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SBU News > Community > COVID-19 Donor Spotlight #2: Neighbors Pay It Forward

COVID-19 Donor Spotlight #2: Neighbors Pay It Forward

Dina Patel and her daughter brought breakfast to custodial staff bright and early to show their appreciation.

Friends and neighbors in the local community have come out to support Stony Brook University Hospital in every way they could think of to help — from donating PPE to bringing breakfast for staff to making care packages for patients. Every act of kindness has resonated hope throughout the entire Stony Brook community and inspired hospital staff and essential employees to keep going.

Here are just a few of the ways neighbors have recently been helping:

Dina Patel and her daughter brought breakfast to custodial staff bright and early to show their appreciation.
Dina Patel and her daughter brought breakfast to custodial staff bright and early to show their appreciation.

Dina Patel and her daughter brought 100 breakfast sandwiches specifically for the custodial and housekeeping staff, a vital group helping to keep the virus at bay. The Patels wanted to ensure they fed both third and first shift at their 6:30 am shift change, so they arrived at the hospital at 6 am with breakfast.

In mid-March, Cathy Carmichael had cancer surgery with William Burke, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology, Stony Brook Medicine. She was so moved by the care she received, she donated funds to the SBU Hospital’s Starbucks so essential staff could enjoy coffee and other snacks to help start their day.

Gail Garcia needed to do something to help. Both her son, a NYC firefighter, and his wife had contracted coronavirus. Her daughter-in-law’s symptoms were severe enough to land her in the hospital, but the family couldn’t visit or help her. As with many patients, Garcia’s daughter-in-law didn’t have time to bring any personal items with her. This is where Garcia and her husband knew they could help. Within the next week, Garcia put together 200 favor boxes of personal comfort items to be distributed to the patients at Stony Brook University Hospital. The boxes included toothbrushes, hand lotions, socks, shampoo, conditioner and much more. Garcia’s daughter- in-law is now back home recovering, and those who have received the gifts expressed their gratitude for the Garcia family’s generosity.   

Karen and Robert Terrault from St. James reached out to Stony Brook University Hospital to donate funds to support frontline healthcare workers in honor of the care Karen’s brother, Kevin Bernard, received at SBUH and later at the Long Island State Veterans Home in late 2017. Mrs. Terrault recalled, “all of the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and so many others at Stony Brook University Hospital and the Veterans Home were some of the kindest people we have ever had the privilege to meet.” When Kevin Bernard, an army veteran, arrived at Stony Brook, he wasn’t expect to live through the weekend, but with the extraordinary care in the ICU and then the Veterans Home, Karen Terrault was able to hold her brother’s hand every day for the next nine months. 

Lisa Romard, a nurse practitioner at Stony Brook, created SB Team HUGSS to inspire her friends, family and neighbors to donate to help staff and patients.
Lisa Romard, a nurse practitioner at Stony Brook, created SB Team HUGSS to inspire her friends, family and neighbors to donate to help staff and patients.

Sending HUGSS

Lisa A. Romard, a nurse practitioner in Stony Brook Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, knew first-hand how much her colleagues at Stony Brook University Hospital and their patients needed comfort items during the crisis. Using Facebook, she created Team SB HUGSS (Help Us Give Support & Supplies) to reach out to friends, family and neighbors to see if they wanted to help. And people responded. Romard filled up her trunk several times with all kinds of supplies, energy boosting snacks and goodies, and brought them to Stony Brook to be distributed.

While Romard – who has worked at the Department of Pediatrics since 1986 – is from Sayville, donations came from friends and family across Suffolk County, including Selden, Miller Place, Manorville, Islip and Bayport. Some family members who recently moved to Tennessee mailed a box of supplies, and other friends who couldn’t get supplies to her donated via the Stony Brook Coronavirus Crisis Challenge link, while several also called Stony Brook directly to arrange their own donations of iPads, masks and shields. Romard and her SB HUGSS team are continuing their mission to bring comfort to everyone fighting the virus.

“Every single donation makes a difference,” said Joan Dickinson, Director of Community Relations, Stony Brook University. “These donations give our healthcare employees the strength and hope to keep going.”

Stony Brook University Hospital is still in need of PPE such as hospital gowns, shoe covers, head coverings and masks; food and comfort care items. If you would like to learn more about how you can help during the crisis, please reach out to Joan Dickinson at COVID19donations@stonybrook.edu or call 631.219.0603 to schedule an appointment to drop off a donation or for shipping information to the donation site.

— Shelley Catalano

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