I have experienced some of my most powerful emotions while in or around White Plains Hospital. It is, after all, where my and my children’s lives began. Love, pain, belief in something larger than all of us, hope, and awe at the miracles that come from research – these all took place at White Plains Hospital, and my family, friends and I have been the beneficiary of it all.
Decades before I became actively involved, my parents, Joan and Alan Herfort, were employees of the Hospital. My father was an internist from 1952-1988, and was hired by Jon Schandler (one of the first doctors that he hired); and my mother worked in the Microbiology Lab from 1970-1980, then in Development from 1989-94. Their passion for the detection, prevention and cure of patient ills was a significant influence in my life. They taught me how important it was for an institution like White Plains Hospital to be right in the backyard of our community, because time and proximity matter when saving lives.
Dr. Marano and I would meet weekly (usually on the back patio of his home) to review all the [paramedic] calls from the previous week and make any necessary changes to the protocols.
The relationship among the paramedics and the nurses in the emergency department grew stronger as each group gained a better understanding of the others’ challenges and struggles with some very ill or injured patients. We would find ourselves sitting in the nurses’ lounge during lulls in the call volume to share stories and offer some sage advice to younger staff members.
The administration of WPH was always extremely supportive of EMS. In 1981, Jon Schandler, as the new CEO, created the first hospital-based EMS Department of any hospital in Westchester. It was this vision which developed into the White Plains EMS Training Center where we did EMT and Paramedic training, as well as the first automatic defibrillation class for the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
When I was growing up, the practice of medicine in Westchester was significantly different from what it is today. When I had my tonsils removed, the cost to our family was $50. The little red brick Hospital was where the surgery took place. For anesthesia, the ether was sprinkled on to a cloth cone that was placed over my face.
In 1953 a severe ice storm struck the area. Most were left with no electricity and no heat. I was 23, and was taken to White Plains Hospital with pneumonia. As soon as I walked through the doors of the Hospital, I could feel the warmth and I knew everything would be OK. I was also told that Blue Cross would cover my entire hospitalization, but that, for an extra $5, I could have a private room with a balcony and French doors. I found the single room quite therapeutic.
My family donated The Joan & Alan Herfort Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory in honor of my parents. In addition, we provided the funding for the doctor’s lounge, because my father always believed that conversation and collaboration with other experts was the optimal way to diagnose and cure.
In 1988 and 1991, I was thrilled to bring our two children, Sam and Alison, into the world at White Plains Hospital. I was fortunate to be in the care of such amazing doctors and nurses. In 2005, with the terrific expertise of Dr. Herbert Gretz, Dr. Randy Stevens, and Dr. Jay Lupin, our daughter had great care that changed all of our lives forever.
To honor the role these wonderful physicians and nurses played in the lives of our children, we provided for a digital mammography machine at the Women’s Imaging Center in Rye Brook and contributed toward the new Varian Rapid Arc radiation machine.
In 1968 I joined the Hospital staff. Since then I witnessed not only the momentous expansion of facilities, clinical staff and leadership, but also technological and procedural changes that have transformed the way medicine (and surgery) is practiced. I saw major advances in the field of medicine: pharmaceuticals, advanced anesthetics, surgical techniques, diagnostic techniques for cancer and heart disease, CT scans ‘that just tell you everything,’ MRIs, the emphasis on Radiology, Laboratory work.
The tests they can do for diseases now. It’s just amazing! The biochemistry book I used in school is probably just the first chapter in the book they use today – and a very short one.
In May 2013, during the 28th week of my second pregnancy, I experienced a severe pain in my chest. My obstetrician, Dr. Jay Lupin, said that it wasn’t normal for a pregnant woman to be having these symptoms and he was pretty sure something wasn’t right. He recommended I go to the emergency room where a chest x-ray revealed a hand-sized mass near my heart.
Mark Fialk, M.D., our family’s physician for years, is also a hematologist-oncologist — a cancer specialist — at White Plains Hospital. He visited me in the ER and said, “We can treat you here. I will be your doctor, and I will assemble a team of top people from all the specialties you need to help you.”
