WMCHealth’s Gala 2023 Honors Community Champions, Physician Exemplar and Lifetime Achievement Awardee

Proceeds from the evening at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts June 3 Support New Critical Care Tower at Westchester Medical Center

VALHALLA, N.Y.– Westchester Medical Center Health Network’s (WMCHealth) 2023 Gala saluted the dedicated nurses of WMCHealth’s Critical Care Teams in addition to honoring a community supporter and longtime healthcare providers for service to the hospital network and community. 

The evening, at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts in Katonah on June 3th, also featured former patient Annabelle Liebert and her father Hugh who performed a duet for the crowd of more than 400 who attended. 

The event was in support of the hospital’s new Critical Care Tower. The five-story, 262,000 square-foot facility will provide 128 private, ICU-capable rooms that are more comfortable and will incorporate modern technologies. 

Honorees at the event included: 

Physician Exemplar Award

Muhammad Choudhury, MD, FACS, Director of Urology at Westchester Medical Center was presented with the Physician Exemplar Award.

Dr. Choudhury is also Chairman of the Department of Urology at New York Medical College. He has had a long and distinguished career at Westchester Medical Center and served as President of the Medical Staff from 2008-2012. Caring for patients for more than 40 years, Dr. Choudhury has been recognized as a Top Doctor by New York Magazine and Castle Connolly on many occasions throughout his career. He has received multiple teaching awards from New York Medical College. He served as secretary of the Board of Directors of the New York Section -American Urological Association from 2005 to 2007, as President-elect from 2007-2008 and as the President from 2008-2009.

He was first appointed in 1981 as an Attending and Section Chief of Urological Cancer in the Department of Urology at Westchester Medical Center. He was appointed Director of Urology Service in 1989.

He was Program Director of the Urology Residency from 2000 to 2009. Dr. Choudhury was the physician honoree of the 29th annual Westchester Medical Center Gala in 2008.

A graduate Sylhet Medical College in Bangladesh in 1972, he immigrated to the United States in 1975. He completed his residency in urology at New York Medical College affiliated hospitals in 1980 and a fellowship in urologic cancer at Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, New York in 1981. 

Dr. Choudhury is most proud of being involved in training over 100 residents and fellows throughout his career. He is an enthusiastic champion of the global initiatives of the American Urological Association and has worked for the past 20 years to improve the education and training of urologists in Bangladesh. On May 2, 2023 American Urological Association awarded Dr. Choudhury with the prestigious “Gold Headed Cane Award” for his outstanding contribution to the profession of urology and American Urological Association.

John F. Heimerdinger Lifetime of Service Award 

Maureen F. Cooney, a Nurse Practitioner in Pain Management at Westchester Medical Center, was awarded the John F. Heimerdinger Lifetime of Service Award.  Cooney,  DNP, RN, FNP-BC, PMGT-BC, AP-PMN, ACHPN, is also an Associate Professor in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Pace University.  She received a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Case Western Reserve University and Master’s and Undergraduate degrees from Pace University. Dr. Cooney is Board Certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and also in Pain Management and Palliative Care. She is the Immediate Past President of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) and has served in various roles in that organization on a national and local level. Dr. Cooney has authored numerous pain management publications and has lectured extensively, locally, nationally and internationally, on a variety of pain related topics. In 2021, along with Dr. Ann Quinlan-Cowell, she was the co-author of a book entitled Assessment and Multimodal Management of Pain: An Integrative Approach

Dr. Cooney started her career as a surgical ICU nurse, first at Jacobi Medical Center, and then, in 1983, at Westchester Medical Center. She became an instructor of critical care nursing at WMC in 1987, and continued in that role until 2002 when she assumed her present role as Pain Management Nurse Practitioner.  She is the grateful recipient of the generous continuing education and tuition reimbursement benefits at WMC which have offered her great professional satisfaction and career advancement opportunities. She completed a Masters in Adult Nursing/Education, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies as Family Nurse Practitioner, and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice with the tuition support of WMC.  Dr. Cooney says that one of the best parts of her career at Westchester Medical Center has been the lasting friendships she has forged.

On a personal level, she is the mother of three adult children, Joseph, Meghan, and Patrick, and the grandmother of Olivia, 6-1/2, and Logan 4 months. Her hobbies include gardening, kayaking, hiking, biking, Irish music, and spending fun times with friends and family. 

Community Champion Award 

The Community Champion Award was presented to Alfred P. Vigorito, Esq., Senior Partner, Vigorito, Barker, Patterson, Nicholas & Porter LLP, specializing in medical malpractice defense. 

Mr. Vigorito spent the early part of his law career as a prosecutor, starting as an Assistant District Attorney in Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola’s office where he was Supervisor of the Narcotics Bureau, Deputy Chief Public Corruption Unit. He tried more than 60 felony cases in NYS Supreme Court for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY. He served as a Special Assistant AUSA from 1986-88 and was part of a joint team with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office prosecuting political corruption and white collar crime with a 100 percent conviction rate.

He later went into private practice where he specialized in medical malpractice defense, starting with the firm of Bower & Gardner, the largest medical negligence defense firm in New York, from 1988-94, starting as an associate, then partner and principal partner. He later joined Bartlett, McDonough, Bastone & Monaghan, LLP in White Plains, N.Y.  where he served as equity partner, medical malpractice defense from 1994-2015 before starting the firm of Vigorito, Barker, Patterson, Nicholas & Porter LLP.

Mr. Vigorito graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1973 and earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University, Honors Program in 1975. He received his law degree from Pace University School of Law in 1980. He has been named by Super Lawyers as one of the Top 25 lawyers in Westchester County.

Mr. Vigorito has participated in Grand Rounds Lectures at WMC in Anesthesia, Neurology, Surgery, Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and been on the WMC Invitational Golf Tournament Committee for 10 years. He is a board member of the Children’s Dream Foundation and a parishioner of Basilica of St. John, Stamford, CT. He is married to Sally Vigorito and has two children, Daniel Oliver Vigorito and Juliana Hope Vigorito. He was a Mount Kisco resident for 36 years and currently lives in Stamford, Ct.

Community Champion Honoree

The Critical Care Units Nursing Teams at Westchester Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital were presented with Community Champions award.

WMCHealth recognizes the life-saving work done by the nursing staff of the Intensive Care Units at Westchester Medical Center for this dedication and professionalism. Accepting the award on behalf of these units were:

Emily Mittelstadt; Karlene Henriques (Burn); Akosua Ofori; Meghan Scholl (Cardiac); Kathleen Dwy; Mary Chavez (Trauma); Courtney Lane; Sofy Abrahams (Surgical); Jean Lavin; Megan Johnson (Pediatric); Helen Fox and Froilyn Galdones (Neonatal).

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network
The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 12,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. The Network has Level I, Level II and Level III trauma centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State. Today, WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit WMCHealth.org.