News & Events (88)

Announcing the BetterU Challenge – A 12-Week Go Red Makeover to Improve Your Health
Accepting applications from local women through August 30th

WATERTOWN, NY (August 1, 2013)—Everybody loves a free makeover. This one is different; it can save your life. The American Heart Association is now accepting applications for a new program in the North Country. The Go Red For Women BetterU program, sponsored by Samaritan Medical Center, is a heart-healthy makeover from the inside out. Ten women will be selected to highlight their participation in a 12-week program that helps you transform your overall health through small, simple choices. Toss out fad diets and trendy exercise regimens. We're going to launch you on the path to a BetterU.

The 10 women will be selected based on their applications, and highlighted along their journey. We are currently seeking applications from local women looking for a unique way to kick-start the change to more heart-healthy habits.

In addition to the 12-week heart health makeover, the ten selected women will be supported by a personal trainer, have access to the YMCA gym, meet with a doctor from Samaritan Medical Center to identify key target areas to reduce immediate risks, and attend educational sessions on how to live a healthier lifestyle. Applications are due Friday, August 30th, and participants will be celebrated at the North Country Heart Walk Kickoff in January. The 12-week program will run from September – December.

Visit to apply online. You may also call North Country Heart Walk Director Stacy Spaziani at 315-783-4116 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., taking the life of one in three women – almost one woman every minute. However, research shows that 80 percent of cardiac events in women are preventable with simply lifestyle choices involving diet, exercise and smoking.

The North Country BetterU program is sponsored by Samaritan Medical Center, the YMCA, and media sponsors Watertown Daily Times, Stephens Media Group, 7 News WWNY and Fox 28 WNYF.

About Go Red For Women
Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association's solution to save women's lives. With one out of three women still dying from heart disease, we are committed to fighting this No. 1 killer that is largely preventable., a premier source of information and education, connects millions of women of all ages and gives them tangible resources to turn personal choices into life-saving actions. We encourage women and the men who love them to embrace the cause. For more information please visit or call 1-888-MY-HEART (1-888-694-3278). The movement is nationally sponsored by Macy's and Merck & Co., Inc.

About the American Heart Association
Founded in 1924, we're the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases — America's No. 1 and No. 4 killers — we fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

Contact: Kristy Smorol, Communications Director
Office: 315.234.8252 or Cell: 315.243.5705
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @HeartCNY


Samaritan Medical Center and the SMC Foundation of Northern New York announce the appointment of Morgan O’Brien Bocciolatt as the new Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals Development Manager. As the CMN Development Manager, Miss Bocciolatt will be responsible for fundraising, sponsor/donor relations and overall awareness of CMN’s mission of helping North Country children. She will be responsible for planning and implementing all CMN events, fostering relationships with CMN national and local sponsors, building a core group of CMN volunteers and assisting families of children facing a medical crisis.

“We are very pleased to have Morgan join our team,” explains Beth Fipps, Vice President, Samaritan Foundation and Community Services. “The search for the new CMN Development Manager was very inclusive. Members of the Foundation Board, CMN Allocations Committee, department managers and staff participated in the interviews and ultimate selection of the candidate. Morgan’s background, knowledge of the CMN organization and enthusiasm make her an excellent choice for this important position. We are excited to grow CMN throughout the tri-county region, as well as maximize awareness and significance for North Country children.”

Prior to her appointment as CMN Development Director, Miss Bocciolatt was Director of Sales and Events at Savory Downtown. She is a North Country native growing up in Chaumont, New York where she remains active in the Lyme Community Foundation as a volunteer and spokesperson and the Lyme Community Theatre as producer and volunteer. Miss Bocciolatt holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Management and Design from Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communication, and was crowned Miss Thousand Islands in 2011.

“My involvement in the Miss Thousand Islands Scholarship Pageant was my first introduction to the CMN organization,” states Miss Bocciolatt. “To now be managing such a valuable community organization brings full circle my passion for CMN and for the health and well-being of children in our community. I am looking forward to meeting the many sponsors, supporters and families who help to make CMN what it is today.”  Miss Bocciolatt will begin her new role on Wednesday, July 24. Her office will be located in the Foundation office at SMC, and she can be reached at 315-785-4053.

Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan Medical Center raises funds to support child-centered areas of SMC and other qualified healthcare organizations in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. 100% of all funds raised through CMN remains locally to benefit children in our area. SMC is one of only five CMN-affiliated hospitals in the nation that provides direct assistance to children and their families in need of assistance as a result of a medical crisis.


Contact: Krista A. Kittle
(315) 785-4504

Samaritan is proud to invest in the future of our employees by providing financial assistance to individuals interested in enhancing job knowledge, developing skills that foster professional growth, or promoting career growth and opportunities in healthcare careers.

Each year the Samaritan Auxiliary has presents a $1000 scholarship to a local student who is pursuing advanced education. The Samaritan Auxiliary partners with the Samaritan Human Resources Department in selecting a student who is pursuing advanced education, is also enrolled in the Samaritan Hot Jobs Tuition Reimbursement Program, and has maintained a B average. Congratulations to the recipient of the 2013 Auxiliary scholarship, Jenny Lewis, who has been an LPN at Samaritan Keep Home for the past six years. Jenny is studying to become an RN in the nights and weekend RN program at JCC.

(L to R)Jenny Lewis, LPN is presented the scholarship check by Christine Cisco, SMC Auxiliary Member.

Samaritan Medical Center and the SMC Foundation hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Healing Gardens, as well as a formal dedication of the new connector between the hospital and nursing home in memory of Mary S. Macsherry on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.

The Samaritan Healing Gardens are one of the final projects to be completed as part of SMC's multimillion dollar expansion and modernization project. The addition of these gardens to the Samaritan campus was intended to create a relaxing and therapeutic environment for all to enjoy. The Healing Gardens are generous gifts of three families: Mary and Ted Mascott, Lee and Deborah Hirschey, and Urban and Sally Hirschey.

The Macsherry Connector was constructed to join together Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Keep Home as a way to share services and create new places of respite for patients, family and staff to enjoy. This two-level structure was designed to provide a visual connection to the Healing Gardens so that they can be enjoyed from many different vantage points during all seasons.

Samaritan Medical Center recently graduated three Residents from our Graduate Medical Education program. Drs. Campbell, Bordeau and Overdorf all have completed their Internal Medicine Residency at Samaritan Medical Center.

Dr. Campbell will be staying with Samaritan Medical Center as a Hospitalist, Dr. Overdorf will be continuing her training as a Critical Care fellow at Genesys Hospital in Michigan, and Dr. Bordeau is looking to continue her training as a fellow in Hematology/Oncology. Our graduates were honored at a recent dinner with many of the teaching faculty and their families. SMC is fortunate to be a successful teaching hospital right here in the North Country.

Pictured above are many of our Doctors that teach the students.

From left to right - front row: Drs. Rudd, Overdorf (graduate), Grybowski, Cohen and Sears.
Back row: Drs. VanDeWall, Bordeau (graduate), Johnson, Maloney, Romano, Campbell (graduate) and Rechlin.

Pulaski, NY --- The Samaritan Medical Center Foundation of Northern New York held its 16th Annual Thousand Islands Golf Classic event on June 2 and 3, 2013 at the Thousand Islands Country Club on Wellesley Island. The event also included a pre-tournament Traditional Shore Dinner and Auction on Sunday evening at the Wellesley Island home of Joe and Lisa Weber.

The tournament featured a hole-in-one contest at the 16th hole, a 166-yard par three. Mr. Rick Rudmann of Knowlton Technology scored the hole-in-one to win a 2013 Chevy Malibu, valued at $26,000 and sponsored by F. X. Caprara Car Companies, and $500 in groceries sponsored by Price Chopper.

The Samaritan Medical Center Foundation’s mission is to ensure the advancement of healthcare in the communities served by Samaritan Medical Center and its affiliates. Donated funds are allocated for equipment and programs that enhance patient care, promote health education and improve the quality of life in the region. Over 180 supporters attended this year’s dinner and auction, and the golf tournament was full with 144 players participating.

This year’s tournament set a new fundraising record at over $134,000.