I wanted to be at a place where I knew and trusted the doctors, and where they worked seamlessly with each other. That’s when I became part of the White Plains Hospital family. I would not return home from the Hospital for eight weeks.
They diagnosed me with a cancer called primary mediastinal diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Dr. Fialk said that the key was to come up with a treatment that would be effective for me and safe for my baby. Waiting to start treatment till after the birth was not an option for me, and delivering the baby so early would put him at serious risk for life long complications. They decided to attack the lymphoma with chemotherapy, using a combination of drugs called R-CHOP (four drugs given before the birth, with a fifth given after the baby was born).
The 5F Unit of the Hospital became my home away from home for eight weeks. The Labor and Delivery staff came to check on my baby every day. Members from virtually every department provided care and support, as well as a team of nurses and technicians. I felt that my cancer team was not only the best at White Plains Hospital, but the best in the area.
After just two cycles of chemo, my tumor had shrunk by 86% and was no longer pressing on my heart. Everyone on my team was ecstatic. At 35 weeks of pregnancy, I was ready to deliver. I declined a C-section and we started the process of induction. When I woke up the morning of his birth, I thought, ‘This baby has been with me, and now it’s time. We’ve come this far … here we go.’
Everyone was ready for the baby to arrive! Jesus C. Jaile-Marti, M.D., Chief of Neonatology, prepared the Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the OB/GYNs came dashing over from their nearby office.
At 5:45 pm on July 1, 2013, my son entered the world – weighing a healthy five pounds eleven ounces. Everyone was so excited! We had all worked so hard. I gave him the middle name Mark, in honor of Dr. Fialk. He’ll always have that name as a way to connect him with the experience. A week later, we were back at home. Interestingly, the chest pain I had in May never returned after that one night. My baby was a miracle, and I believe he saved my life by helping me to catch this disease early.
No one wants to have cancer. But my experience at White Plains Hospital was so meaningful that I am actually grateful to have had it. Saying ‘thank you’ to my cancer team will never be enough. They will always be my friends, my family, my angels.
My first experience with White Plains Hospital occurred in 1986 when my youngest child, Lillian, was born there. The very next year I became a supervisor in the Security Department and stayed until 1990. With the encouragement of Dr. Peckman and Dr. Frimmer, I began to pursue my education as a Therapy Technician, and returned to White Plains Hospital as a Licensed Respiratory Therapy Technician until 1995
In the late 1990s, I came to the Hospital, this time as a patient. Following a heart attack, my life was saved by the talented team in the Cath Lab. I returned to the Hospital once again this year for four more stents.
I had the privilege of giving back to the Hospital when I was invited to serve as the Centennial Employee Chairman in 1993-94 to help raise funds for the new Patient Tower, the Flanzer Pavilion.
Between my time as a father, an employee and a patient, I have had a relationship with the Hospital since the 80s. I have found the people here today to be the same caring, incredible individuals I knew when I worked there. You can’t “fake it” at White Plains Hospital. Everyone is expected to be professional, caring and compassionate.
I came to this community 48 years ago, and when I arrived I did not know anyone. When my children started school, I met Mary Marano, Dr. Anthony Marano’s wife, and we became close friends – a relationship that we have maintained to this day.
It was Mary who first introduced me to White Plains Hospital. She invited me to become a member of the Auxiliary, and within a short period of time I began to hold leadership positions and run events. I eventually became President of the Auxiliary and served as President for two years. I was delighted to be a part of the many fundraising events. And we did raise a lot of money for our Hospital.
White Plains and Scarsdale both had auxiliaries to support the Hospital for many years. We would collaborate on events, and were good-naturedly competitive. In due course the two auxiliaries united as the Auxiliary of White Plains Hospital, which was eventually renamed the Friends of White Plains Hospital.
Following my term as President, Joe Hofheimer invited me to join the Hospital’s Board of Directors, where I serve as Chair of the Performance Improvement Committee.
When I discovered that I was pregnant with my second child, there was no doubt where I was going to bring her into the world. After my first child, Jack, turned two, I began working at White Plains Hospital.
