Samaritan’s Pilot Emergency Nurse Residency Program sees Success with recent Graduate

Watertown, NY – On September 14, Sarah Wallace, RN, was the first to complete the Samaritan Medical Center Emergency Nurse Residency Program. 

“The main reason for my participation in the Emergency Nurse Residency Program stems from the love for emergency medicine I developed when I was a patient care assistant,” Sarah said. “The staff that is/was there helped to form my interest in Nursing and encouraged me to pursue the field. From providers to ancillary staff, I was able to learn something from someone each day that I was at work.”

In 2022, Samaritan’s nursing leadership created the Emergency Nurse Residency Program upon recognizing the dire need for front-line emergency nurses while solving the time gap of one year of experience required by New York State before a graduate nurse can work in emergency care.

Samaritan’s program offers a curriculum tailored to meet fundamental needs for well-rounded knowledge and a broad skill set of nurses who are passionate about critical care.

Picture here: Kim Smith, director of Nursing Critical Care at Samaritan, and Sarah Wallace, RN.

Sarah added, “I believe that this program is a great program to help new nurses explore emergency medicine while encompassing other departments. This aids in strengthening the community within Samaritan by having the residences go on rotations to each floor.”

New graduate nurses are navigated through Samaritan’s nursing recruitment team to the residency program, and they do not need to be licensed as a Registered Nurse before they apply.

“We are encouraged with Sarah’s graduation that we have developed a program that will help us train and retain RNs in the Emergency Department, this is our long-term goal,” said Jacqueline Dawe, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, Samaritan Medical Center. “Currently we have another seven students at various stages in the program and we look forward to accepting new nurses as they apply. We also plan to expand our nursing residency in more areas. These programs work.”

While in the program, the new graduate nurses are exposed to all the areas and departments in the hospital, from the medical/surgical floors to labor and delivery, pediatrics, and behavioral health to the daily assignments and responsibilities in the emergency department. 

Graduate nurses, or nurses who will soon graduate, are encouraged to call our nursing recruitment team at 315-779-5236. New nurses to Samaritan may be eligible for a variety of sign-on bonuses and benefits including loan and relocation assistance.


Samaritan Announces Apogee Hospitalist Group Recipient of Program of the Year Award

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Medical Center is proud to announce that its contracted hospitalist group, Apogee Physicians, led by Dr. Asim Kichloo, program director, recently won the “Program of the Year” award.

Apogee is the largest Hospitalist group in the nation. They proudly hold a yearly Program Director Summit where they gather from around the country to celebrate the best of the best in Hospital Medicine. This year, the hospitalist program at Samaritan Medical Center was selected as the award recipient.

According to Dr. Kichloo, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. This is the Watertown Apogee/Samaritan hospitalist team for you, always achieving uncommon results.” He went on to say, “The team is orchestrated by good balance of experience, commitment, passion, and team spirit. Each one is an invaluable member of the team, which I have had the pleasure to serve and learn from over the last five years.”

To achieve this award, the local team, in collaboration with hospital leadership, must be aligned in multiple aspects of the delivery of patient care. All programs are evaluated on their performance in key quality metrics like re-admissions, length of stay, patient health metrics, team staffing, recruiting, retention, and collaboration with hospital drivers of quality.

The “Program of the Year” has the highest level of performance while maintaining the most important Apogee staple, “What is best for the Patient is best for the Practice.” “We could not achieve this level of service without a committed hospital administration, specialist support, and an amazing team of nursing and other floor staff. We are proud of the entire team and very proud to be part of the Apogee Samaritan Medical Center partnership,” said Jaime Upegui, MD, Apogee division president.



The hospitalist program at Samaritan began in 2003 with only four physicians.  The program has grown to over a dozen. Apogee Physicians began management of the program in 2019 because we needed to make sure the team was fully staffed to care for our inpatients.

