Patient Stories

Bruce Bernacchia

Bruce Bernacchia

Bruce was stricken with pneumonia and admitted to St. John’s Riverside Hospital where he spent over three months fighting for his life.  “I am forever thankful for the quality care I received from everyone at St. John’s Riverside Hospital. Every day I am aware that they saved my life.

Once autumn arrives, grapes are the result of one man’s passion and commitment to care for his crops from early spring through fall harvest. The grapes represent acknowledgment for this dedication and the earth’s return for that labor of love. From there the grapes change hands to the winemaker and the miracle of wine continues. “You add grapes, some yeast, and plenty of memories,” says Bruce Bernacchia, owner and winemaker at Harvest on Hudson. Bruce would know, as he has been running the annual Harvest Wine Crush Event at his restaurant, Harvest on Hudson since 1988. Now Bruce adds a little something extra into every bottle of wine they make at the event.

This year will be the 8th year that Bruce will have donated the proceeds from the Harvest Wine Crush to St. John’s Riverside Hospital. “The event now is so much more meaningful to everyone involved.” Bruce proudly says, “The staff is even more passionate about being part of the event knowing the proceeds will help other people in need. ”It is a wonderful thing to be able to use your passion and have that effort be part of something so rewarding. Using grapes to reciprocate seems like we completed the cycle.”

Anne Hewes

An Ambulance took me to St. John’s Riverside Hospital Dobbs Ferry ER immediately. One of the really great things about St. John’s at Dobbs Ferry ER is that there is never a wait.

“Rapid assessment enabled the ER team to provide Ann the care she needed when she needed it most”
Dr. Mark S. Silberman, Chief of Emergency Medicine, Quadruple Board Certified

I grew up 5 blocks from St. John’s Riverside Hospital at Dobbs Ferry.  I now live within one block of the hospital in Dobbs Ferry. I had been freelancing at a company in CT when I came home on a Friday evening in November and I work at 3:44am with chills and a fever.  I at something small and was up all night.  By Sunday evening I had some pizza and ended up vomiting it all back up. Needless to say I could not go to work on Monday and after having asked my husband to take me to see Dr. Fader at St. John’s on Monday I could not even make it down the stairs on my own.

An Ambulance took me to St. John’s Riverside Hospital Dobbs Ferry ER immediately. One of the really great things about St. John’s at Dobbs Ferry ER is that there is never a wait.  They had determined almost immediately that I had a UTI, Diabetes (I had never been diagnosed prior), Ecoli and severe sepsis. Dr. Fader dropped by the ER while I was there and the heart monitor said I also had AFib which could have been a result of the sepsis.  As we were concerned about having no insurance at the time, the St. John’s staff didn’t skip a beat.  It appeared that the blood-based infection that I had damaged organs very rapidly and the night nurses in the ER (confirmed to me by Dr. Fader after I had recovered) made the call that I needed to be shifted to the ICU at St. John’s Riverside Hospital at Andrus.

I spent about 11 days in the ICU where I was cared for with the utmost level of medical care, respect and professionalism from everyone from the cleaning staff and transporters to the doctors.  The greatest benefit was that since St. John’s has electronic medical record systems they were immediately able to refer to past visits to the hospital for my “norm” levels.  I know in my heart that if it were not for the call the ER nurses at the Dobbs Ferry made, I would not be here today to talk about this.
Thank you St. John’s – You saved my life.

Jaime Pleva

Meet Jamie Pleva an optimistic, confident and just plain beautiful woman. What is not as obvious is that she is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed over 5 years ago and with the help of St. John’s Riverside Hospital’s Breast Care Center and Dr. Ashikari she beat it and is living cancer-free. “I like to read, travel and spend time with my amazing family and friends. Diagnosed in 2008, I am 34 and 5 years cancer-free”.

What is not as obvious is that she is a breast cancer survivor. Today, not only do women have much better odds of beating breast cancer, they also can rest assured that the procedures and outcomes are now, more than ever, designed to consider their emotional and physical well-being. St. John’s Riverside Hospital is clearly a leader in advances in breast care technology but what you are probably not aware of is that they are also the leaders in understanding that the patient is a person. St. John’s doctors make it their priority to know their patients. Jamie’s doctor, Dr. Andrew Ashikari can not only tell you Jamie’s name but he can tell you details about her family, every one of her questions and also knows every one of her fears.

Jamie’s surgery was over three years ago and over a thousand patients ago, yet Dr. Ashikari can recite this same level of detail for every one of his other patients as if they were a dear friend. Combine this with the fact that Dr. Ashikari is part of a nationally accredited Breast Care Center that has advanced technology beyond most other centers. The latest example is the IRCT (Intraoperative Radiation Cancer Therapy) which is capable of delivering radiation to a very specific area during surgery that untimely leads to the reduction and eventual elimination of lengthy radiation treatments. In addition, St. John’s Riverside Hospital’s breast care doctors have pioneered a one-step procedure that reconstructs the breast and saves the nipple for immediate cosmetic reconstruction during surgery. The results are both life changing, and as you can see, beautiful.


