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PICU Grand Opening

PICU ribbon cutting

Pride and pure joy filled the air during last week's ribbon cutting ceremony in celebration of our new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB). Nearly a decade in the making, the new PICU is a state-of-the-art facility that provides inpatient pediatric care, is designed for comfort, safety, and privacy, and offers a family-centered approach to care for  our  most critically ill infants, children, and adolescents.

Click here for a look inside Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting celebration.

photo of PICU patient room

The new PICU was designed with family at the forefront. Private rooms encourage parent participation in their child's care, and a separate conference space allows for private family meetings and consultations. Five glass-enclosed private rooms, including a negative pressure room, provide line-of-sight monitoring by nurses and brings all caregivers closer to the bedside.

The unit's state-of-the-art technology includes a next-generation patient monitoring system that consolidates and analyzes patient data from multiple ICU devices. The PICU also features the latest telemetry systems, as well as information technology that brings electronic medical records, imaging studies, and lab, pharmacy, and nutrition information to the bedside. A pneumatic tube system means staff need not leave the patient’s room to drop off specimens or retrieve medications.

These are the types of features that will enable our physicians to provide the most advanced approaches to pediatric critical care interventions, including advanced ventilator management, use of inhalational gas therapies, dialysis (including continuous renal replacement therapy), plasmapheresis, continuous video EEG, invasive procedures and monitoring of bedside bronchoscopy and endoscopy, perioperative critical care, isolation precautions, and more.

What this all means is that our new PICU will allow us to provide the highest standards of care for children with critical and complex illnesses right here in the communities we serve. Additionally, our new PICU will significantly enhance the clinical training in pediatric critical care we provide our students and residents.

photo of Dr. Riley with PICU staff

Congratulations to the incredible physicians and staff of University Hospital of Brooklyn on our PICU ribbon-cutting and grand opening. A very special thank you to those whose dedication to this project made the new PICU a reality, including:

Stephen Wadowski, M.D.
Chair, Department of Pediatrics

Stanley Fisher, M.D.
Director, Pediatric Inpatient Care

Ramon Gist, M.D.
Director, Pediatric Critical Care

Gloria Valencia, M.D.
Vice Chair, UHB Pediatric Clinical Services

Daihnia Dunkley, Ph.D., RN
Associate Director, Nursing Maternal/Child

Judy Ashur, MSN, RN
Assistant Director, Nursing Pediatrics

Patricia Winston, MS, RN
Interim Senior Vice President and Managing Director, UHB

William Gerdes
Associate Vice President, Ancillary Services

Lori Bruno
Director, Strategy and Policy Development

Anthony Piscopo
Construction Administration

Alvin Dunaisky
Assistant Director, Major Hospital Projects

Milad Botros

College of Medicine

Asylum Clinic

photo of doctor and patient

New York City is home to thousands of refugees who arrive here seeking asylum from persecution, violence, torture, and war. They are among nearly 70 million displaced people worldwide and have unique social, psychological, and medical needs and risk factors. Although their care is complex and challenging for providers, it is also incredibly rewarding. The growing refugee crisis has grave public health implications requiring immediate attention and actionable response from healthcare practitioners across the country.

Physicians (including Resident Physicians), Nurse Practitioners, and licensed mental health professionals HAVE THE POWER to double the chances of asylum approval by conducting exams that document evidence of past psychological or physical trauma for use in asylum court. OB/GYN and psychiatry specialties are especially needed for cases involving FGM and PTSD.

As I shared earlier this year, Asylum Clinics have been made available by Downstate’s student-run Brooklyn Free Clinic. The goal is to grow the number of volunteer physicians and mental health professionals that provide clinical evaluations for refugees seeking immigration relief in the United States.

If you are interested in supporting these clinics, email asylumclinic@brooklynfreeclinic.org and attend the last live CME-accredited, catered training (click link below):

Sat, 10/26/19 @ Columbia U(4 CME credits)

Many thanks to Aram Durgerian and Shannon Frank from the College of Medicine’s Class of 2022, for their ongoing commitment to being stewards of humanitarianism and healing in the community.

College of Nursing

Improving Community Health

group photo at health fair

Downstate students, faculty and staff, Borough President Eric L. Adams, and Minister John Williams of New Creations Community Health Empowerment, Inc.

