From the Hospital CEO


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    After dealing with a harsh winter, we’re all looking forward to the warmth and fun of summer. But, like every season, summer has its unique safety issues. Pools and beaches are open. Boaters abound. Poison ivy is widespread. And biting insects are everywhere. 

    Having grown up in Hempstead, and now, living on the North Shore, my family and I are no strangers to the beautiful beaches, marinas, parks, nature preserves, and other favorite summer recreational activities and destinations that Long Island offers. The key is to enjoy it all safely and responsibly.

    Take sun exposure for example. While everybody needs some sun exposure to produce vitamin D (which helps in the absorption of calcium for stronger and healthier bones), it’s important to remember that unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays can cause damage to the skin, eyes and immune system. It can also lead to skin cancer (melanoma). 

    My wife, who is an avid golfer, keeps this in mind every time she hits the course with her friends. In addition to wearing polarized sunglasses that absorb 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, she religiously wears sunscreen and a UV protective golf hat. 

    Did you know that as an academic medical center, Stony Brook is the major referral center (the place where other physicians send their patients) for patients with melanoma in Suffolk County? Or that skin cancer is one of the top five malignancies treated at Stony Brook? Each May at the Stony Brook Cancer Center, we hold a free skin cancer screening for individuals 18 years of age and older. This annual event attracts hundreds of people from the community and those who do not have insurance, are underinsured or have never had a skin cancer screening are encouraged to attend. And to reach the younger crowd with our sun safety message, our nurse educators visit local high school health education classes each May.  

    Whatever your favorite summer sport or outdoor pastime is, ask yourself before you leave the house, “Am I as protected as I should be from the sun’s harmful rays?” For more information about sun exposure and other ways to stay safe this summer, call HealthConnect® at (631) 444-4000.

    L. Reuven Pasternak, MD
    Chief Executive Officer, Stony Brook University Hospital
    Vice President for Health Systems, Stony Brook Medicine

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