Despite the rain, hundreds of families from across the Hudson Valley turned out on Sunday, September 24 to support Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital for its biggest fundraiser of the year. Led by three former patients, The Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day started with a one-mile walk around the hospital campus in Valhalla. Each child overcame serious illness at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, which cares for more than 30,000 seriously ill and injured children annually. The walk was followed by activities including music, vendor booths, carnival games, food and more.
The United States continues to have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, driven in large part by the high mortality rates among women of color. Gillibrand’s approach would support mothers at every step of their maternal health care journey and help address racial disparities in maternal health by awarding grants to grow and diversify the maternal health workforce and working to eliminate racial bias in maternal care.
The leaders were joined by Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, WMCHealth President and CEO Michael Israel, Westchester Medical Center OB/GYN Director Dr. Sean Tedjarati and Dr. Catherine Daniels-Brady, psychiatrist at WMCHealth Behavioral Health Center.
“More people in the United States die from pregnancy-related complications than in any of our peer countries — this is outrageous and downright shameful. We must do more to support and listen to women and pregnant people at every step of their maternal health journey,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m fighting to include nearly $180 million in the end-of-year spending bill to help implement evidence-based health care standards for all women, no matter their race or ethnicity. I’m also pushing to pass the Moms Matter Act to provide critical mental health and substance use disorder support to pregnant people and moms. I will never stop fighting to ensure every mother is heard and gets high-quality health care — no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or zip code.”
“The Moms Matter Act, sponsored by Senator Gillibrand, represents a crucial step towards addressing the longstanding gap in mental health and overall well-being support for new mothers who have been historically underserved and excluded from accessing these vital resources,” stated New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “In our unwavering commitment to reproductive health, maternal care, and favorable pregnancy outcomes, my colleagues in the Senate Democratic Majority and I are dedicated to ensuring that every individual has unfettered access to life-saving information and high-quality care. We are equally devoted to enhancing and fortifying available resources to ensure that pregnant individuals across the state receive the comprehensive care they deserve. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her invaluable contribution through this legislation and her tireless efforts to support mothers, not only in New York but also throughout our nation.”
“The bill proposed by U.S. Senator Gillibrand is coming at a crucial time in this country’s history as we are seeing increasing rates of mental health and substance use disorder among disenfranchised pregnant women leading to illness and even death,” said Michael D. Israel, President and CEO of Westchester Medical Center Health Network. “This bill aligns nicely with our recently launched Center for Women’s Health Equity which seeks to proactively eliminate the social, economic, cultural and racial determinants of health that can result in increased morbidity and mortality rates among pregnant women across the Hudson Valley. We applaud the Senator for her leadership on this issue and look forward to working with her now and into the future to address this public health crisis.”
Senator Gillibrand’s Moms Matter Act would establish two grant programs to support moms with maternal mental health conditions or substance use disorders by investing in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments. Additionally, the bill would provide funding for programs to grow and diversify the maternal mental and behavioral health care workforce in an effort to ensure quality, culturally competent health care.
For more information on the bill, please click here.
Ambassadors to Represent Hospitalized Children, and Lead Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Walk and Family Fun Day
VALHALLA, N.Y. (July 17, 2023) – Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital has named three former patients as its newest youth ambassadors. The children — all of whom underwent successful treatment for severe illnesses at WMCHealth’s Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital — will represent the thousands of seriously ill and injured children served annually by the hospital’s advanced pediatric services.
A signature duty of the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital ambassadors will be to lead the hundreds-strong procession for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Walk and Family Fun Day, which will step-off September 24. The event is the largest fundraiser for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and all donations made through the Walk and Family Fun Day will support the hospital’s advanced care services.
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital appointed Camryn Kellam of Fishkill, Chase Pultz of Beacon, and Jack Boyle of Pearl River as hospital ambassadors during a special sashing ceremony at Clover Field in Pomona, NY, prior to a New York Boulders Frontier League baseball game. WMCHealth’s Elissa Chessari, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of WMCHealth’s Northern Region, led the appointment event.
