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.

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Samaritan Auxiliary’s 22nd Annual One Night, One Diamond

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Auxiliary’s One Night, One Diamond will be held Saturday, March 23 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. at The Peak (formerly The Commons) on Fort Drum. Attendees will experience old Hollywood glamour and walk the red carpet to enjoy an evening of dinner, dancing, and diamonds.

Tickets are $225 per couple, which includes dinner by The Clipper Inn, dancing to the popular band ‘Atlas’, and an opportunity to win one of three exquisite lab-grown diamonds donated by Cook’s Jewelers, or a get-away package to Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa or Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.

The funds raised from this year’s event will support the purchase of a UroNav Fusion Biopsy System for Samaritan’s Urology Center. This equipment gives the ability for Urologists to perform prostate biopsies in the office and provides Samaritan patients with advanced detection of prostate cancer. With the use of the UroNav Fusion Biopsy system, providers can “fuse” MRI images with real-time ultrasound images of the prostate, thus allowing for more ease in obtaining targeted biopsies of suspicious lesions in the prostate. The procedures will be resulted almost immediately, allowing for a more efficient experience for the patient.  

This year’s blue diamond sponsor is Apogee Physicians. Pink diamond sponsors include Bob Johnson Auto Group, Purcell Construction, KeyBank, and Northern Credit Union.  Media sponsors are the Watertown Daily Times, 7News, Tunes 92.5 and PixeLit Marketing.  Other top sponsors include AmeriCu, Coca-Cola Company, Hancock Estabrook, Hospice of Jefferson County, King + King Architects, The Martin Group, Nickles Property Service, and Slack Chemical Company.

Among last year’s Auxiliary highlights, the 2023 One Night, One Diamond raised a record $125,530 and allowed for the purchase of the BioFire modules for Samaritan’s laboratory while also supporting the purchase of the Hologic Breast PACS System for Samaritan’s Women’s Wellness and Breast Care. 

For tickets or more information please visit the website www.samaritanhealth.com/onod or with questions contact onod2@shsny.com or (315) 408-6475. RSVP’s with the names of attendees and date of birth, for entrance onto Fort Drum, must be received by March 8, 2024.

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

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

September, October, November, and December 2023 DAISY®️ and BEE Award Recipients

Watertown, NY – Samaritan Medical Center is pleased to announce its DAISY and BEE Award recipients for September, October, November, and December 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.

September:

  • Jalynne Granger, Registered Nurse (RN), Samaritan Home Health, received the DAISY Award.
  • Brianna Biggs, nursing assistant, Samaritan Medical Center, received the BEE Award.

October:

  • Tamara Bennett, RN, at Samaritan Medical Center, received the DAISY Award. 
  • Jamie Lyn Goutermout, safety aid, inpatient mental health unit at Samaritan Medical Center, received the BEE award. 

November:

  • Athena Green, RN, Samaritan’s emergency department, received the DAISY Award. 
  • Jamie Via, nursing assistant, Samaritan Medical Center, received the BEE Award. 

December:

  • Jennifer Steelman, RN, Samaritan Medical Center, received the DAISY Award. 
  • Arlene Godfrey, EKG technician, Samaritan Medical Center, received the BEE Award.  

An excerpt from Granger’s September DAISY award nomination from the family of a patient, read:

“Jalynne has gone up and beyond as a home health nurse to my mom. Jaylyn has been patient and kind. On one visit she realized that my mom needed to go to the doctor immediately as a result of an infection that had started. It ended with my mom needing a short stay in the hospital. Which could have been a long stay or even worse if not for her guidance. We have never had a home nurse before and our family was a little anxious about this new situation, however with Jaylynne as our nurse we look forward to her visit every week.”

An excerpt from Bennett’s October DAISY award nomination from a co-worker, read: 

“4 Pavilion (Medical Center) is so very lucky to have Tamara as a nurse. She is always going above and beyond for her patients and her coworkers. On countless occasions she has stayed after her scheduled hours until change of shift to make sure the floor had a charge nurse or has come in on a weekend day when the floor is short staffed. When a nurse reports a concerning change in status of a patient, Tamara goes directly to the bedside to assess the situation firsthand.” 

An excerpt from Green’s November DAISY award nomination from the family of a patient, read: 

“Nurse Athena checked in on us time after time and gave us updates.  Near the end of our time in the emergency department, she brought in a Christmas stuffed dog for my son, and my son absolutely adored that dog.  It made everything better for him and he did not let go of the dog until the next morning.  Nurse Athena was kind, patient, understanding, and overall, the best nurse I’ve encountered thus far at Samaritan.  We need more nurses like Athena.”

