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Inside Valley Q2 2016

Bringing a newborn child into the world, regardless if it is the first or fifth time, is an unforgettable moment. 

For my family, it was also traumatic. Our OB/GYN called George’s delivery, “Black Hawk Down.” I kid you not. I will always be grateful to the physician, who delivered George unharmed. One minute, all is going according to plan, and the next minute, a S.W.A.T. team of nurses descended out of nowhere to take Laura into the operating room. By the time I got my scrubs on, George had been delivered via stat C-section. Yet, as traumatic as it was, I would never trade our experience for anything else. The next day’s early visits from family members and friends are memories that we cherish. 

At Valley, we strive to make it easy for the parents to share this incredible experience with others close to them, while maintaining absolute safety.  Once the baby has been delivered, close family members and friends are welcome to come into our Mother/Baby Unit and share in the excitement. We are continually reevaluating and reassessing our facilities to ensure that we not only provide optimal care, but that this care takes place in the most appropriate facilities and with the most desirable environment possible.  Nowadays, most of our expecting parents want to have a private room to enjoy the first hours and days with their newborn.  These parents have chosen Valley to deliver their child, and hope to be in a soothing, spacious, and cheerful environment during their short stay.  

Valley’s obstetricians deliver more than 3,400 infants each year, and the families staying on the 3rd Floor Mother Baby Unit in the Cheel Building are already enjoying these kinds of surroundings.  However, we want to improve this experience for our new mothers who are assigned to 3rd floor of the Bergen Building. Valley has recently announced that plans are being made to consolidate these two areas.  In less than a year from now, we will have the entire Mother Baby Unit located in the same building, Cheel floors 3 and 4.  This renovation is not adding any more patient rooms, just rearranging them which helps unify this space physically, and offers a balanced patient experience to all new families.  Each of these rooms has a private shower, and are appropriately furnished and stylishly accented to instill a comfortable, hotel-like atmosphere.  This is the level of service our northern New Jersey patient base has come to expect, and this is what Valley will deliver, puns totally intended

Onto other exciting news…this spring has been a busy one, with memorable events and commitments.  Our sixth annual Women For Health luncheon was held at the beginning of May, and our key note speaker was world-renowned women’s health advocate Dr. Susan Love.  Author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book (“the bible for women with breast cancer”), she spoke quite emphatically about the innovative research she has been pioneering and had the all-female crowd completely enthralled (and me too!).  It was a fantastic event and after learning more about the impact that Women For Health’s collective donation has had on so many Valley patients over the years, many more women philanthropists have since signed up.  

About a week later, I had the chance to visit with so many of our generous donors at our 15th annual Leadership Reception which took place at The Ridgewood Country Club.  It was heartwarming to look around at the familiar faces in the crowd and reflect on the remarkable difference your generosity has made to the quality of care we deliver at Valley. In appreciation for their generosity to Valley, we honored leadership donors James P. and Nancy Bush, Rodney and Gerry Verblaauw, our newest Legacy Donor, Dr. John McConnell. 

Finally, a seemingly ordinary lunch with Audrey Meyers and Victor Viggiano turned truly spectacular when Vic announced to us that The Okonite Company was making its second extraordinary $5 million commitment to Valley’s Translational and Clinical Research programs. Already, Okonite’s contributions have been critical to the ongoing success of our existing clinical research program.  With this considerable pledge, Valley is in the position to recruit additional distinguished physicians and strengthen collaborations with national and international research institutes. 

If you would like to read more about these stories and view photos from the events, please visit our website at www.ValleyHospitalFoundation.org. The Valley Hospital Foundation celebrates these, and many other unforgettable moments, and invites you, our Valley family to join.  It is because of your loyal support that Valley has become what it is today.  

I hope you have a very peaceful and relaxing summer.   

 Stas Kozaitis

Anastasios Kozaitis

Inside Valley Q1 2016

Multiple times throughout the week, people walk up to me in the hallways, on lines, in the Kraft elevators and ask me about my family. If I do not really know the person, I look at them with a quizzical look and undoubtedly the person responds, “I read your newsletters!” We always end up chuckling.