Many studies in recent years have found food insecurity to be directly linked to poor overall health. Almost 50 million people are food insecure in the United States, making it one of the nation’s leading health and nutrition issues.

Food-insecure households lack consistent access to enough food for an active and healthy life, and the effects on both children and adults can be serious and life altering over time. Several studies have indicated food-insecure children are vulnerable to developmental delays, while adults are at greater risk of anxiety and poor work/academic performance.

photo of health fair

Neighborhood seniors learn about food insecurity and healthy eating.

In response to the growing concerns around food insecurity, Downstate’s College of Nursing partnered with St. Anthony’s Baptist Church to host a community health fair on food insecurity and healthy eating—a reflection of Downstate’s commitment to promoting wellness and improving health outcomes in the communities we touch.

In addition to screenings done by the Center for Community Health Promotion and Wellness, Downstate provided elder adults with food insecurity surveys and seminars, as well as information on living a nutritionally balanced lifestyle.  Led by the College of Nursing, the fair was a collaboration between SUNY Downstate and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and was designed to develop, implement, and evaluate food insecurity among older adults. 

The goals for this community outreach event were to: 

  1. increase food insecurity screenings and referrals for aging populations;
  2. increase aging populations’ access to nutrition education and food resources; and
  3. reduce health risks related to food insecurity such as obesity, depression, and high blood pressure. 

To date, more than 200 adults in Brooklyn have participated in our community health fair efforts on this issue.

Thank you to the amazing students, faculty, and staff in the College of Nursing and the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness for your ongoing commitment to reducing health disparities and addressing the social determinants of health. Engaging with our state and community partners to improve the health of our community is central to our service-centric, educational mission.

School of Health Professions

Ethics Day

ethics word cloud

As we all know, professions in health and healthcare are regulated by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies—but who manages the ethical standards of an organization, and the body of people who maintain its operation?

In the classroom, in a doctor’s office, or in any health system, it is the responsibility of leadership to establish and enforce ethical values. The challenge with ethical principles is that there is no single standard of ethical behavior to follow, and that ethics are based on an individual's moral compass—what is ethical to one person may be unethical to another, making it ever more necessary for leaders to clearly define and set the ethical standard for their departments and programs.

In anticipation of World Ethics Day, The School of Health Professions (SOHP) held its Annual Ethics Training for all first-year students. Students from SOHP spent time with Dean Allen Lewis, Ph.D., CRC, discussing the role of ethics, both personally and in their chosen professional paths.

The afternoon’s curriculum included an overview of the following key principles and theories:

Basic Ethical Principles:
Autonomy – Beneficence – Non-maleficence – Justice – Fidelity-Voracity

Practical Domains of Ethics:
Meta EthicsNormative EthicsApplied Ethics

Five Philosophical Orientations of Ethics:
DeontologicalAretaicConsequentialismPragmaticMoral Relativism

Utilitarian Thought:
Rule versus Act Utilitarianism

These modules were accompanied by challenging applied scenarios that SOHP students completed in pairs, and the afternoon culminated with more complex applied ethics scenarios discussed in breakout groups. The day served as an intensive starting point in what will be an ongoing discourse on ethics within SOPH’s programs and curricula.

Many thanks to Dean Lewis for continuing to impress upon students the importance of creating and maintaining an ethical basis for health and healthcare practices.

PT Service Day

With October comes cooler weather, colorful leaves, and of course, National Physical Therapy Monthan opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of physical therapy.

The first national recognition of physical therapists was celebrated in June of 1981 and was only a week long. Now with a whole month of appreciation, we focus this time on the benefits of physical therapy and all the professionals who help patients get stronger with every step.

To commemorate the month-long celebration, faculty from the School of Health Professions (SOHP) joined members of the New York Physical Therapy Association on October 12th (National PT Service Day) to participate in the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research in Central Park—a 5k run/walk created to raise funds for cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Photo of Ethics PT 5k

Congratulations to  Joanne Katz, PT, DPT, Ph.D., and Heather Miller, Adjunct Pediatric Faculty, for their successful completion of the 5k and thank you for representing Downstate well!

