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Inside Valley Q4 2014

Thanksgiving has just passed and the holiday season has begun. Everyones family has a holiday it hosts for the greater family and we got to host Thanksgiving. We love having everyone over and this year we had more people than we thought we could fit. The other morning I was speaking with a friend and we discussed our homes. Both of us moved out of Manhattan. Both of us saw a patch of grass and said yes this will do. We love our house but we consider the idea of giving ourselves a little bit more room from time to time. This year we could really use it!

Ill say it again: its the holiday season. And, I am incredibly grateful for all that we have. I have also had the opportunity to watch nearly all of Ken BurnsRoosevelts and in that mood, Id like to share a quote: 

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.

                                                                Theodore Roosevelt

Deeds. An intentional act of goodness is how I would define that word. Each and everyone of you have given thanks and shown yourselves in your deeds through your support of the Valley Hospital Foundation. Thank you and we are grateful for your support.

Even something as kind as your interest in this newsletter and my continuing stories about the family. The response continues to surprise me. Often in elevators or in the hallways of Valley, someone will stop me and ask, Hows George?George is well. It has now been three months, and he has enjoyed having a sister.We are also grateful to give George this experience and to provide Chuskit with an opportunity to complete her high school education in the U.S.

George is gearing up for his annual starring role in The Valley Hospital Auxiliarys Tree of Light tree lighting. For the past five years, George has been the one to light the tree and he considers it a real honor. If you havent attended a Tree of Light Ceremony, I highly recommend it. Its a wonderful hour or so in the Hospitals Shotmeyer Lobby. This year the tree lighting will be held on Sunday, December 7 at 5 p.m. If youre free and looking to get yourself into the holiday spirit, please join us.

If there is one group that performs countless deeds and for whom we are most grateful, it is the Auxiliary. Believe it or not, the Auxiliary has been around longer than the Hospital, which opened on August 8, 1951. In fact, the Auxiliary is celebrating its 70thAnniversary this year. It is comprised of hundreds of women throughout northwest Bergen County who give of their time and efforts to support The Valley Hospital and Valley Home Care through fundraisers and community involvement.

The Foundation would be able to accomplish little without the support of our friends and the Auxiliary. This year as you may recall we had articulated a case for support. The needs in the case included support for Valleys biomedical research in the Okonite Research Center, the Arrhythmia Institute in the Bolger Medical Arts Building, the Simulation Laboratory, which trains teams of physicians and nurses together and has already saved lives at Valley, a 3T MRI, and movement programs at Valley Home Care. We we enter the home stretch for the year, we are getting close to achieving our goals but there is still a ways to go. If you would like a copy of case statement, please feel free to reach out to me at

Thank you for your continuing support, and thank you to all who participated in the National #GivingTuesday campaign. What a terrific way to start the season of giving.

With much gratitude and Happy Thanksgiving.

Stas Kozaitis 

Anastasios Kozaitis


Inside Valley Q3 2014

We are all lottery winners. These last few months have found me in conversations with friends and family discussing our good fortune. It did not happen once or twice, and each time it did happen the group agreed that each one of us had won the lottery. We have the good fortune to have either been born in the US or have come to make the US our home. Traveling brings this perspective into great clarity. 

I have just returned from Greece where I was able to introduce George to his great aunts, uncles, and extended group of cousins. For our family, the trip was extraordinary. Not only did we spend lots of time with family but we also got away. My first cousin, who I consider to be like an older brother, gave us his house down in the olive groves and rolling hills of Messinia. It is an area of Greece in the southwestern part of Peloponnese that was just what we all needed. It is along the Ionian Sea and the region reminded me of a Napa Valley on the Ionian.

Upon our departure from Athens, I flew back home and Laura and George headed to Ladakh, again. When they return home in a few weeks, they will be accompanied by Chuskit, George’s Ladakhi sister. We are paying it forward. I am of the mind that success does not arrive in a vacuum. People along the way help each of us. After losing my father, I had many people help me put my life back together and Laura was helped at an early age, too. We are able to help a young woman realize her dreams and we are grateful to have this opportunity.

