News & Events (85)

An agreement that officially appoints Samaritan Medical Center as temporary operator of North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) has been finalized. The agreement, signed late last week by SMC, the New York State Department of Health and NCFHC is the result of the three parties working closely over the past several weeks to develop and implement a sustainable long-term solution that ensures NCFHC’s continued operation and provision of services to residents in the community.

As part of the agreement, SMC will manage the day-to-day operations at NCFHC for a period of not more than 180 days and subject to extension by DOH as it determines necessary. As operator, SMC has named Mrs. Joey Marie Horton interim executive director of the clinic. Mrs. Horton is currently the Director of the North Country Healthcare Providers Network and Deputy Director of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization. She has experience past experience working as School-Based Health Program Coordinator at then-North Country Children’s Clinic.

The agreement also requires SMC to prepare and submit a work plan within the first 30 days, which identifies and offers solutions to NCFHC deficiencies, financial difficulties and a timeline for implementing the plan to DOH for approval.

The agreement enables SMC to step in on a temporary basis, under the guidance of the Department of Health, in order to continue uninterrupted services to the community while developing a long-term plan for North Country Family Health Center to become self-sustaining. At the end of the term of the agreement, it is expected the SMC will step down as temporary operator and return full operations of the Clinic to its leadership and Board. The ultimate goal will be to ensure that the Clinic is better and stronger than ever.

Throughout this entire process, the North Country Family Health Center reminds the community that all of their programs and services are fully staffed and operational in all locations, including school-based health clinics, adult care, pediatric care, pediatric dental care, behavioral health and WIC. Appointments for new and established patients are welcome and can be made by calling (315) 782-9450 or visiting the web-site at

Watertown, NY ----- Winners of the Children’s Miracle Network Baby Photo Contest, presented by Creative Imaging Fine Photography, were announced during an awards ceremony at the Salmon Run Mall on Saturday, October 19. Many families and supporters gathered to hear who would take home the cash awards.

22,980 votes were cast for the 137 contestants from all over the North Country. The three contestants with the most votes were awarded with cash prizes. The winners are as follows: 3rd Place and recipient of $500, Contestant #117, Charley Weston, daughter of Lacie Robinson and Dillon Weston, Dexter, 2nd Place and recipient of $1,000, Contestant #105, Lauren Baker, daughter of Amy & Tim Baker, Beaver Falls, and 1st Place and grand prize winner of $2,000, Contestant #081, Lily Kowalcyzk, daughter of Elisa Cesario and Jay Kowalcyzk, Black River. Photos of the Top Ten Contestants can be viewed online at

With the support of the contestants’ families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and community members, the 2013 Children’s Miracle Network Baby Photo Contest, presented by Creative Imaging Fine Photography, raised a grand total of $24,735! Every single dollar will stay local and help children and families in need due to a medical crisis.

Contest sponsors include Creative Imaging Fine Photography, Salmon Run Mall, 7 News/Fox 28, The Border 106.7, Community Broadcasters, Watertown Daily Times, Kinney Drugs Foundation, Watertown Savings Bank, Timeless Frames, Northern Credit Union, and Community Bank, among other supporters.

Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness for its 170 member hospitals, including Samaritan Medical Center. All contributions to Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan benefit children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties by helping to purchase medical equipment for Samaritan and other hospitals located in the tri-county region. In addition, Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan is one of only five hospitals that provide direct assistance to families with children in a medical crisis. For more information, contact the Children’s Miracle Network office at 785-4053.

Officials at Samaritan Summit Village announced two leadership changes to the administrative team today. Dennis Casey, Interim Administrator of Skilled Nursing, has announced his retirement at the end of this week, and Elaine O’Brian, Director of Nursing, is no longer with the organization. No other changes to the leadership team are expected.

Barbara E. Morrow, Samaritan’s Assistant Vice President of Compliance, will assume responsibilities of Administrator until a search is conducted for a permanent replacement. Mrs. Morrow was instrumental in leading the Samaritan organization through its receivership of Mercy’s nursing home in October 2011. Her background, experience and leadership abilities helped to stabilize the Mercy organization until its closure in 2013 upon the opening of Samaritan Summit Village. Among Mrs. Morrow’s accomplishments was the significant improvement in Mercy’s quality of care and adherence to numerous regulatory requirements, ultimately resulting in the facility’s successful removal from the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) watch list.