To reiterate, I do not want my family members to solely become characters in a story. And, it is so heartening for me to learn that readers express an interest in them. So, thank you.

Gosh, where did I leave off? A lot has been going on. George, my 13 year-old son, changed schools in the fall and is now in the same school as Chuskit, the young lady our family has been hosting from Ladakh since the summer of 2014. George is thriving and enjoys his new, more rigorous academic environment. In December, after quite a few years and challenges, he ascended to black belt in taekwondo, and it was a proud moment for his parents. Meanwhile, he just finished his first performance for the Children’s Shakespeare Theater and is ready for his next role, claiming that being a thespian runs in his blood. He might be on to something. My mother’s village back in Greece is called Thespies. So, I wonder if a Thespian is one who comes from Thespies? Chuskit, through hard work and sheer determination, has taken full advantage of living abroad.  She is soaking up everything her school, our community, and our country have to offer an eager young student. So, we were absolutely thrilled and pleased to learn that she was accepted to Smith College on a full scholarship.

The holidays were especially harried this year, since Laura was away in India for a couple weeks and I had to juggle the kids’ calendars around work while managing the Foundation’s many fundraising priorities, all in the height of the holidays. Fortunately, we have built a wonderful network of friends who helped in so many ways.

The operative word is network. We are all social beings and networks are crucial to all of us, and I do not mean virtual, online networks but real live networks of friends and family who we count on from day to day to be there for us, and vice versa.

Back in January 2014, I read a U.S. News & World Report editorial with the headline, “Hospital of the Future Will Be a Health Delivery Network.” More than two years later, I am seeing this prediction come to fruition here within Valley Health System. There are large forces transforming care across the country, and hospitals and health systems are responding to these market forces in innovative ways to improve the care of our patients. The four major initiatives that are at play are asset integration, streamlined operations, consumer-focused service development, and population health management. The common denominators in all of these healthcare initiatives focus on reducing the cost and increasing the quality to make it more accessible for the consumer. As we see it, there are four main players making these demands on healthcare: government (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), employers who are looking to reduce their healthcare costs, the more educated, engaged consumer seeking the best doctor at the best facility for the best price.  Finally, the fourth important player moving this pendulum is you, our donors, who are making investment-like approaches to your philanthropy and expecting transparency from your charities in return.

So, how are we at Valley meeting these new expectations? Valley Health System of 2016 is committed to Population Health Management, taking accountability for our community’s health and working to improve health outcomes, best practices and standards of care.  Valley is coordinating efforts across the entire system to lower the cost of care, ensure patient safety, and improve the patient experience.

At Valley, we already have so many parts of the network in place: we have a nationally-recognized hospital, an award-winning homecare agency, a burgeoning medical group, and a large group of committed independent attending physicians.   What’s more, all of these entities want the same thing: to provide Valley patients with the best care possible. What is required now, to manage the population’s health, is a coordinated plan and a firm commitment to improving the health of our community. Today, it’s not only about helping the sick get well, but it is also about keeping people well! The approach is more holistic in nature, and requires a complex network that Valley is building.  This developing network also expands outside Valley’s walls with our new affiliates: the Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute and Mount Sinai Health System and its Icahn School of Medicine.

This network is laying groundwork for Valley’s tomorrow.  While there is no road map to the future of healthcare, Valley’s CEO & President Audrey Meyers seems to have a clear vision for our system, and has already done a remarkable job navigating  through the latest vicissitudes of healthcare brought on by all these market forces. Many of the initiatives revolve around improved communications among the network and the patients.

So, let’s begin now and establish a more open communication between you and me. What questions do you have about this new population health age? What can I do to help you better understand Valley’s culture and position within this great community? Let’s create a dialogue.  Email me directly at akozait@valleyhospitalfoundation.com, and we can begin this conversation.

In closing, The Valley Hospital Foundation had a tremendous 2015 and it was because of all of you and your wonderful generosity. Thank you for being part of our network of friends and for supporting us through so much ambiguity and change.

With warmest appreciation.

