Samaritan Announces Mask-Optional in the Emergency Department and Long Term Care

Watertown, NY – As of May 10, 2024, the Emergency Department, Samaritan Keep Home, and Samaritan Summit Village, will return to mask-optional for all staff, patients, residents, and visitors under certain criteria. This decision comes after closely watching transmission levels of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, declining COVID-19 infection rates, flu prevalence ending in New York State and other supporting indicators. If any of the metrics have an uptick, departments or facilities belonging to the Samaritan Health System could return to wearing facemasks.

Patients, residents, visitors, and/or healthcare personnel are to follow masking practices per unit/department when specifically indicated. For the health and safety of the community, we reserve the right to require any patient in any area who has signs or symptoms of respiratory illness or COVID-19 to wear a facemask as per Samaritan practices. 

Visitors who are not feeling well, have symptoms of fever, nausea/vomiting, or diarrhea, or have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 cannot visit patients or residents.


Samaritan Introduces Volunteer Service Award

WATERTOWN, NY – At Samaritan, we have volunteers who serve at the hospital, long term care facilities, special events, off-site offices, and on various boards of our respective entities. Initiated in 2023, HIVE (Helpful Indeed – Volunteering Excellence) Award is a way to honor those volunteers who have contributed an extraordinary level of dedication, and shown exceptional service to Samaritan while consistently demonstrating the HEART values, which are Honest, Empathetic, Accountable, Respectful, and Trustworthy.

Why HIVE? The beehive is symbolic of teamwork, unity, growth, and development. At Samaritan, we are all caregivers, including those who have committed to showing extraordinary compassionate care as a volunteer. We need each other to care for our community.

The HIVE Award complements the existing DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses® and the BEE Award (Being Excellent Every Day) honoring other outstanding staff members who support patient care, at the hospital and all outpatient clinics. Altogether, we recognize the amazing caregivers of the Samaritan Health System and the culture we embrace.

The inaugural recipient of the HIVE Award is Mary Martuzas. Mary served as an employee of the Samaritan Auxiliary operated gift shops before stepping into a volunteer role. Mary has consistently demonstrated the HEART values throughout her time as a volunteer.  Mary volunteers in the gift shop at Samaritan Summit Village two days a week.  She has held this volunteer position since the gift shop re-opened after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Manager of Volunteer Services Amanda Bradbury said, “Mary goes above and beyond, getting to know each of the residents that frequent the gift shop, knowing their likes and dislikes and always ensuring the gift shop has what the residents need and want.  Mary recognizes that many residents do not have the opportunity to shop outside of the facility so she works hard to make sure the gift shop is well stocked for those residents with items that are affordable.  Mary is on a first name basis not only with the residents but with the staff that shop the gift shop, as well.  Mary always greets residents with a smile, a warm welcome and a helping hand making sure they feel happy and valued with their interaction.”

Those interested in recognizing a Samaritan volunteer may submit an online nomination at there are also paper nomination forms available at the Medical Center and Samaritan Summit Village gift shops. 

Samaritan Medical Center (Hospital) Returns to Facemasks-Required

There is an uptick in COVID positivity cases at the hospital among inpatients and emergency department patients, as well in the community overall. Following our Infection Prevention source control policy, Samaritan Medical Center (the hospital), including the Walker Center for Cancer Care, will now require facemasks in all patient care areas and public spaces within the hospital.  Long term care remain masks-required. 

This does not impact Samaritan’s outpatient locations including specialty clinics, family health centers or lab and imaging locations.

Thank you for your patience as we try to minimize the spread of the virus and keep our patients, visitors and staff protected.

Any further updates to this change will be added to

Walker Center for Cancer Care Temporarily Returns to Masks-Required

As announced on October 25, 2023, most Samaritan locations are using an outbreak approach to mandatory facemask use. Visitors, patients, and employees may be asked to mask in various locations if there is an outbreak in that specific location.

At this time, as of November 6, 2023, Walker Center for Cancer Care is experiencing an ongoing transmission and are under temporary masks-required conditions. Samaritan will announce when this is lifted and the center returns to masks-optional.

Visitors and patients will be notified upon entry if the location they are visiting is masked for the day.

Samaritan’s long term care facilities and emergency department remain masks-required due to the heightened risk of exposure.

Any further updates to this change will be added to

Samaritan to Return to Mask-Optional in Most Locations

Watertown, NY – For weeks Samaritan’s infection prevention team has been researching facemask guidelines from other facilities and discussing with leadership to determine if Samaritan should make a change to its source control guidelines. After thorough consideration of risks associated with COVID-19 illness, review of metrics and trends across the organization and county, and in collaboration with key department leaders, Samaritan has determined the organization will return to mask-optional on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, in most locations for staff, patients, and visitors, with exceptions. 

