Nurse Practitioner Scholarships Applications Available

Watertown, New York — Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Susan Peters Nursing Scholarship. A retired nurse from Samaritan Medical Center has established a scholarship through the Samaritan Medical Center Foundation for Registered Nurses (RNs) looking to advance their careers as Nurse Practitioners.

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.

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 more than 20 years as a Nurse Manager of Medical/Surgical, Orthopedic and ALC Units.

Mrs. Peters explained that “she wanted to have some impact on the future of nursing in our community, and set up this particular scholarship to promote the Nurse Practitioner profession because she felt there is an increasing need for such due to the nationwide shortage of physicians.”

The first recipients of the Susan Peters Scholarship were awarded in 2018 – Shellie Greene and Erin Phinney both RN’s at Samaritan Medical Center.

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.

The application period for the Susan Peters Nursing Scholarship opens on May 28, 2019 and concludes July 19, 2019 with scholarship award announcement in August 2019.

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 preferred but not necessary.
  • Must be a resident of either Jefferson or Lewis County, New York.
  • Eligible to apply after successful completion of 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. Two letters of recommendation and a transcript must be submitted 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 315-785-5745 or visit Completed forms can be emailed or mailed to the SMC Foundation at or 830 Washington Street, Watertown, NY 13601.

SMC Hosts Drug Take-Back Event

Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) is hosting a community “Shed the Meds” Drug Take-Back event on Tuesday, June 4th. While prescription drugs are a necessity for people, many homes have medicine cabinets full of prescriptions that are expired or no longer used. They can be a danger to people – especially children – and the environment, if they are not properly disposed. Samaritan is pleased to offer an event that helps remove these drugs from the home environment.

Medical Center staff from the Pharmacy and Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies will be collecting old or unused medications to ensure they are appropriately disposed.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 4th from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. in the SMC main lobby.

Community members can also bring in their used or unused sharps for disposal since we offer this service year-round. Please remember to bring all sharps in a safe container.

The event is free and open to the public.

In April 2019, there were several national drug take events across the country resulting in:
• total law enforcement participation: 4,969
• total collection sites: 6,258
• total weight collected: 937,443 lbs. (468.72 tons)

For specific questions about the event please contact the SMC Pharmacy at 315-785-4248.

Eight Samaritan Nurses Receive Recognition Awards

Event Celebrates National Nurses’ Week

Watertown, New York —– As part of its National Nurses’ Week celebration activities, Samaritan Medical Center and its Medical Staff hosted a reception and award presentation on Thursday, May 9th to recognize outstanding achievements by nursing professionals.

For this year’s recognition awards, qualified medical providers from Samaritan were invited to nominate nurses based on their outstanding contributions to the professional practice of nursing in the areas of: Quality and Safety, Education and Mentorship, Leadership, Excellence in Nursing Practice, Innovation and Leading Change, and Rookie of the Year. A total of 46 nurses were nominated for awards in six different categories. Eight nurses were chosen by the selection committee as the 2019 recipients.

“We have an incredibly gifted, committed, wonderful nursing staff at Samaritan, and National Nurses’ Week is the ideal time to celebrate their service to our patients and residents,” states Dr. Collins Kellogg, Jr., Internal Medicine, SMC Department of Medicine. “As physicians, we know full well the kinds of connections that are formed and how valuable all of our nurses are to Samaritan and to our patients.”

The 2019 award categories and recipients are as follows:

Leadership Award – One who consistently promotes the mission and vision of Samaritan; demonstrates commitment to organizational goals, priorities and strategies; promotes a culture in which employees are positive, challenged and involved; works collaboratively with other departments within the organization, and; positively promotes Samaritan within the community

Recipient: Donna MacPherson, Nurse Manager – Samaritan Keep Home 8th Floor

Education & Mentorship – One who actively shapes and promotes the career of a nurse; participates in mentorship of students or orientation of new graduates, nurses, nursing assistants, and other members of the healthcare team in supporting the provision of exceptional patient care; role models behaviors of exemplary nursing practice in an effort to improve patient care, and; advances own professional development and encourages peers.