Just as each of you help our patients at The Valley Hospital and Valley Home Care. What is different, however, is that your support saves people’s lives. The Simulation Training with Noelle and her “family” of simulation dolls has resulted in outcomes that have all of us at Valley incredulous over its importance. A short time ago, we completed a simulation for Operating Room codes – when a patient’s life is in danger. Recently, there was a real-life situation that had been simulated with staff and the feedback from staff and physicians who were involved was that everyone performed like “clockwork” and that the treatment and teamwork were seamless. The patient’s life was saved. With each passing day, we see that simulation training for highly dangerous situations that occur very infrequently is critical for the lives of our patients. Progress has begun to fund the Simulation Lab, we have a long way to go on the Simulation Lab needs and our entire case.

As a reminder, the Foundation aims to raise $10 million during 2014 for

  1. Capital, programmatic, and research support of the Bolger Medical Arts Building.
  2. Necessary funding for the Arrhythmia Institute, to be located in the Bolger Building.
  3. The enhancement of Valley's biorepository in the Okonite Research Center.
  4. The creation of a Simulation Laboratory.
  5. The acquisition of a state-of-the-art 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging machine.
  6. Supporting the rehab specialty services of Valley Home Care.

This year the Valley Hospital Foundation will also participate in #GivingTuesday. What is #GivingTuesday, you ask? You have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday caps off those three days with a philanthropic message as we enter the holiday season the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world come together for one common purpose to celebrate generosity and to give towards their favorite charities. This year will be the third year we celebrate #GivingTuesday, and I hope that you will consider paying it forward just a little bit more this year.

It is good to be a lottery winner. Thank you.

With appreciation.

Stas Kozaitis

Anastasios Kozatis
The Valley Hospital Foundation

Inside Valley Q2 2014

George is getting a sister…

Sort of.

Did that get your attention? Lots of change.

Very early in the morning on 1 May, we learned that one of the students from the school in India had received her US student visa. She will be living with us for two years, and Laura has arranged a position for her at a dental clinic in Ladakh upon her graduation from high school here. And, I’m hoping that we will be able to find volunteer opportunities for her at Valley. Dr. Ganepola has already begun to compile research projects for her! Meanwhile, George is excited but wary about having a 17-year-old girl in the house. Fortunately, George (and Laura) have spent the past two summers together, and they know each other well.

While he and his mother will be returning to Ladakh, India this summer, George is mostly excited to visit Greece, a country with which he identifies deeply. He is keen on visiting Olympus, the Parthenon, and Delphi, and I am eager to visit all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. As a child, I spent every other summer there and nearly all of my time was whiled away swimming in the blue waters of the Gulf of Corinth.

As for traveling on the Foundation side of things, this newsletter will travel onto the web. There has always been a vision for a blog, and it looks like we will be putting this on our newly redesigned Valley Hospital Foundation website. We are excited about moving our web presence into a more contemporary architecture. For donors, you can register with our site and create your own profile, which will allow you to see your own giving history and create your own customizable reports. If the website were not enough of a change, I have begun my own Foundation twitter feed. (Full disclosure: I love twitter and was an early twitter adopter.) Nonetheless, if you would like to follow me or check in on what is going on, I am @VHF_Kozaitis.

There is more change at the foundation, too.

Back in the fall, the Foundation Board advised us to develop a 2014 Case for Support. We worked on it all fall and into the first quarter of this calendar year. It arrived a number of weeks ago, and we think that the end result is an effective tool for us. For the rest of the year, we will be focusing our attention on raising $10 million for the following critical projects at Valley:

  1. Capital, programmatic, and research support of the Bolger Medical Arts Building.
  2. Necessary funding for Valley’s Arrhythmia Institute, which will be located in the Bolger Building.
  3. The enhancement of Valley’s biorepository in the Okonite Research Center.
  4. The creation of a Simulation Laboratory.
  5. The acquisition of a state-of-the-art 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging machine.
  6. Supporting the rehab speciality services of Valley Home Care.

These are all great needs across the Valley Health System, and creating a case for support will also be an important exercise that we will go through annually. Developing a annual plan will allow us to articulate our needs to you and our friends as we talk to everyone throughout the year. If you would like copy of the Case, please click here. We’d love to share with you. Email me. Call me. Heck, tweet at me!

Wishing everyone a terrific spring and summer.


Stas Kozaitis

Anastasios Kozaitis

Inside Valley Q1 2014

Would you believe it if I told you that with this issue of inside valley, we begin year five of my chatty epistolary? 

