Let Samaritan help with your colorectal health

This year, the American Cancer Society estimates the occurrence of 106,590 new cases of colon cancer (54,210 in men and 52,380 in women) and nearly 46,220 new cases of rectal cancer (27,330 in men and 18,890 in women).

These are large numbers. Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the second-most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. But along with these estimates comes a glimmer of good news: since the mid-1980s, the rate of people being diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer has dropped each year with incidence rates dropping around 1% every year from 2011-2019. Why? Mainly because more people are changing the way they live to limit risk factors and getting colon screenings when suggested.

These are two key steps to take, and throughout March’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and beyond, both should be taken to maintain good colorectal health.

But it doesn’t end there. Being proactive in coordination with your primary care physician and a gastroenterology specialist can help you stay ahead of any colorectal concerns or alleviate problems when they arise. For those in the North Country or nearby, the professionals throughout the Samaritan Health System can assist with these colorectal needs.

“Our team understands the importance of proactive colorectal care,” says Tom Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “We know what to look for, where to refer patients for further evaluation and, in some cases, how to treat. The first step: schedule a visit with us, and let us help you learn more about colorectal health.”

Understand colorectal health

Colorectal health includes disorders associated with the colon, rectum or anus, and can most commonly be detected through a colonoscopy. There is no single factor that can cause cancers or other colorectal diseases, but understanding common risk factors—concerning age, family medical history and lifestyle—can help maintain good health.

To understand these factors or signs and symptoms of colorectal issues, a good place to start is with your primary care physician. After obtaining a referral for a gastroenterologist, they may suggest a colonoscopy which is an exam used to look for changes in the large intestine (colon) and rectum.

Those age 45-75 have a higher than average risk of colon cancer, so if you fall in this demographic, now’s the time to schedule your colonoscopy or screening.

If caught in its earliest stages, colon cancer can be treated much more effectively, or dangerous polyps can be removed to prevent cancer from ever occurring in the first place.

Samaritan’s Gastroenterology Clinic in LeRay offers two board certified physicians, a seasoned physician assistant, and a nurse practitioner. The clinic boasts early morning appointments as well as appointments past 4 p.m. to help accommodate patients. Located conveniently on U.S. Route 11, the team specializes in routine colonoscopy screenings, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), polyp removal, acid reflux, iron deficiency anemia, and more. The caregivers are compassionate about the work they do and the patients they care for.

Colon cancer treatment

Surgery may be an option when colorectal cancer is identified, and Samaritan has four general surgeons who are trained and experienced in colorectal care. Many of these surgical cases can be performed with the da Vinci robotic system. This state-of-the-art approach can lessen a patient’s stay in the hospital, minimize postoperative pain, and shorten recovery for some patients. Samaritan’s general surgeons are here to provide care to patients early in their diagnosis, giving them the best and most optimal treatment.

Another option for some patients if colon cancer is detected, Samaritan’s Walker Center for Cancer Care can provide cutting-edge treatments and supportive services through its integrated team, or expert guidance from affiliated medical oncology providers like Buffalo’s Roswell Park.

But again, the key to colorectal care is to be proactive. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get screenings when necessary. Talk with your primary care physician when concerns arise. This is where Samaritan can assist to support any patient’s concerns.

“Your Samaritan primary care physicians are there to answer your questions, provide treatment, and lead you forward in the healthiest way possible,” says Carman. “Connect with them, and let each be your guide.”

To learn how Samaritan Health can aid in your colorectal health, visit samaritanhealth.com and explore the gastroenterology, general surgery, and cancer services.


Samaritan is committed to cardiac care

Love your heart. Keep it healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every five deaths in the U.S. is from heart disease. That’s nearly 700,000 lives lost annually to a disease that continues to be the leading cause of death among men and women.

It’s an issue that’s not going away—but one we can raise awareness of and improve access and treatment for every year.

That’s why, before the start of February’s American Heart Month, Samaritan announced the recent addition of cardiology services under the Samaritan umbrella. Formerly known as Cardiology Associates of Northern New York, the newly named Samaritan Cardiology will operate within its same location to provide the best in cardiac care for those concerned about their heart health.

And partnering with Dr. James Willis, physician assistant Kate Symenow and their wonderful staff (all formerly of Cardiology Associates), patients can receive care they can trust—and depend on.

Dr. James Willis, MD, FACC
Kate Simenow, PA-C, MPAS

“This new partnership improves a valuable asset for our community,” says Tom Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “Working together will allow us to do big things and provide services where they’re very much needed.”