Barbara Fargo, RN, MSN has been appointed as the new Director of Nursing for Samaritan Summit Village. Most recently, Mrs. Fargo served as Samaritan Medical Center’s Director of Nursing Practice from 2003-2013, when her position was eliminated as part of the hospital’s restructuring plan. During her tenure at Samaritan Medical Center, she held numerous leadership roles in nursing practice, education, and nursing oversight for the Joint Commission and Department of Health’s regulations. With her experience and background, Mrs. Fargo was quickly identified to fill the Director of Nursing position at Samaritan Summit Village.

“These leadership changes were necessary in order to move the Samaritan Summit Village forward in the wake of the unprecedented change that is on the horizon with healthcare reform,” explains Anthony Joseph, Vice President of Long-Term Care at Samaritan. “These two very experienced professionals will help us navigate through these challenges to ensure that our Residents and the community have continued access to the exceptional level of care offered at Samaritan Summit Village.”

Samaritan Gynecologist Dr. Nanci Hawkins sat among the top gynecologists in the nation, as well as some of the physicians who taught her in medical school, to take a Board-certification examination in a new sub-specialty.

Dr. Hawkins took the exam in June and was notified in September that she passed and is one of the first gynecologists in the nation to be Board-certified in this new medical specialty, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FTMRS). This sub-specialty includes treatment and procedures for conditions such as urine loss, incontinence and pelvic support issues, including pelvic prolapse.

“It is definitely an honor to be among the first group of physicians to achieve this certification,” explains Dr. Hawkins. “To know that my mentors and some of the best physicians in the field sat for this exam is very humbling.”

The FTMRS is jointly run by the American Board of Gynecologists and the American Board of Urology. This new subspecialty is primarily achieved by gynecologists and urologists.

One prerequisite for the examination is that the physician must already be Board-certified in either Gynecology or Urology. If that criterion is met, then the physician must further qualify by demonstrating that 50 percent of his/her caseload is within this sub-specialty.

“Because this is a new sub-specialty, experienced Board-certified physicians were able to take the exam as long as they could prove that they perform these types of procedures on a regular basis,” concludes Dr. Hawkins. “Now that the first class has been certified, any physician wishing to take the examination from this point forward, is required to take a fellowship (usually a two-year program) in order to even qualify to take the exam.“

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 16:04

Local Women Selected for BetterU Health Challenge

Kristy Smorol, Communications Director
Office: 315.234.8252 or Cell: 315.243.5705
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Twitter: @HeartCNY

Local Women Selected for BetterU Health Challenge

WATERTOWN, NY—For the first time in the North Country, the American Heart Association will conduct the BetterU program, an innovative initiative that will chronicle local women's journey toward meaningful lifestyle changes that improve their heart health. The 12-week Go Red BetterU program is designed to remind all women of the need to make healthy lifestyle choices. The North Country BetterU program is being sponsored by Samaritan Medical Center, YMCA, and media sponsors Watertown Daily Times, WWNY-TV, and Froggy 97.

The eleven women selected for the BetterU program were introduced at a kick-off event at Samaritan Medical Center this morning. Their stories will be featured in blogs and in local media with their success celebrated at the annual North Country Heart Walk Kick-Off in January.

"We were delighted to have so many applicants for the program. The stories of these women really create a broad picture of the health and life challenges women face," said Tom Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. "We know they will inspire us throughout the 12 weeks."

Each of the 11 women will receive a three-month membership at YMCA, a baseline medical evaluation from Gina Wetterhahn, PA, of Samaritan Medical Center; nutrition coaching from Nicole Garnsey of Feed The Soul; smoking cessation help if needed; and guidance coaching from Joleene Moody of JoleeneSpeaks!. The BetterU participants will have group workouts, food shopping field trips, and write about their progress on a blog devoted to chronicling their journey.

"We invite all local women to join the BetterU participants in making healthy lifestyle changes. Talk with your healthcare provider, get moving with exercise, take advantage of programs offered in the community, and visit for helpful tips and recipes," said Peter Schmitt, CEO of the Watertown YMCA. "Our goal is to make heart health a priority for local women.”

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. Research shows, however, that 80 percent of cardiac events in women are preventable with simple lifestyle choices involving diet, exercise and smoking.

The BetterU 12-week program begins September 30th and runs through December 27th.

Follow their progress online at and on Twitter @HeartCNY.

BetterU Participants:

Angela Alpaugh:
Our next challenger says she moved to the North Country as a newlywed housewife two years ago and is looking for guidance to lead a healthier lifestyle. 38-year-old Angela Alpaugh, of Evans Mills, wants to learn how to get an exercise program she can stick with and the right eating habits to help combat her family history of heart disease.