A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in internal medicine and in the evaluation and treatment of patients who require hospital care. The goal of the hospitalist program is to deliver exceptional, efficient and compassionate medical care to Samaritan patients, communicate clearly with these patients and the family members who care for them, and to ensure a smooth transition from the hospital back into their daily lives, always maintaining close contact with the patient’s primary care provider.                                                                   

Local Bikers Raise $15,500 for Children’s Miracle Network of NNY

Adams, NY — The Azz Dogz-Northern Chapter, a motorcycle group that meets at the Adams Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), holds various events each year to raise funds for a local charity. They selected Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan Medical Center this year.

The two-year-old son of Azz Dogz members Erik Demianenko and Abby Putnam was born prematurely and was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Crouse Hospital, where he remained for more than two months. Samaritan’s Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) program assisted the family with travel expenses for trips to Syracuse from their home in Dexter, NY.

“These guys (Azz Dogz) are so awesome, and they raise money for different charities every year,” said Abby. “I encouraged them to choose Children’s Miracle Network because we just wanted to give back for what CMN did for us. We are personally so honored to be a part of this and to give back.”

“We worked especially hard to get as many contributions as we could,” said Azz Dogz member Jeff Greene. “The biggest event we have is our March Party to kick off the year, then we had two motorcycle runs during the year to raise money.”

The group also raffled off a minibike with help from Carson’s Pizzeria in Adams where many tickets were sold.

Angie VanWormer, director of Children’s Miracle Network at Samaritan, said “It’s especially heartwarming when a family that was assisted by CMN is so passionate about helping us and other families in return. The Azz Dogz raised an incredible amount of money for CMN, as well as awareness of what we do. We are extremely grateful for this donation and their support.”

Samaritan Medical Center has served as the North Country’s only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital since 1990, striving to raise and allocate funds to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Funds raised through the Children’s Miracle Network program support child-centered areas of Samaritan through the funding of capital projects and purchase of critical pediatric equipment. In addition, funds raised provide direct financial assistance to local families with a child facing a medical crisis for travel expenses and other out-of-pocket medical costs — a program unique to Samaritan.

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


Samaritan Medical Center Announces Expansion of Emergency Department Behavioral Health Secure Unit

Watertown, NY – Samaritan’s emergency department (ED) will undergo a construction project to expand and enhance the care of psychiatric patients within the secure behavioral health unit (BHU).  The expansion is needed as the average daily census of patients has been consistently exceeding physical space.  The project is set to cost $2.5 million dollars and construction has begun.

Looking to the past:
In 2010 when we opened our modern ED a five-bed BHU secure unit was sufficient to meet the average daily census. Two overflow rooms were identified near the secure BHU that could be used when needed.  This left 31 remaining medical beds in the ED for a total of 38 beds in the entire department.  The psychiatric patient numbers have continued to climb over the years and prior to the pandemic in 2020 the average daily census was approximately seven patients.

Present condition:
The average daily census of psychiatric patients in the past 12 months has grown to approximately eight patients, with a high of over 20 patients at one time. There has been an increase in pediatric patients needing care.  This number collectively exceeds our secure unit and overflow capacity, which forces these patients into medical beds within the emergency department. This has two immediate impacts – there are fewer beds to treat medical patients and more staff members are needed to watch psychiatric patients in these medical rooms because there are inherent equipment and safety risks in a traditional medical room. 

Coupled with an increase in patient census, these patients, especially children, are waiting longer in our ED when they need hospitalization.  The current physical space to help safely stabilize these patients is not adequate within the emergency department’s current behavioral health unit (BHU).

The increased number of adults and children in a mental health crisis can be attributed to many factors, but there is not one particular trend.  The pandemic is certainly a newer factor with more stress, anxiety, isolation and breaks in outpatient care.  

Future solutions:
Samaritan leaders contacted the Department of Health (DOH) with our physical constraints and then decided to seek emergency approval on a Certificate of Need (CON) that identified the space we need. The full approval process can take up to 12 months, but the state quickly approved it.

Construction is now underway to expand to a 12-bed secure unit to meet the needs of the community and the ED will have 29 medical beds.  To gain this space, the current coffee shop in the main lobby will move to a different space in the lobby, as well as moving physician office space and claiming hallway space in the lobby area.  This will happen in a phased approach to limit the impact to current operations.  The project is expected to be completed by the Summer of 2024.