 Stas Kozaitis

Anastasios Kozaitis


Inside Valley Q4 2015

Looking back on 2015, I am grateful for the many wonderful partnerships Valley Health System has forged over the past several months, and thrilled about what each of these relationships mean in terms of improved quality care for our patients.    Affiliations with nationally recognized healthcare systems like Mount Sinai Health System and Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute put Valley in a unique class, while our collaborations with technology providers like ZocDoc enhance the delivery of this quality care.  However, on a personal note, the partnership that I am most excited about is our connection with you, our community, the patients who rely on Valley to provide new and improved facilities, breakthrough medical technology, and advanced clinical programs.  Because of our philanthropic community and because you have supported the growth and development of this healthcare system throughout the years, we are positioned to establish, build upon, and benefit from these other extraordinary relationships.

Now that the more consumer-based healthcare model is in place and the financial coverage for healthcare has been altered, our clinicians are partnering with patients more than ever before, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own health, and collaborating with them to ensure treatment decisions make the most sense for them and their family.  The era of the passive patient is behind us, and the educated, inquisitive patient is more engaged in their care than in days past.  Patients expect more now.  This is a good thing, because when patients take an active role in their own care, research shows they will fare better.  This evolving clinicianpatient relationship is a collaboration of care, where both sides share information to bring about better outcomes, lower costs and improved efficiency.   Our clinicians view patients as partners, and rely on them to adapt to the changing healthcare environment and share in the decision-making process.

In order to address the ever-evolving patient and provide even higher quality healthcare, Valley has been linking up with entities outside of the health system and establishing a beneficial bond.  Valley Health System has worked with law enforcement officials in Bergen County on many programs, such as sponsoring community education programs, or donating defibrillators and Narcan, which can help restore breathing to a person who is overdosing from opioids and prescription drugs.  About a year ago, Valley's Department of Emergency Services donated tourniquets and trained the recipients, approximately 500 police officers in 16 area towns, in their use.   Luckily for a young Ramapo College student who was involved in a tragic car accident on Route 17, a quick-thinking Mahwah Police Officer applied that tourniquet, saving the boys life.

Valley strives to provide high-tech simple solutions for improving patient care, wherever possible.  Therefore, we have partnered with cutting-edge technology providers, like ZocDoc and InQuicker, to offer you easier options for scheduling doctor visits.  Valley Medical Group has embraced CareSync electronic health record (HER) technology in its plan to adopt meaningful use options, which is a software and services provider for chronic disease management.   Valley is the first Bergen County hospital to have a large-scale deployment of the AccuVein device, a small hand-held device that lights up veins like a roadmap, aiding in the collection of blood or administering IV medications.  With this, the need for multiple needle sticks to try to locate a good vein for a blood draw is a thing of the past.

Two other relationships Valley Health System has recently established are with Mount Sinai Health System and Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute.  Our academic relationship with Mount Sinai Health System will enhance and compliment Valleys nationally recognized services to patients offering additional oncology clinical trials and access to some of the worlds foremost experts in specific cancers.  Mount Sinai has an outstanding comprehensive cancer institute with a wide array of services dedicated to the treatment of cancer and clinical research.  And Mount Sinai has just achieved National Cancer Institute designation, joining an elite group of only 69 other designated cancer institutions in the country.  Valleys clinical affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute will enhance our award winning cardiac program even further by providing Valley physicians with access to protocols, quality initiatives, and research opportunities.  Cleveland Clinic, which has been named the number one heart hospital in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 21 years in a row, chose Valley to be its regional cardiovascular affiliate, and we are now able to share best practices, review cases, and combine resources with their expert faculty.

As I mentioned before, without you and the support of the rest of our philanthropic community, we would not be in the position to establish these types of connections, regardless of scale.   Thank you for your unwavering support and for partnering with us in health.

With great appreciation and warmest holiday wishes,
Stas Kozaitis
Anastasios Kozaitis

Inside Valley Q3 2015

We are all part of a community or perhaps, even multiple communities. Were all familiar with the Ramapo Mountains, the Palisades, and the Meadowlands. We know how to manipulate a jug handle, how to enter traffic on Route 17, and the back way to our kidsschools, a favorite restaurant, or home. Weve often seen, and sometimes are, the diligent commuters every weekday morning on NJ Transit bus and train platforms. We shamelessly order cheeseburger deluxes or pastrami sandwiches, and enthusiastically endorse our pizza and bagel shops.