University Hospital of Brooklyn

It’s time again for Downstate’s FLU Vaccine Fair

Flu Poster

Flu season is once again upon us, and there is no time like the present to begin taking necessary measures to protect yourself and those around you against the influenza (flu) virus. In our profession, we know just how critical staying healthy and being examples of healthy habits and lifestyles are to our ability to effectively carry out our jobs—the importance of getting your flu vaccine cannot be overstated.

The 2018-2019 flu season was a moderately severe flu season, yet it still lasted a record-breaking 21 weeks, and we don’t yet know if the current season will be any better. While the timing and severity of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity often begins to increase in October, most commonly peaks between December and February, but can last as late as May. That’s why the CDC and primary care providers recommend that everyone “Fight the Flu” with the best protection against the virus—the flu vaccine.

Getting vaccinated may not sound appetizing to many of you, but it’s painless, effective, and it’s how I’ve managed to keep the virus away for so many years.

Don’t believe me? Here’s footage of me volunteering to get the flu vaccine.

Dr. Riley getting a flu shot

If I can do it, what’s stopping you? You have the power to fight the flu right here at Downstate, at no cost to you! Beginning today, Monday, 10.21.19 to Wednesday, 10.23, University Hospital of Brooklyn is hosting the 2019 Flu Vaccine Fair where all of you can get vaccinated on the house and grab a few tasty treats on the way out. 

I strongly encourage each of you to find time for the Flu Vaccine Fair this week... with nothing to lose, the only thing you have to gain is your health! If not at Downstate, be sure to get the vaccination at your location of choice.

Many thanks to all those who gave their time and worked tirelessly to make this event possible!

Faculty Appointments

Jean McHugh, Ph.D., RN, APRN-BC 

photo of Jean McHugh

It is with great pleasure that I announce Jean McHugh, Ph.D., RN, APRN-BC, as a new faculty member in Downstate’s College of Nursing. Dr. McHugh will also serve as Director of Accelerated Baccalaureate Programs.

No stranger to Downstate, Dr. McHugh served as the Assistant Director of Nursing at Downstate’s University Hospital of Brooklyn. She is a nationally certified Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and has extensive experience in nursing leadership, education, and administration.

Dr. McHugh’s program of research investigates the multifactorial influences of workplace incivility on work environment, patient safety, organizational commitment, engagement, and nursing retention. She is dedicated to the development of effective evidence-based strategies for driving change, quality, and organizational improvement that creates and sustains healthy practice environments.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. McHugh on her new appointment!

Richard Miller, Ph.D.

photo of Richard MillerI am pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Miller, Ph.D. as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University effective November 1, 2019. Since February 2019, Dr. Miller has served as Interim CFO for Downstate’s academic enterprise.

Dr. Miller joined University Hospital of Brooklyn in 2012 as Assistant Vice President for Hospital Finance. Since then, he served briefly as Interim Hospital Chief Financial Officer and later became Vice President and Hospital Chief Financial Officer before being appointed to the Interim CFO for the University.

Before joining Downstate, Dr. Miller spent nearly three decades at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) in various leadership roles, including Vice President of Finance, Executive Director of Finance and Controller, and Controller, among others.

A former Marine Reservist, Dr. Miller received his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He holds the MBA degree plus CPA and CIA (Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor, respectively) certificates.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Miller on his new and continuing role.

Honorable Mentions

William M. McCormack Award

photo of Stephanie Yakoubovitch with award

Congratulations to Stephanie Yakoubovitch, College of Medicine Class of 2022, who is the 2019 recipient of the William M. McCormack Scholarship.

This award is presented every year in honor of Dr. William M. McCormack, a graduate of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and longtime Chief of the Infectious Diseases Division here at Downstate and at Kings County Hospital Center.

The honor, meant to help further experiences in the study of infectious diseases, is presented to a member of the 1st or 2nd year COM class who demonstrates an interest in Infectious Diseases through the completion of a scholarly project.

Kenneth Gottesfeld Award

photo of Yosefa Pessin

Congratulations to Yosefa Pessin, DHSC, RDMS, RDCS, RVT, and Jason Tang-Simmons BS, RDMS, who won third place and were awarded the Kenneth Gottesfeld Award at the Society for Diagnostic Medical Sonography Conference. 

