF MORE THAN 50 DEDICATED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS FROM MARIA FARERI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL AND THE BRAVERY OF TWO YOUNG PARENTS HAVE RESULTED IN A HAPPY ENDING FOR THE COUPLE’S CONJOINED TWIN DAUGHTERS, WHO CAN NOW LEAD INDEPENDENT LIVES. Then 11-month-old twin girls Ballenie and Bellanie Camacho were separated during a rare and complex 21-hour procedure in January 2017. It was the first separation of conjoined twins performed at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). It is also believed to be the first time in medical history that some surgery was performed using laparoscopic techniques on pygopagus (joined at lower back) twins. The girls’ story began in the summer of 2016 when their parents, Laurilin Celadilla and Abel Camacho, contacted physicians at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at the suggestion of a family friend and former employee of Westchester Medical Center. The twins, born February 4, 2016, lived in Moca, Dominican Republic, with their parents and an older sister. Although they were thousands of miles away and an ocean apart, the doctors and medical staff of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital were able to evaluate the twins long distance through the hospital’s telemedicine program. In August 2016, the couple left their jobs and family in the Dominican Republic and traveled to New York with their girls. Michael H. Gewitz, MD, FAHA, FACC, FAAP, William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, coordinated the complex case, which involved several teams of surgeons from different specialties. Having worked at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the 1970s, during one of the first-ever cases in which conjoined twins were separated, Dr. Gewitz appreciated the complexities of assessing the feasibility of the case, as well as overseeing the logistics and assembling and coordinating the medical, surgical and support staff required. According to Dr. Gewitz: “Each individual component of the separation was interdependent. The separation entailed complex neurosurgery, urology, abdominal and vascular surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery and wound care. But the complexity of each component was not the issue for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. As the region’s only acute-care children’s hospital, taking on the most critical cases is something these doctors have done from the very beginning.” Dr. Gewitz explained that the greatest challenge lay in putting all the multidisciplinary pieces together in one coordinated sequence simultaneously for the two children.’’ In addition to the surgical teams and nursing teams, in-depth involvement of pediatric anesthesiology specialists, pediatric hospitalists and


nursing and support staff would also be required for the perioperative and recovery phases. It was decided the twins would be separated in stages, with the initial operation in November, during which time surgeries would establish separate gastrointestinal tracts for the babies and prepare their skin for subsequent separation. On January 17, 2017 — four months after they first arrived at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital — the long-awaited separation surgery began. “As parents, we were very nervous because we knew the girls were going through a long, difficult, risky procedure. But we were not overwhelmed with fear, because the hospital was always confident,” recalled Camacho. Over the course of the 21-hour separation procedure, more than 50 medical staff, including separate teams of nursing and technical specialists for each baby, worked to separate the girls. The surgery went off without a hitch, and for the first time in their short lives, the twins were separated. “When I saw them for the first time after they were separated, I couldn’t believe it was real. I just stared at them,” Celadilla said. “We were full of joy. It was like a dream come true,” added Camacho In June of this year, Ballenie and Bellanie and their parents made a special appearance at Westchester Medical Center’s 40th annual gala celebrating the 15th birthday of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. The girls, now 3, have made much progress toward their family’s dream for the girls to lead independent and productive lives. “I don’t see any obstacles at all for them to live a happy existence,’’ said their father. “For this, our gratitude to the doctors, nurses and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital will live forever.” For more information on the pediatric general surgery department at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, call 914.372.7196 or visit MariaFareriChildrens.org/general-surgery.

LOCAL 279 New England Regional Council of Carpenters Thomas Flynn Executive Secretary-Treasurer

William Banfield Southeast Regional Manager

Serving Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan and Columbia Counties 10 Corporate Park Drive, Suite A, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533 Phone (845) 440-1024 Fax: (845) 202-7398 www.carpenterslu279.org

EXECUTIVE BOARD President – James Malcolm Vice President – Edward Cooke

Treasurer – Paul Cassel

Recording Secretary – Scott Smith

Financial Secretary – William Banfield

Warden – Stephen Jones, Jr.