We live here, have lived here, and will be here for years to come. 

This is perhaps why each of you has given to The Valley Hospital Foundation because Valley is where you get your healthcare. And I want to thank you for your continuinggenerosity, which helps our 64-year old institution remain a pillar for medical care and health in our community.

As summer comes to a close, Ive been thinking about communities because when I talk to my 11-year-old son George lately, he seems to have different communities of which he is a part across the globe. He has his friends and family locally, his extended family in Greece with whom he got acquainted last summer, and his Ladakhi friends in the Himalayan region in India. In each of these places, he has learned just how to navigate through differing cultures, topographies, social mores, and culinary kitchens. I recognize how fortunate he is, but it is also a wonderful achievement that he has become so flexible and open to that much diversity.

Meanwhile, there have been so many Valley achievements this year. To remain plugged in to our evolving modern community and stay ahead of the latest trends in consumerism, the Valley Medical Group opened Valley Careworks, a walk-in clinic located in the ShopRite of Oakland. This state-of-the-art service, staffed by a nurse practitioner, provides treatment for minor medical conditions without an appointment, 7 days a week.

Valley Health System is now implementing the cutting-edge technology to make it easy for patients to schedule doctor visits without having to make a phone call. The ZocDoc app offers online appointment scheduling for select physicians, while InQuickerenables patients with non-life-threatening medical conditions to browse and select a treatment time in advance of arrival at the emergency room.

On a global level, three of our own physicians and scientists Ganepola A.P. Ganepola, M.D.,David H. Chang, Ph.D., and Robert J. Korst, M.D. collaborated as co-inventors on groundbreaking research with the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia to discover a highly effective new biomarker for lung cancer: AKAP4. If these results are confirmed in a more robust study, this could lead to the development of a simple blood test to be used for annual screening of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Nationally, the Valley Health System has established a cardiac services affiliation with the #1 heart hospital in the United States: Cleveland Clinic. This extraordinary affiliation with Cleveland Clinics Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute will enable our clinicians to share best practices, coordinate care, and develop programs to improve both quality and patient safety. 

Right here in our neighborhood, many more developments are also underway. Ed Marron designated $2 million to establish the Darlene L. Marron Chair for Childrens Services, in honor of his late wife. This gift will be directed toward the innovative programs of the Childrens Services group, where his brother-in-law Frank Manginello, M.D., Director of the Neonatology Department, has been named the first Darlene L. Marron Chair for Childrens Services. 

The Michael R. Luckow Heart Center opened in June, due to an extraordinary $5 million gift from the Luckow Family Foundation. At the new heart center, new imaging and cardiac programs will be provided in a state of the art facility.

Also in June, the Leadership Reception took place at the new Bolger Medical Arts Building and the Okonite Research Center, the result of the philanthropy and vision of The Bolger Foundation and the Okonite Company.  The generous benefactors from these organizationsDavid F. Bolger and Victor Viggianohelped establish the remarkable facilities which will have a positive impact on thousands of patients for years to come. This building provides Valley the ability to grow our significant commitment to translational research, the opportunity to explore breakthrough research and translate scientific discovery into the specific care of our patients, and enhance our exciting new academic and clinical affiliations.

Not to be outdone, in mid-May, we celebrated Women For Healths fifth anniversary with a delightful luncheon that had nearly 500 women in attendance. Among the special guests was speaker Joan Lunden.

Lastly, we hope you will join us on Friday, September 25, 2015 at The Castle at Skylands Manor in Ringwood where the Foundation will celebrate 35 remarkable years of philanthropically supporting Valley Health Systems vision of providing excellence in patient and family centered care.  This inaugural black tie affair promises to be a wonderful evening, where guests will enjoy fine dining and live entertainment while mingling with other friends of Valley who are committed to clinical excellence. For more information, please visit www.valleyhospitalfoundation.org/35thGala  

We thank you for such steadfast supportof your hospital. I hope you enjoyed your summer down at the shore, up in the mountains, locally, or wherever your travels took you!


With great appreciation,

Stas Kozaitis

Anastasios Kozaitis


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 akozait@valleyhospitalfoundation.org.

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