Samaritan Offers Carpal Tunnel Open House

Watertown, New York – Community members will have an opportunity to discuss carpal tunnel surgery with Dr. Brian Zafonte, Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Samaritan Medical Center, on Saturday, June 11, 2022.

Dr. Zafonte completed a Hand Surgery Fellowship at the University of California Davis Medical Center and is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery with Subspecialty Board Certification in Hand Surgery. He joined the Samaritan team earlier this year. 

“We are here to serve the community,” said Dr. Zafonte. “We have a lot of resources available for our patients.”

Community education and engagement are important to the doctor. His goal is to provide potential patients with a good understanding of how minimally invasive endoscopic surgery with Samaritan can provide relief.

The event will occur at the Rotunda, 830 Washington Street, Watertown, between the Keep Home and Medical Center, 8-11 a.m. RSVP is appreciated for attendance. The reservation form is available online at Masks are required at the event.  

Samaritan Celebrates Employees at Annual Service Awards Banquet

WATERTOWN, NY – On May 16, Samaritan celebrated its employees who reached twenty-years-in-service or more milestones in 2021 with a dinner and awards reception at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The event served as the kick-off for Samaritan Experience Week, during which all caregivers across Samaritan Health are recognized.

“It takes a special person to go into healthcare. Someone who is caring and willing to give of themselves.  We are honored to celebrate our Samaritan Caregivers who have dedicated their careers to Samaritan, our patients/residents, and their team members,” said Thomas H. Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center.  “We cannot thank them enough for their loyalty and dedication. While these last two years through the pandemic have been challenging, all Samaritan Caregivers have been caring, committed, and courageous.” 

Recognized for 45 years with Samaritan was Debra Lashway (not photographed at the event).

For 40 years were Kelly R. Scee, Gale Y. Freeman, Diane L. Tibbles, Margaret (Peggy) Macaulay, and Mary K. Gregory. Debra Farmer was recognized but didn’t attend the dinner.

For 35 years were Kelly S. Burnash, Randal K. Halaburka, James P. King, Anthony J. Marra, Lisa L. Pittman, Lori A. Plantz, and Debra A. Sumell.

Pictured here are Lisa L. Pittman and Anthony J. Marra

30 years celebrated were Tina Marie Ackerman, Robert C. Ackley Jr., Evelyn R. Aviste, Kelly Reese Barker, Diane A. Chisamore, Amy E. Collins, Mary E. Gregory, Jennifer J. Haley, Jody L. Hewitt, Kimberly A. Jackson, Bonnie Louise Labarge, Stacey Michelle Mack, Debra Marino, Beverly M. Monica, Sandra Lee Netto, and Nicole R. Simmons.

Pictured here are Evelyn Aviste, Bonnie LaBarge, and Debra Marino

At 25 years the following caregivers were recognized: Sharon L. Sourwine,  Ruth H. Powell, Jennifer E. Lundy-Kalin, Pamela J. Childers, Jean R. Kress, Cherene L. DeRosia, and Paul E. Gillette (in the picture); and Dawn Bastien, Monica J. Campbell, Brianne Nicole Castro, Keitha R. Dupee, Patti Ann Freeman, Cynthia E. Hall, Debra S. Hamilton, Leisa F. Hamm, Tammie Hulbert, Christopher Martin Lavin, Randy J. Marino, Marco Schmidt, Betty Shelmidine, John Stano, Anne M. Tyler, Julie A. Verne, and Danny W. Vincent.

For 20 years the following caregivers were recognized: Norravith “Ae” Mathison, Garett Joseph Hayes, Catherine A. Ford, Terrance L. Cavanaugh, Kelly R. Brasel, Tonya R. Covington, Sandra L. Veley, Rose Busler, Lorraine E. Hoffman, and Crystal L. DeWitt (in the picture). Also were recognized but not in attendance: Mark K. Cloonan, Gail Francine Dennie, Raiona Rae Fleming, Todd H. Fuller, Jody Renee Hanson, Norma Jean Hunter, Scott J. Jacobs, Carolyn Orton, Shelia Sheehan, Karen Elizabeth Stewart, Patricia A. Thomas, Laurie Jo Wayte, and Kristin Elizabeth A. Worden.

Hospice of Jefferson County Announces STAR Center Transition and Relocation to Samaritan Medical Center at the Walker Center for Cancer Care Facility

Jefferson County, June 2022 – STAR Center for Symptom Treatment and Relief will be closing its office on Washington Street in Watertown on June 30, 2022. The palliative care clinic will relocate to the Walker Center for Cancer Care under the operation of Samaritan Medical Center. Hospice of Jefferson County has operated this service since 2019. Due to changes in physician referral patterns, Hospice leadership has determined Samaritan should maintain this service in our community. The STAR Center treats patients needing palliative care management for many different diagnoses, including cancer. Samaritan’s decision to relocate the clinic to the Walker Center for Cancer Care does not mean that only individuals with cancer will be seen. The clinic will provide palliative care to all patients with serious illnesses who need symptom management and social support assistance. Please contact the STAR Center at 315-755-6086 for any questions regarding your care.

