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VA NY Harbor Health Care System


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Network Announces Chief Medical Officer, Curt E. Dill, M.D.


Transformation of an ordinary waiting room at VA’s Manhattan Campus, into an interesting, uplifting environment which stimulates recovery, is specifically focused on the well-being of mental health outpatients.

The complex challenge, under the direction of Jodie Jackson, Associate Director, VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, has brought a multidisciplinary team together, including the departments of Engineering (electrical, painting,) Interior Design, Public Affairs and the leadership of Outpatient Mental Health Service.

At 7:00am on Monday, June 26th, the first patients who arrived at the Medical Center’s Outpatient Mental Health clinic were already oohing and ahing as they took in the space that, following months of planning, appeared totally changed into a gallery over the weekend.

The idea of transforming the Mental Health Waiting Room was jump-started into reality by a phone call to Public Affairs from two members of the Board of the Victorinox Foundation. The company, the caller explained, was dissolving its holdings and wanted to make a sizable donation of fund’s to VA NY Harbor Healthcare System. While not requiring a specific use of the donation, on the first of multiple meetings at VA’s Manhattan campus with Ms. Jackson and others, the Board members made it clear that, in the spirit of the progressive and humanitarian focus of the leadership of Victorinox, they were determined to make a positive long-lasting contribution to Veterans.

Victorinox, therefore, greeted with great enthusiasm, the concept of transforming the very clean, but boring waiting room into a healing environment. By chance, during one of the meetings with Victorinox, the subject of art work came up casually. The funders noted that housed in an out-of-state warehouse, the Foundation had a corporate art collection (that no one had seen in 20 years.) Was VA NY Harbor interested in accepting this donation in addition to the funds initially offered? Yes! Victorinox, shipped the art work to Manhattan the following day. The Board members were so enthusiastic about the potential for improving the Veteran experience within the hospital that they increased the initial amount of funds they would contribute.

Coordination of this project has involved extensive planning for determining and ordering all the elements needed for the renovation. New lighting, painted walls in a subdued shade and tastefully upholstered chairs and light oak wainscoting, are intended to create a classy art-gallery-like atmosphere. Among the most significant changes, the seating will be arranged to encourage patients to enjoy the art on the walls rather than staring across an empty space as they wait for appointments. The contemporary art pieces have been selected to appeal to a variety of tastes and to stimulate reflection and conversation. There is a large, colorful beach scene in primitive style. Another large piece suggests meditation. And yet another is an abstract created by tennis great Andre Agassi by lopping tennis balls dipped in acrylic paint at a canvas. The exhibit also includes works by Tom Jun Ide, an AF Veteran who, with his sister, donated 100 works to the Harbor.

The strength and measurable effect of the innovative project is that the facility leadership engaged the enthusiasm and regular participation of a multi-disciplinary team. They secured the support of a community partner, all in the name of modernizing an important part of the hospital environment which impacts on our Veterans every day, promoting health and well-being. More significantly, it advances the mission of VA. Those patients who have heard the long-planned change is about to happen are intrigued and enthusiastic. Their appreciation will have to be evaluated over time.

Federal Executive BoardFederal Executive Board Honors 26 VA NY Harbor Employees

“This is really a remarkable honor for VA NY Harbor Healthcare System,” said Martina Parauda, Director “We’ve been receiving announcement letters over the past day or so, of individuals who are being acknowledged. We’ve never had so many employees honored in one year.” The mood was definitely celebratory as news flew around the three hospital campuses.
Employee Engagement is among VA Secretary David Shulkin’s recently announced top 5 Priorities and the prestigious FEB awards is an acknowledgement of employees who demonstrate outstanding commitment, compassion and skill to support the Medical, Mental Health and social well-being of our nation’s Veterans.

A total of 26 employees have been honored by FEB. Some have received an award individually and others as part of a team. Winners were drawn from across numerous hospital departments and selected from among 61 Harbor nominees in eight categories. The nominations were received from many Federal agencies in New York City.
VA NY Harbor Employees receiving FEB Awards are:
Linda Kaplan, RN, PCTC, Mental Health
Danielle Francone, RN, Mental Health
Paul Makarenko, Peer Specialist
Justo J. Ordonez, Peer Specialist
Zachary Sonkin, DDS, Asst. Chief, Dental Service
Yvette Christian, Dental Assistant
HUD/VASH Housing First Act Team:
Jonathan Kessler, LCSW, Program Coordinator
Peter Henry, Peer Specialist
Ellen Flanagan, Psych NP
Kate Patindol-Gestopa, RN
Voissane McNamara, LCSW
Kevin Mabry, LMSW
Neal Santacruz, LCSW

HUD/VASH Social Workers:
Susan A. Reed, LMSW
Elizabeth Hayes, LCSW
Kimberly Shaw, LCSW
Sharon McIntyre, LMSW

Brooklyn GI Team:
Dr. Ayse Aytaman, Chief, Gastroenterology
Dr. Manuel Martinez, Endoscopy Director
Dr. James Araujo, Director, R & D
Dr. Ayesha Zahiruddin, Director, Liver Clinic
Jocelyn Condado, Program Assistant
Margarita Pashukyants, NP, Colorectal Cancer Coordinator
Aisha Mitchell, Program support
Sabina Kirtich, NP
Yekaterina Ilyasova, NP, HCV Coordinator



Brooklyn/St. Albans Community Living Center
Public Affairs Officer

Manhattan Campus
Public Affairs Officer
212-686-7500 Ext. 2408

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