Following Jack’s complicated arrival, I was carefully monitored by the Hospital team as the time approached for my daughter’s birth. After a fall at 32 weeks, an ultrasound indicated that she was fine – and “pretty!” Half a week later I began to have very mild contractions, initially only discernible on the monitor, that began to intensify. I was given a “beta shot” and a steroid to help my baby’s lungs mature. One week later, back at work, I was ready to sit down for lunch with my friend Bonnie when my water broke – six weeks early. Bonnie stayed at my side as Dr. Lupin examined me. Then family and friends began to arrive, and I spent some time coloring with soon-to-be big brother Jack. After an epidural, I rested for a while. Then, after four short pushes, Rose came into the world.
The care that my family and I received during Rose’s stay in the NICU was extraordinary, as I was allowed to “room in” until she could finally come home with us. The support of the lactation team in Mother-Baby and the NICU was equally amazing and not only allowed me to nourish Rose in the NICU, but encouraged me to continue for her first year of life. I am delighted that I made the choice to have Rose here at White Plains Hospital.
Dr. William Homan was the Director of the Department of Surgery and Chief of General Surgery at White Plains Hospital from 2000 to 2003. He is one who stands out in my memory with particular affection.
Bill Homan was a very fine surgeon, one of the first in the country to understand the significance of bariatric surgery. Recognizing that excess weight was exacerbating the medical conditions of many of his patients, Dr. Homan spearheaded the effort to form a dedicated service around the comprehensive and multidisciplinary care of patients needing weight loss surgery. He instituted the bariatric surgery unit, a first for the Hospital and one of only a very few in the region. He and his wife founded New York Bariatric Center, which was designated as a center of excellence by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery long before weight loss surgery became popular.
Dr. Homan died in a plane crash along with his wife, Valerie, in the summer of 2006.
In 1893, 22 women and 3 men opened the first hospital in a house on Chatteron Hill. Eventually a group of women created the White Plains Auxiliary. Then in 1922, some women from Scarsdale began to bring vegetables and flowers from their gardens to the Hospital. This is reported to be the beginning of the Scarsdale Auxiliary.
Starting in the late 50s, the White Plains Auxiliary held charity balls for many years. The Scarsdale and White Plains Auxiliaries each held annual luncheons.
The first joint Board meeting of the Scarsdale and White Plains Auxiliaries was held on December 4, 1972. Following the meeting, the Auxilians decorated the Hospital for the holidays.
In the fall of 1974, Bergdorf-Goodman (now Neiman-Marcus) opened a store in White Plains (before the Westchester Mall), and invited the Westchester hospitals to be the beneficiaries. Each hospital received 100 tickets to be sold, and again the White Plains Auxiliary and Scarsdale Auxiliary participated.
That was the start of ‘Store Parties’ held jointly by both Auxiliaries sponsoring them at Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Bonwit Teller, B. Altman’s and the atrium at General Foods as fundraisers. Each event had a joint committee and had a variety of themes, such as fashion shows, gaming and entertainers.
In the mid-80s, the two Auxiliaries joined forces to sponsor the Spring Luncheons – with fashion shows, speakers and authors.
Eventually the fall event returned to the dinner-dance format then called “The Gala,” as it is today.
Each Auxiliary continued with the various projects adopted by each, and some jointly.
Finally, in 2002, the Auxiliaries merged into one, known as the Auxiliary of White Plains Hospital. Then, about two years ago, changed the name to “The Friends of White Plains Hospital.
Looking back over the last four decades, it seems that each decade had its own particular concern. The ‘70s focused on nursing, radiology, operating services and laboratory services. The '80s were a period of evaluation of the services and the organizational structure, reaching out to the doctors and improving the culture of the organization. The ‘90s were a period of expansion (with the Flanzer Pavilion, the new ER, Ambulatory surgery) as well as community outreach. The new millennium was marked by an expansion of services, particularly in the areas of cardiology and oncology. And the 2010’s witnessed the expansion of the medical team, the recruitment of Physician Associates - thoracic surgery, cardiac cath, new and expanded ER, spine surgery, and the important Montefiore partnership.
I was able to oversee a period of tremendous growth, raising $188 million for the Hospital. Our staff grew from 700 employees in 1976 to approximately 2,500 in 2014. As other hospitals in the area closed, a lot of their patients gravitated to us. Unlike many others in our industry, we enjoyed year-to-year growth; and the relationship with the Montefiore Health System positioned us effectively for the future while bringing in an infusion of capital.