Yes, indeed, a nickel of time has elapsed. You all deserve gold medals for putting up with me and my stories about my son and any other ethereal thought that captured my whimsy on the day I typed. It is hard for me to fathom that George was five years old when we started this. Now, at 10 years of age, he’s the ultimate tween: his interests are Legos and electric guitar. He is turning into a little rocker, and Jimi Hendrix plays these days on an infinite loop in our house.

Since you last heard from me, our corner of the world hosted the Super Bowl and we have had one of the longest deep freezes in memory. The warmest day this winter was probably the day of the big game, which is another example proving Mother Nature loves the National Football League.

All kidding aside, we ended the year on an upswing, and I have to applaud my colleagues in the Foundation. As you might imagine, we set our internal goals at the start of 2013, and as we entered the fourth quarter of 2013, we were way behind like many of the US speed skaters in Sochi this past week. The chasm we faced was challenging, to say the least. My colleagues kept their focus on finishing strong, and we achieved our goals much like the Chinese speed skater who won after the three skaters crashed in front of her!

In 2013, we received more than 5,500 gifts from our community. I thank you all for your generous support. There were so many wonderfully meaningful gifts that we received throughout the year, and there is one that I would like to take a moment to bring to your attention. In November, we accepted a transformative gift of $5 million to help us create the Michael R. Luckow Heart Center, which will be located in Valley’s new physician office building at 1200 E. Ridgewood Avenue. In this new center, which is slated to open in 2015, Valley will bring together cardiologists, state-of-the-art cardiac imaging, and screening services. It will co-locate many of Valley’s best and brightest to prevent heart disease.

Michael R. Luckow was the godson and nephew of Robert and Audrey Luckow, the cousin of Stefanie Luckow, and the son of Michael and Janet Luckow and was tragically lost to heart disease at the age of 44. The Michael R. Luckow Heart Center will be a loving and fitting tribute, and it will be a powerful affirmation of his life for the three boys and wife who survive him. While I’ve talked a lot about George’s adventures here in this space, I don’t think that I’ve told you that I too was once a young man who survived a loving dad taken too early from heart disease. The Luckow Family Foundation’s gift in memory of Michael is just perfect, and I cannot thank them enough for their exemplary philanthropic leadership.

You are all leaders and visionaries. Again, I thank you for your commitment to Valley in 2013. Yet, somehow, as I type, it’s mid-February 2014. We’re experiencing the next in a line of countless, silly-named, disruptive storms. When did every storm start getting named? Is this really necessary? Sochi needs this cold and snow more than we do. We’ve had our share…

So, what about 2014? During the fall, the Foundation Board of Trustees tasked Foundation staff to put together a 2014 case for support, and we set to doing so. The case was approved in December, and we have begun our ascent.

Soon, you will start to hear about a team of cardiac research scientists whom we would like to recruit to Valley. If you haven’t heard enough about research, you will hear more as we look to further develop our biorepository that currently stores more than 20,000 highly valuable and important tissues and blood samples. There are new needs for Valley’s Arrhythmia Institute, which houses some the best electrophsyiologists in the world. As you may know, electrophysiology is the highly specific cardiologic specialty that deals with the electronic impulses of the heart. You will hear about a high-tech Simulation Lab that will train nurses and physicians on mannequins that actually talk, breathe, bleed, seize and even cry; the mommy mannequin even gives birth. These dolls respond to the countless procedures that are given to them by the training teams. I just saw a news story about US Air Force teams and first responders learning critical care and transport medicine in a simulation lab, and we will have one here at Valley. We will also look to help the hospital purchase the latest in magnetic resonance imaging technology; Valley is looking to buy a 3.0 T MRI machine that will be a critical piece of equipment for the Neuroscience Institute that we are creating. And, finally, we will also raise money for Valley Home Care’s Rehab Services. Valley Home Care is bringing important rehab to the home with fall prevention training; Functional Freedom (a living well program for Parkinsons and other movement diseases); and Steps Ahead (home rehab for total joint replacement).

As you can see, there is much to do for so many needs. Valley is a not-for-profit hospital, and it is the hospital that it is today because of the generous support all of you provide it. We are able to keep abreast of the latest technology and programs because of your commitment to philanthropy. I look forward to our climb up the 2014 mountain, but before we do, I say thank you one last time for making 2013 such a success.


Stas Kozaitis

Anastasios Kozaitis