Conductor – Edmond Streich

Trustees: Danny Durham, Augusto Marciante, Matt Ross

Bright future for lymphoma patient now in remission JOHN CAPALBO WAS HOME DURING SPRING BREAK WHEN HIS OLDEST SISTER, ROSANNA, NOTICED STRANGE RED DOTS ON HIS NECK AND UNDER HIS EYES. HE WAS GETTING OVER A BAD COLD, FINALLY FEELING BETTER IN TIME TO RETURN TO SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY IN CONNECTICUT AND FINISH HIS FRESHMAN YEAR. But John wasn’t going to get away that easily. His family’s persistent concern led to a check-up with John’s doctor. Though his blood count was low, the doctor felt the rash would go away in a week or two. Instead, it spread up and down his back and across his ribs, becoming more inflamed. John was referred to Oya Tugal, MD, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Dr. Tugal discovered John had an enlarged

spleen and he was admitted immediately. He was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma and needed a bone-marrow transplant, a procedure to infuse healthy blood stem cells into his body to replace his diseased bone marrow and eliminate the remaining Lymphoma. At that time, Mitchell Cairo, MD, had just joined the team as Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s new Chief of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation. Dr. Cairo predicted a 5 to 10 percent chance of survival for John without a successful bonemarrow transplant. Coming from a tight-knit family, there was no shortage of volunteers willing to undergo the process to help save John’s life. The bonemarrow donor needed to have similar genetic markers, or proteins, to reduce the chance of John’s body rejecting the donor cells. Luckily, his oldest sister, Rosanna was a perfect 10/10 match.

Dr. Cairo had a goal of making John’s life as normal as possible, turning his lymphoma into something in the past. John and his family felt they were in the right hands, as Dr. Cairo explained the details of each step of treatment. Dr. Cairo performed a reduced intensity conditioning sibling bone-marrow transplant to both cure John and prevent acute and long-term complications. The bone marrow transplant was a complete success. Now, 8.5 years later, John remains in remission, and serves as a police officer with the White Plains Police Department. Dedicated to helping others, John volunteers his time mentoring cancer patients and raising funds for pediatric cancer research programs. To learn more about pediatric hematology/ oncology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, call 914.493.7997 or visit MariaFareriChildrens.org/hematology-oncology.

Dog-bite victim gets new lease on life IN 2009, FRANKIE FLORA, THEN 5 YEARS OLD, WAS ATTACKED BY A DOG AND SUFFERED 100 LACERATIONS TO HIS HEAD, FACE AND HAND. HE WAS FLOWN BY HELICOPTER TO MARIA FARERI CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. HIS MOTHER WAS TOLD BY THE PLASTIC SURGEON ON DUTY THAT HIS WAS ONE OF THE WORST MAULINGS HE HAD EVER SEEN, WITH LARGE SECTIONS OF HIS SCALP, AS WELL AS HIS RIGHT CHEEK, MISSING. It took three surgeons nearly eight hours and more than 1,000 stitches to close Frankie’s wounds. Having undergone more than 35 procedures to date, Frankie, now 15,


loves playing video games and participating in Children’s Miracle Network hospitals’ fundraisers. Frankie was fortunate to have some of the world’s most experienced medical experts in his corner. Westchester Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital have Level I trauma status — the highest level awarded by the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons — for both its adult and pediatric trauma centers. “Our trauma program continues to grow academically and clinically with the expertise of adult and pediatric trauma surgeons who work with a multidisciplinary team to provide the highest-quality life-saving care to Hudson

Valley residents when they need it most,” said Rifat Latifi, MD, Director of Surgery and Chief of General Surgery for the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). The trauma teams at Westchester Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital include trauma- and critical-care-trained surgeons and experts in emergency medicine, neurosurgery, orthopedics, anesthesiology, radiology, nursing, rehabilitation, as well as skilled operating-room and blood-bank teams. For more information on emergency medicine at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, call 914.493.6001 or visit MariaFareriChildrens. org/pediatric-emergency-medicine.

A state-of-the-art heart surgery saves lives WHEN ORIANNA BEAUVAIS, NOW 4, WAS DIAGNOSED IN UTERO WITH A CONGENITAL HEART DEFECT, HER PARENTS, BECKY AND JAMES OF PEARL RIVER, CONSULTED WITH SURGEONS WHO WANTED TO PERFORM OPENHEART SURGERY. NATURALLY, THEY WERE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR CHILD UNDERGOING SUCH AN INVASIVE PROCEDURE. FORTUNATELY, THEY MET KHANH NGUYEN, MD, WHO OFFERED ANOTHER OPTION. Dr. Nguyen, Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), uses a unique, less invasive and less traumatic surgical technique now offered to families across the New York metropolitan area. “He explained how the procedure would be done and what benefits this approach offers,” recalled Becky. “We felt very comfortable.” For parents of children with serious heart defects, the prospect of open-heart surgery can be agonizing. To access the heart, the surgeon must open the child’s chest by sawing through the breastbone, a procedure known as a sternotomy. Then, following the surgical repair of the heart, the breastbone is reconnected with surgical wires and the chest is closed. Dr. Nguyen accesses the patient’s heart through the right side, under the arm, (a transverse axillary incision) rather than splitting the breastbone. This unique procedure leaves only a nearly invisible scar and unlike other thoracotomies (chest-wall incisions), this spares the muscles and reduces recovery time significantly, sending children home as early as one day after surgery. While patients who underwent a sternotomy may have to wait a few months for the breastbone to heal, the right axillary incision enables young patients to resume athletic activities within a few weeks. Following her surgery in February 2018, Orianna’s parents marveled at her quick recovery. “The day after we went home from

