Samaritan Keep Home Mask-Optional for Most Residents, Visitors, and Staff

Watertown, NY – On June 16, 2023, Samaritan Keep Home became a mask-optional facility for all staff, residents, and visitors under certain criteria. Samaritan Keep Home can now safely offer a mask-optional environment in the facility because they have no current COVID-positive cases at this time. However, if there is a community or facility uptick in COVID-19, Influenza, or other respiratory illnesses, we could return to wearing facemasks.
Because of the high-risk involved with our residents, there are some exceptions to this change. Masks will be required if the following occur:

  • Local/county COVID-19 hospital admission levels are medium or high.
  • Staff who have respiratory symptoms or exposure will be required to mask until they are cleared by our employee health caregivers.
  • If there is a respiratory outbreak in a particular unit, all residents, staff, and visitors will be required to wear a mask in that area.
  • Staff who do not have the Influenza vaccine will be required to wear a mask during flu season.
  • Staff who are caring for residents with respiratory symptoms will be required to wear the appropriate mask during care of those residents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all staff members and visitors maintain vaccines and boosters and follow proper infection control practices.

It is important to note that COVID symptoms may include but are not limited to fever/chills, shortness of breath, sore throat, cough/congestion/runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Visitors who are not feeling well or have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home and refrain from facility visitation. Hand hygiene is significant and will help stop the spread of germs. Please continue to wash hands and sanitize in our facility. Masks are available upon request and at the main entry point. Check-in and –out is required for all visitors through our visitor management system. Help us keep our high-risk long term care population healthy and safe.

On June 5, 2023, Samaritan Summit Village, our other long-term care campus, became a mask-optional facility for all staff, residents, and visitors under certain criteria.

Preliminary Discussions with City of Watertown Planning Board

We are aware of the recent news that Samaritan provided a proposal to the City of Watertown Planning Board with the preliminary idea to construct a new building on our property. However, there is some confusion on this process.

Samaritan is consistently looking to meet our patients’ and the community’s healthcare needs, and oftentimes this can lead to new construction and renovation of existing space. Adequate space is often a challenge at healthcare facilities.

At this time, Samaritan is proactively bringing construction ideas and questions to the City of Watertown Planning Board as there are new City zoning changes that we need to navigate together. The goal is to understand the zoning changes and how it impacts any possible new construction for the Medical Center.

That being said, Samaritan is only in the investigative stage of potentially constructing a new building near the main hospital. These are preliminary discussions and there is no official Certificate of Need (CON) submitted to the NYS Department of Health (DOH) or Samaritan Medical Center Board approval at this time.

Samaritan is pulling our submission from the City of Watertown Planning Board because our intent was to have a conversation about future plans, not seek approval for a new building. We simply wanted feedback and we did receive very valuable feedback. However, there was some miscommunication on both ends. We did not anticipate seeking any approval from the City at this time.

Once there are more permanent plans, Samaritan and our construction teams will go back to the Planning Board and let the community know of our future plans.

Mandatory Face Masks Remain at all Samaritan Locations as directed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidance

Samaritan Health still enforces mandatory mask use in all of its facilities.  The New York State Department of Health announced that the state is no longer requiring mandatory face mask use in the healthcare setting (i.e., facilities or entities regulated under Articles 28, 36, and 40 of the Public Health Law), but also directed all facilities to operate under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance. 

Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic states that all personnel, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, in a healthcare setting should wear an appropriate face mask based on Community Transmission Levels, not on COVID-19 Community Levels. Today, Jefferson County Transmission Levels are listed on the CDC website as HIGH. 

According to the CDC, when SARS-CoV-2 Community Transmission Levels are HIGH, source control (or face masks) is recommended for everyone in a healthcare setting when they are in areas of the healthcare facility where they could encounter patients. The above CDC recommendations apply to all patients, visitors, and vendors two years of age and older and can medically tolerate a face covering/mask. 

