Throughout his career — in engineering, heavy construction and government — Ambassador Charles A. Gargano played a central role in protecting the beating heart of New York’s economy.
On May 29, Stony Brook University recognized Ambassador Gargano’s role in caring for the hearts of Long Island as Hal Skopicki, MD, PhD was formally invested as the Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Chair in Cardiology.
“The Ambassador Charles A. Gargano Chair in Cardiology provides the Division of Cardiology with critical support to enable ongoing excellence in research and teaching throughout the Division,” said Dr. Ken Kaushansky, vice president for Health Services at Stony Brook University and dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine. “Dr. Skopicki advances the educational, clinical and research missions of Stony Brook Medicine, and plays an instrumental role in our strategic planning, oversight, management and programmatic development for cardiology services.”
For his part, Ambassador Gargano drew parallels between Dr. Skopicki’s work at Stony Brook and his own career which, as Dr. Kaushansky noted, included construction of the Meadowbrook and Northern State Parkways, New York State Route 347 and the HOV lanes of the Long Island Expressway, providing vital connections between Stony Brook Medicine and patients across all of Long Island.
“Investing in the future of healthcare now and for generations to come parallels with my work in the development of physical structures and solving challenges with strategic planning,” Ambassador Gargano noted. “Constructing buildings relies on leadership and engineering. It is the same with this endowed chair position. Leadership, as exemplified by Dr. Skopicki, and engineering includes formulating a plan for continued success in cardiovascular research, training of new clinicians, and excellence in patient care.”
Dr. Skopicki, who also leads Long Island’s first accredited and award winning Ventricular Assist Device program and serves as the Director of the Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Center, shared the Ambassador’s assessment.
“Ambassador Gargano demonstrated the ability to continuously create a vision and a blueprint for the future,” Dr, Skopicki said. “I truly share his desire to harness knowledge, passion, and vision to train, educate, research, and care for our students, our fellows, our patients and ourselves; in short, to build not only one of the best cardiology programs in New York, but in the entire country.”
In that effort, Dr. Skopicki is well on his way. The Stony Brook Heart Institute was named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for coronary intervention and cardiac care this year by Healthgrades, and over the past 10 years, has boasted the lowest risk of dying from heart failure of any program on Long Island. The Heart Institute’s outstanding outcomes have earned a Gold Plus award from the American Heart Association. Dr. Skopicki was also recently named by NY Magazine, once again, as one of the top 33 cardiologists in New York. Still, Dr. Skopicki knows how much work it takes to maintain excellence, let alone improve.
“Medical knowledge doubles every four years,” Dr. Skopicki said. “It’s that concept — that medicine constantly renews, reinvents and teaches you something that’s absolutely new and exciting — that gets me up in the morning to learn and explore. We have an outstanding research program in cardiology that strives to offer new therapies, new devices and new ways of detecting and preventing disease. Gifts from people like the Ambassador are the lifeline for continuing to grow those efforts”.
With the backing of his chair’s endowment, Dr. Skopicki is eager to continue working to develop cardiology care at Stony Brook, and to improve outcomes for patients across Long Island and beyond.
“In the last year, we’ve accomplished a lot,” Dr. Skopicki said, “stretching Stony Brook Cardiology from Easthampton to Brookhaven, from the North Fork to Commack. We have working relationships with NYU, Mount Sinai, Columbia, Montefiore and Yale. I promise to work tirelessly each and every day to allow Stony Brook to bring visionary care to our patients, to continuously innovate and grow our clinical program, our research, and our teaching, so that we will reach the goal to be the center for clinical research and teaching of cardiovascular and cardiothoracic excellence.”
– Elliot Olshansky