Chelsea Bango:
Chelsea Bango knows it is time to make a change. The 25-year-old from Theresa says she has been overweight her entire life and is serious about improving her health. Bango says she struggles with figuring out the best foods for a healthy diet, and wants to get accurate information about what it takes to not only start, but maintain, a healthy lifestyle.

Deborah Biondolillo:
Deborah Biondolillo says she has been trying to diet for her entire adult life. The 51-year-old from Calcium wants to find out why she hasn’t been successful. She is self-employed with a physically demanding job and is looking for some extra encouragement to get herself healthy. Her father died of heart disease at a young age, but Biondolillo wants to do something to help prevent heart disease for herself and be a role model for her children.

Laurie Donohue:
Laurie Donohue says she has tried diets, but at 54-years-old, she says she has struggled. Donohue already suffers from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and lowering both of those numbers are her biggest goals. The Watertown woman says she wants to set an example for all of the women in her family.

Debra Farmer:
At 52-years-old, Debra Farmer says she is actively seeking the right kind of program to get her on track after many failures. Farmer, of Chaumont, says she wants to learn how to change her lifestyle to get healthy and avoid the suggestion of bariatric surgery.

JoEllen Heukrath:
Coming from a family history of heart disease, 58-year-old JoEllen Heuktrath says she is incredibly motivated to make a significant change in her lifestyle. Heukrath, of Deer River, wants to become better educated about healthy lifestyles so she can hold herself accountable and improve her health.

Patricia Hovorka:
Patricia Hovorka just celebrated her 60th birthday. The Adams woman says she is starting feel old and wants to change that. She wants to lose weight and get in better shape, along with lowering her cholesterol so she can get off cholesterol medication. She says she wants to be proud of herself again and set an example for her children and her grandchildren.

Patricia Howell:
After losing her mother to a heart attack and heart grandmother to a stroke, Patricia Howell, of Watertown, says she wants to be around for her three grandchildren. At 68-year-old, Howell is our oldest participant, but says she is motivated and committed to the program.
Krista Kittle:
44-year-old Krista Kittle, of Watertown, says she wants to lead by example. Often representing the hospital in community events and in the media, Kittle says she wants to be a role model for the wellness and prevention behaviors that all Americans are being encouraged to commit to as part of the healthcare reform legislation.

Shawna Rich:
Shawna Rich has tried changing her habits before, but is looking for help to succeed. The 28-year-old from Carthage is looking for positive lifestyle changes regarding nutrition and exercise that will help her live a longer, healthier life. She wants to keep up her motivation to make lasting changes and avoid her family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Michelle Swike:
The number one goal for 38-year-old Michelle Swike from Carthage is to quit smoking. Swike says she has always battled with her weight and has made a decision to life a healthier life. She wants to ditch her smoking habit, get in shape, and show other women that they can do it too.

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

In keeping with its commitment to high quality care and services for seniors in the community, Samaritan Keep Home is pleased to announce the addition of a new program to its continuum of care. Members of the community are invited to stop by the open house, which is being held on Wednesday, September 25th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at SKH’s activity room.

Social Adult Day Care is a new social and recreational program for seniors in order to assist with maintaining independence. This program provides a safe, comfortable and supervised setting for seniors. It includes nutritional meals, social and recreational activities, such as bingo and arts and crafts, and other services. Intergenerational activities and pet therapy may also be added.

Goals of the program include:

• Improve and adult’s independence in an effort to maintain living in his/her own home.
• Provide opportunities to socialize, develop friendships and receive peer support.
• Maintain an adult’s present level of function and prevent/delay further physical deterioration.
• Help to eliminate loneliness.
• Provide respite for families and caregivers.

“Seniors today are remaining in their homes longer than ever before,” explains Natalie Montroy, Director of the Social Model Adult Day Care program. “This program – the first in our community – will do just that. It will also provide peace of mind for family members who are caring for seniors at home by knowing their loved one is well cared for during the day.”

Applications are now being accepted for program registrants. Full-time and part-time enrollment opportunities are available. Program hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

During the open house, attendees will be able to see the activity room where the program will be held, complete an application, meet the staff and learn more about the benefits of this new program. For more information, please call 785-4493. 

Migraine headaches and head pain affect more than 34 million people, primarily women, each year. These illnesses cause countless hours of lost work and deprive people of the ability to enjoy their families, activities and jobs. The SMC Interventional Pain Management Center is hosting a community seminar on managing migraine headaches and head pain on Tuesday, October 1st from 5 – 6 p.m. in the Pain Management Center office, located in the Medical Office Building, 3rd Floor, 826 Washington St., Watertown.