Samaritan will continue to monitor the situation and determine its mandatory face mask use based on guidance while keeping patients, residents, visitors and staff as safe as possible while navigating the ever-changing guidance. 

Samaritan Benefits from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s Support to the Graduate Medical Education Program

Samaritan’s Graduate Medical Education program was enhanced after continued advocacy efforts by Congresswoman Stefanik.

“The importance of Medicare-funded residency slots to us here in Watertown and across the North Country cannot be understated. Congresswoman Stefanik’s successful efforts advocating to increase the number of Medicare-funded physician residency slots at Samaritan in spite of CMS’s previous administrative mistake are further evidence of her commitment to strengthen rural health care, and we thank her for her continued work on this issue,” said Thomas Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center.

Please read the full press release from Congresswoman Stefanik.

Imaging and Lab Center on Coffeen St. Temporary Closure

Samaritan’s Imaging and Lab Center, located on Coffeen St. adjacent to Watertown Urgent Care, will be closed Wednesday, August 24 as we continue to have a staffing shortage for this service.  Once we can safely re-open, we will notify the public.  We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your continued patience.  

Patients may visit the main hospital Registration area located at 830 Washington St. for imaging and lab needs during this time.

The location was closed on Monday, August 22, and Tuesday, August 23 as well.

Samaritan Announces Online Scheduling for Mammogram Screening Appointments

Watertown, NY – Samaritan recently launched an online scheduling tool for patients to self-schedule their mammography screenings at Samaritan’s Women’s Wellness and Breast Care office, located at 1575 Washington Street.

Patients can visit to use the online scheduling tool to book a screening appointment, which outlines available days and times of upcoming appointments. Once an appointment time is selected, questions will be asked to ensure patients have orders for a screening mammogram and have no other medical history or need for a different, more diagnostic exam.  The online scheduling tool makes it simple and convenient for patients to book an appointment through a secure website and removes the need to call the scheduling office.  Online appointments can be made as far as six months in advance. Many women receive their physician orders before the timeframe for a screening mammogram. Now it’s possible to book an appointment and receive reminders about upcoming screening tests in advance.

Samaritan has three mammography machines and two stereotactic breast biopsy machines that are state-of-the art. In 2021 alone, the clinic completed 7,000 mammograms, with six highly-trained mammography technologists. The Women’s Wellness and Breast Care location also offers the only dedicated Breast Surgeon in our region, Dr. Agnieszka Dombrowska, and a dedicated Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator.  In addition, Women’s Wellness and Breast Care offers local women a place to have their annual exams, breast care needs, and gynecological care in one beautiful and convenient location. 

“Giving patients easier and greater access to screening mammograms is critical to early breast cancer detection,” says Samaritan’s Director of Radiology, Marie Pascolini.  “We are pleased to bring this convenient scheduling tool to patients.  Anything we can do to make it more convenient, less stressful, and more routine to visit our facility for a screening mammogram is extremely beneficial for all local women,” she states.

patient getting a mammogram

Samaritan Welcomes New Vice President of Long Term Care

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Health is pleased to announce that Patrick W. Calli has been selected as its next Vice President of Long Term Care. This position is responsible for oversight of all the Long Term Care Services including Samaritan Keep Home and Samaritan Summit Village. Mr. Calli is responsible for the executive management team at each organization as well as the strategic direction, clinical and financial performance and organizational development. He brings nearly a decade of experience to the role, including several years spent in nursing home administration.

Calli comes to Samaritan from the Upstate Services Group organization, where he was Administrator of Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, in Syracuse, for the past year. Here, he was responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the 513-bed rehabilitation and nursing center, overseeing upwards of 600 employees. Before serving this facility, Calli was Administrator of Bridgewater Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Binghamton which included a specialized pulmonary rehabilitation and ventilator unit as well as an outpatient dialysis center. Calli also spent nearly 6 years as Administrator of the 5 STAR rated Central Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Syracuse where the facility earned designation in both U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek as “Best Nursing Homes” of 2019-2020. Calli and his team were also awarded the Bronze National Quality Award from the American Health Care Association (ACHA). He also has prior experience at long term care facilities in Little Falls and the Utica, NY area.

