By Cristina Cuomo
CRISTINA CUOMO: As the hospital flow manager and patient navigator at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, what is your role?
YVONNE PERSICO: I help both inpatients and outpatients during their visit to the hospital, either when they are admitted, or as needed. Patients may have questions or feel vulnerable. They can be new to the area, visiting, need a translator, have a caretaker with questions or be second homeowners with their primary physician in another part of the country. My goal is to make sure patients have the very best experience at our hospital.
CC: How is this new normal for you at work?
YP: It took a while to get used to wearing a mask and eye shield, but I’ve gotten good at reading a patient’s eyes.
CC: How has Stony Brook Southampton set up testing for COVID-19?
YP: We provide drive-thru PCR swab testing at our Parrish Memorial Hall site, which is located on the corner of Herrick and Lewis, as well as in East Hampton at the high school. Patients will also be able to be tested for the flu at these sites. All tests are provided by appointment with a physician’s prescription and can be scheduled online at southampton.stonybrookmedicine.edu. Each test is a very quick and easy process. At the time of the appointment, the patient drives up to the tent, shows identification and an insurance card, and the test is administered. It takes about 15 minutes for the entire visit, with COVID results typically available within 24 hours and the flu test within 72 hours.
CC: Have you seen a decline in COVID cases locally?
YP: The hospital had several weeks over the summer with no admitted COVID cases. Since then, we have admitted a few confirmed COVID patients, but we remain hopeful that there will not be the degree of surge we experienced in the spring. Our community has been very good about wearing masks, social distancing and diligently washing hands, which has definitely helped prevent spreading.
CC: What role does the Wellness Center have these days?
YP: It is very active. Classes in exercise, meditation and nutrition are offered on the hospital’s YouTube channel, and live classes, including hypnosis therapies, are being conducted via Zoom. We are seeing patients in the Wellness Center’s gym by appointment. We created six individual pods with each holding a complete suite of exercise equipment. All equipment and the entire inside of the pod area—including the floor, mats, etc.—is thoroughly disinfected with hospital-grade cleansers.
CC: How do you handle the stress of dealing with a contagious pandemic entering your hospital every day?
YP: In the beginning, it was a bit frightening, but the hospital has serious prevention protocols in place. We are issued PPE and our Environmental Services Team members use UV-C technology to sanitize every inch of the hospital.
CC: What state-of-the-art technology does the new Phillips Family Cancer Center in Southampton have?
YP: It has the most advanced linear accelerator on the East End. It provides more precise targeting of cancer cells during radiation therapy, which means that it spares healthy surrounding tissue. Every chemotherapy treatment is formulated in the on-site pharmacy. Additionally, there are free cancer-wellness programs offered on YouTube, as well as classes available in person by appointment, including a new program that focuses on lymphedema.
CC: What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
YP: When patients are discharged. home.southampton.stonybrookmedicine.edu