It didn’t seem like 38 years, I’ll tell you that. It really goes quickly.
Scarsdale Medical Group (SMG) had its humble beginnings in 1957, when Dr. Kenneth Roth joined Drs. Herman Tarnower and John Cannon for the practice of medicine in Scarsdale. Tarnower purchased a tract of land near Heathcote Five Corners. The building was finished in 1960 and its roster of six physicians was completed by July 1961, with the addition of Drs. Roderick Granzen and James Carvelas — both internists who had been in practice in White Plains — and myself, fresh out of a research fellowship.
From this core, by the end of 2017, SMG had more than 50 physicians in a variety of specialties practicing at three locations.
Of those six original members of the group, I am the last surviving founding member. It has been a privilege to work alongside so many talented colleagues through the decades, and it is a special honor to be a part of the next chapter of our evolution – the recently formalized partnership with White Plains Hospital.
The OR was my particular delight [during nursing school]. I loved working there. In fact, after graduation I returned to the OR for the next four years. I then transferred to the Emergency Operating Room, as head nurse. Over the years the name changed from the EOR to the Emergency Department. I continued to work there as a staff nurse until I retired.
White Plains Hospital was and still is a family place. We knew everyone and had many happy experiences. To keep the Hospital romance alive, I even married the assistant Hospital administrator.
I entered White Plains Hospital School of Nursing in 1957, after a year of college. It was a complete change, wearing starched uniforms and filling water pitchers. Soon lessons began at Winslow Hall. We had to learn to make beds. Top sheets had to have a toe pleat. Who knew what a toe pleat was? I quickly learned after I was called back after work to remake all of my beds.
We worked hard, mostly at night. We sharpened needles (no disposables), melted morphine tabs (no prepared meds), and removed flowers from patients’ rooms which we put in the hall.
And, before we knew it, we were on our way to New York City. There we spent three months at the Babies Hospital; then on to orthopedics and neurology. We even learned how to take care of a patient in an iron lung.
Our next [nursing] training experience was at ‘Bloomies,’ otherwise known as Bloomingdale Psychiatric Hospital in White Plains. We learned how to wrap patients in wet sheets to calm them. A few patients were given a new drug not yet on the market known as thorazine.
Back at White Plains Hospital we hung safety pins for each day of our last year. Every day one pin came off.
My last two rotations were in maternity. We were assigned individual patients to follow. Mine decided to deliver at 3 am and I had to be there.
I was in the second year of the three year [nursing] program [at White Plains Hospital]. I was just 19 years old. We had a small class, 20 students in the class of ’57. I was the "charge" nurse, the only nurse, on 3A, during the 11pm to 7am shift. This was the third night of my tour.
There was an elderly gentleman who was critically ill and not expected to survive. Each night when I came on duty I feared he would no longer be on the unit. I tried to spend as much time with him as possible, making him comfortable and talking with him when he was responsive.
In the early hours of my third night he passed away. Comfortable and peaceful, I hope. My first death; and certainly the first on ‘my watch.’ A new experience which evoked many emotions!
I called his physician and he came in. While I was writing up the report he came to me and said, ‘Thank you. You took such good care of him.’
At that moment, I thought, ‘You can do this. You will be a good nurse!'
The concept of Advanced Life Support (or paramedic programs) was in its infancy in the early 1970’s. Dr. Anthony Marano was a young cardiologist on staff at White Plains Hospital who also served as the Medical Director for the White Plains Police and Fire Departments. He enjoyed cardiology as well as the work he was doing for the first responders.
Learning and reading more about ‘paramedics,’ he decided to try to get a program up and running in White Plains with the local private ambulance provider at the time, Abbey Richmond Ambulance, with White Plains Hospital being the Medical Control Hospital.
In 1976/77 the first Paramedic Program in Westchester County hit the streets of White Plains with eight paramedics. The White Plains Auxiliary of White Plains Hospital Medical Center provided $30,000 (in 1976 dollars) to White Plains Hospital to purchase a state-of-the-art radio base station for the Emergency Department. This allowed paramedics to not only speak directly to the ER physician but also to transmit EKGs from the patients’ home or even from out in the street.
