When Gina Neri needed life-changing care, she turned to the teams at Northern Westchester Hospital and Phelps Hospital to determine the best course of action. At a time in Gina’s life that should have been the happiest she received news shortly after finding out she’s pregnant, that she was diagnosed with colon cancer. The collaboration of two hospitals, three doctors, and countless nursing and support team members, allowed Gina to carry and deliver her daughter to term while receiving the care she needed to treat cancer.
Gina had been an OB/GYN patient of Sarina Distefano, MD, of Phelps Hospital for many years, through the birth of her two sons as well as for routine care. When the exciting news of her pregnancy was followed a few days later by a colon cancer diagnosis, Dr. Distefano guided Gina through the process of choosing the best care option for her and her baby.
After consulting many surgeons and hospitals, Gina was at a loss. Surgery without terminating her pregnancy didn’t seem to be an option until Jerald Wishner, MD, of Northern Westchester Hospital, suggested an innovative way to treat her through robotic surgery. There were still risks, but this truly innovative plan would allow Dr. Wishner to remove the tumor while Gina was still pregnant. “We had to really tailor our plan as specifically as we could to make sure we had two healthy patients, not just one,” says Dr. Wishner.
Her care didn’t end after the completion of her surgery. Francene Gallousis, MD, a doctor of Maternal Fetal Medicine who specializes in high risk pregnancy care at both Northern Westchester and Phelps, helped bridge together Gina’s recovery plan. Under the dedicated service of both hospital teams, Gina was able to deliver a healthy baby girl and continue her therapy post-delivery.
Throughout it all, it was important to her care providers at Northwell that Gina received care that went the extra mile for her needs. A commitment to care that went beyond just her doctors.
“What people don’t see or hear is the beautifully orchestrated symphony that went on in that operating room in absolute silence. Everyone knew their role and needed no direction. That team was the most experienced team she could have and I was honored to be a part of it,” says Christina Jaeschke, a Hyperbaric Safety Officer at Northern Westchester Hospital. “As stressful as that day and procedure may have been, it was equally rewarding and, every time I hear her and her family’s testimonial, I am reminded of the impact we have every day on every patient.”
“I remember all of us nurses rallying around her and offering only positive support. Gina always praised us nurses, and she knew most of us by name,” recalls Suzanne Mullins, BSN, RN, EFM, and one of Gina’s nurses at Phelps. Suzanne’s passion for her patients is a sentiment for all of the nurses at Phelps and Northern Westchester. Working closely with patients in their community, some multiple times over the course of years, allows these nurses to build strong connections and relationships with the individuals they’re caring for. This dedication to serving their communities makes it even more rewarding when they’re able to deliver patients the care they deserve. “I remember her last day on the maternity ward, she left us with such hope and positive feelings,” says Suzanne and it’s a memory that’s left a lasting impression on her career.
Caring runs through everything we do, and we act with passion to ensure our patients feel at home in our hospitals while they receive the care they need. Just ask Johanna Daprile, BSN, RN-BC who was one of Gina’s nurses at Northern Westchester, “that’s how the atmosphere is: home. The patients we take care of, our co-workers, everyone treats each other as family. And you don’t find that everywhere. It makes it easy to go to work every day.”
Thanks to the collaboration of the teams at Northern Westchester Hospital and Phelps Hospital, Northwell was able deliver Gina life-changing care during her surgery and throughout the remainder of her pregnancy and chemotherapy. Working truly together allowed for care providers to ensure that Gina was in good hands through every step of her journey.
“I feel so blessed to have been an instrument in this miracle and grateful to have a team of colleagues who not only have amazing clinical skills but the ability to individualize care to the patient’s medical and emotional needs,” says Dr. Distefano.
At Northwell, we’re made for caring and protecting our patients and communities. Join the passionate teams at Northern Westchester and Phelps!