This year’s ambassadors are:
Camryn Kellam – Sickle Cell Disease – Fishkill
Doctors diagnosed 10-year-old Camryn of Fishkill with Sickle Cell Disease three weeks after birth. She has been a subject in one of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital’s many groundbreaking clinical trials and today, Camryn is doing great with little-to-no signs of Sickle Cell Disease symptoms. She is one of eight children chosen from all over the United States to represent Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for 2023.
Chase Pultz – Infectious Disease and Neurosurgery – Beacon
Chase, 9, of Beacon was admitted to WMCHealth’s MidHudson Regional Hospital with a severe sinus infection. Within three days, the infection had traveled to Chase’s brain, and he was transferred to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital for advanced care. Neurosurgery and other procedures ensued, requiring Chase to spend the next 30 days recovering at the hospital. Today, Chase is thriving.
Jack Boyle – Neurosurgery – Pearl River
15-year-old Jack of Pearl River was playing basketball with his brother when he developed a headache and collapsed. An ambulance rushed him to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, where pediatric care experts discovered a tangle of ruptured blood vessels. Jack needed multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, but today Jack is doing great! He is an honor roll student, an avid outdoor sportsman and member of the cross county, winter track and golf teams.
For more information about the Go the Distance Walk and Family Fun Day, visit https://wmchealthgiving.org/
VALHALLA, N.Y. – Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) has announced the launch of its Center for Women’s Health Equity, a new care program that will address the social, economic, cultural and racial determinants of health that can result in increased maternal morbidity and mortality among women across the Hudson Valley. Supported by a $750,000 New York State grant secured by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and with the support of New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the members of the New York State Legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul, the WMCHealth Center for Women’s Health Equity has locations at Westchester Medical Center in Westchester County and another at HealthAlliance Hospital in Ulster County.
The Center for Women’s Health Equity will be the first program of its kind based in New York State’s Hudson Valley region, and will have an initial aim of reducing the leading causes of death among pregnant women by integrating specialists in maternal-fetal medicine, whose expertise is the care of complex medical problems affecting pregnant women, with its heart and vascular program clinicians to take a more proactive and holistic view of elevated risk factors among women, particularly those of color.
“WMCHealth’s vital mission is to provide the highest-quality care for all residents of the Hudson Valley, and we expect the Center for Women’s Health Equity to help improve outcomes for the women WMCHealth serves,” said Michael D. Israel, President and CEO, WMCHealth. “We expect the Center for Women’s Health Equity to be a model for other health networks across the country to follow, and would like to thank our New York State representatives for having the foresight to make such a significant investment in this important program.”
“We are addressing one of the greatest challenges that exists in public health today – the socioeconomic and racial determinants of health that results in the premature death of women of color across the Hudson Valley” said Sean Tedjarati, MD, MPH, MBA, Director of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Westchester Medical Center. “By bringing together and integrating all of these necessary services, we aim to eliminate clinical silos and bridge the gaps that will help empower patients and community partners while improving care and saving lives.”
A New York State Health Emergency
Addressing maternal mortality is an urgent health risk particularly in the United States, where in 2021 the mortality rate was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births*, more than 10 times the estimated rates of some other high-income countries**, driven largely by significant disparities in health outcomes experienced by minority women. The situation is especially dire in New York State, where Black, non-Hispanic women are up to five times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than White non-Hispanic women.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins: “I’m proud to support WMCHealth’s Center for Women’s Health Equity in its mission to reduce health disparities among women in our region. It is crucial that we address the socioeconomic and racial impacts on healthcare that contribute disproportionately to the premature deaths of pregnant women of color. This Center will have a major impact on women’s healthcare disparities in the Hudson Valley as it works to improve outcomes, save lives, and create a more equitable healthcare system. With the $750,000 State grant, New York is taking a significant step towards closing these gaps, underscoring our unwavering commitment to high quality healthcare for all women.”