The BHU expansion project is set to cost $2.5 million dollars.  This was not budgeted for in 2023 but has been deemed necessary as a matter of patient safety concerns and to mitigate extra staffing needs. Several revenue sources have been identified, and Samaritan continues to look for grant dollars to help offset the construction costs.  The Samaritan Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York, and Jefferson County have all committed funds totaling approximately $793,000. 

The Samarian Foundation committed half of the net proceeds from its recent Thousand Islands Golf Tournament in June to the project for a total of just over $60,000. In addition, the Foundation is going to dedicate proceeds from an event later this year, Festival of Trees, to the project as well.

The Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York and its allocations committee designated $300,000 to the project because there is a direct pediatric care need to this expansion.

On April 4, 2023, the Jefferson County Board of Legislators approved a request from Jefferson County Community Services to provide $430,000 to Samaritan Medical Center for this expansion project.  The funds have been made available as a result of the New York State Attorney General’s successful litigation with several pharmaceutical companies.  The $430,000 is designated to assist with the physical expansion of the behavioral health unit, which has experienced dramatic increases in opiate-related visits.  The funding will also be used to begin the important service of providing lifesaving, medication assisted therapies to those who need medical assistance to begin their journey to recovery.  

Samaritan is also applying for an expansion to our adult inpatient mental health unit from 34 to 39 beds. This request has been submitted to the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) as they oversee the operations of this inpatient unit. This expansion is needed since we are consistently at full capacity in this unit, as 50% of the adults coming into the emergency department for a mental health crisis are admitted to Samaritan for stabilization and a treatment plan. This project will cost approximately one million dollars.

“Our region continues to battle the mental health crisis needs in this rural community,” states Tom Carman, president and chief executive officer of Samaritan.  “Although there are many community-based programs, the need for emergent care through our emergency department, and transferring from other local hospitals who do not have this level of care, consistently surpasses a safe space for us to care for these patients in the existing physical footprint. The need to expand this secure unit has a trickle-down impact that helps these patients, plus the overall wait times for medical patients. The funding will also be used to begin the important service of providing lifesaving, medication assisted therapies (MAT) to those who need medical assistance to begin their journey to recovery.”

Emergency Department Behavioral Health Numbers:

From January 2022 to June 2023, 946 children presented to our emergency department for a behavioral health crisis.  Samaritan does not have an inpatient pediatric mental health unit, and those children needing to be hospitalized must be transferred to a facility with capacity in New York State.

  • 273 of these children were deemed in need of hospitalization and transferred to a higher level of care.
  • Pediatric patients had an average length of stay of 30 hours in 2021 and 35 hours in 2022, with a peak of over 72.  This is caused by a shortage of pediatric beds across the region and state. Children are waiting longer in our BHU and the new space will be more child-centered.
  • Over 550 of these children were already established in outpatient behavioral health services in the community.

From January 2022 to June 2023, 3,461 adults presented to Samaritan’s Emergency Department for a behavioral health crisis. 

  • 1,746 of these patients were admitted to Samaritan’s inpatient mental health unit.
  • 210 of these patients were transferred to another facility for psychiatric care.
  • 1,388 of these patients were stabilized in the ED and discharged home to continue their care plans.
  • Adult patients average length of stay went from 12 hours in 2021 to 22 hours in 2022 and peaked at over 36 hours.

Overall, Samaritan’s emergency department cared for 35,570 patients (medical and psychiatric) in 2022.

Renderings of the new 12-bed secure unit being constructed in Samaritan’s emergency department.

Samaritan Summit Village to host Senior Living Seminar

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Summit Village, 22691 Campus Dr, is hosting a Senior Living Seminar on Wednesday, October 18, from 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. The half-day seminar is free and open to anyone planning or helping to plan senior care. This is not an open house style event, we ask attendees to arrive prior to 1 p.m. to experience the entire program.