Patrick Calli
Patrick Calli, VP of Long Term Care

“We are pleased to welcome Patrick to Samaritan’s administration and senior leadership team,” said Tom Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “His impressive resume with significant experience in long-term care will benefit the residents and staff at Samaritan Keep Home and Samaritan Summit Village. We look forward to his guidance and insight as we continue to foster long-term care communities that value independence, comfort, companionship and safe, quality care.”

“Aligning myself with an organization such as Samaritan Health which is patient-centric and community-focused is an opportunity that I truly welcome,” states Patrick Calli, Vice President of Long Term Care. “I am looking forward to continuing Samaritan’s tradition of providing quality and compassionate care in an environment where the residents are at the forefront. Collaborating with our incredible team of dedicated caregivers, staff, leaders, and residents shall afford us the ability to fulfill the organization’s mission and commitment to enhance the quality of life of the people that we serve, as well as the greater North Country community. I am eager to work with the residents and their families to meet their needs and create the home-like environment they deserve.”

Calli holds a Master of Science in Health Administration from Regis College, Weston, MA, and a Bachelor of Science from Union College. He is a New York State Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, a board member of the Healthcare Management Association of Central New York, and a member of American College of Healthcare Executives, American Health Care Association and other associations. Mr. Calli is originally from New Hartford located just outside the Utica, NY area. Calli began his employment at Samaritan on Monday, January 31, 2022.

Calli replaces Barbara Morrow, who retired as Vice President of Long Term Care and Chief Compliance Officer in January, after 20 years of service to Samaritan.

Samaritan Celebrates January 2022 DAISY® and BEE Award Recipients

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

Katie O’Brien, a Registered Nurse in Samaritan’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), received the DAISY Award. Joshua Dalton, LCSW-R, CASAC-II, at Samaritan’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services received the BEE Award. O’Brien was nominated by a patient’s family member and Dalton by a Samaritan colleague. A committee then selected them.

Katie O’Brien, RN

O’Brien was nominated for her compassionate care of a patient on the “last day of his life.” The family of the patient described the event in her nomination form for O’Brien:

“Katie was such a gift to my father and ultimately to our family. His end-of-life care was handled with such professionalism and perfection. She was tuned into his needs and so responsive in every way. Katie’s years of experience were evident, and I have never been so grateful for the skills of the nursing profession in my life.”

For receiving the DAISY Award – which is an international award backed by The DAISY Foundation – O’Brien 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 in honor of all DAISY and BEE Award winners to come. It was purchased using funds donated by the Samaritan Auxiliary.

Dalton was nominated for the BEE Award by Tina O’Neill, Director of Mental Health

Joshua Dalton, LCSW-R, CASAC-II

Services, for his willingness to go “above and beyond daily.”

“Josh’s attitude and character shine bright in the workplace, especially when days are filled with stress,” reads his nomination form. “He will always help out when needed, especially when our walk-ins are full; if he is available, he is happy to see patients. Josh has worked for Samaritan since 2016 and, since coming here, has shown his dedication and commitment to the heart values.”

Dalton 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 DAISY and BEE Awards, visit

Samaritan Holiday Closures and Hours

With the holidays upon us, we want to make our community aware of special hours of operation and closures for many of our clinics and services. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Hours & Closures
The Samaritan clinics and the Resource Line will be closed on December 24th and December 31st.

