Tag Archives: Norwalk Hospital

Roundup: Drs. Al And Jean Beasley, Sunrise Rotary, Remarkable Mondays …

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Norwalk Hospital will dedicate 2 newly renovated pediatric emergency rooms in memory of Dr. Al Beasley and Dr. Jean Beasley.

The husband-and-wife pediatricians were beloved in Westport. Dr. Al died last year; Dr. Jean passed away from cancer in 1973.

The most recent issue of Catalyst — the magazine published by Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s owner —  devotes 2 pages to the Beasleys. The story notes that Al was the grandson of a Harvard-educated attorney who founded the Boston chapter of the NAACP; his father graduated from Harvard, his mother from Radcliffe. Al served 2 years as an Army reservist, the 4 years in the Air Force during the Korean War. He and Jean married while they were attending NYU Medical School.

Dr. Al Beasley was also a major benefactor of Staples Tuition Grants, in honor of Dr. Jean. (Hat tip: Burton Stuttman)

Dr. Jean Beasley and Dr. Al Beasley

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Sunrise Rotary Club sponsored a food drive collection yesterday, at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Norwalk’s great Person-to-Person organization was the beneficiary.

Sunrise Rotarians collect food. (Photo/Nick Mathias)

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Mondays are remarkable at the drive-in.

Upcoming screenings at Westport’s Remarkable Theater at the Imperial Avenue parking lot include:

  • The Breakfast Club (June 28, 8:45 p.m.)
  • Dirty Dancing (July 5, 9 p.m.)
  • Pitch Perfect (July 12, 9 p.m.)
  • Grease (July 19, 9 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

“The Breakfast Club”: still hilarious after all these years.

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John (Jackie) Laux of Jersey City died June 9 in Midvale, Utah after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed at home to the tune of the Grateful Dead, surrounded by his wife Marybeth, son Robert, and daughters Kristen and Molly.

Jackie and Marybeth had recently relocated to Utah to live out his lifelong dream of becoming a ski bum and being closer to his grandchildren, Devyn and Callan Laux, and Maggie and Noelle Giusti.

Jackie was an accomplished hockey player, playing goalie for Iona College. He made many lifelong friends on the ice, a tradition that continued through his final years while refereeing youth hockey in Connecticut.

Jackie also loved golf, and was a proud member of Shorehaven Club in Norwalk. Surrounded by friends, he enjoyed the fresh air, light beers and moderate exercise, then met his children by the pool to catch a swimming, diving or tennis match.

He was always excited and proud to watch (or coach) his children’s soccer, baseball and softball games, and tennis matches. As his children grew, their joint love of sports grew into family gatherings at New York Giants and Rangers games.

Jackie’s generous personality garnered him hundreds of friends around the country. He was quick to lend a helping hand or buy a drink for a friend in need of company (or just plain fun). He connected with others instantly and deeply, and leaves behind a lasting impression on all who knew him.

Due to COVID, a private memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on July 12 at Westport’s Unitarian Church, and broadcast via Zoom (click here for the link). Following the service, family and friends are invited to Penfield Pavilion in Fairfield (5 p.m.).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jackie’s name to Huntsman Cancer Institute or First Tee of Metropolitan New York.

Jackie Laux

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Staples’ spring hockey team won the Southern Connecticut Hockey League Division 3 Spring hockey championship, thumping North Branford 7-0 in the finals. Incoming captains Andrew Gebicki, Jason Wolgast and Cole Feinleib led the team.

Staples: spring league champs.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features a bee. It’s gorgeous — but the bee is also hard at work.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … Happy Industrial Workers of the World Day!

 

Remembering Dr. Horace Laffaye

Dr. Horace Laffaye died on May 31, in Durango, Colorado. A prominent Westport physician, he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86.

Dr. Horace Laffaye

After a long association with a private practice at The Willows, Dr. Laffaye served as chief of surgery at Norwalk Hospital for 22 years. He organized annual symposia for his colleagues, where surgeons shared their professional expertise and socialized at places like Lake George and Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Golf and tennis competitions were often included. He retired in 2005.

He was president of the New England Surgical Society and the Surgeons’ Travel Club. For several years he mentored physicians’ assistants, as a Yale University professor.

Serendipitously, a patient sought treatment for a polo injury. That reignited a passion for a favorite endeavor back in his native Argentina. For 2 decades Dr. Laffaye played polo at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, and other venues throughout the Northeast.