The emergency department and long-term care facilities will remain facemask required. This decision comes from seeing an increase in positive cases among residents in the long term care setting and the increased risk associated with patient and employee illness and/or exposure in the emergency department environment.

The remaining locations will use an outbreak approach to mandatory facemask use. Visitors, patients, and employees may be asked to mask in various locations if there is an outbreak in that specific location. Visitors will be notified upon entry if the location they are visiting is masked for the day. Visitors who refuse to wear a facemask in a mask-required area will be asked to leave. At this time, there has been no change in visitation.

Any further updates to this change will be added to

Samaritan Announces Expanded Inpatient Visitation Hours

Watertown, NY After careful consideration, and because the COVID-19 hospitalization rates remain stable, Samaritan Medical Center announces an update to visitation hours.

As of Monday, April 3, 2023, Medical/Surgical (inpatient) Units, Intensive Care Unit, and Progressive Care Unit patients may have visitors from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

For more information on Samaritan Medical Center’s visitation policy, visit:

For safety purposes, all visitors must be in good health. We have updated our visitor management system and remind inpatient visitors that a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID is required at the time of visit. Most visitation is restricted to those 12 years of age or older. A parent or guardian must accompany visitors under the age of 18. Masks are required, as well as proper hand-washing throughout the visit. Visitors who have recently been in quarantine or in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home.

Samaritan Auxiliary’s 21st Annual One Night, One Diamond on March 25, 2023 at Fort Drum focuses on BioFire modules for Samaritan Laboratory and supporting the Hologic Breast PACS System

Watertown, New York – Samaritan Auxiliary’s One Night, One Diamond is being held on Saturday, March 25 from 6:00-11:00pm at The Commons on Fort Drum again this year.  Tickets are $215 per couple, which includes dinner, dancing to the popular band ‘Atlas’, and an opportunity to win the one-carat diamond donated by Cook’s Jewelers, or a get-away package either to Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa or Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.  For tickets or more information please visit the website or with questions contact or (315) 408-7895. RSVP’s with the names of attendees and date of birth, for entrance onto Fort Drum, must be received by March 14, 2023.

This year’s event proceeds will improve quality healthcare through strategic equipment purchases.  The BioFire’s syndromic approach to Infectious Disease diagnostics helps to quickly identify multiple pathogens allowing for one sample to comprehensively accomplish multiple tests in a significantly shorter time period and in a single report, thereby improving patient management and outcomes.  As additional BioFire modules are added in the Samaritan Laboratory it will allow for a greater number of tests to be accomplished to include respiratory, gastrointestinal, cerebrospinal fluid panel testing for meningitis/encephalitis, blood culture, and pneumonia panel.   This type of approach improves patient care and decreases the time needed for a diagnosis leading to treatment.

The Hologic Breast PACS System for Samaritan Women’s Wellness and Breast Care is advanced technology that will allow simultaneous review across multiple breast imaging modalities.  Viewing mammography, breast ultrasound, and breast MR images simultaneously with current imagery results in faster read times and quicker results thereby enhancing patient care.

The Blue Diamond Sponsors are Apogee Physician and KeyBank.  Pink Diamond Sponsors include Bob Johnson Auto Group, Purcell Construction, SeaComm, and Dr. Shikhar Vyas & Mrs. Vidhya Vyas – in memory of Gautam S. Vyas.  Media Sponsors are the Watertown Daily Times, 7News, and Runningboards Marketing.  Other top sponsors include Coca-Cola Company, FX Caprara Car Companies, Hancock Estabrook, Ives Hill Country Club, King + King Architects, The Martin Group, Nickles Property Service, Renzi Foodservice Charitable Foundation, Slack Chemical Company, Watertown Wealth Management, Philip J. Sprague.

Among last year’s Auxiliary highlights the 2022 One Night, One Diamond, celebrated virtually, generated a record $110,322 as a result of the gracious and overwhelming generosity of our community, sponsors, and donors allowing for the purchase of an ultraviolet disinfecting devise used in the terminal sanitization of rooms at the Medical Center, as well as supporting the purchase of five Sleep Diagnostic Systems for the Samaritan Sleep Lab.  This was accomplished while honoring all Samaritan Caregivers throughout the entire system.

The Auxiliary runs the Gift Shops at the Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Summit Village, as well as the Starbucks Coffee Shop at the Medical Center, along with the Auxiliary uniform and purse sales for the staff, and membership dues which provide funding for support of programs, services, and the pledge commitment to support Samaritan Health. The Auxiliary had committed $500,000 as its most recent pledge commitment to the Capital Campaign for the Walker Center for Cancer Care, and annually provides two $1500 scholarships to Samaritan employees to further their education in a healthcare field of study.  Additionally, the Auxiliary has continued the WHALE (We Have A Little Emergency) child safety seat ID program and That’s Using Your Head, a helmet ID safety program, in conjunction with our Kinney Drugs Foundation partner.