The Drive-Up Testing Site will be closed on Christmas Day (12/25) and New Year’s Day (1/1/22)

Main Hospital Registration:
December 24th open 8:00am – 4:30pm (no scheduled services)
December 25th – closed
December 31st open 8:00am – 4:30pm (no scheduled services)
January 1st open 8:00am – 4:30pm

Walk-In Lab/X-Ray at Samaritan Health and Wellness Plaza (Watertown):
December 24th & 25th – closed
December 31st & January 1st – closed

Lab/X-Ray at the Adams Family Health Center:
December 24 – closed
December 27 – closed
December 29 – closed
December 31 – closed

‘Merry and Bright’ Year for the 19th Annual North Country Festival of Trees Event

The 19th annual North Country Festival of Trees was held from November 26th – December 4th 2021, benefitting the Samaritan Medical Center Foundation and Watertown Family YMCA.

This year’s theme was “Merry and Bright” and it was held at the Former Bon-Ton at the Salmon Run Mall.  There were 74 beautifully decorated trees and an incredible Live Show Case event held on Channel 7. The tree auction raised over $48,000 for the two organizations. Upwards of 1,000 people attended the public viewing. We were not able to host our Sugar Plum Ball or Gala this year but we are hopeful to have it back again next year.  Below is a list of award-winning trees. Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s Festival!


Best Use of Festival Theme

  • “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Sponsored by A.T. Matthews & Dier, Decorated by Nancy Storino, Lisa Ruggiero & Beth Arthur
  • “Merry and Bright” – Sponsored by Complete Family Care & Laser Center, Decorated by Donna Trumbo

Most Traditional

  • “Peace, Love, Joy and Be Merry” – Sponsored by SBS Rentals.  Decorated by Watertown Lions Club
  • “Cozy Country Christmas” – Sponsored by The Kellie and Joseph Sanzone Family Living Trust.  Decorated by Alisha Lafex, Mariah McNeely & Kimberly Rizzo

Most Elegant

  • “Girls Night Out” – Sponsored by The Heather Freeman Foundation.  Decorated by Karla Stefanini & Karen Nevills
  • “Sisterly Love” – Sponsored by The Paddock Club.  Decorated by Kathy Dyer, Chris Rickett & Michelle Leo

Most Innovative

  • “Furry and Bright” – Sponsored by The Animal Doctors.  Decorated by Julia & Lola Stoddart, Lynn & Danel Godek
  • “Adventure Awaits in NYS” – Sponsored by Carthage Savings & Loan Association.  Decorated by Carthage Savings & Loan Association

Judge’s Choice

  • “Holidaisy” – Sponsored by BCA Architects & Engineers.  Decorated by Karla Stefanini & Karen Nevills
  • “Merry and Bright” – Sponsored by Knowles Family.  Decorated by Lisa O’Driscoll & Liz Culbertson

Jim Henry Most Whimsical

  • “Operation Yellow Ribbon” – Sponsored by Colello Air Technologies.  Decorated by Tillie Youngs, Judy Gentner, Ashley Shepherd, Nancy Datoush, Alisson Gorham & Marry Corriveau
  • “Love the Lake” – Sponsored by Cheney Tire.  Decorated by Brenda Sipher

People’s Choice

  • “Holidaisy” – Sponsored by BCA Architects & Engineers.  Decorated by Karla Stefanini & Karen Nevills
  • “Donate Life in Loving Memory of Tyler R. Christman” – Donated by Christman Fuel Service.  Decorated by Faith Parks & Lillian Buck

    Honorable Mentions
  • “For the Love of Being Outdoors” – Sponsored by Slack Chemical Company.  Decorated by Shari Simmons
  • “Waltz of Angels” – Sponsored by Knowlton Technologies.  Decorated by Stacey Bristow
  • “No Peeking” – Sponsored by Northern Radiology.  Decorated by Jean Goodfriend, Kimberly Roberts & Cherie Schneckenburger
  • “Candy Can Christmas” – Sponsored by King & King Architects.  Decorated by Jeff Pawlowski, Rich Baldwin & Michelle Fuller
  • “ReJOYce! For he is Born” – Sponsored by North Country Family Health Center.  Decorated by Kevin Kitto.

Did you know that next year’s Festival of Trees theme will be “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  We can’t wait to see what our decorators will come up with next!