When I came to Westchester, I joined the American Cancer Society, Westchester Division. At a board meeting they asked, ‘How can we help people get screening for cancer?’ ACS was desperate to get women to do pap smears, breast exams. So I said, ‘Why don’t we do a health fair?’ So I spoke with Jon Schandler and Rev. Lester Cousin (from Calvary Baptist Church) and sold them on the idea of a health fair.
I told Mr. Schandler, ‘Every year you have this beautiful Gala, but the people in the (minority) community don’t know you. That’s not enough. Why don’t we do a health fair to reach out to this community?’ I sold the idea to Rev. Cousin, because we needed a place to hold it. This was the first foray of White Plains Hospital into the minority community. Now the Hospital had a foothold there.
In the beginning (of the neighborhood health fairs), we would have a marching band (a trumpet and a trombone) on Main St. and Mamaroneck Ave. They would start playing and then they would march and lead the people to the church for the health fair. After a while, politicians started to come. Community leaders started to come. Because they wanted to be where the people were.
We invited Isabel Villar, the leader of El Centro Hispano, and the congregation from St. Bernard’s Catholic Church to be part of the fair. The American Cancer Society participated in the Health Fair for a number of years.
NYC Radio stations would broadcast live from the health fair – it would draw people from as far away as Long Island and Manhattan.
Eventually the size of the crowd forced them to move to the Thomas Slater Center.
When I started in the field of emergency preparedness, I didn't know anything about its formal doctrine; all I had was my life experience. However, the sudden tragedy of 9/11 transformed my worldview and scope of responsibilities for all of us in the field of emergency management. More than ever, the impact of this event reinforced our commitment to the organizations we serve.
For me, the concept of "exercise" no longer means time in the gym; instead it represents how we test the training and response of our Hospital staff to a disaster. Together with the White Plains Police and Fire Departments, and Dr. Erik Larsen, our Assistant Director of EMS and Emergency Preparedness, we have constantly refined plans and conducted exercises for our staff. And, through the Hudson Valley Mutual Aid Coordinating Entity (MACE), managers from 31 other hospitals have entered into an agreement to support each other in emergency preparedness efforts. Our coalition exercises have become a model for many other communities, with White Plains Hospital leading the way and setting the bar!
White Plains Hospital has been an important part of my life since I entered this country 51 years ago. My entire family has benefitted from the dedicated and knowledgeable staff and the services and care provided by the hospital. One event in particular will always endear me to White Plains Hospital and it also serves as an example of the hospital’s compassionate environment.
My mother, who had not been very long in this country, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As we did not yet know the language or the ways of this country very well, the hospital staff so empathetically helped us navigate the health care system and what her treatment and prognosis would eventually be. Some of the advanced medical technology that we have today was not available in the early seventies, so my mother spent 9 months in the hospital in a coma while the doctors waited for a change in her condition. She was not quickly discharged to home or to another facility, but was allowed to hopefully heal under the hospital’s watch. The dedicated staff of White Plains Hospital took such loving care not only of my mother, but also of me and the rest of my family, who were also affected by my Mom’s illness. I will be eternally grateful to the hospital for the compassionate care shown to my mother and to my entire family.
I am fortunate to have been provided with the opportunity to give back to the hospital, the city of White Plains that welcomed me as an immigrant from Cuba, and the Hispanic community. For the past 35 years, I have collaborated with White Plains Hospital to help educate the community about its services and about preventative and proactive health care. White Plains Hospital in conjunction with El Centro Hispano and other agencies organizes an annual health fair for the community. As a result of this health fair, which has grown from 59 to over 300 attendees, many lives have been saved. The hospital has been very generous in bringing medicine, equipment and nurses to the fair which serves not only the Hispanic but also the African American and Creole communities. Were it not for this outreach program, many illnesses and potential health risks may have gone undetected until was too late. The hospital is dedicated to improving the health of people of all ages as evidenced by the Teddy Bear program where children are invited to visit the hospital and learn not only about its services but also how to live a healthy life.
Thank you, White Plains Hospital, for being such a humane place of healing. You hold a very special place in my heart!
