As the sun set and the stars appeared in the sky, hundreds of doctors, nurses, elected officials and businesspeople gathered at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury for a cause vital to the well-being of South Shore residents.
South Nassau’s Soirée Under the Stars fundraiser, a black-tie affair on Sept. 16, included a poolside buffet dinner and a Broadway musical revue, but the event’s lavish trappings could not obscure its essential purpose: to help fund expansion of the hospital’s Emergency Department, which after Hurricane Sandy has taken on a vastly increased patient volume.
South Nassau serves about 75,000 patients per year in its Emergency Department, which was designed to treat roughly 35,000, according to Richard Murphy, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer. “What we’re doing tonight is raising very, very important funding for a complete redevelopment of our existing ED,” he said, adding that the soirée would aid in reaching the hospital’s $10 million fundraising goal for the new ED.
South Nassau Board Chairman Joseph Fennessy said the Emergency Department expansion has been a project close to his heart for a long time. “I always say to people, our ED is the front door to the hospital that we keep in the back,” he explained, noting that more patients arrive through the ED’s doors than they do through the hospital’s actual entrance. Because it serves nearly twice the number of patients it was designed for, he said, “it’s been busting at the seams.”
In addition to serving as a fundraiser, the soirée also honored three individuals for service to the hospital and its mission.
Prominent Rockville Centre-based real estate developer Jeffrey Feil was the chief honoree for 2017, recognized for his philanthropic assistance to the hospital. “We’re very appreciative of his funding,” Murphy said, noting that Feil had previously donated $3 million to establish the Lewis and Gertrude Feil Cancer Center at South Nassau and most recently another $1 million to help fund the ED expansion. “Jeff has been a tremendous benefactor for the hospital,” Murphy said.
Receiving the 2017 Mary Pearson Award, named for the hospital’s founder, Dr. Rajiv Datta was honored for his 17 years of service as chairman of surgery and director of South Nassau’s cancer program. “I don’t think Mary, even as a visionary, could imagine what South Nassau would be today,” Fennessy said. “That happens because you have dedicated board members, visionaries in the administration and great doctors like Dr. Datta.”
Finally, Lori Edelman, the director of nursing of the emergency departments at both the hospital’s Oceanside and Long Beach facilities, received the 2017 Cupola Award, given to a staff member who personifies the hospital’s mission and values while carrying out his or her duties. Few know better the need for additional space at South Nassau’s Emergency Department than Edelman. “She basically runs the ED,” Fennessy said, “and has been doing it for a number of years.”
“Lori is one of those people who, if you want something done, you go to Lori,” Murphy said. “She’s a force of nature … She’s a nurse director who doesn’t take no for an answer, has a can-do attitude, and she’s a patient advocate, so she really deserves the award.”
After the dinner, attendees streamed up to the country club’s second floor for a musical performance featuring television star Erich Bergen, of “Madam Secretary” fame, as well as Broadway veterans Alexa Green, Cady Huffman and Howard McGillin. Their renditions of stage and pop classics led to standing ovations and capped a memorable night for an important cause. A dessert hour followed.