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Health
“As the new Health Chair of the New York State Assembly one of my top priorities is addressing maternal mortality. I commend Westchester Medical Center on the launch of its new Center for Women’s Health Equity, and am very pleased to have secured the initial funding. Implementing innovative programs which directly address the issues expectant mothers face, including socio-economic determinants, is critical to improving maternal birth and overall health outcomes. I look forward to the future success of the new Center for Women’s Health and appreciate its important focus on this critical public health emergency. Women shouldn’t have to worry about dying when they get pregnant.”
In the coming year, the WMCHealth Center for Women’s Health Equity will expand to include preventative oncological support to address increased risk of breast and gynecological cancers with an emphasis on cervical cancer, which still imposes a high burden on Black and Hispanic populations.
The program is accessible today in Westchester County at 19 Bradhurst Avenue in Hawthorne or by calling 914.493.2080 and in Ulster County at 373 Broadway Avenue in Kingston or by calling 845.303.1132. For additional information, visit WMCHealth.org/Womens-Health-Equity
Esteemed physicians Elias Lader, MD, Somsak Bhitiyaku, MD and O+ Festival honored May 5 at Diamond Mills in Saugerties
KINGSTON, N.Y. (May 10, 2023) – The HealthAlliance Hospital Gala was held on Friday, May 5th at Diamond Mills in Saugerties, successfully providing support for the hospital’s cancer infusion center and oncology support program.
More than 250 people were in attendance, including many of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network’s (WMCHealth) esteemed physicians, founder of the O+ Festival, and members of the greater Kingston community. The gala also featured a number of moving speakers, some recounting powerful personal stories of how HealthAlliance Hospital’s infusion provided them with life saving care.
Additionally, the hospital presented awards recognizing a number of community leaders and medical professionals who have made a positive impact on the Kingston region. A full list of honorees and gala sponsors can be found below.
2023 HealthAlliance Hospital Gala honorees:
- Ellis Lader, MD – Dr. Lader has had a long and distinguished career serving the Kingston community, where he began practicing in the 1980s. He is currently Director, Division of Cardiology, HealthAlliance Hospital.
- Somsak Bhitiyaku, MD – Dr. Bhitiyakul practiced internal medicine and nephrology for over 50 years. Dr. Bhitiyakul founded the first dialysis unit in Ulster County in 1977 and served as its Medical Director for 34 years. He also served as President of the Medical Staff at the former Kingston Hospital as well as Chief of Medicine there and the former Benedictine Hospital, as well as President of the Mid-Hudson Society of Internal Medicine.
- Joe Concra/O+ Festival – The O+ Festival was established in 2010 in Kingston by a small group of artist-activists. The effort helps to provide healthcare to creative professionals. Joe Concra is an O+ Festival co-founder.
HealthAlliance Hospital Gala Sponsors
- Leadership Sponsors: Dr. and Mrs. Somsak Bhitiyakul.; HealthAlliance Medical Staff and Medical Associates HV.
- Honoree Sponsors: Bruderhof Communities and Ulster Savings Bank.
- Patron Sponsors: Darlene Bover, Gateway Hudson Valley, The Rothlein Family, Sholes & Miller, PLLC, SVN Deegan-Collins Commercial Realty and Ulster Federal Credit Union.
- Event Underwriters: Hudson Valley Hospice, Rondout Savings Bank and Turner Construction Company.
New HealthAlliance Hospital
In December, the newly reimagined HealthAlliance Hospital opened after a $113M expansion and enhancement project that included a new, two-story, 79,000-square-foot building adjoining the hospital’s legacy structure and a full renovation of 48,000 square feet of the previous hospital environment.
View photos from the gala here.
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 nine hospitals on seven campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 13,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. The Network has Level I (adult and pediatric), 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, Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, home-care services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State. Today, WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated health care in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit WMCHealth.org or follow WMCHealth on Facebook.com/WMCHealth or Instagram.com/WMCHealth.
Proceeds will Support Hospital Programs
MARGARETVILLE, N.Y. (March 29, 2023) – A variety of works by local artists will be up for sale as part of an art auction supporting Margaretville Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).