The seminar, presented by Sue Walker MSN, FNP-C, will offer strategies on how headache pain can be brought to a manageable level using a combination of Interventional strategies, appropriate medications, and lifestyle modification.

Reservations are not required. This seminar is free open to the public. For more information visit or call the Interventional Pain Management Center at 315-785-4019.

The Interventional Pain Management Center is a partnership between Samaritan Medical Center and Jefferson Anesthesiologist Services. This multidisciplinary team of professionals is devoted to providing chronic pain management services to the communities of Northern New York and Fort Drum, NY. The goal is to provide optimization of the quality of life for patients who are afflicted by chronic pain through the various treatment modalities offered by the multi-disciplinary team and the cooperative efforts of the patient and their family.

In anticipation of the increased demand for primary care services as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Samaritan Medical Center’s Family Health Network has expanded its ability to care for more patients. With increased appointment availability, the Plaza location in Watertown is now accepting new patients.

“As providers, we expect to see a dramatic increase in the demand for healthcare services – especially in primary care – because more people will be insured as part of the Affordable Care Act,” explains Joseph Wetterhahn, MD, Family Practice Physician with Samaritan’s Plaza Family Health Center. “We know this is coming, and we want to ensure that Samaritan is positioned to provide high quality care to as many people as possible. We’ve made many proactive improvements in our schedule and in the way we deliver care within our primary care network.”

Samaritan is planning to make similar changes in all of its primary care clinics; however, its busiest clinic at the Samaritan Medical Plaza on Washington Street in Watertown is the first to implement the improvements. In addition to increased appointment availability, the clinic is shifting its resources to offer a team-based healthcare model that effectively coordinates patient care across all healthcare providers and services. This approach means that the entire care team works together with patients to achieve the best possible care. Additionally, these improvements provide same day/next day appointments, timely access to healthcare professionals, electronic access to patient records, lab results and health information and more.

Samaritan’s Plaza clinic in Watertown is one of four in the Samaritan Family Health Network that has received the federal government’s Level III Patient Care Medical Home designation, which requires each to meet and maintain rigorous standards in quality, access and coordination of care – ensuring patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. The network’s two newest locations in Cape Vincent and Sackets Harbor are currently in the process of becoming a designated site.

“Samaritan has already experienced tremendous change as a result of healthcare reform,” concludes Dr. Wetterhahn. “This is just one more way that we have responded. Ultimately, it means that more people in our community will have better access to improved healthcare.”

The Plaza Family Health Center currently has ten providers on its healthcare team, including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The clinic is located at 1575 Washington Street in Watertown and offers a full range of primary care and family medicine services for people of all ages. For appointments at the Plaza Family Health Center, please call 786-7300. New patients welcome.

Anyone who has tried quitting smoking knows giving up cigarettes can be an extremely difficult challenge. That is why Samaritan Medical Center is partnering with the Tobacco Cessation Center of Northern New York to offer free smoking cessation classes to the North Country community. The first class is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. in Conference Room #4 at Samaritan Medical Center. Registration is not required.

The class, led by Beth Gero of the Tobacco Cessation Center of Northern New York, is designed to teach smokers how to prepare to be a non-smoker by providing skills and techniques to quit smoking. Participants will learn what their level of addiction is and will leave with their own personal “prescription for success.”

Monthly classes have been scheduled throughout the rest of the year; Wednesday, September 25; Wednesday, October 30; Wednesday, November 13; Thursday, December 19.

The need for a smoking cessation program was identified through Samaritan’s Early Lung Cancer Screening program. Many of the participants of the program are smokers who indicated that would like to quit smoking. Samaritan is able to offer this program to the community, free of charge through a grant from New York State.

For more information about the smoking cessation classes and Samaritan’s Early Lung Cancer Screening program, visit

The Samaritan Medical Education department welcomes four new residents into the DO residency programs in Internal Medicine and Family Practice. Internal Medicine welcomes Dr. Kelsey McAnally, a 2013 Graduate of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Dr. Yu Sung a 2013 Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.

Family Medicine welcomes Dr. Caitlin Donagan is a 2013 graduate from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Tad Lanagan is a 2010 graduate University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM).

In addition to our new residents, we are welcoming eight 3rd year medical students from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and two 3rd year medical students from University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Please welcome these new young physicians and students to the area!

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