Recipient: Jacqueline Queen, RN – Intensive Care Unit

Innovation & Leading Change – One who participates in advocacy for change of policy/procedure/standard on an organizational or unit level; introduces innovative ideas in patient care; is viewed as a formal or informal leader by staff; actively participates in the successful implementation of a new program/procedures, and; works collaboratively with other departments within the organization.

Recipient: Paulina Quay, RN – Emergency Department

Quality & Safety – One who leads and encourages shared decision-making when dealing with issues of quality, cost and patients/staff satisfaction; promotes patients and staff safety first in all activities, and; demonstrates a strong sense of inquiry and participates in/promotes evidence-based nursing practice and quality outcomes.

Recipient: Amanda Rosen, RN – Progressive Care Unit

Excellence in Nursing Practice (SMC, LTC, Clinics) – One who provides direct patient care at least 50% of the time; promotes flexibility and adaptability to situations; provides a positive work environment; serves as a role model to staff; utilizes current research and professional literature in practice; promotes change in the healthcare environment for improvement of healthcare; collaborates with nursing colleagues and other health-related professionals to facilitate quality care, and; promotes a professional image of nursing.

Samaritan Medical Center: ShyLeigh Gushlaw, RN – Surgical Services/OR
Long Term Care: Shanin Maitland, LPN – Samaritan Keep Home 8th Floor
Clinics: Santina LaVancha, LPN – Samaritan Family Health Network – Plaza

Rookie of the Year – One who has entered into practice within the past two years; consistently demonstrates excellence in his/her professional practice as a new nurse; demonstrates responsibility for own professional development, and; displays strong interpersonal relationships and communication skills.

Recipient: Carol Lynn Reichert, RN – Inpatient Mental Health Unit

Front row L to R: ShyLeigh Gushlaw, RN – Surgical Services/OR, Amanda Rosen, RN – PCU, Carol “Lynn” Reichert, RN – IMHU, Shanin Maitland, LPN – SKH 8th Floor
Back row L to R: Donna MacPherson, Nurse Manager – SKH 8th Floor, Paulina Quay, RN – Emergency Department, Jacqueline Queen, RN – ICU, Santina LaVancha, LPN – SFHN Clinic – Plaza

Samaritan Medical Plaza Location Closed Today (5/2/19)

The Samaritan Medical Plaza building, located at 1575 Washington Street in Watertown, has encountered a water main break and will be closing all offices located here for the remainder of the day. All offices will be open tomorrow (Friday, May 3rd) as scheduled. The following offices and services located at the Samaritan Medical Plaza in Watertown will be closing to patients immediately:

Samaritan Family Health Center – Watertown
Addiction Services
Outpatient Behavioral Health
S.M.A.R.T Clinic
Healthy Lifestyles
Infectious Disease
Woman to Woman

Samaritan Experiencing Phone & Data Outage

Samaritan is experiencing a major phone and data outage that is limiting inbound and outbound phone calls and data connection outside of the facilities.  We are working diligently with our local vendor to restore use and repair the issue. The outage is expected to last until tomorrow.

All phone issues have been restored at Samaritan Medical Center, Samaritan Keep Home, Medical Office Building, LeRay & Adams Family Health Centers & LeRay Urgent Care. Outbound internet services are also working at these locations.

The following locations are still impacted:

Samaritan Summit Village, Samaritan Medical Plaza (all offices/services), A Woman’s Perspective, Wound Care, Samaritan Business Office, Samaritan Home Health, Urology Clinic, and Samaritan Plastic Surgery. Other web-based services such as the patient portals are down, as well as external inbound email communication.

Staff and family members may contact Samaritan Summit Village by calling: 315-955-3908.

We appreciate your patience.  Thank you.

Samaritan Appoints New Vice President for Post-Acute Services

Samaritan Health is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert J. Baranello as the Vice President of Post-Acute Care Services.  This position is responsible for oversight of all the Post-Acute Care Services including Samaritan Keep Home, Samaritan Summit Village and Samaritan Home Health Care. Mr. Baranello is responsible for the executive management team at each organization as well as the strategic direction, clinic­­al and financial performance and organizational development. 