Hear from professionals in senior care, legal matters, financial planning, real estate, and speak with local community agencies that offer resources. Lunch is provided by First Command, and a tour of the Assisted Living facility at Samaritan Summit Village will be available. Each participant will be entered to win an iPad as well! No obligations.

Finding the right solution for long term care needs is important. Seniors and their loved ones want the right mix of services and support to preserve independence, maintain safety, and enhance quality of life. The Senior Living Seminar will provide information and resources needed to help seniors continue the lifestyle they love while providing options for the care that meets their individualized needs. 

An Assisting Living program provides nursing care, home care, personal care and meals for residents that require service above and beyond what is typically provided while living in the community. Samaritan Summit Village has 120 assisted living beds and features a home-like environment that is flexible, offering a range of housing and lifestyle options for personalized care in a residential setting.

Samaritan is committed to long term care in Northern New York. Our goal is to take care of people at all stages of life, providing the most appropriate level of care for each individual’s unique medical, physical, and emotional needs.

To learn more about Assisted Living at Samaritan Summit Village, visit


Samaritan Home Health has earned the 2022 SHPBest™ “Superior Performer” Patient Satisfaction Award

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Home Health has been recognized by Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) as a “Superior Performer” for achieving an overall patient satisfaction score that ranked in the top 20 percent of all eligible SHP clients for the 2022 calendar year.

The annual SHPBest™ award program was created to acknowledge home health agencies that consistently provide high quality service to their patients. The 2022 award recipients were determined by reviewing and ranking the overall satisfaction score for more than 3,200 home health providers. With the largest HHCAHPS benchmark in the nation, SHP is in a unique position to identify and recognize organizations that have made patient satisfaction a priority and have been rewarded for their efforts with high marks on the HHCAHPS survey.

“SHP is very excited to have the opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of our top-performing customers with the annual SHPBest awards. We commend these organizations for their determination to provide top-notch care to the patients and caregivers that they serve”, said Kevin Vogel, President of SHP.

Samaritan Home Health employs 24 staff members with an average daily patient census of 160. Director of Patient Services at Samaritan Home Health, Stephanie Parks, said, “We are proud to receive this award as it is a true representation of the patient’s perspective on the high-quality level of personalized care we offer.”

Read more about the SHPBest awards program, including methodology and award recipient lists at

About Samaritan Home Health
Samaritan Home Health provides skilled nursing and therapy services in patients’ homes throughout Jefferson County, NY. This comfortable alternative to inpatient care allows people to recover from an accident or illness in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends. To learn more:

About Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP)
Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) is a leader in data analytics and benchmarking that drive daily clinical and operational decisions. Our solutions bring real-time data to post-acute providers, hospitals, and ACOs to better coordinate quality care and improve patient outcomes. Since 1996, SHP has helped more than 7,000 organizations nationwide raise the bar for healthcare performance.

Samaritan Health System Announces Return to Required Face Mask Use in All Facilities

Watertown, NY – Based on an increase in COVID-19 positivity metrics Samaritan has made the cautious decision to require masking in all locations for staff, patients, and visitors until further notice. This decision comes from seeing an increase in positive cases in emergency department patients, hospital inpatients, employee cases, Jefferson County numbers of positive COVID-19 cases overall, and local wastewater testing. Holiday gatherings and the return to school are also of concern.

Hospital visitation will not change at this time. If any visitor chooses not to wear a mask, they will not be allowed to visit a patient or resident.  The goal is to keep the number of positive cases in our community minimal.  Samaritan is doing its part to protect our patients, residents, and staff, just as other facilities across the state and nation are doing.

Samaritan facilities will have “mask required” signs posted, and masks for use at entrances. Should metrics change and cases drop, we will replace the mask-required signs with mask-optional signs. This impacts the hospital, all clinics, and our long term care facilities.


Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Announced

Watertown, New York — Samaritan Medical Center Foundation of Northern New York is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Susan Peters Scholarship. The 2023 scholarships awardees were Joseph Donoghue and Maegan Castle. Joseph is a Registered Nurse in the emergency department at Samaritan Medical Center and obtaining his Family Nurse Practitioner degree. Maegan is also a Registered Nurse in Samaritan’s intensive care unit and obtaining her Family Nurse Practitioner degree.

