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Surgeon Honored

The Mineola-Garden City Rotary Club recently honored Harold Fernandez, MD, co-director of Stony Brook University Heart Institute, with the Distinguished Service Award 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. 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. 


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.


 “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.”