Beacons of Light

As the fall unfolds and the leaves start to change, the small villages and towns along the North Shore will be inundated with visitors. From Smithtown to Wading River, our communities have been blessed with ...

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As the fall unfolds and the leaves start to change, the small villages and towns along the North Shore will be inundated with visitors. From Smithtown to Wading River, our communities have been blessed with good schools and a wide range of other social opportunities that clearly enrich all of our communities.

In the Village of Port Jefferson, on two small hills, stand two extraordinary health care facilities that have provided exceptional health care opportunities for people from every walk of life and socioeconomic background. Mather and St. Charles have been providing quality health care and other health related services for one hundred years. St. Charles Hospital was founded by the Daughters of Wisdom in 1907, with the mission to administer to the physical, mental and spiritual needs of children with severe infirmities. In its' hundred year history, it has been faithful to its' foundational mission and so much more.

On December 29, 1929, thanks to the generosity and vision of John T. Mather, a successful, local ship builder from Port Jefferson, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital opened its' doors as the first general hospital in the Town of Brookhaven. It had fifty-four beds.

When Mr. Mather died in 1928, he instructed his executor to "incorporate under the laws of the State of New York a nonsectarian charitable hospital, to be located in said village of Port designed and constructed as to permit future enlargement, assuming that future needs may justify such action...It is my sincere hope that the citizens of Port Jefferson and vicinity will give their liberal and devoted support to said institution and endeavor to make it a success and a credit to the community."

How proud Mr. Mather would be if he could see how his vision from the 1920's has taken shape and unfolded in this wonderful community. People have been exceptionally generous with their time, their talent and their treasure.

Despite growing economic stress and out of control health care insurance costs that are paralyzing and driving many competent physicians out of business, our two community hospitals continue to do a heroic job in being attentive to the wide range of our health care issues.

It is very troubling to know that we are the only first world nation without a government sponsored flu vaccine for all of our citizens. A local physician recently told me that physicians have not seen a raise in Medicaid reimbursement. Regarding flu shots, he said it costs roughly $18 a shot and Medicaid only pays $13. That fiscal inequality is symbolic of what insurance companies are doing to the competent, compassionate practice of medicine in our community.

In mid-October, on a beautiful fall Friday night, more than five hundred people gathered at the Hyatt Wind Watch in Islandia to celebrate Mather Hospital's 42nd annual "One Enchanted Evening." This year's proceeds will be applied to Mather's Fortunato Breast Health Center. Judith A. Fortunato and Bernard R. Fortunato, Jr. did an outstanding job. They are both so generous and giving to our larger community. It was a wonderful evening of celebration.

One of the highlights of the evening was the awarding of the Theodore Roosevelt Award. In 1958, the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council created the Theodore Roosevelt Award to honor those people demonstrating exceptional volunteer commitment to a member hospital in their community. This year, Mather Hospital recognized five people whose service has been invaluable to the progress and development of the wonderful work Mather Hospital does each day.

The first honoree was Dr. Eileen Barr McCarthy. Dr. Barr McCarthy is certified in advanced cardiac life support, child abuse prevention and infection control for healthcare providers. She is a diplomat of the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners. She is a perennial supporter of and participant in the Fortunato Breast Health Center fundraisers. In 2007, she was named by the Town of Brookhaven as one of fourteen extraordinary women who is demonstrating excellence in her field, and for her generosity and enthusiasm that has blessed our community. In addition to all of her professional obligations, Dr. Barr McCarthy is most generous with her time and talent in our larger community. She is clearly a beacon of light in our community.

Judi Betts started volunteering at Mather in 1972. She started as an auxiliary volunteer and soon became vice president of Mather's volunteer auxiliary. Also in 1972, Judi joined the One Enchanted Evening planning committee. She's been a member ever since. Since becoming involved with Mather, she has been an active supporter of many fundraising activities that benefit the hospital. She has shared her expertise in public relations, sales and marketing in all of her volunteer efforts. For her, Mather has such a feeling of family and community. Recently, Mrs. Betts said, "I have had a love affair with Mather since 1972, and it will last forever." Her generosity of time and talent is an extraordinary gift to our larger community.

Dr. Nicholas Craig has been a part of the Mather Hospital family for almost twenty years. A Diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Craig is a general surgeon specializing in advanced laparoscopic surgical procedures and the care of breast diseases. He has served Mather as chairman of the ER Committee and on the OR Committee; currently as the chairman of the Surgical Review Committee and a member of the Credentials and Hospital Quality Assurance Committee.

In addition to his highly respected surgical skills, Dr. Craig has served as medical director for "Team Zamora." He and twenty-seven staff from Mather went to Ecuador to provide medical care for people in that region, while he instructed local surgeons on laparoscopic procedures. In addition to that project, on an on-going basis, Dr. Craig has donated his time and his gift to countless people in our larger community, who have been in medical need. His volunteerism is an inspiration.

Gloria and Mark Snyder have been generous supporters of Mather Hospital since moving into Belle Terre in 1996. Gloria has been on the planning committee for One Enchanted Evening since 1997 and has co-chaired the silent auction committee since 1998. Mark has also been involved each year in assisting in the coordination of the evening's activities. Partners in business, Gloria and Mark are partners in their allegiance to Mather through their financial generosity.

In addition to their unwavering support of Mather Hospital, the Snyders provide extraordinary leadership and support in several community organizations, including the Gloria and Mark Snyder Hillel Center at Stony Brook University, Theater Three in Port Jefferson, the Stony Brook University Alumni Association and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. As a husband and wife team and as parents, they are powerful role models, especially for all of the young people in our community. How fortunate we are to have such compassionate, caring, generous professionals in our midst.

They are a refreshing reminder of what volunteerism and concern for community is truly about. They exemplify, by the way in which they live their lives, what community is supposed to be about. We are fortunate to have them in our community and as a community, we are richer for having them in our midst.

Thank you to this year's Theodore Roosevelt Award recipients from Mather Hospital. Our community is a better place because of the power of your example!