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

Mrs. Peters graduated from the former House of the Good Samaritan School of Nursing and retired from Samaritan Medical Center 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, Orthopaedic and Alternate Level of Care Units. Susan Passed away in 2020.

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

For more information, please contact the Samaritan Medical Center Foundation at 315-785-4584, visit, or email


Pictured here, left to right, are Dr. Marie Hess, Susan Peters Scholarship Committee Member, Maegan Castle, Scholarship Recipient, Beth Fipps, VP, Foundation and Community Services, Joseph Donaghue, Scholarship Recipient, and Mary Dawley, Susan Peters Scholarship Committee Member.

Samaritan Health Starting System-Wide Point of Service Co-Payment Collection

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Health System is implementing a point of service co-payment collection in all its outpatient locations and services starting immediately. This means that Samaritan will collect co-payments for each outpatient service at the time of their visit. This practice is already in place by many other healthcare offices nationwide. The new procedure includes outpatient services at the main hospital, all offices and clinics, and lab and imaging service locations.

As these co-payment amounts vary based on individual insurance plans and the type of visit, you may need to contact your health insurance company to know how much to expect to pay at the time of your visit. Samaritan does not determine these amounts.

You will never be denied service for inability to pay, and our goal as always is to provide you with the best healthcare experience possible. Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this transition.

Co-payments will be accepted in cash, check, debit or credit, and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)/Health Savings Accounts (HSA).

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May and June 2023 DAISY® and BEE Awards Recipients

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Medical Center is pleased to announce its DAISY and BEE Award recipients for May and June 2023. The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses® recognizes exemplary nursing staff, and the BEE Award honors other outstanding staff members who support patient care, at the hospital and all outpatient clinics.

Chelsea Whalen, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in the Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children, received the DAISY Award for May. Randy Halaburka, reprographics and storage coordinator, received the BEE Award for May. Jayme Rosso, Licensed Practical Nurse at the Walker Center for Cancer Care, received the DAISY Award for June. Tiffany Towsley, a nursing assistant (NA) at 4 Pavilion at Samaritan Medical Center, received the BEE award for June.

A grateful patient nominated Whalen for the May DAISY award, saying:

“Chelsea always took the time to thoroughly answer my questions related to healing and caring. All of the nurses, aids, and doctors cared for us well during our stay, but Chelsea demonstrated an extraordinary level of compassion for our family. We will forever be grateful!”

The grateful family of a patient nominated Rosso for the June DAISY award, saying:

“Oncology requires a special person to make those with such a devastating and often debilitating diagnosis feel safe and secure. She not only accompanies those to their room but also sits beside them with her gentle touch. She is a gentle nurse with a gentle heart.”

For receiving the DAISY Award – which is an international award backed by The DAISY Foundation – Whalen and Rosso were presented with certificates commending them as extraordinary nurses, DAISY Award pins, and symbolic sculptures 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.

After receiving an overwhelming 20 nominations from his co-workers, a first in the history of this coveted award, Halaburka was presented with the May BEE award.

Randy, who sadly passed away in July, served Samaritan for over 37 years in various roles as our first courier, records management, and oversight of our bustling print shop. He was nominated for his work ethic, quick response, careful eye, and need to produce quality work. He will not be forgotten.

The family of a patient of 4 Pavilion at Samaritan Medical Center nominated Towsley for the June BEE award, saying:

“This was a very difficult time for my mom but when she mentioned Tiffany, she smiled and asked if she was back tonight. She said she was so reassured, knowing she was being cared for by someone that truly cares for her patients. It isn’t Tiffany’s job, it’s her calling.”

Halaburka and Towsley were presented with certificates, BEE Award pins, and gift bags with other tokens of gratitude.

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

From left, Chelsea Whalen, LPN, and Jayme Rosso, LPN, are DAISY award recipients. Randy Halaburka, reprographics and storage coordinator, pictured with his loved ones, and Tiffany Towsley, NA, are BEE award recipients.


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