The third annual art auction will be held Saturday, May 20, at Liberal Arts Roxbury, 53525 Main Street, Roxbury, N.Y. Auction proceeds will support specific projects at the hospital. Past art auctions raised more than $30,000 to help purchase new medical technologies for the Margaretville Hospital’s women’s health services.
Art works for auction will be on display at Liberal Arts Roxbury starting May 13, but can be viewed online now at Give.WMCHealth.org/CATCH23
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 nine hospitals on seven campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 13,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. The Network has Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 adult and pediatric trauma centers, the region’s only acute care children’s hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, home-care services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State. Today, WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated health care in the Hudson Valley. For more information about WMCHealth, visit WMCHealth.org or follow WMCHealth on Facebook.com/WMCHealth or Instagram.com/WMCHealth.
Fundraiser for WMCHealth’s Heart and Vascular Institute draws more than 400
VALHALLA, NY (February, 24 2023) – Girls’ Night Out, a heartwarming evening featuring tributes to heart disease survivors and their caregivers, was held Feb. 9 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown. WCBS-TV news anchor Mary Calvi emceed the event with proceeds benefiting the WMCHealth Heart & Vascular Institute, which offers comprehensive cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery services to patients of all ages, as well as a heart disease prevention program. A sellout crowd of over 400 attended.
The evening included dining, dancing and a fashion show featuring healthcare providers and patients modeling fashions from Macy’s at Cross County Shopping Center in Yonkers, the event’s main sponsor. Other sponsors included Boston Children’s Health Physicians; Compass One; Garfunkel Wild, Heidell, Pittone, Murphy & Bach LLP; Martin Clearwater & Bell LLP; New York Medical College; The Premier Collection; ShopRite; TD Bank; Tompkins Bank; Unitex; Vizient; Vigorito, Barker, Patterson, Nichols & Porter, LLP and Wilson Elser.
February is Heart Health Awareness Month. Heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the United States, accounting for about one in every five female deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Julio Panza, MD, Director of the Department of Cardiology at Westchester Medical Center, said that the heart’s function affects many systems of the body. “Because there is truly a connection between our hearts and so many other systems in our bodies, interdisciplinary collaboration between all of our clinical specialists is so important,’ he said. “Our work to change and save lives is truly a collaboration that delivers miracles every day.’’
Gabbie Fried, RN, Vice President of Cardiovascular Services with the Heart & Vascular Institute said heart health awareness and prevention effort are key in reducing heart disease risks.
“Our new Cardiovascular Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program works to prevent coronary disease and save lives,’ she said. “Through education and screening and by developing a personal plan for exercise and healthy eating the prevention team works to head off potential heart problems.’’
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (January 24, 2023) — MidHudson Regional Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Health Network (WMCHealth), today held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services inpatient pediatrics unit at the hospital.
The new inpatient pediatrics unit or “neighborhood” at MidHudson Regional Hospital officially opened at the end of 2022 and now features 10 private rooms – double the amount of the hospital’s prior inpatient pediatrics unit – with private bathrooms, showers and sleeping accommodations for a child’s caregivers.
The inpatient neighborhood also features a new infusion center and welcoming spaces for music and art therapy, and other child life activities promoting healing.
“We’ve experienced an incredible response from the community since Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services at MidHudson Regional Hospital launched in 2020. This inpatient service expansion and environment upgrade will help us provide inpatient pediatric services to even more families in the Poughkeepsie area and surrounding communities,” said Michael Gewitz, MD, Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations for WMCHealth as well as the Executive Director and William Russell McCurdy Physician-in-Chief at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “In many regions across the country, there is limited access to inpatient pediatric care, and this expansion demonstrates WMCHealth’s continued commitment to investing in specialized services that benefit our entire community.”
“Ensuring accessible, quality care for children in Dutchess County is critical, and today’s dedication and unveiling of this expanded inpatient facility will go a long way toward strengthening our community health,” said Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil. “We thank the staff at WMCHealth, MidHudson Regional Hospital, and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital for their leadership and continued commitment to improving children’s healthcare in our area.”