the hospital, she was a vibrant little girl, like nothing had happened,” Becky said. “She’s full of energy and when she’s hungry, she grabs a snack. Before her surgery, we had to put food in front of her, and she wasn’t gaining weight.” “We’re able to use this approach in patients ranging from infants up to adults in their 60s or older,” said Dr. Nguyen. Dr. Nguyen has performed this groundbreaking surgical procedure on more than 500 patients since 2005. Orianna — whom Becky describes as “a girly girl” — loves makeup, dress-up and pretending she’s a ballerina or a teacher. “We were very grateful for the care we received at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital,” said Becky. “Everyone was amazing and really catered to us. They even invited us to a big reunion celebration at the hospital for former pediatric heart patients.” The pediatric cardiology team at Maria Fareri

Children’s Hospital provide the full spectrum of cardiac care for patients ranging from fetal life through young adulthood. This continuum of comprehensive care is possible due to our team-oriented approach: 16 pediatric cardiologists work in concert with a dedicated pediatric cardiothoracic surgical team, pediatric cardiac anesthesia experts, cardiovascular nurse specialists and a uniquely trained technical staff to deliver world-class care. From heartbeat irregularities to complex heart defects detected in the womb, the pediatric cardiac specialists at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital are dedicated to providing an uncompromised level of care for each and every patient. They provide a full range of ambulatory and inpatient pediatric cardiology care and services. For more information on pediatric cardiology program, call 914.493.8372 or visit MariaFareriChildrens.org/pediatric-cardiology


Can sugar consumption cause diabetes?


o, that’s a myth — and so is the misconception that people with diabetes can “never” eat sweets or traditional foods they enjoy,” said Donna Gibbons, RN, MS, CPT, CDE, Diabetes Program Manager at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). A wiser strategy, she explained, is assessing Type 2 diabetes risk factors: being overweight, physically inactive, over 45, or the sibling of someone with diabetes. “People at risk of developing diabetes often think if they feel OK, they’re OK. But Type 2 diabetes is very insidious and subtle,” Gibbons said. “You might feel sleepy after eating a large meal; you may notice you’re thirstier in the summer or more fatigued at the end of the day. But it’s nothing glaring. That’s why millions of people walk around with pre-diabetes without knowing it.” In fact, more than 86 million U.S. adults have pre-diabetes; up to 30 percent will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. The

good news: Studies show you can prevent or delay onset of Type 2 diabetes with small lifestyle changes that include losing 5 to 7 percent of total body weight (that’s 10 to 14 pounds if you weigh 200), eating a healthy diet, and increasing physical activity, even gradually, to 150 minutes of walking per week — which can be divided into 30 minutes over five days. “There’s no such thing as a diabetes diet,” Gibbons said. “Instead, it’s making healthy choices: eating a wide variety of foods, increasing dietary fiber with whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and fruit, eating smaller portions at regular intervals throughout the day and working with a registered dietitian to learn how to eat the foods you love. It’s important to fit diabetes into your everyday ‘healthy’ life.” To learn more, visit the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at mariafarerichildrens.org/pediatric-endocrinology or the division of Endocrinology and Metabolism (adult services) at WestchesterMedicalCenter.com/endocrinology-and-metabolism.

What vaccines does my pre-teen need?


accinations for meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) and human papillomavirus (HPV) are recommended for all adolescents beginning at age 11 to 12. “Some parents hesitate to give the HPV vaccine at 11-12 years since the disease is sexually transmitted, but the earlier you give the vaccine, the better the protection it provides,” said Sheila Nolan, MD, MSCE, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at


Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. Annual flu vaccinations are also recommended for all ages. “They help prevent more severe complications and mortality, especially in children,” said Nolan. To contact the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, call 914.493.8333 or visit MariaFareriChildrens.org/pediatric-infectious-diseases.