“Samaritan is pleased to have Bob join our team and lead our critical post-acute services,” states Thomas H. Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “Bob has over 25 years of experience in healthcare administration and direct experience leading a large long term care facility. Bob has already engaged with our residents, patients and staff to begin to understand the unique needs of our system.”

Mr. Baranello comes to Samaritan from Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation where he served as Chief Executive Officer since 2011. He was responsible for a 606 bed skilled nursing facility, Adult Day Care and Home Health Care program with a combined operating budget of $85 Million and over 1000 employees.

“My few weeks into the position have enlightened me to how dedicated the Samaritan staff and leaders are to strengthening the quality, safety, care and compassion of the entire system,” states Robert Baranello, Vice President for Post-Acute Services.  “I enjoy being in the North Country region and I look forward to leading the post-acute services to help further this mission.”

Prior to his position at Cold Spring Hills, Mr. Baranello served as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Operations at Landmark in Boston, MA.  He was also Assistant Administrator for Professional Services at Central Suffolk Hospital in Rocky Point, NY.  Mr. Baranello is originally from Manhasset on Long Island, NY.

Mr. Baranello holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in Health Policy and Management from New York University. He is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Administrators and a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. While at Cold Spring Hills, he and his team were awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Workers Compensation and Disability Management Award, as well as a Bronze Quality Award from the American Health Care Association.

Mr. Baranello started at Samaritan on March 6, 2019.

SMC and Humana Reach Agreement


Watertown, N.Y., Feb. 13, 2019 – Samaritan Medical Center and Humana today announced they have reached an agreement on a new contract that will allow all specialty providers within the Samaritan Medical Practice back in the TRICARE Network, effective Feb. 11, 2019. The Specialty Practice includes General Surgery, Ear, Nose and Throat, Gastroenterology, Thoracic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Pulmonology, A Woman’s Perspective OB/GYN, Vascular Surgery and Dr. Scott Mollison, Orthopedic Surgery. 

Negotiations between Humana, the contract administrator for TRICARE, and Samaritan Medical Center continued following the expiration of the prior agreement on Jan. 1, 2019.

“We are pleased to announce we have come to terms with Humana that will allow us to continue providing a wide variety of high-quality specialty services to the soldiers, retirees, civilian employees, and their families of the Fort Drum Medical Command (MEDDAC),” said Thomas H. Carman, President & CEO, Samaritan Medical Center.

“We have a long, proud history of partnering with Fort Drum and have helped create a healthcare model that works not only for our community, but has served as a model for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense for adoption at other military installations as well. We are pleased to continue to offer these valuable services close to home for our TRICARE beneficiaries through the Samaritan Medical Practice,” Carman added.

While there was no lapse in coverage and care for the beneficiaries previously assigned to the Samaritan specialists, the new agreement helps maintain a broad network of options for patients.

“Helping our beneficiaries get the care they need when and where they want it is at the center of our mission,” president of Humana Military, Brent Densford said. “We’re happy to see our relationship with Samaritan continuing with these trusted providers.” 

As per a non-disclosure agreement reached by both parties, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Samaritan Medical Center continued delivering emergency, urgent, and both in-patient medical and behavioral health care following the expiration of the prior agreement, but a number of outpatient specialty services were impacted during the negotiations.

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.

More information regarding Samaritan Medical Center is available at

About Humana

Humana Inc. is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
  • Calendar of events
  • Corporate Governance information

New Director of Communications and PR

Samaritan Announces New Director of Communication & Public Relations

Watertown, NY — Samaritan Medical Center is pleased to announce the appointment of the new Director of Communication & Public Relations, Leslie M. DiStefano of Watertown. As Director of Communication & Public Relations she is responsible for all marketing, strategic communication, and media relations, including the public spokesperson for the Samaritan Health network. 

“We are very pleased to have Leslie join our Marketing team, with her experience and knowledge, we will continue to build on the strength of the Samaritan brand and continue to make the community aware of Samaritan’s high quality, expanded and enhanced services,” explains Beth Fipps, Vice President, Foundation and Community Services.