The Mid-Hudson Region’s Choice for Pediatric Hospital Care
The new and expanded inpatient pediatrics neighborhood at MidHudson Regional Hospital exemplifies WMCHealth’s continuing commitment to the health and wellbeing of children in the Mid-Hudson region and beyond. Since WMCHealth launched Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services at MidHudson Regional Hospital a little over two years ago, the hospital has recorded more than 1,100 inpatient discharges and 10,000 pediatric emergency department visits.
“The pediatric care team has always included nurses skilled in pediatric care and in response to the community’s trust in our service, WMCHealth recruited hospital-based pediatricians and allied professionals to the 24/7 MidHudson Regional Hospital staff, added a pediatric emergency medicine specialist, launched pediatric subspecialty telehealth consultative services, and debuted a pediatric ambulatory surgery program,” said Jenny Sung, MD, the onsite clinical director for Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Healthcare Services at MidHudson Regional Hospital.
A Continuum of Care, Close to Home
Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services at MidHudson Regional Hospital supplies care under the auspices of WMCHealth’s Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, which is renowned locally and nationally as a provider of high-quality subspecialty pediatric care. If advanced pediatric care is necessary, an in-network patient transfer from MidHudson Regional Hospital to the nearby Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is seamless and ensures children continue to receive care as close to home as possible.
“My family owes everything to the talented and dedicated staff at MidHudson Regional Hospital. Without them, my son might not be with us today,” said Jeanine Geiser, a Beacon, NY resident and mother of Chase Pultz, 8. “Chase’s care began at MidHudson Regional Hospital where he was diagnosed with a severe infection that needed immediate advanced care. Chase was transferred to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital where he spent a month in the pediatric intensive care unit. Today, Chase is doing well and enjoying life the way a boy his age should.
“My son’s case shows the importance of specialized pediatric care here in Dutchess County and the Mid-Hudson region,” continued Geiser, “and the unit’s opening will enable more families to benefit from MidHudson Regional Hospital’s pediatric services.”
Recognizing Local History
The expanded pediatric inpatient accommodations at MidHudson Regional Hospital were modeled after Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital where pediatric inpatient units are referred to as neighborhoods – Sailing, Heroes, Flight, Theater, Arts, Literature and Athletics – with themed décors for a welcoming and family-friendly healing environment. As an homage to the MidHudson Valley’s rich agricultural history the MidHudson Regional Hospital inpatient unit will carry a “Farming” theme and name. The Farming Neighborhood at MidHudson Regional Hospital is open for the care of children and their caregivers.
The inpatient pediatric service is a component of Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services at MidHudson Regional Hospital, which also includes pediatric emergency and outpatient services. Families interested in learning more about Maria Fareri Children’s Healthcare Services at MidHudson Regional Hospital should visit our website.
The holidays can be an especially difficult time for children and their families at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Knowing that, first responders came to the rescue on December 20 by bringing Santa to the hospital escorted by more than 100 emergency vehicles. With lights flashing and sirens sounding, the vehicles surrounded the hospital putting on a spectacular holiday light show for children who waved back from their rooms.
Children are often at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital for extended periods as they battle heart disease, cancer, traumatic injuries and other serious ailments. Events like Good Night Lights offer fun and a positive distraction for hospitalized children and their families.
Thank you to Westchester County Police Department for coordinating Good Night Lights!
Girls’ Night Out, an annual fundraiser for the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) Heart and Vascular Institute, will be held on Feb. 9, 2023 at The Marriott in Tarrytown.
The event will celebrate the triumphs of heart patients and recognize the physicians and healthcare professionals whose compassion and skill save lives. February is Heart Health Awareness Month. Heart disease remains the number one killer of women in the United States, causing 1 in 3 deaths or approximately one every minute.
Girls’ Night Out will be emceed by award-winning, WCBS-TV news anchor Mary Calvi. Proceeds from the event will benefit the WMCHealth Heart and Vascular Institute, which offers a wide
range of cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery services – including heart failure and heart transplantation, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and more – to Hudson Valley residents.
To learn more about sponsorships for the event or to purchase tickets or make a donation visit wmchealthgiving.org.
Tickets can be purchased here.