For more information about this event, please contact the Samaritan Medical Center Foundation office at 785-4584 or visit

Watertown, New York ----- "OSCAR" was announced June 13th as the winning entry of the "Name the Robot" contest held by Samaritan Medical Center to give the newest member of their surgical team, the da Vinci™ Robotic Surgical System, an official name. According to the winning entry submitted by Maggie Fipps of Watertown, a first grader in Mrs. Westberg's class at Immaculate Heart Central Schools, the letters in OSCAR stand for Outstanding Surgical Care with Advanced Robotics.

The "Name Our Robot" contest was open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students were given information about the da Vinci Surgical System and were then asked to come up with a name for the robot, provide a brief explanation of the name and draw a picture of the robot. The hospital received more than 230 student submissions. The submissions were reviewed by members of the Samaritan Surgical Team, and although many entries were incredibly creative, OSCAR seemed to stand out and "fit" the robot best.

As a special thank you to Maggie for making OSCAR feel more like a member of the team, Samaritan Medical Center has invited her and five guests to the hospital to get to know OSCAR and the Surgical Team up close. OSCAR has a skills simulator that Maggie will be able to test drive, offering her a glimpse at the superior visualization, dexterity, and precision that the surgeons experience with robotic-assisted surgeries.

Twenty-five dollar gift cards to Michaels were awarded to seven other creative students who won the artwork awards for the most imaginative drawings of Samaritan's new robot. They were:
Jillian Barcelon, Kindergarten, Knickerbocker Elementary School;
Emma Corbin, 1st Grade, Immaculate Heart Central Schools;
Joe Girardi, 2nd Grade, Immaculate Heart Central Schools;
Robert O'Connor, 2nd Grade, Immaculate Heart Central Schools;
Stephanie Donida, West Carthage Elementary School;
Emilie Peacock, 4th Grade, Indian River Intermediate School;
Morgan Smith, 5th Grade, Copenhagen Central School.

Indian River Intermediate School also received a special award and a $500 donation to its parent-teacher association as the school with the most overall contest entries.

"We are very proud to make this innovative medical technology available to patients throughout the region," said Alejandro R. Rodriguez, MD, Director of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Samaritan Medical Center. "Involving young people in naming our new robot helps them understand the incredible advancements taking place within healthcare today and hopefully may also spark their interest in the healthcare field."  All of the contest entries will be on display in the Surgical Services Waiting Area on the second floor of Samaritan Medical Center through the end of the month. "The children did a great job and we had a lot of fun looking at all of the artwork. We really appreciate the students' and teachers' efforts, especially at this very busy time of year," Dr. Rodriguez concluded.

OSCAR assists surgeons in performing complex procedures on certain urological, gynecologic and general surgery patients. It enables the physician to use a set of miniature robotic "arms" to perform minimally invasive surgery. The surgeon looks through a high definition view screen while manipulating the robotic arms at a distance of about 20 feet from the patient. The use of OSCAR offers the patient less pain, less scarring, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and a quicker return to normal activities.

Physicians using OSCAR include:
Director of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery Chief of Urology and Urologic Oncology
Alejandro R. Rodriguez, MD
Gynecology Kathryn Buchanan, MD
Kenya Cain, MD
Walter Dodard, DO
Nancy L. Hawkins, MD
General Surgery
Robert O. Kimball, MD

For more information on OSCAR, Samaritan's da Vinci Robotic Surgical System, visit

Samaritan Medical Center will be hosting a community open house on Thursday, June 13th from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in the Surgical Services Waiting Area on the second floor of the Medical Center Pavilion, 830 Washington Street, Watertown.

The Open House will showcase the latest advancement in surgical technology, Samaritan's da Vinci™ Robotic Surgical System. Samaritan surgeons who are now utilizing this technology in surgical procedures for urology, gynecology and general surgery will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate the robot's capabilities.

The highlight of the event will be the announcement of the winners of Samaritan's community-wide "Name Our Robot" contest, at 5 p.m. Since Samaritan is committed to serving the North Country community with state-of-the-art services, the hospital team felt that area students should have a hand in giving the da Vinci robot a proper name.

The "Name Our Robot" contest was open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students were given information about the da Vinci Surgical System and were then asked to come up with a name for the robot, provide a brief explanation of the name and draw a picture of the robot. The hospital received more than 230 student submissions.

The grand prize/name winner will be announced at the Open House, as will artwork winners selected from each grade. Also announced will be the school with the most overall entries, which will receive a $500 donation for their school's parent-teacher association.