Ms. DiStefano comes from Jefferson Community College where she served as the Director of Marketing & Communication.  During her time at the College she led the marketing team into a comprehensive digital advertising presence and led the recent redesign of the College website.

Prior to Jefferson, she worked in the Samaritan Marketing department as the Online Communication Coordinator/Webmaster.  DiStefano started her career at WPBS-TV as Educational Services Manager and then later was promoted to Director of Corporate Support.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be leading the Marketing department of this vital healthcare system and being back at an organization I care deeply about,” states Ms. DiStefano. “I look forward to continuing the great communication strategies that have been in place and cultivating new ways to communicate our brand.”

Ms. DiStefano serves on the North Country Family Health Center Board of Directors and is a 2017 Jefferson Leadership Institute alum and continues to be an active planning member of the Race Against Poverty event.  She holds an MBA from Clarkson University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SUNY Potsdam.

Ms. DiStefano began her new role on Thursday, March 28th. Her office is located in the Marketing and Foundation office at SMC, and can be reached at 315-785-4504.

Visitors: Please Stay Home if Sick

Samaritan Medical Center Urges Visitors to Not Visit if They Have Signs of Illness

With a significant increase in Influenza (flu) and Norovirus (stomach flu) in our community, Samaritan Medical Center and all of its facilities are urging visitors and loved ones to stay home if they have any signs of sickness.

“We understand that visiting loved ones is important to both the visitor and the patient or resident, and we encourage it under normal circumstances” explains Karen Abare, RN, BSN, CIC, Director of Infection Prevention at Samaritan Medical Center. “However, keeping our patients and residents from acquiring further illness from the flu or stomach bug is our priority. These are highly contagious illnesses and can be life threatening. We are urging anyone who has any signs of illness, especially if they have tested positive for the flu or norovirus, to stay at home until they are well. This protects our patients, residents and staff from potential exposure and illness.”

Samaritan has seen an increase in the number of people visiting its facilities with signs of illness, which has prompted this request to avoid visiting. Many residents and patients already have compromised immune systems that cannot fight off viruses. Both the flu and norovirus are extremely contagious, even to those who are healthy.

The hospital has posted signs at entrances to remind visitors of this urgent request and thanks the community in advance for its cooperation and vigilance. “This is the perfect time to remind the community that the number one way to prevent the spread of illness is by frequent handwashing,” concludes Mrs. Abare. “Next to that, staying home and avoiding public places will minimize the spread of illness to others and throughout the community.”

Teens For Miracles Fashion Show


WATERTOWN, NY – Is a prom in your future? Or maybe you’re attending another formal occasion and are looking for just the right dress or tuxedo. The “Teens for Miracles” event will spice up the runway with the latest styles and trends. But why just sit in the audience and watch? Sign up to be a teen model for a chance to try on and show off formal attire that you or others could add to your wardrobe.

For more than a decade, Kathy Lettiere, owner, A Touch of Grace, Watertown, has organized the “Teens for Miracles” fashion show to raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Samaritan Medical Center. During this time, hundreds of local teens have walked in the fashion show modeling bridal and prom fashions.

Teen girls in grades 9-12 can sign up to be models in the fashion show by calling Kathy Lettiere at A Touch of Grace at 315-788-6164. All models must be fitted no later than January 28th.

The “Teens for Miracles” fashion show will be held at the Ramada Inn, Watertown on Sunday, February 3rd at 2:00 pm. Tickets for the event are $10 each and will be available for purchase at A Touch of Grace, the Children’s Miracle Network Office at Samaritan, or at the door on the day of the event. Teen models are encouraged to ask family and friends to purchase tickets to the event.

There will be a drawing at the conclusion of the fashion show for several gift certificates, sponsored by Kathy Lettiere, to include a prom gown, tanning, nails and dinner – all the essentials for the perfect prom night!

For more information on the event, please contact Kathy Lettiere at 315-788-6164 or Kristin LaClair, CMN Development Manager at 315-785-4053.