“Five years ago I had compiled mounds of regrets and bad decisions. I was no longer the athletic and smart girl or daughter and friend I had once been. Today I am most grateful to St. John’s Riverside Hospital for not only saving my life (as I would surely be dead if I had not come here) but for giving my family back their daughter and granddaughter. For that, I am forever indebted and it inspires me to work on my recovery wholeheartedly.

Hailing from Mount Pleasant, Adrienne was a talented athlete and National Honor Society student at a local Catholic high school when she first started experimenting with pot. During her first couple of years at college she became more dependent on drugs like ecstasy, cocaine and eventually heroin. By 19, she had dropped out of college, been arrested multiple times and demolished three cars. But today, that is all history. After five years she is drug-free and focused on her goal of heading to law school after graduating from a leading NYC university with her Masters in Criminology.

“Five years ago I had compiled mounds of regrets and bad decisions. I was no longer the athletic and smart girl or daughter and friend I had once been. Today I am most grateful to St. John’s Riverside Hospital for not only saving my life (as I would surely be dead if I had not come here) but for giving my family back their daughter and granddaughter. For that I am forever indebted and it inspires me to work on my recovery wholeheartedly. Once I complete my law degree I plan on giving back to those in similar situations headed from central booking on drug charges and clueless about how to get their lives back on track. I hope to be every bit the inspiration my counselors were to me.”

From the administrators to the security guards, Adrienne was always respected as a person who could get better with time and help. She was never dismissed as an addict incapable of recovery. As a group they are non-judgmental and they completely respected patient confidentiality under all circumstances. She especially credits her amazing counselors and mentors for genuinely understanding her plight because they had been there and had risen above their addiction to receive an education and accreditations in order to guide and inspire others. This was a major difference she found at St. John’s Riverside Hospital versus other treatment centers. “At St. John’s Riverside Hospital I really fit in. They got me; I mean truly got me and the problems I was struggling with.”
For Adrienne, there is no doubt life is getting better at St. John’s Riverside Hospital.
When Adrienne speaks about this experience she recalls it was not easy nor did she have success on her own. She tried other treatment facilities in Westchester multiple times before she found St. John’s Riverside Hospital’s Park Care facility. Once she arrived she felt she was with the right “family” for working her program. Some might think that odd coming from a middle class, well educated honor student from Westchester, but there was something of a true kinship or “Brothers-in-Arms feeling that we were all in this together”- as she describes it at St. John’s Riverside Hospital.

Patricia Macias

“Quite simply, there is no rating system or “check off” box that would allow me to express the deep gratitude I hold in my heart for all the doctors, nurses, and professional staff who cared for me during my recent two-week stay in the hospital.”

One Friday evening Patricia Macias a ear and jaw pain along with severe chest pains. She quickly realized that she required medical care and needed to be taken to the emergency room. While she lives in New Rochelle, Patricia insisted that her sister drive her across the county to St. John’s, the hospital she preferred. Upon arrival in the St. John’s Emergency Room she was rapidly assessed by the Medical Team of physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners. The physicians explained the seriousness of her diagnosis with a great deal of concern and reassurance and quickly admitted her into the ICU.

Although the recommended treatment was a relatively new procedure, the specialists – Critical Care and Cardiology physicians – impressed her and she knew she was in the very best hands! Today, Patricia has returned to her family and work, and is feeling much better. Patricia remains thankful that she chose St. John’s; not only for the excellent care, but also for the warmth and compassion she received. “Quiet simply, there is no rating system or “check off” box that would allow me to express the deep gratitude I hold in my heart for all the doctors, nurses, and professional staff who cared for me during my recent two week stay in the hospital.”

More Patient Testimonials

Ida DeLeo

After having breast cancer over eight years ago, Ida DeLeo took it upon herself to schedule a CAT scan to make sure she was in good health. The results of that test prompted Dr. Rosen to schedule a PET scan, which showed Ida had early stage lymphoma. Under Dr. Rosen’s care, she began treatment for the lymphoma with chemotherapy.

It was then that Ida first met Oncology RN Marilyn Whitley. Marilyn immediately became a source of support for Ida. “She explained everything to me; how the chemo would work and what kind of medicine I would be taking. After I had a bad reaction to my first treatment, Marilyn stayed with me and she was very supportive.” Ida’s experience with the other Oncology nurses was similar to her relationship with Marilyn. “They would ask me how I was doing. They were constantly supervising me.” Even with the physical challenges that came with her initial chemo treatment, Ida was able to attend her granddaughter’s wedding one day after being released from the hospital. “They took excellent care of me after that first round of chemo so I was able to go to her wedding.” After a year of chemotherapy, Ida is now in remission and still remembers her positive experience with the Oncology staff. “I go and visit Marilyn and the nurses on the 7th floor whenever I get a chance, especially during the holidays. I keep in touch. The nurses are just great. They are wonderful.”