An excerpt from Steelman’s December DAISY award nomination from a co-worker, read: 

“I have also had the pleasure of working with Jenn side by side, and there are not enough words to describe a nurse like her who embodies compassion, kindness, and unwavering dedication. Jenn exemplifies the epitome of compassion, kindness, and selflessness in her role as a registered nurse at Samaritan Medical Center. Her unwavering dedication to her patients is a testament to her exemptional character and commitment to care.”

For receiving the DAISY Award – which is an international award backed by The DAISY Foundation – Granger, Bennett, Green, and Steelman 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.

An excerpt from Biggs’ September BEE award nomination from a co-worker, read: 

“Brianna is the aide that every nurse wants to have. She always goes above and beyond for her patients and nurses. No matter the request Bri is always willing to help out. She is the first one to a call light even if it is not her assigned patient, she jumps in and offers assistance whenever it is needed.” 

An excerpt from Goutermout’s October BEE award nomination from a co-worker, read: 

“Her dedication and commitment to her role as a safety aid at Samaritan demonstrates how she embodies the Samaritan H.E.A.R.T. (honest, empathetic, accountable, respectful, trustworthy) values. Her actions clearly demonstrate her passion for ensuring the well-being of both the staff and patients.”  

An excerpt from Via’s November BEE award nomination from a co-worker, read: 

“If ever there was an example of somebody that fits the definition of “Being Excellent Every Day” it is Jamie. Jamie consistently goes about her day with a positive outlook and goes above and beyond for her patients. Her consistent empathy and compassion make all her patients feel as though they are the most important which brings happiness to their day.”

An excerpt from Godfrey’s December BEE award nomination from a co-worker, read: 

“I often find Arlene accompanying visitors and patients to their appropriate destination when they are lost.  I watch how she engages in casual conversation that usually ends with a thank you and a smile. Arlene is proficient in her job duties and takes the time to teach and educate others.  She is a leader within the organization and is the point person for scheduling, coordinating staff (PCA and Nursing) education as well as taking in students and interns for shadow hours and education within the EKG department.”  

Biggs, Goutermout, Via, and Godfrey 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 www.samaritanhealth.com/daisy-bee.

Photos of the named DAISY and BEE Award winners are available at samaritanhealth.com/news.

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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 http://www.DAISYfoundation.org.

Samaritan Adds Cardiology Practice to Its Network

Samaritan is pleased to announce the recent addition of cardiology services under the Samaritan Medical Practice umbrella.  Samaritan Cardiology, formerly Cardiology Associates of Northern New York, will remain at its current location with the same providers, Dr. James Willis and Physician Assistant Kate Symenow. There will be very little change for current patients as the physical location, phone number and wonderful staff have not changed.

Dr. Willis, founder of Cardiology Associates, has been practicing in the region for 38 years and is committed to making sure the practice continues on as he looks forward to retirement. Samaritan and Dr. Willis came together to ensure this continuum of care will occur, as this partnership accounts for succession planning and physician recruitment.  Recruitment for new cardiology specialists is underway.

“I have built this practice and care deeply for my patients, so it is my number one concern that we remain in operation,” said Dr. Willis.  “After considering many partners, Samaritan was selected as they are as committed to this community as I am. The transition has gone smoothly, and it is evident to me that they want this to be successful.”

“We were not actively seeking this new partnership, but it is the right thing to do to keep this service in the community where it is very much needed,” explained Tom Carman, president and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. “We have begun to recruit more cardiology providers to help serve the community, as there is a need and currently a long wait time for new patients.”

Samaritan has not operated an outpatient cardiology practice prior to this partnership, but has worked with local private physicians to ensure that cardiology services were available to hospital patients through on-call services in the emergency department within the scope of hospital privileges. 

Current patients of Cardiology Associates will notice a change in billing, as Samaritan will assume this process. In addition, echocardiograms (echo) once offered in the cardiology office will now be performed at the Samaritan Health and Wellness Plaza, 1575 Washington St., as part of the imaging and lab services.  This also means that existing Samaritan patients can have their echo done at this outpatient clinic with a provider order. 

Samaritan Cardiology is located at 19436 Howell Drive, Suite A in Watertown and can be reached at 315-786-2000.

Samaritan Auxiliary Hosts Grand Opening and Naming Celebration of Medical Center Coffee Shop

Watertown, New York – The Samaritan Auxiliary hosted a grand opening and naming celebration of its new coffee shop located inside the main entrance of the Samaritan Medical Center on February 1, 2024.