Protect young ears by adjusting volume when using earbuds


istening too loudly — and too long — to music or games is linked to a rise in teenage hearing loss, explained Katrina R. Stidham, MD, Chief of Neurotology and Medical Director of the Balance Center at Westchester Medical Center. “In the past 10 years, I’ve seen a significant rise in teenagers with symptoms of hearing loss, including complaints of ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus), difficulty hearing in the classroom, needing to increase volume on the television and asking to have information repeated,” Dr. Stidham said.

“It is not so much the method of delivery but the (audio or video device itself) that places hearing at risk, because it allows listening at higher volume levels than are safe.” In fact, the volume at which teenagers typically listen can cause damage after just 15 minutes. She recommends audio/ video devices be set to no more than 60% of maximum volume, allowing for safe usage for up to four hours daily. For more information, call 914.693.7636 or visit WestchesterMedicalCenter.com/cochlear-implant-center.

Bicycle helmets a must for child riders


icycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash, but only 18% of bicyclists wear them,” said Angela Katz, Trauma Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator at Westchester Medical Center. “Ensuring that children wear helmets correctly and consistently starts with parents wearing them,” she added. “Be a role model for your children.” Look for helmets that are well ventilated, with openings to keep riders cool, as well as an adjustable fit in the back.

“This ensures the strap is not too tight, but is snug and comfortable and that the helmet stays in place without rocking off the head,” Katz explained. Expect to spend between $20 and $30. “Remember, they will grow out of them, so purchase one that is moderately priced.” Bright fluorescent clothing, white front lights and red tail lights will provide the “active lighting and rider visibility” to enhance rider safety. If you have a question about helmet fitting or would like other tips to prevent head injuries, please call 914.493.5846.

Kidney transplant is gift of life for Liam EVEN BEFORE LIAM BRADY WAS BORN, HIS DOCTORS KNEW SOMETHING WAS VERY WRONG. Liam, now 8, is a twin. During his mother Stephanie’s, prenatal exams, it was discovered that his bladder was abnormal. Instead of resembling a pear, as healthy bladders do when empty, it was shaped like a keyhole. “It was like a bottleneck,” said Stephanie, of Yorktown Heights. “The doctors said they really couldn’t detect his kidney function from the imaging, but that it pointed to kidney disease.” After he was born, “Liam needed significant surgical intervention,” said Paul Zelkovic, MD, Chief of Pediatric Urology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). When Liam was just 4 weeks old, he returned to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, where he remained for nine days battling a blood infection. “He had chronic kidney disease, stage three,” Stephanie said.

At 18 months, his right kidney was removed to help prevent further infections. Overworked and operating at a lower capacity, Liam’s left kidney started to fail when he was 7. A transplant was needed to save his life. Thankfully, Liam’s cousin Elizabeth was his perfect match and volunteered to donate a kidney. He also had a top transplant surgeon at the ready — Gregory Veillette, MD, Section Chief of Kidney Transplant and Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and Westchester Medical Center. While pediatric kidney transplants are relatively rare, Dr. Veillette had experience performing such procedures on children Liam’s age. The six-hour operation was performed in August 2018 by Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s kidney transplant and hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery experts. It was a success. “Besides the surgical part of recovering, he felt so much better inside,” said Stephanie. “He was like, ‘I love my new kidney.’ His coloring was better and he was getting back to

himself again, which was really nice.” Now a second-grader and a strong student, “Liam is a ‘numbers guy’ who loves math and follows sports scores and statistics,” revealed Stephanie. His interest in math is also matched by a love of sports, such as basketball and soccer. However, “when he grows up,” she said “he wants to be a professional football player.” Westchester Medical Center’s Transplant Center is the only multi-organ transplant center in eastern New York state from New York City north to the Canadian border that offers adult heart transplants, adult and pediatric liver, kidney and pancreas transplants and liver and kidney living donor transplants. In addition to solid-organ transplantation, Westchester Medical Center also offers stateof-the-art programs in bone marrow transplant and corneal transplant. To learn more about transplant services at Westchester Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, call 914.493.1990 or visit WestchesterMedicalCenter.com/transplant.