After his playing days ended, Dr. Laffaye combined his love of history and passion for polo by reinventing himself as a scholar and author. He authored or edited 9 books and innumerable articles on polo in Spanish and English, adding significantly to the historical record of the sport.

In 2010 he served as a Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Museum and Library in Middleburg, Virginia. His research led to his  publication “Polo in the United States: A History.”

After retiring to Wellington, Florida Dr. Laffaye assisted the Polo Museum and Hall of Fame in many ways, including adding to the collections of books, art and memorabilia, and serving on the board of directors and chair of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee.

Dr. Laffaye was comfortable conversing with CEOs, ambassadors, grooms and other staff. He bonded with many through their shared love of polo.

He also loved golf. In his youth he both played and refereed rugby, and met his future wife after a match.

Dr. Laffaye was honored with a lifetime membership in the Sports Car Club of America, after competing in rallies for decades. Late in life he told caregivers “You drive like Fangio,” a reference to an Argentine car-racing idol.

Dr. Laffaye was predeceased by his wife Martha, sister María Teresa and brother Roberto. He is survived by his daughter Gisele Laffaye Pansze (Trent) of Durango, Colorado and their children; son Patrick of Norwalk, and former daughter-in-law Ann Kovarik Laffaye of Phoenix, and their sons; his loving companion in his later years, Mary Boykin of Palm Beach, and numerous nieces and nephews and their families in Argentina.

When he gathered his family for an Alaskan cruise he said, “After I die, my grandkids won’t remember that I was a surgeon or an author. But they will remember that I took them to Alaska.” He was generous, thoughtful and gracious. Even toward the end, his sense of humor and his laughter would emerged at unexpected moments.

A celebration of his life will be held July 24 (noon, Greenwich Polo Club).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dr. Laffaye’s honor for Alzheimer’s research and support programs to Memory Matters, PO Box 22330, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925.

Roundup: Leonard Bernstein, Yappy Hour, Kids Talking …

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The TriBeca Film Festival is back. This year, it’s very New York-centric.

Among the films: “Bernstein’s Wall.”

The Tribeca website describes the world premiere of the film directed by Westporter Douglas Tirola (4thRow Films; co-founder, Westport’s Remarkable Theater):

In this enlightening look at one of the greatest classical music figures of the 20th century, director Douglas Tirola mines a rich trove of interviews, television appearances, home movie footage, photos, letters to craft a comprehensive look at Leonard Bernstein, whose passion and drive took him well beyond the marvelous music he wrote and conducted.

Spanning the breadth of a life interwoven with key historic moments outside the concert hall, Bernstein’s Wall follows the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who arrives in New York from his Boston hometown to eventually become conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and becomes a household name thanks to his numerous TV appearances, educating the public on all things symphonic, West Side Story, being seen with celebrities and politicians, and his crossing-the-line activism, from protesting the Vietnam War to (controversially) supporting the Black Panthers.

Tirola incorporates Bernstein’s personal life — his fraught relationship with his father, his marriage, his family life, his struggles to be at peace with his sexuality — to paint a complex portrait of a complex, driven individual who produced some of the most memorable music of his time as a product of those times.

(“Bernstein’s Wall” is available for streaming from June 15-23. Click here for details. Hat tip: Kerry Long)

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Yesterday’s Yappy Hour at MoCA Westport was paws-itively cool.

The arts center hosted plenty of dogs (and their owners) on its expansive Newtown Turnpike lawn. Food was collected for PAWS and Westport Animal Shelter Advocates.

Missed yesterday? Doggone it! The next one is July 1.

Yappy Hour at MoCA Westport! The next one will be held on Thursday, July 1.

Yappy hour, yesterday at MoCA Westport.

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Just in time for the end of the spring sports season: Westport Rotary Club and the Westport Soccer Association are collecting used soccer uniforms, clothing, shoes, shin guards, balls and other equipment.

They’ll ship it all to Nicaragua. Rotary already works there with NicaPhoteo, a non-profit that helps communities.

The soccer equipment is much needed. Soft backpack bags, old balls, socks, jerseys and shirts — it will all go to good use.

The drop-off location is 5 Sugar Maple Lane, Westport (off Whitney Street). There’s a box on the front porch. Please wash clothing items first!

Questions? Email registrar@westportsoccer.org.

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More than 30 years ago, kids were talking.

Dr. Donald Cohen’s nationally televised show — in which, well, kids talked (about everything in their lives) is being relaunched. Fittingly for a new century, it’s a livestream, on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.

