The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC), founded in 1845 and the oldest hospital in the borough, hosted the 19th Annual Brooklyn Hospital Founders’ Ball on Wednesday, September 27 at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, 333 Adams Street.
Hundreds of attendees celebrated at the event that raises funds that have underwritten critical hospital initiatives. Four individuals were honored during the evening featuring special guest, Football Pro Hall of Famer Joe Namath, the quarterback who led the New York Jets to their only Superbowl victory in 1969.
Namath, who spent over an hour greeting attendees and congratulating recipients, discussed the significance of both the hospital and event.
“I’m honest to God happy to be here,” the legendary quarterback told this paper. “It’s a privilege to be meeting these people and rubbing shoulders with those that have excelled in taking care of and helping others. What I’ve accomplished is tiny compared to what these Brooklyn Hospital Foundation people are doing. I’m thrilled to be around these people. I know how lucky I am to be here.”
Borough President Eric Adams also attended the event. “We want to thank you all for coming out and supporting an amazing hospital and an amazing board,” he told attendees. “Having the great Joe Namath here is just a reflection of just how great this borough is.”
“I’m here to support the work that they do,” added Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, vicar for development for the Diocese of Brooklyn. “They’re closing so many hospitals and you want to support the ones that are still here, especially those in neighborhoods that are really reaching out to those who are in need.”
Dr. Anders Cohen, director of the Neurosciences Center, was one of two recipients of the Walter E. Reed Medal for his exceptional and revolutionary work at TBHC.
He was presented with the award by one of his patients, 85-year-old Barbara Williams.
“He was one of the first doctors not to have a negative outlook on my grandmother’s condition,” said William Wonders, grandson of Williams. “All the doctors outside of Brooklyn Hospital said, when she gets to be this age, those things happen and that was their prognosis, but Dr. Cohen said ‘I took some X-Rays; I can fix this.’ Twenty four hours after her initial surgery, she stood straight up. The pain was gone.”
“A painful life is over and I feel free,” said Williams. “It’s just a blessing to have someone so skilled. He’s like extended family. You hear of doctors long ago and they were more family oriented. He’s like that.”
Cohen told this paper that the feeling was mutual.
“I think it’s a wonderfully unique scenario where it’s an actual-doctor-patient experience that is ongoing,” said Cohen, the first New York City physician to perform extreme lateral interbody fusion and Trans1 procedures to treat the lumbar spine. “Every so often, you meet people that you have a connection with. In this day and age, there’s red tape and regulations and restrictions and it’s so hard to practice medicine, and you come in and sometimes think why are you doing this. Then, all of a sudden, you realize you’ve helped the most appreciative people and here you are years later at an event like this.”
Doctor Saimamba Veeramachaneni also received the Walter Reed Medal. She is a board certified internist, cardiologist and director of clinical cardiology at TBHC and expressed her gratitude for the award.
“Coming from a different background and growing up in a different culture, I think it gives me an advantage working with physicians from different countries and patients from diverse backgrounds,” said Veeramachaneni, who attended medical college in India. “I am immensely humbled today. Walter Reed’s passion for his craft led him to join the U.S. Medical Corps in the late 1800s. He never could’ve imagined that the steps he had taken would have such a significant effect on the future of science.”
She also discussed her work. “As physicians, we are tasked to develop relationships with our patients and understand the uniqueness that exists within each individual. It makes me proud to take care of such a diverse population at Brooklyn Hospital,” she added. “I’ve become a better doctor not just because of my efforts but because of the people I treat on a daily basis.”
President and CEO of TBHC Gary Terrinoni discussed all the recent happenings at the local hospital, including its state-of-the-art cardiac services, the Brooklyn Health Medical Alliance and the hospital’s partnership with Mount Sinai. “We are the only stand-alone hospital in Brooklyn and while we appreciate the partnership with Sinai, our intention is to remain a viable independent association and partner with institutions like Mount Sinai,” he said. “We’re excited about it.”
He also stated the New York State Department of Health had awarded $25 million to TBHC to renovate and expand its emergency department.
Namath presented Founders Medal Awards to Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Directors of St. George’s University Charles Modica and the co-founder, Trustee and officer of St. George’s Patrick Adams, P.C.