All of the entries will be on display in the Surgical Services Waiting Area on the second floor of Samaritan Medical Center during the Open House event and through the end of the month.

For further information, please contact the Samaritan Medical Center Marketing Department at 785-4584.

Samaritan Medical Center President; CEO Tom Carman and Vice President of Nursing Brian O’Hearn issued the following letter to the community in response to the recent nursing arrests at SMC. The intent of this letter is to provide members of the community with a summary of the events, Samaritan’s response, as well as reassurance that patient safety has always been and continues to be Samaritan’s #1 priority.


June 10, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Over the past couple of weeks, the Samaritan organization has been dealing with some extremely unfortunate events involving the arrests of four nurses for various charges related to controlled substances. We wanted to take an opportunity to reach out to you directly to share details surrounding these events, as well as to reassure you that the discovery of this activity, as well as the investigation and action taken, was the result of proactive and effective leadership now in place in the Emergency Department.

Though it is disappointing that these activities occurred within our organization, it is important to note that the proactive auditing systems we have in place to identify and act upon this type of behavior are working exactly the way they were intended. Further, our Emergency Department leadership team took swift and deliberate action to notify the NYS Bureau of Narcotics, which ultimately led to the arrest of these individuals.

As you may be aware, there have been significant efforts and resources dedicated to the improvement of processes and patient satisfaction in the Emergency Department.  A new management team is in place, which includes Ms. Robin Schroeder, RN, MSN, Director of Emergency Services, who joined the team in February 2013 and Mr. Brian O’Hearn, Vice President of Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer, who arrived in late 2012. Dr. Maja Lundborg-Gray and Dr. Sarah Rowland-Delaney continue to provide outstanding leadership and support on behalf of the emergency physicians and providers.

Also in 2012, Samaritan engaged an organization called Emergency Excellence to assist in identifying and implementing the necessary changes. One of the most significant process changes, called “Rapid Clinical Evaluation” (RCE), is focused on getting the least acute patients through the system as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to free up staff and beds for true emergency patients. The implementation of these changes called for additional positions to be added. Those new positions were filled with agency nurses until permanent staff could be hired and trained.  We do not typically have this high number of agency nurses at one time, and temporary staffing is certainly not the ideal situation; however, we felt it was necessary in order to implement the process improvements as quickly as possible.

In addition to the employment screenings conducted by the hiring agency, traveling nurses undergo the same on-boarding process at SMC as our permanent employees. This includes background checks, drug tests, nursing license validation and reference checks. No issues were identified during the on-boarding process of these individuals.

Though unfortunate, each of these cases demonstrate Samaritan’s diligence in identifying and acting upon these types of behaviors, as well as our zero-tolerance approach to dealing with this type of activity. The actions of these individuals are extremely disappointing to their colleagues and to the organization. However, their actions are by no means a reflection of the hundreds of other staff members who abide by the law and dedicate their lives to caring for patients. We are proud of our 800+ professional and dedicated nurses who continue to provide exceptional care and compassion to our patients and help to move Samaritan forward.

In closing, let us reassure you and the entire community that our efforts in the Emergency Department are resulting in numerous improvements to process, wait times and patient satisfaction. These recent events, though unfortunate, will make Samaritan a better and stronger organization as we move forward. Patient safety remains our top priority, and you can rest assured that we will not tolerate any action or behavior that could jeopardize the safety and well-being of our patients.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Samaritan’s efforts to advance local healthcare. We hope this information is helpful to you in understanding the situation, as well as our commitment to continually improving for the benefit of our patients and community.



Thomas H. Carman                                                                                  Brian O’Hearn

President & CEO                                                                                     Vice President, Patient Care Services/­Chief Nursing Officer

Thursday, 06 June 2013 11:49

Community Health Assessment

Local health departments, hospitals, such as Samaritan, and community-based organizations are working together to complete a Community Health Assessment to inform a Community Health Improvement Plan for 2014-2017.

We are conducting a survey about the health needs of North Country residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. Your answers are important to us. Your participation is voluntary and your responses will remain anonymous.

Please complete the survey no later than June 23rd.

Complete the survey here: Your Health Survey

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