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    Eagle Scout Project Changes the Landscape at Stony Brook University Heart Institute

    17-year-old John Kostic III and fellow scouts beautify atrium garden for patients and staff

    STONY BROOK, NY, October 30, 2013 - Each time Pamela Kostic, RN, Chest Pain Coordinator at Stony Brook University Heart Institute, passed by the fourth floor atrium garden adjacent to the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) and Burn Unit, she wished it could be improved. As it turned out, her own teenage son was just the person to make it happen.

    Pamela, whose 17-year-old son, John, was working to achieve his Eagle Scout rank, suggested that he take on the task of restoring the garden for his Eagle Scout project. John, a high school junior at the time, visited the site in May and agreed.

    Last spring, John created a detailed plan for beautifying the garden, which he submitted to his Scout leader, and Stony Brook administration. The garden space, originally created to serve as a pleasant environment for patients and hospital staff to view, needed to be cleaned up and refreshed with new plants, updated landscaping and fresh paint.

    Among the most ardent supporters for the project were Harold Fernandez, MD, Co-Director of the Stony Brook University Heart Institute, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and an Eagle Scout himself; James R. Taylor Jr., MD, Co-Director of Stony Brook University Heart Institute, Professor and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stony Brook University School of Medicine; Margaret Duffy, MS, RN, NEA-BC, Interim Chief Nursing Officer at Stony Brook University Hospital; and Kathryn Scheriff, RN, MSN, CNOR, Interim Associate Director of Nursing for the Heart Institute. 

    Once John’s plan was approved, he got to work, recruiting fellow scouts Andrew Holomshek, Riley Brune, Duncan Brune, Matt Callen, Will Lamparter, John Lamparter, Andrew Cucchiaro, Joe Cucchiaro, John Clancy and Kevin Harrington from his Mt. Sinai Troop #384 to assist.

    Over the summer, John and his team spent many long days power washing, weeding, laying ground cover, prepping and repainting cement areas, shoveling gravel, mulching, refinishing benches, adding soil and installing beautiful hostas, hydrangeas, ivy and annuals in flat and tiered spaces. A memorial stone, honoring Victoria Rourke, a Stony Brook Nurse Practitioner for 30 years, was reinstalled in a prominent location within the garden.

    Thanks to the dedication of the scouts and John’s leadership, the project, which started in May, was completed by the end of August. “I was pretty determined to get it done before the school year began,” said John, now a senior at Mt. Sinai High School. “I was surprised after each day of working how much better it looked.”

    John consulted with professional landscapers to determine which plants would be best for the setting. Because the garden is in a hospital, no pesticides were used. Joseph Kelly, head of Stony Brook’s Grounds and Maintenance was the point person who helped John get the project going, and supplied tools and advice.

    To help finance the project John held bake sales, and collected funds and equipment from donors. The Stony Brook Medicine Grounds Department also donated tools, soil and mulch. 

    Today the refurbished garden is a lush, beautiful space, filled with light, lovely plants and benches for visitors and staff. “When it was finished, I felt really proud about what we had done,” John said.

    If you would like to contribute your skills to help maintain the garden, please contact Pamela Kostic at (631) 444-3384.

    Caption: John Kostic III, center, led fellow scouts in a summer-long project to revitalize the atrium garden adjacent to the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) and Burn Unit at Stony Brook University Hospital. Pictured from left to right are Andrew Holomshek, William Lamparter, John Kostic III, Duncan Brune and Joe Cucchiaro.