I was born at White Plains Hospital in 1952. When I was ten years old, I remember feeling excruciating pain after a sledding accident. On the advice of my pediatrician, Dr. Irving Nelson, my parents took me to the Emergency Room at White Plains Hospital.
At that time, there were no CT scans, and the insertion of a large needle in my abdomen determined that I had internal bleeding. Surgeon Dr. Albert Lowenfels operated and found that I had a ruptured spleen. I clearly remember being a patient in the old pediatric unit for several days afterward. Following college, I went to Medical School to become a physician, and have been a Cardiologist on the Medical Staff since 1982.
From those days in my childhood when I was cared for by a skilled clinical team, to today when I care for my own patients, White Plains Hospital has always played a central role in my life.
I was born in White Plains Hospital. I have had many surgeries, but with the care of Dr Carl Weber, Dr Allen Davidoff, and Dr Andrew Goldstein, I am just fine! Many others too numerous to name from your great emergency room to the nurses of 5F. Many of your staff have retired now. Fantastic care always.
Thank you for all you do every day. Best hospital ever!
All three Weber doctors took care of me, despite the challenge. I had cancer and needed a very complicated surgery.
Dr. Kaare couldn't have been more compassionate to me and my mother and brother. Dr. Phil helped while Kaare was away and handled a very difficult time for me with grace and humor. Dr. Carl Weber kept in touch and saw me a few times in his office. He was great and helped explain things to calm my mother. I was very lucky that their outstanding reputation resulted in the referral. Dr. Kaare was in touch with me every day, several times a day at first, following the surgery, and let me know that if he didn't hear from me (by text because I had no voice at the time), he would be calling my brother to check in.
We communicated every day from then on for a long time. Every year on the anniversary of Dr. Kaare Weber saving my life, I text him to thank him. It’s an interesting way to spend Valentine's Day!
My affiliation and love for White Plains Hospital dates back to 1975. I began working in the Radiology Department at night as an X-Ray Technician where I would serendipitously meet my future husband, Dr. Melvin J Padawer, who became Chief of the OB/GYN Department and shaped the future of obstetrics forever. I loved what Mel did so much, I enrolled in nursing school while working in Radiology, received a Masters Degree in Nursing and became an obstetrical nurse, first at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx as an Assistant Head Nurse, and later at White Plains Hospital, where I also taught Lamaze classes to expectant parents. My two children and I were all born at WPH and my son was delivered by Robin Bradley, the first Certified Nurse Midwife to receive privileges due to my husband’s forward thinking and insistence that patients have this opportunity. Upon my husband's untimely death, I became a stay-at-home mom, but missed my WPH family and felt the need to return in some capacity so I became an Emergency Room volunteer when the Ambassador Program was initiated in 2005. I love helping patients in the ER no matter how small the task may be. WPH will forever be my ‘family’ and my home away from home.
For me that moment was talking to Barbara one of the Lactation counselors on the maternity floor. I was struggling to nurse and we talked about using donor milk. Well I went on to pump during my stay and had an oversupply. We again talked about it but this time with me being a donor.
A couple weeks after discharge I looked into becoming a donor. It was so simple to become a donor. In less than a year I donated a lot to my local milk bank. That milk went on to help many babies in the area.
Just that one simple conversation has become an important part of my motherhood journey and something I will always remember.
I was born in White Plains Hospital in January 1947. The doctors then made house calls; Dr. Stuart Blauner and Dr. Allan Herfort did just that!
From then, fast forward I have been taken care of by Dr Carl Weber, who did many surgeries on me successfully, Dr. Allan Davidoff and now Dr. Andrew Goldstein, my internists.
With each time in the hospital, and there were many, I was treated with care and compassion. I am grateful for my experience with all the nurses, doctors and all
staff at WPH.
So thank you all for all you do each and everyday.
My connection with White Plains Hospital is very strong. My daughter-in-law (Tricia) works there, my two granddaughters were born there, my husband John was a patient many times, and recently my son (Arthur) had major surgery.
I am very great full to WPH for all of this. Before moving to Florida l lived in Westchester all of my life, and had many interactions with White Plains Hospital.