One of the tiniest babies born CONNOR FLORIO IS A MIRACLE OF MODERN MEDICINE. BORN WEIGHING JUST 11 OUNCES, CONNOR IS ONE OF THE TINIEST BABIES EVER BORN AND ONE OF THE SMALLEST INFANTS TO BE BORN AT WESTCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER. His parents, Jaimie and John Florio of Danbury, CT, attribute his survival to the care he received at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and his indominable spirit. “He was the size of a newborn kitten. Stretched out, he was only 9 inches long, from head to toe. But he was a fighter,” said his mother Jaimie. When Jaimie was 25 weeks pregnant, it was discovered that Connor wasn’t getting enough nutrients to thrive because of abnormalities in the placenta, which provides nourishment to

the baby. Jaimie was admitted to the hospital to be monitored. One week later, doctors decided that an emergency C-section was needed. Connor spent five months at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “Historically, surviving at 28 weeks’ gestation is a miracle. Now it’s down to 23 weeks,” said Edmund F. La Gamma, MD, Chief of Newborn Medicine and Director of the Regional Neonatal Center at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. He credits better pharmacology, improved nutrition and advanced technologies available to specialists. In babies that young, nearly every organ system is underdeveloped and needs support. That’s where the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit comes in. Westchester Medical Center has the only Level IV Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) in the Hudson Valley, serving the entire

6,200-square-mile area. As a Level IV facility, which is New York state’s highest clinical designation, the RNICU cares for the region’s tiniest and sickest babies. Neonatal service features state-of-the-art tools designed to transfer babies from local community hospitals to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital to receive expert care. The RNICU has 24 neonatal physicians as well as 13 neonatal fellows, 17 nurse practitioners and more than 175 nurses and therapists. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital offers family support services, parent coffee breaks, scrapbooking events, music therapy, dedicated physician meetings and joint rounds, which encourage parents to hear the physicians discuss the daily care of their infant. For more information about the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, call 914.493.8558 or visit MariaFareriChildrens. org/neonatology-rnicu.


The Child Life and Creative Arts Program SUPPORTIVE THERAPEUTIC PLAY REDUCES STRESS AND ANXIETY OF ILLNESS, INJURY AND HOSPITALIZATION. At the Westchester Medical Center’s 40th annual gala celebrating the 15th birthday of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a children’s choir of former patients – many of whom overcame significant medical challenges – joined Broadway performer Rita Harvey for an emotional performance of Brave and other uplifting songs. It was the culmination of many hours of rehearsals bringing together children from across the region who succeeded in delivering a stellar performance in large part due to the work of the hospital’s Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy program. From our annual Ladybug Idol Talent Show, which showcases the talents of hospitalized children and former patients, to our helicopter visits by Santa Claus, the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy program gives children and their families a sense of normalcy during a difficult time. The program helps children understand and adjust to hospitalization through counseling, self-expressive mediums and therapeutic play. Parents and siblings also receive social and emotional support led by certified child-life specialists who are professionals with advanced training in areas related to working with children and families in medical settings. They offer education and the opportunity to participate in special programs throughout the year to provide entertainment as well as distraction from the daily hospital routine. Visits from professional sports stars and costumed superheroes and musical performances are held. Even children who are too ill to leave their rooms can participate with visits from the cart stocked with arts and crafts supplies, or the music wagon, which allows children to experiment with various musical instruments. To learn more about the Child Life and Creative Arts program, call Tricia Hiller, MS, CCLS. Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy director, at 914.493.6657 or visit MariaFareriChildrens. org/patient-resources.


Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital looks to the future


ince opening its doors 15 years ago, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital has grown to best serve its patients and accommodate the needs of the most seriously ill and injured children in the Hudson Valley. Now we are looking to the future. As part of our long-range goals, the hospital is embarking on a $15 million legacy campaign. The first project in this campaign is a much-needed expansion of the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU). Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), has the only Level IV Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (RNICU) in the Hudson Valley, serving a 6,200-squaremile area. As a Level IV facility, which is New York state’s highest clinical designation, we care for the region’s tiniest and sickest premature babies. The expansion includes eight new care rooms, additional nursing stations

and family waiting areas and a handsome new Welcome Center. According to Edmund La Gamma, Chief of Newborn Medicine and Director of the RNICU, “Our daily census demands are so great. This expansion will allow us to better serve a capacity load of neonates and their families.” Additional projects within the campaign include the establishment of endowed funds to support sub-specialties and programs, which will assist the hospital in supporting nonreimbursable services and attract world-class medical staff to continue the extraordinary level of care patients have grown to expect at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “We’re continuing our recruitment of clinicians to bring state-of-the-art services and advanced treatment options,” said Michael H. Gewitz, MD, the William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief and Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.

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Celebrating 15 Years of Advanced Pediatric Care in the Hudson Valley With a Level I trauma center and the region’s ONLY dedicated pediatric intensive care unit, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of WMCHealth, is proud be the children’s hospital of the Hudson Valley. To learn more about the world-class advanced pediatric care available at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, visit us at MariaFareriChildrens.org.


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