Burn Center Recognition Day honors those who serve

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From left: Dr. Reuven Pasternak, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital; Dr. James A. Vosswinkel, Chief, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care; Firefighter Kevin Peterson; and Dr. Steven Sandoval, Medical Director, Burn Center, receive a proclamation from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

From left: Dr. Reuven Pasternak, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital; Dr. James A. Vosswinkel, Chief, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care; Firefighter Kevin Peterson; and Dr. Steven Sandoval, Medical Director, Burn Center, received a proclamation from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

The Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center (SCVFBC) at Stony Brook University Hospital is Suffolk County’s only dedicated burn care unit, thanks to fundraising by volunteer firefighters.

At Burn Center Recognition Day on May 21, Stony Brook Medicine staff gathered with volunteer firefighters, EMS personnel and local residents to honor the partnership between the Burn Center and the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center Fund.

The Burn Center at Stony Brook is the only dedicated burn care facility serving Suffolk County’s 1.5 million residents. It has relied on the more than $1 million raised during the past 30 years by SCVFBC Fund members.

Dr. Reuven Pasternak, CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital, thanked the fund representatives. Caring for the region’s burn patients is “something we do because it’s needed,” he said. “Our Burn Center has to be fully staffed and fully equipped, and you give that to us, every day.”

The fund offers financial assistance for Burn Center patient care, donates sophisticated medical equipment, supports research and underwrites professional training for center staff. The fund also pays for a peer support group for patients and their families. In addition, each year some of the money raised by the fund sponsors a young patient to attend a children’s burn camp. The organization also joins with Burn Center staff to teach fire and burn prevention throughout Suffolk County.

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (far left) and newly installed officers for the SCVFBC Fund (from left) Dawn Meyer, Jeff Bailes, Barry Vicik and Claudia Harford.

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (left) and newly installed officers for the SCVFBC Fund (from left) Dawn Meyer, Jeff Bailes, Barry Vicik and Claudia Harford.

Dr. Steven Sandoval, Medical Director of the Burn Center, described its growth from an eight-bed unit to the current multimillion-dollar, 7,200-square-foot facility opened in 2014. The Burn Center now houses a highly specialized team that includes surgical critical care physicians and nurses, plastic surgeons, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists.

The SCVFBC Fund pays for the Burn Center to be one of 96 centers across the country to participate in the American Burn Association’s National Burn Repository. The repository collects data on burn injuries, risk factors and treatment outcomes.

Better patient outcomes result from being part of this database. “What gets measured gets improved,” Dr. Sandoval said.

Stony Brook is one of 17 sites nationwide conducting a Phase 4 clinical trial of Debrase gel, a debriding agent that contains bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple.

The SCVFBC Fund also supports Stony Brook’s Living Skin Bank, which provides human skin grafts for patients being treated at the Burn Center. Marcia Simon, Director of the Living Skin Bank, spoke about her research team’s work on cell therapies to promote wound healing and limit burn scarring. She described Stony Brook studies of cell migration in wound healing and research on how skin tissues know when to stop regenerating after an injury.

Honored at the Recognition Day were Lauren Dowd, who received the ‘Burn’ Nurse of the Year Award; Elena Bergami with the ‘Ancillary’ Staff of the Year Award; and Dr. Marc Shapiro, who received the ‘Guy Cassara’ Annual Provider of the Year Award in memory of physician assistant Guy Cassara.

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