The original coffee shop location, across from the Auxiliary’s gift shop at the other end of the main lobby, was needed to construct additional rooms for the behavioral health unit in the emergency department. The behavioral health crisis has created a need for these extra beds, and this move will accommodate this provision.

A naming contest was held, and after receiving 109 suggestions from Samaritan Caregivers, the name “Sips by Samaritan Auxiliary,” submitted by Ashlee Bucy, retention resolution specialist, was selected by the Auxiliary Board of Directors. Additionally, it was announced at the grand opening event that the coffee shop now offers delicious baked goods from Chrissy Beanz and specialty coffee beans from local vendors.

President of the Auxiliary, Shawna Cutuli, said, “We were excited to see so many Samaritan Caregivers and community members attend the event. The coffee shop and gift shop in the Medical Center are open for all to enjoy, and we are proud to showcase local products and vendors.”

Auxiliary Board members pictured here, for the Sips by Samaritan Auxiliary ribbon cutting ceremony on February 1, 2024, from left, are Vice President Bethany Todd; Treasurer Kerry Young; Andrea Roden; President Shawna Cutuli; and Kady Hoistion.

Shawna added, “In addition to the Samaritan Auxiliary Board members, we were pleased with how many Auxiliary members were able to attend the event including Susan Johnson, Janet George, Lu Green, Cynthia Ahlheim, Ann Van Slyke, and Patti Schreck.”

In 2024, Samaritan Auxiliary, composed entirely of volunteers, is proudly celebrating its 128th anniversary as it continues to play a vital role in enhancing the quality of care in the Samaritan Health system through the work of the volunteers and financial support. The House of the Good Samaritan was founded in 1881, and in 1896 the Trustees of the Hospital invited a group of ladies to act as an Auxiliary to the Board of Trustees with Mrs. Goodale as the first Auxiliary President. In 1899 a new hospital was built on Washington St. at a cost of $48,500, and by 1900 the Auxiliary had 213 members, a treasury of $2,485 and at Christmas they purchased dinner for the 25 patients hospitalized at a cost of $25, and still had some money to spare.

Throughout its 128 years of volunteer service the Auxiliary has consistently dedicated its efforts to serving the needs of The House of the Good Samaritan – Samaritan Health as a major contributor of volunteer time and financial resources. Here are just a few of the highlights and contributions that the Auxiliary has made over the course of the 128 years:

• 1903 Twigs began as working subdivisions of the Auxiliary initially supplying the hospital with linens, dishes, equipment, special foods. During the Depression when need was great the Twigs and Auxiliary redecorated and refurbished hospital rooms. One of the last Twig branches on the Samaritan ‘tree’, The Balsam Twigs, had been active until just recently, making a donation that benefited the patients in the Inpatient Mental Health Unit and Acute Rehab Unit in 2023. The Laurel Twig’s, formed in 1987, largest fundraiser, Book Sales, raised about $72,000 between 2001 and 2010 under the leadership of Sue Peters. The Bent Twigs, established in 1947, had 17 members fundraising in 2010 led by Beverly Lamica.
• 1942 Volunteers staffed the Visitor’s Desk for the first time, and they continue to volunteer their time in the Auxiliary gift shops and other areas of the Samaritan System.
• 1954 Auxiliary Scholarships were awarded to student and graduate nurses and later expanded to all employees
• 1974 Auxiliary committed to a three-year project of underwriting $50,000 worth of equipment and furnishings for the new Maternity Wing
• 1979 Auxiliary undertook a three-year project to raise $75,000 for ultrasound equipment
• 1981 The “X-Rayted Follies”, a musical with singing and dancing by staff and community members, produced by the Auxiliary, raised $25,000 for the Cancer Treatment Center and Labor Room redecorating
• 1984 The Auxiliary to the House of the Good Samaritan was incorporated, then renamed in 1995 to Samaritan Auxiliary. The Auxiliary purchased $34,000 of equipment and gave 34,796 hours of volunteer time
• 1991 Auxiliary committed to a $250,000 pledge to the Capital Fund Drive for the new Maternity Unit. The “Rock-a-Bye Follies”, a musical performance led by a director from New York City and performed by local community members and staff at the Dulles State Office Building, raised $18,000
• 1992 The Auxiliary Gift Shop moved to a new location in the hospital and along with the SKH gift shop had profits of $50,000. The four year “Twig Challenge” was accepted by 12 active Twig groups to raise $500 each toward the Capital Fund Pledge, while the Auxiliary provided $10,000 toward Samaritan Keep Home’s renovations in the dining room.
• 1993-1994 Revenue to support the hospital was generated from the gift shops, Baby Photos, Sneaker and Jewelry Sales, cookbook sales, patient television services
• 1995 Renamed to ‘Samaritan Auxiliary’ with volunteer hours exceeding 50,000
• 1996 A $250,000 pledge to the Capital Fund Drive for the Maternity Unit was satisfied, with the Auxiliary as a lead donor; inaugural “Men’s Night in the Kitchen” fundraiser.
• 1997-2001 Pledged $300,000 as a lead donor to the new Cardiac Catheterization Lab; Donated artwork, carpeting, decorating, and equipment at Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Keep Home; Began the Uniform Sales and Bridge Marathon fundraisers
• 2002 Auxiliary participated in Samaritan Foundation’s new community event, “A North Country Festival of Trees” donating $5,000, two of the Twigs groups decorated trees and the Auxiliary provided volunteers for the event
• 2003 Auxiliary’s new community fundraiser “One Night, One Diamond” initiated at Ives Hill Retirement Community with 50 guests in attendance
• 2005 Auxiliary funded the playing of Brahms “Lullaby” on the loudspeaker throughout the hospital when a baby is born
• 2006 Auxiliary’s “One Night, One Diamond” event for the first time dedicated the proceeds to purchase equipment – this year targeting breast cancer and purchasing the Mammotome Breast Biopsy System and Neo-Probe Gamma Detection System
• 2007 – 2010 Auxiliary pledged $750,000 to the Advancing Healthcare- Close to Home Capital Campaign, and Starbucks coffee shop launched in SMC
• 2018 Auxiliary pledged $500,000 to Samaritan Foundation’s Capital Campaign to build the Walker Center for Cancer Care
• 2020 After a temporary closure in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the Auxiliary Gift Shops at Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Summit Village and the Starbucks Coffee Shop in the Medical Center reopened slowly in 2021 despite the challenges. “One Night, One Diamond” was cancelled two weeks before the event in 2020, but due to the generosity of our sponsors and donors the Auxiliary presented a $96,344 check to Samaritan for the equipment necessary to perform Mohs Surgery for dermatology and another Optimum UV-Light due to the urgent COVID needs.
• 2021 – 2022 the virtual event “One Night, One Diamond” in 2021 raised $83,675 to Samaritan for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), just one of the unexpected expenses brought on by the pandemic, and in 2022 the event raised $110,322 for the purchase of another ultraviolet disinfection device, as well as supporting the purchase of five Sleep Lab Diagnostic Systems for the Samaritan Sleep Center
• 2023 “One Night, One Diamond”, held again at The Commons on Fort Drum, proceeds purchased BioFire Modules for the Samaritan Laboratory and supported the purchase of the Hologic Breast PACS System with a check presentation to Samaritan totaling $87,661

The Auxiliary’s “One Night, One Diamond” event proceeds have purchased nearly a million dollars of capital equipment for Samaritan cancer patients, Smart IV pumps for pediatrics, non-invasive ventilators for newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, equipment for the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit, equipment to perform Mohs Surgery for Dermatology, equipment to support Robotic Surgery, UV lights for disinfection, PPE for staff during the challenging time of the pandemic, and so much more.

The Auxiliary Scholarships that began in 1954 are still awarded each year. As part of its mission to support and enhance healthcare programs at Samaritan, in May of 2023 Samaritan Auxiliary Scholarships were awarded to two Samaritan employees who are furthering their education in healthcare. One recipient, Anna O’Neil, a Registered Nurse who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at Chamberlain University with an expected completion date in 2025, recently progressed her career by becoming an assistant nurse manager in the Progressive Care and Intensive Care units at Samaritan Medical Center.

Samaritan Auxiliary is a 501(c)3 organization governed by a Board of Directors consisting of volunteers that continue the mission established in 1896. In its 128th year of service of raising money to purchase capital equipment, in addition fulfilling smaller requests through its continuous fundraising ventures, such as, the Auxiliary Gift Shops, Coffee Shop, as well as the Uniform and Purse sales throughout the year, additional needs are met through an application process to the Auxiliary Board each year. Some of the recent requests fulfilled were stuffed animals to children receiving care at Samaritan, coloring books, crayons, puzzles for patients, Watertown Daily Times newspaper subscriptions for patient use, Nee Doh Balls for that benefited the patients in the Inpatient Mental Health Unit and Acute Rehab Unit providing stress relief and help with motor skills, to name a few.