About Samaritan Auxiliary:  The Samaritan Auxiliary was established in 1896 to serve as ambassadors and volunteers to support and enhance healthcare programs at the House of the Good Samaritan.  As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Samaritan Auxiliary is composed entirely of volunteers and play a vital role today in improving the quality of care in the Samaritan system through volunteer activities and financial support. Since 2006 when the event began raising funds for equipment, Samaritan Auxiliary’s One Night, One Diamond proceeds have purchased nearly a million dollars in equipment for Samaritan Medical Center.

Samaritan Medical Center Announces Change to COVID-19 Drive-Up Testing Site Hours of Operation

Watertown, NY – The Samaritan Drive-Up Testing Site, located at the Samaritan Health and Wellness Plaza at 1575 Washington Street in Watertown, will change its hours of operation effective Friday, February 17, 2023.  The change is due to a change in requirements for patient COVID-19 testing before surgical and outpatient procedures to a shorter timeframe, as well as to align better with clinic hours and support staff availability. 

The Drive-up Testing Site hours will change from Sunday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., to the new hours of Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m..

To schedule a test for COVID-19 symptoms or for COVID-19 questions or information, Samaritan’s Resource Line is available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 315-755-3100. 

Most hospitals require a COVID-19 test before a surgery or procedure.  Samaritan’s Drive-Up Testing Site can do this regardless of where surgery is to be performed.  Tests can be scheduled through the pre-encounter department, 315-785-5700.

For complete COVID-19 testing information, visit:

Local Families to Benefit from 22nd Annual CMN Radiothon

Watertown, NY — The 22nd Annual Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Radiothon was held November 2-4, 2022 and raised a record $155,219 to help children throughout the North Country.

2022 check presentation at the Community Broadcasters station in Watertown. Pictured here, left to right, are Amy O’Brien, Samaritan Medical Center Foundation of Northern New York, Johnny Spezzano, Community Broadcasters, Angie VanWormer, Children’s Miracle Network, Samaritan Medical Center Foundation of Northern New York, and Lance Hale, Community Broadcasters.

Each year, Community Broadcasters’ stations The Border 106.7 and 94 Rock fill the airwaves with extraordinary stories of courage and hope from local CMN children and their families. These families, eager to give back to Children’s Miracle Network, openly share the details of their experience and explain how the program has helped them.

DJs Johnny Spezzano and Lance Hale were live on-air throughout Radiothon, asking listeners to make a donation to help sick and injured children. “The CMN Radiothon has become a North Country tradition and this year the community showed more support for local kids than ever before,” said Angie VanWormer, Children’s Miracle Network Director, Samaritan Medical Center. “We are so thankful for the generosity of all those who helped make this event a success.”

Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals uses every dollar raised locally to support pediatric equipment and projects at Samaritan Medical Center. In addition, CMN of Northern New York provides direct financial assistance to families living in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties with a child facing a medical crisis for travel expenses and other out-of-pocket medical costs.

For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals contact the Samaritan Medical Center at 315-785-4053 or

Samaritan sees Impact to Patients through Telehealth Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program 

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Home Health launched its telehealth Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program in February 2022 and has seen positive impacts for patients participating with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  

Samaritan Home Health Director of Patient Services, Stephanie Parks, stated, “patients who have been discharged from the hospital, or who have been referred by their physician, and are eligible for our Home Health services, benefit from this program, specifically those with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).”

This program stems from a pilot tested near the end of 2020, where patients at risk of readmission with COVID-19 were assigned pulse oximeters to test levels three times daily from home. With its success, the medical center requested grant monies through North Country Initiative and Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization for resources and technology to enhance the program.

The goal of this updated program is to reduce readmission within 30 days of discharge from the hospital through improved communication between providers and patient, including daily interactive home monitoring.  Patients are given specific equipment such as tablet, scale, blood pressure device, pulse oximeter that when used provide the direct vitals to the home health care team virtually.  If any of these vitals is outside the normal range for the patient, home health staff reach out directly to provide immediate approved interventions. 

“CHF and COPD in elderly patients often result in hospitalization due to exacerbations,” said Parks. “There are multiple factors we can monitor to reduce risk including, weight, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.”

Since February, Samaritan Home Health has received 66 referrals to the program, with 50 patients officially participating. Some of the referred patients declined the resource. Of those participating, 92 percent of patients were not readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, which is very successful.

“Our program coordinator has worked tirelessly to improve the well-being of our patients, and her active engagement is why we are seeing such success,” said Parks. “We hope others will participate and continue to reduce readmissions.”

Dr. Mario Victoria, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Samaritan Medical Center, added that COVID-19 allowed us to provide better care management at home, and we can now apply lessons learned to offer good outcomes to specific patients in our community.