“After considering many partners, Samaritan was selected as they are as committed to this community as I am,” Dr. Willis says. “The transition has gone smoothly, and it is evident to me that they want this to be successful.”

From preventative care to consultations, clinical services, testing and more, our cardiologists can work with patients at every stage of their cardiac needs. Through this work, diagnosis, and treatment of such conditions as coronary artery disease, hypertension, angina, and various valvular disorders are possible, and can guide these patients to more heart-healthy days ahead.

Partnering for the community

Keeping cardiology services in the north country is key to sustaining access to care, but Samaritan is also committed to engagement, education, and wares of the heart health, most notably with the local American Heart Association.

For decades Samaritan has been a partner with the local Heart Walk and hundreds of Samaritan Caregivers raising funds for the cause over the years. 

Samaritan also serves as a training center for healthcare professionals based on American Heart Association course guidelines including Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. 

“Cardiac care can’t wait, hence why we are humbled to bring Samaritan Cardiology into the system, support local outreach, and train our team and the community on how to help someone in cardiac arrest,” says Carman. “There is no question how important all of these pieces are to a heart healthy community.”      

To learn more about Samaritan’s cardiology services, visit samaritanhealth.com/cardio

To learn more about our American Heart Association courses, visit samaritanhealth.com/aha

To learn more about the local American Heart Association Heart Walk: www2.heart.org


At Samaritan, making a difference is the job

web banner. Care for our community and your career.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, individuals are now changing jobs — or more appropriately, careers and industries — more than ever before.

Among their top reasons for switching are pursuit of a more suitable work-life balance; scheduling to better accommodate a modern world; and most importantly, the need to be part of a positive workplace culture where they feel they’re making a difference in people’s lives.

Thankfully, those at Samaritan understand this impact and appreciate the chance to be a significant part of people’s lives, every day.

“Samaritan was originally founded as a place to care for our neighbors,” says Tom Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan. “Nearly 150 years later, caring is at the heart of everything we do. Our staff feel this, and it makes work a welcoming and rewarding experience for all of us.”

Nestled within the natural beauty of Northern New York, Samaritan offers dedicated candidates rewarding career opportunities, excellent benefits and professional development, and the ability to make a real difference in healthcare throughout our surrounding communities.

Vicky Steen, a 50-year employee of the Samaritan Keep Home, said, “My favorite part of my job is that I met so many amazing staff members I also work with an awesome group of girls within my department I love to put smiles upon the residents faces and they make my day as well. It’s just a great place to work.”

Opportunities across different departments

No matter the position—from registered nurse to certified nursing assistants to environmental services or office support—everyone’s job is critical to the care of Samaritan’s patients and residents. Bound by a common set of values known as HEART (honest, empathetic, accountable, respectful, and trustworthy) values employees are dedicated, enthusiastic and truly care about making a difference—and are surrounded by others who feel the exact same way. This common focus helps to create a great place to work and practice. Our patients and residents needs drive every decision.

Candice Matthews, a 19-year employee of Samaritan Medical Center, said, “What I love about my job is everything. I love interacting with patients. I love interacting with staff. I love seeing new things and every day you learn something new or meet someone new.”

Together, they’re supported by an organization whose ongoing strategic planning drives Samaritan forward, sets the tone for future growth and development, and offers stable, market rate paying jobs with guaranteed hours —all while providing a high quality of care for the community.

“We’re looking for employees who not only want to contribute to Samaritan’s growth, but grow with us,” says Cynthia Cassell, nursing recruiter for Samaritan. “This is a place of collaboration, driven by a team togetherness that translates across all departments. People love to be a part of this, even in the bustling world of healthcare.”

Supported by superior benefits

Samaritan and its affiliates offer a robust and competitive benefits package to its employees. These packages are the finest among Northern New York businesses; and with their combination of sign-on bonuses, tuition reimbursement, comprehensive health insurance, retirement support, paid time off (PTO) and community discount programs, each are a clear reflection of how much Samaritan cares about its employees, their health and their families.

“Each benefits package was developed with our employees in mind and how best to support them both inside and outside of work,” says Chris Rowe, executive director of human resources at Samaritan. “Our caregivers are what make our care exceptional, and their well-being means everything.”