Ignacio “George” Febles

Seventy-three year-old retired teacher Ignacio “George” Febles is a track and field coach and avid tennis player. When sudden knee pain began to set him “off-track,” he found himself taking daily doses of Ibuprofen to maintain his lifestyle. As the effectiveness of the Ibuprofen declined, George made a life changing decision to go to his trusted Orthopedic Specialist, Dr. David Lent. Dr. Lent recommended that George consider a more effective long-term solution for the pain and to regain his quality-of-life. He felt George would be an excellent candidate for a partial knee resurfacing called MAKOplasty. This minimally invasive procedure is powered by a highly advanced robotic arm technology that saves as much of the patient’s original knee as possible while delivering a more natural feeling and rapid recovery.

George’s surgery was performed on October 23, 2012 and already it’s “game-on” for this active senior. This innovative procedure returned George to an even better version of his former self. He’s playing double sessions on the court and no longer needs Ibuprofen. George continues his physical therapy and is back to 98% range of motion. “I can now run, jump, and do everything I did before any of this pain started.

Lewis Navedo

On December 2, Yonkers resident Colleen Navedo called 911 after her husband Lewis complained he was not feeling well. His blood pressure was dangerously low and he began to feel lightheaded as Colleen spoke to the 911 dispatchers. The Navedos are no strangers to medical emergencies. Mr. Navedo had a kidney transplant several years ago and he also suffers from diabetes. He often went to a large medical center for healthcare in the past. But this particular night, Mr. Navedo didn’t have the time to get there. He needed immediate attention and the ambulance raced him to St. John’s Riverside Hospital’s ER. Upon arrival, sixteen-year veteran RN Selena Wallace was the fi rst to meet with Mr. Navedo. She quickly observed his shallow breathing, pale complexion and confusion. As he began to lose consciousness, Nurse Wallace, ER attending Dr. Lawrence Dubensky, off-duty nursing director Josiane Hickson as well as off-duty physician Dr. Eric Nazziola sprang into action. They all worked together to resuscitate, stabilize and eventually move Mr. Navedo to the ICU. “Although the ER was busy, it was as if my husband was the only patient based on the attention he received, I never expected St. John’s would be able to handle my husband’s medical crisis with such expert care. At every turn, every single employee we encountered exceeded our expectations. We were amazed.” exclaimed Colleen Navedo.

Mary O’Sullivan

Mary O’Sullivan was in a wheelchair as a child after suffering from a unique strain of Polio. However her time of immobility did not last long and she was back on her feet sooner than expected. Her sister Anna explains: “We Irish are stubborn, and as fate would have it that stubbornness would not keep Mary from walking.” Mary continued to walk freely until later in life when a tumor on her spine left her partially paralyzed. As a side effect of the spine surgery, her right leg was permanently straightened to help support her weight. This unfortunately led to poor circulation in both legs. Over the years that poor circulation resulted in sores and ulcers that defied healing. Mary’s primary care doctor sent her to Dr. Tannenbaum at the St. John’s Riverside Hospital Wound Healing Center. Anna, who has been at Mary’s side throughout her treatments, will smile when she talks about the “care and affection” they received during their visits at the Wound Healing Center. “My sister and I love those girls” as she affectionately refers to the Wound Healing Team. “Pat, Tara, Corrine, Marijka are second to none. We love it every time we are there,” she said. Mary has needed the ER a few times recently for other medical needs; and every time Dr. Tannenbaum is there by Mary’s side. “Dr. Tannenbaum says Mary’s legs are important to him and he needs to keep them safe,” explains Anna. “There are no words to describe the Wound Healing Team. Today Mary’s legs are 100% healed from wounds because of him,” she adds with a smile.

Tami Urban

Tami Urban was 223 lbs. when she first met Dr. Artuso. Her weight caused her health to decline. She was dependent on pain medication for her acute asthma, suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome and was undergoing spine injections for back relief. After trying unsuccessfully to lose weight thru Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, The Grapefruit Diet, South Beach Diet, as well as working out at a gym every day, Tami got to the point where her “skin hurt.” It was then she researched online about the benefits of Lap Band surgery and attended an informational seminar hosted by Dr. Artuso. After surgery in May 2009, Tami found the post-op program easy to follow and the weight just seemed to fall off. She received great support at home from her family and through Dr. Artuso’s friendly office staff. Tami returns to Dr. Artuso for adjustments in her program to help her maintain her weight and is thrilled to have her life back. She is no longer dependent on pain medication and works currently as a Kindergarten teacher’s assistant. At a healthy weight between 140 and 150 lbs., Tami is happier than ever. “There is no way I could have done this job if not for my weight loss. Lap Band was the tool that made me successful.”