During and after Superstorm Sandy, in the face of power service disruptions and hazardous conditions, Southampton Hospital kept their lights on and remained up and running to serve the community, thanks in no small part to the hospital's facilities and engineering team.
And for their tireless efforts, the entire department was honored with the New York Senate Liberty Award Friday, presented by Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle at the hospital's Parrish Memorial Hall. It is one of the highest awards a civilian can receive in New York State.
The honorees are David Lopez, the director and facilities and engineering, and his staff of 13, including assistant director James L. White, administrative assistant Tammy Palazzolo, Dana Davis, Thomas Goetz, Michael White, Gary Scherpich, August E. Heithaus, Thomas Colitti, Willian J. Rand, Thomas M. Lawler, Michael A. Catalano, Richard J. Donahoe and Jordan C. Gomez.
"In the last two years, we had Hurricane Irene, we had a fire, we had Superstorm Sandy, we had blizzards — I think we're going to have locusts next ...," Southampton Hospital President Robert Chaloner quipped to the hospital's senior staff. "But these folks have kept us going. And I know even in the blizzard, these folks have been out there plowing out your cars for you, and we just couldn't think of anyone better to nominate."
LaValle said that after Superstorm Sandy, he made the rounds in his Senate district, from Port Jefferson to Montauk, including a tour of Southampton Hospital. "This hospital is very special to me and to our community — very critical to our community."
Before and after a storm, LaValle said, for a hospital, it comes down to the generators and keeping things going. Lopez and his staff made sure to do their jobs, so everyone could do their jobs, and ultimately serve the hospital's patients, the senator said.
LaValle read from the Senate resolution: "David Lopez and his staff have given not only of their time and energies, but also of their competence, intelligence and leadership, and consequently have been designated for special honor."
He added, "All of you are part of New York State history, because this gets put into a journal, so for you, your children, and your grandchildren, you are all part of history, and rightfully so ... We've seen this with Hurricane Irene, Sandy, we've seen it with wildfires, and, of course, the last little gift that the good Lord gave us, with snow. It takes special people."
Lopez lauded his staff as well. "You're only as good as the guys that you work with, and they do a great job," he said.
LaValle also made of point of recognizing Robert Chaloner, who Patch readers voted as Southampton's Greatest Person of 2012.