Written by Dr. Cynthia Paulis Friday, 17 January 2014 00:00
Dressed to the nines, sporting a tuxedo, 90-year-old Al Toma of Albertson and his date, Rose Repke, 93, of East Williston looking glamorous in her ivory silk blouse and red taffeta skirt, were ready to ring in the New Year the way they have for the past 10 years — at St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center in Roslyn. Volunteers at the hospital, they decided a decade ago that rather than go out for New Year’s Eve, they’d bring some happiness to those who are stuck in the hospital during the holidays instead.
Wheeling a cart with punch and cookies, hats, and streamers, they make their rounds for three hours every New Year’s Eve starting at 6 and ending at 9 p.m. According to Repke, who first came up with the idea, “Coming here New Year’s Eve is magical. The patients just love it and we love doing it.” Toma added, “The patients are so surprised when we walk in their rooms and ask where are we going and we tell them we are here to see you. Then they ask, where are you going afterward, Nowhere. We’re in bed by 10:30.”
The reactions from patients range from shock to surprise. “Some don’t want to see us because they are in too much pain and others are so glad we came by,” commented Toma. Repke recalled one patient who was depressed that he was in the hospital but turned around after meeting them. “This one man was very ill and supposedly dying. I went in and I prayed with him. I had on a skirt and all of a sudden the man called me back and said, “I’ve decided not to die because if there are legs like yours in the world I am going to stay alive. That was my best miracle that ever happened to me in the hospital.”
Following the couple on rounds at the hospital we visited a few patients. The first one was 72-year-old Hy Jacobson of Smithtown, who was stunned and delighted to see the couple who handed him a bright red hat and wished him a Happy New Year and dispensed some wisdom and jokes.
“This is a beautiful thing. It just made my day. I was in pain before and now I don’t have any, it’s gone. Amazing.”
John Wilson, 68, of Farmingville, smiled brightly as Rose placed a gold party hat on his head and was hoping to get out today. Rose offered to write him a note but didn’t know if it would help.
After joking around, the three of them said a prayer together and wished him a joyful life. Wilson had this comment, ”It’s very nice of them to come in here like this, it’s terrific and gives me encouragement that people are out there doing this for people holed up in a hospital. It’s nice.”
Dolores Kolmal of Baldwin, who was their next visitor, felt that this is important in the healing process. “It’s a heck of a lot better to be smiling than frowning. Can you image being their age and doing this as volunteering. I think it’s fantastic and you think about all of the good they do, just cheering people up. Being stuck in here for New Year’s isn’t much fun but I feel really good right now. They are so joyful.” Smiling brightly, Dolores picked up her streamer and blew it and laughed.
When asked what her children think about this Rose commented,” They think I am home on a rocking chair waiting to die.” Instead she is out rocking in the New Year in style with her best friend Al, dispensing the best kind of medicine, smiles, laughter and compassion.
Saturday, 22 November 2014 00:00
Winthrop University Hospital employee Jeffrey Brenner, a hyperbaric technician with the Life Support Technologies group in Mineola, recently received the American Heart Association’s prestigious Louis J. Acampora Heart Saver Award at a dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club. The award is named for a Long Island teenager who succumbed to a sporting injury that is understood to have been preventable if a cardiac medical device had been immediately on-scene and applied.
“I hope that I have made a real difference in my town and the world around me to help prevent death and improve the quality of people’s lives” said Brenner.
Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00
The Wheatley School recently hosted an Item Writing Workshop for more than 100 language teachers representing districts across New York State. The workshop was sponsored by the Foreign Language Association of Chairpersons and Supervisors (FLACS), the professional organization that has assumed responsibility for the creation and administration of the FLACS
Checkpoint A and B Exams (formerly the NYS Second Language Proficiency and Regents Exams).
Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00
After consecutive seasons of finishing runner-up in the men’s golf Player of the Year for the Skyline Conference, Christian Bleck of St. Joseph’s took home first place in a rather unlikely turn of events.
After a herniated disc caused the Chaminade High School alum to miss every event after the first week of the season until the conference tournament, Bleck returned—without even having the luxury of practicing a full 18 holes—and competed with the best players the conference has to offer.
Thursday, 06 November 2014 00:00
The Mineola Mustang boys cross-country team won the division 4A championship recently at Bethpage State Park. This is the first championship for the program since 1974, ending a 40-year championship drought.
Mineola defeated Seaford, who also entered the undefeated in division competition, 38-20. Overcoming rain and high winds throughout the race, many Mustangs ran personal records for the 5K in route to the victory.