Benefits available to employees at Samaritan include:

  • Medical, dental, vision and life insurance
  • Short-term and long-term disability
  • 401(k) retirement benefit + employer match
  • RN, LPN, tech retirement
  • Long-term sick time
  • Employee fitness rebate
  • Quit for Life smoking cessation
  • Aflac cancer coverage
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Select Loan forgiveness
  • QuickCharge (payroll deduction for on campus purchasing)

Encouraged to develop

Samaritan is proud to invest in the future of its employees by providing financial assistance and professional guidance to individuals interested in enhancing job knowledge or developing skills that foster growth in healthcare careers.

“One of the best ways we can support our employees is by encouraging their development,” says Rowe. “The more they can grow in their careers, the more they can accomplish for themselves, their families and our entire community. There are countless stories of employees that started in dietary and are now RNs and other roles.  We helped them achieve their career goals.”

Some of the ways Samaritan helps its employees develop—and make an even bigger difference—include the following:

  • Tuition assistance or reimbursement – Some employees are eligible for tuition assistance or reimbursement. There are various requirements and each case may differ. Potential employees or current employees are encouraged to contact Human Resources to see if there are options available to them.
  • Excellence through Collaboration Education and Leadership EXCEL Program – This program is designed to cultivate promising leaders within Samaritan who create and promote an engaged workforce and a culture of excellence; and focuses on such leadership competencies as delegating responsibility, communicating with impact, and building organizational talent. Upon completion, learning to leading the Samaritan Way will enable leaders to learn practical leadership skills; provide opportunities for personal and professional growth and development; and much more.

Interested in joining our Samaritan team? If so, learn about career opportunities at  https://samaritanhealth.com/careers/careers-education/ or call (315) 779-5236.

At Samaritan, women’s wellness remains a top priority 

In 2020, nearly 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, surpassing lung cancer as the most common cancer endured by American women.  

These are staggering numbers to consider, as is the statistic that, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a woman somewhere in the world is diagnosed with the disease every 14 seconds. This makes the task of breast care across the globe significant, and the vital need for this medical focus is growing by the day.  

That’s one reason why Samaritan has continued to invest in equipment, facilities, and services in the realm of women’s wellness to support its local patients. 

“At Samaritan, we’ve developed a medical destination to meet women’s wellness needs,” says Tom Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “With our tandem of effective treatments and skilled medical staff, patients can come here and feel confident they’ll receive the best care.”  

New facility enables enhanced care 

Opened in 2019, Samaritan’s Women’s Wellness and Breast Care consolidated services  previously offered across multiple locations, while  adding amenities and more diversified breast care services to provide the most comprehensive experience for women in need.  

“Combining services in this centralized and renovated space has helped us better serve patients and significantly enhance the way we can care for each,” said Dr. Mario Victoria, chief medical officer at Samaritan. “This patient-first approach is critical to what we do and how we can help women lead healthier, more enjoyable lives.”  

Located in the Samaritan Health and Wellness Plaza at 1575 Washington Street.,  Women’s Wellness and Breast Care stands as a beacon for breast care for those in need throughout the North Country. 

Treatments, procedures to preserve patient health 

Inside  Women’s Wellness and Breast Care, patients experience a serene atmosphere within a modern facility during exams, procedures, and treatments.  

Our expanded radiology services and online screening mammogram scheduling offer solutions for patients seeking breast imaging and treatments locally, as well as instruction on preventative measures to help patients maintain healthy breast care at home. 

“As a dedicated breast radiologist, I help diagnose breast cancer and determine next steps for treatment,” explains Dr. Kelly McAlarney.  “We have an excellent team of technicians and equipment that help produce accurate and timely results for patients.” 

“One treatment isn’t for everybody,” says Jennifer Zajac, nurse practitioner.  “That’s why, at Samaritan, we take time with each patient to determine what works for them, then craft a plan to pursue the healthiest outcome. This is personalized care, and it’s necessary to give our patients the support they deserve.” 

Medical specialists, ready to support 

But even with new healthcare space and an enhanced list of services, the success of Samaritan still relies on its team of skilled medical professionals, ready to administer care that makes women’s wellness possible.   

This team of specialists—including a board-certified breast radiologist—manages patient care through all needed treatments and procedures, making each individual journey as simple as possible. This not only improves the health outcomes of each Samaritan patient; it also encourages others to consult their physicians, stay on top of their wellness concerns, and seek treatments for concerns like breast cancer in their earliest stages. 

“Living a healthy life is easier when you have some guidance and help along the way,” says Carman. “That’s what we do here, and there’s nothing more satisfying for us than leading our patients to their best lives.” 