The award recognizes authors for the publication of outstanding research or review articles in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and was based on their publication, “Sonography Simulators: Use and Opportunities in CAAHEP-Accredited Programs.

two people in front of poster

We are proud that Downstate faculty Dr. Pessin and Professor Tang-Simmons have been recognized nationally for their contribution to Sonography research and education and continue to work to enhance Downstate’s contributions to science, it’s reach and visibility.

SUNY IPE Program

SUNY Conversation in the Disciplines IPE Workshop

2 photos of groups

After being awarded a SUNY Conversations in the Disciplines Grant earlier this summer, Downstate faculty from the School of Public Health and the School of Health Professions hosted a SUNY-wide workshop as part of the SUNY Conversations in the Disciplines series—Advancing SUNY IPE Program Infrastructure and Resources: Fostering Success.

group photo 3

This was a unique interactive conference that connected six SUNY campuses via WebEx—University at Buffalo, Binghamton, SUNY Downstate, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Stony Brook University, and Upstate Medical University.  Our site champions and members of the Consortium, Lori Hoepner, Dr.PH., MPH, School of Public Health, and Brigitte Desport, D.P.S., OTR/L, AT, School of Health Professions, organized the workshop for the campus and led discussions on building strategies that will foster successful development, implementation, and assessment of interprofessional collaborative practice and education among our schools and colleges and throughout SUNY. The workshop was a success with high attendance across all the campuses represented.

The SUNY Interprofessional Consortium is the only one of its kind in a state-run education system and meets every two months to drive interprofessional education initiatives throughout SUNY. Many thanks to Drs. Hoepner and Desport for their collaboration on a successful workshop!

In the Community

Organ Enrollment Day

Organ Enrollment Day photo 1

Despite advances in medicine and technology and the ongoing push to encourage donation and increase awareness of organ donation and transplantation, the gap between supply and demand continues to widen.

While national rates of donation and transplant have increased in recent years, more progress and growth in donor numbers is needed to ensure that all candidates have a chance to receive a life-saving transplant.

Organ Enrollment Day photo 2

To address growing and unmet demands for organ donation, on October 10th, Downstate’s very own Betty Jung, RN, Center for Community Health Promotion and Wellness, joined forces on with LiveOnNY’s Rene Mascoll to coordinate Organ Donation Enrollment Day for Downstate in honor of National Organ Donation Enrollment Day—a statewide event aimed at closing the organ donation supply and demand gap by recruiting and enrolling more people to sign up as organ donors.

Together they recruited a team of students and providers who spoke with visitors at the registration tables about organ donation, the opportunity to save up to nine lives, and discussed concerns and misconceptions about organ donation. The partnership was an immense success and I’m ecstatic to share that as a result of our efforts, an impressive 15 people enrolled on the spot as organ donors—a historic new record for Downstate!

Organ Enrollment Day photo 3

Organ Enrollment Day photo 4

I’d like to extend a special thank you to Keisha Rogers, MPH student; and from the Transplant Division, Susan Sanders, LCSW-R, Mahalia French, MS, RD, CDN, Mary Fontenelle, MS, Maxine Easy, MSN/MHA, RN, NP-C, CCTC, and Tashma Watson, MSN, RN, CSSM, AVP for Surgical Service Line. Also, thanks to Dr. Jacqueline McDonald, RN, from the College of Nursing, and especially to LiveOnNY staff (Valerie Basse, Safiya Raheem, Marjorie Nelson) who volunteered their time to help make this historic achievement possible.

And a big round of applause to Betty Jung, RN (Center for Community Health Promotion and Wellness) for coordinating and executing a successful event and partnership.

According to the Organ Donation and Transplantation Fact Sheet (July 2019), provided by LiveOnNY, NYS has the distinction of having the lowest percentage of people enrolling as organ donors (35%) compared to the rest of the nation (56%). NYS currently has approximately 9,549 people waiting for an organ transplant. The NY metropolitan area has 8,251 individuals on the waiting list, including patients here at SUNY Downstate. Every 18 hours, someone in NYS dies waiting for organ transplant.

One organ donor can save up to 9 lives; one tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 50 people. Anyone can enroll as an organ donor. There is no age limit and it is supported by most religions.

If anyone is interested in enrolling as an organ donor, click the weblink below at https://donatelife.ny.gov/




President's Bulletin
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
450 Clarkson Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11203