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From Pods to Private Rooms with a View, New Burn Unit will Help Improve Patient Care

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From Pods to Private Rooms with a View, New Burn Unit will Help Improve Patient Care
Hospital Names New State-of-the-Art Center to Honor Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters

 (Left to right) Kara Hahn, Suffolk County Legislator, Jerry Owenberg, Sr., Treasurer, Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center Fund, Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive, Steven Sandoval, MD, Medical Director, Burn Center, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Senator John Flanagan, Erik Unhjem, former Burn Center patient, John Lussa, President, Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center Fund, L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital, Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, James A. Vosswinkel, MD, Chief of the Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care, Stony Brook Medicine, and Mark A. Talamini, MD, Chairman of Surgery, Stony Brook Medicine, all participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated, newly named burn unit at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Photo Credit:J Griffin

STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 17, 2014 – After more than 2 years of planning and over 6 months of renovation, Stony Brook Medicine celebrated the dedication of the newly relocated “Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center” on January 16. The Burn Center recently underwent a move from the 4th level to the 8th level of the hospital and a multi-million dollar transformation, creating an enhanced and comfortable environment for patient care and healing. The upgraded 7,200 square foot unit has an expanded debridement and bandaging area, larger treatment rooms, and six private patient rooms with large windows with a southerly view of Eastern Long Island. In keeping with the hospital’s patient and family-centered care philosophy, these bright and spacious patient rooms are able to accommodate overnight visitors who wish to stay with their loved-ones.

The Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center Fund (SCVFBCF) formed with a mission to help burn victims and has been working in partnership with Stony Brook University Hospital ever since. The organization holds fundraisers, generates private and corporate donations, provides burn garments for patients who cannot afford them, purchases important equipment, supports special clinical and research initiatives, and aids in community educational seminars. The new Burn Center was named to honor these volunteer firefighters, in recognition and thanks for their support.

“This all-volunteer group epitomizes the true meaning of community service. Over the past 35-plus years, they have generously donated more than $1 million in support of Stony Brook’s Burn Center,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “There simply could not be a group more befitting the honor of having this caring center named in its honor.”

Since 1984, Stony Brook has been the only hospital in Suffolk County certified by the American Burn Association to treat both adults and pediatric patients. It is the only designated burn care facility for the more than 1.5 million Suffolk County residents, and coordinates burn services throughout the region, and conducts training and research in burn care.

“The Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters are not just a resource for Stony Brook’s Burn Center, but for the entire county, as their reach extends far beyond the four walls of this hospital,” said L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital. “The Firefighters Fund has supported many public education programs focused on prevention of burns and fires. They provide outreach to all hospitals in Suffolk County, working with staff to evaluate and care for burn patients who may come to their facilities. They teach the importance of transferring burn patients to a burn center, which has significantly more resources to care for those types of patients. On behalf of Stony Brook University Hospital, I want to personally thank the Suffolk County Firefighters for their enduring support of our Burn Center. You have made today possible,” said Pasternak.

At the Burn Center, which is a specialty center in the department of surgery, patients receive quality care provided by a highly specialized burn team, including surgical critical care physicians and nurses, respiratory therapists to plastic surgeons, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, using sophisticated equipment designed to ease patient’s pain, fend off complications and promote healing.

“In burn care, we have a saying: “time is tissue.” That’s because advanced burn care, provided in a timely fashion, can make a tremendous difference in the patient’s outcome,” said Steven Sandoval, MD, Medical Director of the Burn Center. “It’s fair to say that the generous support of the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters has made a tremendous difference. A difference that is meaningful and real.”

Burn Center patient, Erik Unhjem, who survived a plane crash in Shirley in August of 2012, gave special thanks to the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters and all of the Burn Center staff for the care he was given.

“Coming to Stony Brook gave me the opportunity at a second chance at life,” said Unhjem.

“This is an exciting day for Suffolk County. Today we are opening the doors to the newly renovated, newly named, state-of-art burn unit,” said John Lussa, President of Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center Fund.  “And without the 109 fire departments and the 28 ambulance companies in Suffolk County, this project would have never been accomplished,” said Lussa, who went on to thank Dr. Sandoval and the entire Burn Center staff for their devotion to patient care.

Participating in the ceremony were Senator John Flanagan, Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn.

“It took a team, a lot history and a lot of individuals to make this all happen today,” said Senator LaValle. “The people who work here are very, very special because this type of care takes a true labor of love. The road to opening this new center was not a smooth one; it started with the volunteer firefighters and they have been on the front lines to make sure it was not taken away, and for that I thank them.”

About Stony Brook University Hospital:

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) is Long Island’s premier academic medical center. With 603 beds, SBUH serves as the region’s only tertiary care center and Level 1 Trauma Center, and is home to the Stony Brook Heart Institute, Stony Brook Cancer Center, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute, and Stony Brook Digestive Disorders Institute. SBUH also encompasses Suffolk County’s only Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center, state-designated AIDS Center, state-designated Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, state-designated Burn Center, the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence, and Kidney Transplant Center. It is home of the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. To learn more, visit

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