To learn more about Samaritan and its Women’s Wellness and Breast Care services, visit https://samaritanhealth.com/service/womens-wellness/.  


Samaritan sets regional standard for maternity care  

According to numbers recently detailed in the American Journal of Managed Care, inadequate prenatal care continues to be a problem for hospitals across the U.S. Despite spending the most on healthcare amongst its high-income country peers, there continues to be a national escalation of poor maternity services and an inability to provide the best care for America’s most precious patients.  

But at Samaritan Medical Center, the focus on care for mothers and their children has never wavered.   

  Set within the Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children and bolstered by the capabilities of its dedicated team, the hospital continues to provide superior maternity services that support new and expanding Northern New York families, every day.  

“Samaritan helps deliver more babies than other local hospitals with the largest OB/GYN offices connected to our maternity unit,” says Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mario Victoria. “This sheer volume of births makes our team very knowledgeable and prepared.”  

This commitment to comprehensive maternity services continues to set Samaritan apart from its industry peers and ascend in an opposite trajectory from aforementioned U.S. trends. But with a focused approach on neonatal care, support of military families and providing services to mothers and their families, the hospital has a multi-pronged approach to remain a leader in supporting childbirth—and bringing more happy and healthy children into the world.  

   A regional leader in neonatal care  

Samaritan’s excellence in maternity care starts with its Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a high level of care for a newborn and the only one of its kind in the region. This allows the hospital to also lead Northern New York in comprehensive labor and delivery services and deliver and care for most babies locally with an average of 1,500 each year.   

“Our NICU is uniquely equipped to care for newborns that need extra care after birth, so that they can go home and continue to thrive,” says Dr. Karl J. Komar, a neonatologist at Samaritan for the last 29 years. “I am part of the team that helps ease families concerns and care for these tiniest patients. It is a true honor and something I take great pride in.” Dr. Komar and Dr. Craig Guerin, who has been at Samaritan for the past 9 years, are the lead physicians of the NICU. 
The unit’s capabilities are essential in caring for the tiniest patients, consisting of babies delivered at 32 weeks and older that need a little extra care before they can go home. Amenities in the newly renovated space include 12 private rooms for family bonding, state-of-the-art monitoring equipment to connect when families can’t be together and 24-hour neonatology coverage by Samaritan’s highly trained staff. This specialized unit helps us to be a regional leader in maternity care and providing patients and families with critical support when they need it most.   

Support for military families  

With its proximity to Fort Drum, Samaritan Medical Center has the honor of providing our full range of maternity services to military families. Unlike other military installations, our connection is unique because Fort Drum does not offer all healthcare services. Samaritan Caregivers provide a supportive environment for all families who need local assistance.   

“Fort Drum’s OB/GYN office is connected to our hospital and their doctors and midwives deliver newborns at Samaritan,” says Tom Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan. “Our hospital maternity services lay the foundation for how closely we work with Fort Drum and how intertwined we are. Samaritan provides most of the acute care services to our miliary community, and we take great pride in this unique relationship.”  

Samaritan is proud to collaborate with the Soldier Family Readiness Division, which works in tandem with the hospital to offer a variety of familial supportive services, including the Fort Drum New Parent Support Program. This program offers expectant military parents and parents of newborns and young children the opportunity to learn new skills as parents or improve old ones to better accommodate their needs.   

Stronger families make for a stronger community, and Samaritan is dedicated to supporting this progress.  

Caring for the Northern New York community  

As the Northern New York community grows, so does Samaritan’s role in providing the best care possible to mothers and their children.   

The Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children features newly renovated mother/baby rooms; new labor and delivery rooms; two dedicated C-section suites; lactation specialists for assistance with breastfeeding; an entire nursing staff who specialize in maternal and infant care; reserved parking and a dedicated entrance for families; and even a way to commemorate each birth with its Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Giving Wall.   

Before the day of delivery, Samaritan also provides a series of free, classes, focused on such topics as the specifics of pregnancy, breastfeeding, labor and caring for a new family. Each complements the commitment the hospital makes to its maternity services and in turn, the growing Northern New York community it serves.  

“Samaritan has invested heavily in our maternity services over the years,” says Beth Fipps, vice president of the Samaritan Foundation and community services. ”The Foundation and our community role as a Children’s Miracle Network hospital have allowed us to create the Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children with families in mind and to purchase needed equipment. With the area’s only NICU, the largest maternity department, and a dedicated pediatric unit, we feel fortunate to care for these patients locally.”