Over the course of the 128 years of the Auxiliary volunteers’ hard work and dedication, many millions of dollars have been given to Samaritan to enhance patient care and this continues today. The volunteers that work in the Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Summit Village gift shops provide many hours of dedicated service to help us achieve these goals.

The Auxiliary is always looking for new volunteers and welcome all who would like to share in their commitment of support to Samaritan Health. If interested in volunteering in the gift shops, please reach out to Amanda Bradbury, Manager of Volunteer Services at (315) 785-4479. Another way to support Samaritan Auxiliary is by becoming an Auxiliary member through dues. If you are interested in becoming an Auxiliary member or to make a donation, please consider an annual regular membership at $15, a senior membership at $5, or Lifetime Member status with a $200 donation online at Samaritan Auxiliary, or by mailing a check to Samaritan Auxiliary, Attn: Membership Chair, 830 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601.

Samaritan Medical Center President/CEO Thomas H. Carman Elected Board Chair of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS)

Samaritan Health President and CEO Thomas H. Carman portrait.

WATERTOWN, NY – Samaritan is proud to announce that Thomas H. Carman, president and CEO, has been elected as the 2024 board of trustees chair for the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS). Carman’s one-year term began on January 1, 2024.  This is a volunteer board position, which compliments his role as Samaritan’s CEO.

“As a CEO in a New York State rural community, I look forward to being the chairman of the HANYS board and bringing forward the issues and advocacy efforts that will encompass the entire state, with a greater understanding of what rural hospitals face,” Carman said. “I think my experience and perspective of what I have learned over my 40+ year career in healthcare will be beneficial to many, and I look forward to leading this board as we continue to navigate the challenges of healthcare in New York State.”

Thomas H. Carman
President & CEO
Samaritan Medical Center

Carman has served as Samaritan’s President and CEO since 2004. Prior to joining Samaritan, Carman was with Cortland Regional Medical Center from 1997 to 2004.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and a Master’s degree in business administration from Syracuse University. 

In addition to serving as HANYS 2024 board chair, Carman holds leadership roles with Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, Vice Chair; Advocate Drum/Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, Past Chair; North Country Initiative, board member; Healthcare Partners of the North County, board member; Iroquois Healthcare Association, past chair; Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, board member; and Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

About HANYS

The Healthcare Association of New York State is New York’s statewide hospital and continuing care association, representing nonprofit and public hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies and other healthcare organizations. HANYS is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the health of individuals and communities by providing leadership, representation and service to healthcare providers and systems across the entire continuum of care.

Samaritan Health (All Locations) to Require Facemasks as of January 19, 2024

WATERTOWN, NY – There is an uptick in COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses throughout the state. Following a recommendation by the New York State Department of Health, all Samaritan Health locations will now require facemasks in all patient care areas and public spaces within Samaritan facilities. 

This new designation of masks-required impacts Samaritan’s outpatient locations including specialty clinics, family health centers or lab and imaging locations. The Medical Center, Walker Center for Cancer Care, Emergency Department, and our long term care facilities remain masked, too.

Thank you for your patience as we try to minimize the spread of COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses and keep our patients, residents, visitors, and staff protected.

We will reevaluate the need for masking as positivity decreases in our community. Any further updates to this change will be added to samaritanhealth.com/news.

At Samaritan, making a difference is the job

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.

Samaritan Receives Jefferson County Nonprofit COVID Recovery Grant

Watertown, NY – In October, Samaritan Medical Center received an award notification for $150,000 from the Jefferson County Nonprofit COVID Recovery Program stewarded by the Northern New York Community Foundation.  The program was made possible through $1 million in funding that county officials have allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help nonprofits recover and respond to the negative impacts resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

This grant aims to support organizations heavily impacted by the pandemic’s repercussions on local nonprofits. Samaritan’s expenditure on contractors soared to historic spending levels from 2019 to 2022, and the award significantly boosts Samaritan’s efforts to recoup losses from the rise in traveling nurse contracts executed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the recovery funds, Samaritan will invest in nursing scholarship programs, and will address and alleviate the staffing crisis by hiring a clinical educator, and nurse recruiter. Collaborations with local partners are also in the works, intending to establish growth pathways in local healthcare to increase recruitment and retention efforts. These strategies not only aim to reduce the hospital’s reliance on high-cost contracted travelers but also ensure that the North Country community continues to receive quality healthcare without disruptions.