“Developing this palliative care outpatient clinic has been a challenging yet rewarding experience. We appreciate the referrals and confidence the community has given our clinic over the past three years,” said Diana Woodhouse, CEO of Hospice of Jefferson County. “We are confident that Samaritan Medical Center has the resources to continue developing this program and are pleased that palliative care will remain available to our community.”

“Samaritan was proud to financially support Hospice three years ago to launch this service for the community. Today, we are pleased to be in a position to maintain and further develop palliative care in our community,” stated Tom Carman, President, and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “Providing quality healthcare is part of our mission, and this includes quality of life, which is a major benefit of palliative care and something every patient deserves.”

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Hospice of Jefferson County and its Hospice and Foundation Boards for their visionary support of the STAR Center serving the North Country Community,” said Kathy Matas, Ph.D. ANP. “Palliative Care is a medical specialty serving all those with serious, progressive, and potentially life-limiting illnesses that focuses on symptom management, quality of life, and care goals. It is a person and family-centered with a whole-person approach that includes support for both patient and family. It is appropriate from the time of diagnosis and throughout the course of a disease. Palliative Care requires a referral and is covered by your insurance, as any medical specialty is. I look forward to continuing to provide this valued specialty within the Samaritan Medical Center’s community-based care.”

Beginning July 1, 2022, Samaritan Medical Center will assume complete operations for this palliative care program and help it remain in our community. New patients are being accepted with a referral and can call 315-785-4673 to make an appointment. The clinic will be located at the Walker Center for Cancer Care in the interim.

For more information, please contact Erin Boshart at STAR Center for Symptom, Treatment, and Relief: (315) 755-6086

Nurse Practitioner (NPs) Scholarships Applications are Available

Watertown, New York — Applications are now being accepted for the fifth annual Susan Peters Nursing Scholarship. A retired nurse from Samaritan Medical Center established a scholarship through the Samaritan Medical Center Foundation for Registered Nurses (RNs) looking to advance their careers as Nurse Practitioners (NPs). Sadly, Peters passed away in 2020, yet this scholarship remains as part of her legacy and commitment to healthcare in the community.

The Susan Peters Nursing Scholarship was established in 2018 to assist with the education costs for an RN who is continuing his/her education, specifically to pursue a Nurse Practitioner degree. Two scholarships of $2,000 will be awarded each year.

Peters graduated from the former House of the Good Samaritan School of Nursing and retired from Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) as a Certified Oncology Nurse; prior to that, she had served as a staff RN and for more than 20 years as a Nurse Manager of Medical/Surgical, Orthopedic and Alternate Level of Care Units.

Beth Fipps, VP Samaritan Foundation and Community Services explained that “We are so grateful to Susan for leaving a legacy to a profession she was so committed to. Susan so generously established this scholarship to promote the Nurse Practitioner profession because she felt there is an increasing need and role for such due to the nationwide shortage of physicians.”

Nurse Practitioners provide many of the same services as physicians, including developing treatment plans for their patients, ordering tests, performing minor procedures, and prescribing medication.

The 2021 scholarship awardees were Desiree Fuller and Teresa Bednar, both Samaritan Medical Center nurses.

The application period for the Susan Peters Nursing Scholarship opens on June 1, 2022, and concludes on July 15, 2022, with the scholarship award announcement in August 1, 2022.

To be eligible for this scholarship, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a registered nurse (RN) with a minimum of two full years’ working experience. RNs currently working for Samaritan Medical Center preferred, but not mandatory.
  • Medical/Surgical experience is preferred but not necessary.
  • Must be a resident of either Jefferson or Lewis County, New York
  • Eligible to apply after successful completion of the first semester in a Nurse Practitioner program with at least a B average.

As part of the application, Registered Nurses must describe why they are pursuing their Nurse Practitioner degree and where, as well as whether or not they have a financial need. Applicants should submit two letters of recommendation and the two most recent transcripts along with the application to support the RNs pursuit of a Nurse Practitioner degree.

For more information, or to obtain a scholarship application, please contact the SMC Foundation at 315-785-4584 or visit The application can be completed online, emailed to, or mailed to 830 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601.

Susan Peters Nurse Practitioner (NP) Scholarship Application Form

The Susan Peters Nursing Practitioner Scholarship was established to assist with the education costs for a Registered Nurse (RN) who is continuing his or her education and specifically pursuing a Nurse Practitioner (NP) degree

The Samaritan Foundation will award two (2) scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each year.

