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Stony Brook Heart Surgeon Honored for Community Service

Dr fernandez receives rotacare community service award

Stony Brook Heart Surgeon Honored for Community Service

Harold Fernandez, MD, receives honor from Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club

STONY BROOK, NY, October 23, 2013 – Harold Fernandez, MD, Co-Director of Stony Brook University Heart Institute, received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club in recognition of his service to immigrant patients through the RotaCare clinic.

Dr. Fernandez received the award on Oct. 18 at RotaCare’s 20th Anniversary Caregivers’ Ball at Carltun on the Park in East Meadow, NY. He has served the patients of RotaCare for the past 11 years providing free surgery when needed. 

“Harold’s work is an inspiration and a role model to others for selfless community service, which is a longstanding tradition and a cornerstone of the mission of Stony Brook Medicine as a state institution and public safety net hospital,” said L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, Chief Executive Officer for Stony Brook University Hospital, and Vice President for Health Systems, Stony Brook Medicine.


Harold Fernandez, MD, Co-Director of Stony Brook University Heart Institute, second from left, receives the Distinguished on Oct. 18 at Carltun on the Park in East Meadow, NY. Pictured with Dr. Fernandez are, left to right, Blanch Puglise, RotaCare President; the Hon. Edward Ambrosino, Hempstead Town Councilman, who received the Distinguished Community Service Award from RotaCare; James Brady of the Rotacare Board of Directors; and Maria Glorioso, RotaCare Patient Care Representative and member of the Board of Directors.


Dr. Fernandez came to the United States at age 13 as an undocumented immigrant from Colombia and within 10 years received his bachelor of science degree in molecular biology from Princeton University. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, followed by a residency in general surgery and a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at NYU Medical Center. He joined Stony Brook Medicine in 2012 and is board certified in cardiothoracic surgery.

He recently published a memoir entitled “Undocumented: My Journey to Princeton and Harvard and Life as a Heart Surgeon,” and has received national publicity regarding his story as an immigrant who has risen to the height of his profession. The book was recently reviewed by writer Eduardo Stanley for Hispanic Heritage Month, and he is scheduled to lead a discussion and book signing on Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Emma Clark Memorial Library in Setauket, NY.

“The population we care for at RotaCare is the immigrant who, most of the time, has no status in America,” said Maria Glorioso, Patient Care Representative with RotaCare and a member of the Board of Directors. “Who better to understand this than Dr. Fernandez, who has been there and walked in their shoes? He knows the dynamics of their lives and the difficulties they encounter.”

“This man has been an angel to our organization for so many years,” said Glorioso, who first met Dr. Fernandez 15 years ago when they volunteered together for a foundation that provides cardiac surgery to children from around the world through the Make A Wish Foundation. “He has worked tirelessly healing hearts by my side, since I had the privilege of meeting him. There is no one that deserves the Distinguished Service award more than my cherished friend for all the love, kindness and caring he has shown the world around him.” 

RotaCare was organized in 1992 by the Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club to address the needs of the uninsured in Nassau County.  It began when a group of volunteers at the Mary Brennan INN soup kitchen in Hempstead, NY, recognized that many of the medical needs of the clients they served were not being adequately met. They began operating a weekly “MASH” unit at the soup kitchen through the collaborative efforts of the Rotary Club, local healthcare professionals, local residents and Mercy Hospital. 

In January 2000, RotaCare moved to its own facility in Uniondale. It was subsequently adopted as a Rotary District 7250 project, and is supported by Rotary Clubs, corporations, organizations and individuals. Doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, clerical staff and translators volunteer their time to assist uninsured individuals who lack access to healthcare. 

About Stony Brook University Heart Institute

Stony Brook University Heart Institute is located within Stony Brook University Hospital as part of Long Island’s premier university-based medical center. The Heart Institute offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The staff includes 50 full-time and community-based, board-certified cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as 350 specially trained anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, surgical technologists, perfusionists, and other support staff. Their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. And while the Heart Institute clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and blood vessels through basic biomedical studies and clinical research. To learn more, visit

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