Samaritan extends its sincere thanks to both our Jefferson County governing officials and to the Northern New York Community Foundation for its role in stewarding this vital federal grant funding. Samaritan looks forward to sharing with the community the positive effects this grant funding will have on the Samaritan Health System and overall care for the community.

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Early Screenings and Advanced Procedures Lead Samaritan’s Lung Care

According to the American Cancer Society, more people die of lung cancer per year than those from breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. 

Concerning diagnoses, final estimates for new lung cancer cases in the U.S. hover around 234K by the end of 2023, but note: there is good news with these numbers. Over the past five years, annual case counts have decreased. This means individuals are staying away from things that negatively affect their lung care and are pursuing ways to stay healthy—and breathe a little easier.  

At Samaritan, our team of board-certified pulmonologists offers comprehensive pulmonary care to provide the best prevention, detection, treatment, and rehabilitation services for patients throughout our area of New York State.  

“We’re very proud of lung care services consistently ranked as the best in the region,” says Dr. Aaliya Burza, specializing in Pulmonology and Critical Care. “Our wide range of care can meet a variety of different needs and, in many cases, address breathing issues before it’s too late.” 

Whether you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms of lung cancer or seeking relief from other pulmonary-associated conditions like asthma, sleep apnea, and more, Samaritan is proud to offer advanced procedures and programs that help detect and treat all issues of concern, led by credentialed pulmonologists who can care for you close to home. 

Here are some ways we do it: 

Screen early 

Early detection is a proven, successful strategy for fighting many forms of cancer. That’s why Samaritan Medical Center’s developed its Early Lung Cancer Screening Program, which offers a low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening for people at high risk for lung cancer. Because lung cancer has no symptoms in its early stages, more than 85 percent of men and women diagnosed with lung cancer today are diagnosed in a late stage, after symptoms occur and when there is very little chance of cure. 

But with Samaritan’s early screening steps, everyone has a chance. 

“We encourage all patients concerned about their lung health to get screened,” says Maria Pascolini, Samaritan’s director of Radiology. “A CT scan can find 85 percent of lung cancers in their earliest, most curable stage, allowing for treatment and the possibility of eventual recovery.”  

Individuals who may benefit from the Early Lung Cancer Screening Program are current or former smokers between the ages of 55-74 and a 30-pack-a-year smoker; or over the age of 50, a 20-pack-a-year smoker, and have one other risk factor for lung cancer. 

Cutting-edge bronchoscopy treatments 

A bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows doctors to look inside your lungs’ airways (called the bronchi and bronchioles) and find the cause of a lung problem, including such things as bleeding, blockage, infection, or the existence of a tumor. 

At Samaritan, we use different types of state-of-the-art bronchoscopy treatments, depending on the needs of the patient. A technologically advanced robotic bronchoscopy can be used to view the inside of lungs, obtain tissue samples for biopsy, and, through the use of Auris Health’s Monarch™ Platform, we can typically provide an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of small and hard-to-reach nodules in the periphery of the lung. 

Samaritan is the first hospital in Central New York and the North Country to invest in this new technology, and one of only two sites in the entire state to utilize the platform. This provides the region’s patients with next-generation care for the health concerns of today. 

“It’s essential that we invest in these tools to provide the best outcomes for our patients,” says Eva Edwards, Samaritan’s director of Oncology. “This allows for early intervention, and in turn, saves more lives. 

In addition to its robotic bronchoscopy, Samaritan can also perform an electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (or ENB), which combines specialized endoscopic tools and technology with traditional bronchoscopy to provide computer-driven guidance, based on a patient’s CT scan. The tools extend much further into the lungs than standard bronchoscopes, which enables a safe way for physicians to reach more lung tissue for a more accurate diagnosis. 

Endobronchial ultrasound 

For those who have lung concerns that do not require bronchoscopy treatments, Samaritan offers other, less invasive options to help diagnose issues. An endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) uses real-time ultrasound to identify and sample small abnormalities within your lungs without having to perform surgery. The EBUS system also makes biopsies safer and more accurate than conventional methods, all while providing necessary peace of mind for Samaritan patients.  

“It’s all about pursuing the most suitable way to find a solution,” says Edwards. “Patients come here for us to care for them. We’re committed to providing care and helping each patient to enjoy a healthy life.”   

To learn more about Samaritan and its Lung Care capabilities, visit https://samaritanhealth.com/service/lung-care/.  

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