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NA Training Program Graduates its first class of 2022

Watertown, NY: The first class of Samaritan’s Nursing Assistant (NA) Training Program of 2022 received the graduation certificate during a brief ceremony held in the conference room in the hospital. Ten students completed the six weeks program offered by Samaritan.

The NA training program was designed to help people who wish to join the healthcare workforce to start their careers. During the program, students have a once-a-week classroom session and two days in which they get to experience on the floors by shadowing and following the regular hospital care routine.

Nine out of the ten graduates were at the event

Jennifer Lewis (photo: center bottom row), RN, BSN, is the Nurse responsible for the program. She explains that this is a good opportunity for those looking into Nursing careers to get a real feel for what working with patients is like and to get comfortable with the roles required by the profession.

To join the program, candidates must have completed High School. “And also have a caring spirit, and the eagerness to make a difference,” added Becky Randall, Nurse Manager at SMC.

Hanna Hoffman

Hanna Hoffman graduated in the class. She is a JCC student and felt like the program not only would give her the experience to start her career but also get her “foot at the door” as a future caregiver at Samaritan.

Rodney Dobson, another graduate, works as a Unit Clerk for ICU and PCU at Samaritan. Dobson plans on going to nursing school and saw an opportunity in the NA training program to feel what it’s like to deal with patients. “Now, I know I’m on the right path,” he said.

Rodney Dobson

Students also received a visit from some of Samaritan’s officers during the graduation. Tom Carman, the organization’s CEO, congratulated the class and mentioned some of their accomplishments. In addition, Jacqueline Dawe, VP of Patient Care Services, took the occasion to thank the class for their efforts and for “choosing” Samaritan. 

Samaritan Celebrates April 2022 DAISY® and BEE Award Recipients

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Medical Center is pleased to announce its DAISY and BEE Award recipients for April 2022. The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses® recognizes exemplary nursing staff, and the BEE Award honors other outstanding staff members who support patient care, both at the hospital and all outpatient clinics.

Hilary Jacobsen, RN

Hilary Jacobsen, a Registered Nurse at Samaritan Medical Center, received the DAISY Award. Kim Shelmidine, nursing assistant in Surgical Services, received the BEE Award. Jacobsen was nominated by a grateful patient, and Shelmidine by Kristin Ward, RN, Clinical Nurse Educator. A committee then selected them.

Jacobsen was nominated for calming the patient’s fears and providing detailed explanations of care when the patient was in the hospital. The patient described Jacobsen saying:

“I feel very lucky to be able to count on her for her hard work and dedication. Any young nurse would be lucky to have Hilary as a mentor and to try to emulate her. She was a true team member.”

For receiving the DAISY Award – which is an international award backed by The DAISY Foundation – Jacobsen was presented a certificate commending her as an extraordinary nurse, a DAISY Award pin, and a symbolic sculpture called “A Healer’s Touch,” which is hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Zimbabwe. A larger version of this sculpture has also been installed in the Healing Gardens at Samaritan Medical Center in honor of all DAISY and BEE Award winners to come. It was purchased using funds donated by the Samaritan Auxiliary.

Kim Shelmidine, Nursing Assistant

Shelmidine was nominated for the BEE Award by Kristin Ward, RN, Clinical Nurse Educator for demonstrating high standards of efficiency and professionalism every day.

“She puts the patient above all else. She keeps our department flowing, she keeps our areas stocked and she does this with a smile every day.”

Shelmidine was presented with a certificate, a BEE Award pin, and a gift bag with other tokens of gratitude.

Both awards will continue to be presented throughout the year, and nominations can be submitted by patients, families, or colleagues at any time. To make a nomination or to learn more about the Samaritan DAISY and BEE Awards, visit

About Samaritan Medical Center

Samaritan Medical Center (Watertown, New York) is a 290-bed not-for-profit community medical center, offering a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient healthcare services. From primary and emergency care to highly specialized medical and surgical services, such as cancer treatment, neonatal intensive care, behavioral health and addiction services, and imaging services, Samaritan Medical Center and its team of healthcare professionals proudly serves the medical needs of our civilian and military community. Quality, compassion, and safety are the basic principles by which exceptional care is delivered at Samaritan.

About The DAISY Foundation

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. (DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.) The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.    In addition to the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, the Foundation expresses gratitude to the nursing profession internationally in over 3,900 healthcare facilities and schools of nursing with recognition of direct care Nurses, Nurse-led Teams, Nurse Leaders, Nursing Faculty, Nursing Students, through the J. Patrick Barnes Grants for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Projects and for nurses participating in medical missions. More information is available at