The first episode of the relaunch is tonight (Thursday, June 10), at 7 p.m. The topic is body image and eating disorders. Teenage guests come from Westport — and around the country.

“Kids Are Talking” started in 1990 at Fairfield University. It became a national radio call-in show on WICC, simulcast on Cablevision. In the late ’90s it found a home on WWPT-FM, broadcast from Toquet Hall.

“Kids Are Talking” and its host, Cohen, have been featured on “The CBS Morning Show”  and ABC-TV, as well as in the New York Times.

For more information, click here.

A retro poster.

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Traffic is up. Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the Westport Police Department was on the lookout for people not wearing seatbelts.

The campaign — part of the state Department of Transportation’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign — yielded only 6 tickets.

Police call Westport compliance rate “remarkably high.” But until it’s 100%, they’ll stick be looking for infractions.

And don’t forget: After clicking your seatbelt, don’t look at your phone!

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TAP Strength Lab is the latest business to join the “Summer of Pride” promotion.

The downtown personalized fitness coaching, therapy, nutrition and preventative health center will donate 10% of the first month of membership (for new members who sign up now through August) to Westport Pride. Mention the code “Summer of Love.”

Oh, yeah: They’ve got a special Pride logo for this month too.

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Questions, concerns or just thoughts about Norwalk Hospital?

The local institution hosts an online “Community Update” (June 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m.).

President Peter Cordeau will discuss the latest hospital developments. an independent monitor will report on its review of compliance.

A Q-and-A session follows the presentation. Submit questions in advance by emailing (norwalkhospital.communityrelations@nuvancehealth.org), or call 203-852-2250. Click here for instructions on joining the virtual meeting.

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An osprey and a chick are today’s gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” subjects.

(Photo/Franco Fellah)

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Patricia Rogers Suda, died peacefully at home on May 24, surrounded by her loving family after a courageous fight against cancer. She was 69.

Born in New Haven, her family moved to Westport in 1959. She graduated in 1970 from Staples High, where she met and married the love of her life, Mark R. Suda.

Patti and Mark moved to Norwalk. They were married for nearly 50 years, before he passed in 2020.

Survivors include sons, Mark Suda Jr. (Michelle) and Joseph Suda (Amy); grandchildren Skyler, Madyson, Samantha and Joseph Jr.; brothers Bill, Paul and John Rogers; sister Janet Aitoro, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Patti loved watching her sons in their sports. From Cranbury League baseball and Pop Warner football, to high school baseball and football, she was there. She also enjoyed watching her grandkids in softball, baseball, gymnastics, soccer and hockey.

Patti retired in December 2017 as a bookkeeper after 32 years, to spend time with her family.

Her words to all family and friends are, “Live life to the fullest, with love and respect to others, because you never know what tomorrow brings.”

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Whittingham Cancer Center,  in memory of Patti.

Patti Suda

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And finally … Happy Kamehameha Day! The state holiday (one state only!) honors the monarch who first established the unified Kingdom of Hawai’i.

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Center Street Concert; Free Face Masks; Meal Train; More


Last weekend, residents of Center Street enjoyed an amazing performance.

Their neighbor John Karrel, and fellow Westporter and friend Jeff Chasnow played beautiful selections from Bach and Vivaldi.

The musicians were socially distanced, on John’s porch. But they — and all who heard — were drawn emotionally together.

“It was so lovely sitting in the garden surrounded by spring blossoms, with the best weather of the year so far,” says Heidi Curran. “I hope they will treat us to more!”

John Karrel (left) and Jeff Chasnow)


Every Christmas, the tree next to Assumption Church is hung with lights.

This spring there’s something new on Riverside Avenue: face masks.

They’re hand-sewn, washable — and free for anyone to take. Be sure to pick up sanitizing prep pads too (donated by Knights of Columbus) — and a prayer card.


Everyone needs positivity. Savvy + Grace has it, for sure. In fact, it’s called a Positiv-A-Tea Basket.

That’s just one of the many fun, fine products the Main Street gifts-and-more store has for Mother’s Day (and the rest of the pandemic too).

Owner Annette Norton — downtown’s biggest booster — offers both shipping and no-contact curbside pickup (weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Her Easter baskets were a huge success, so Mother’s Day is a natural follow-up.

For gift baskets — or options to built your own gift box from their great selection of clothing, lounge wear, cashmere, fine jewelry, food items, bath and body products, and gorgeous home items — click here, or call 203-221-0077.

Positiv-A-Tea gift basket.


Tomorrow is National Nurses Day. As they and their colleagues bear the brunt of the pandemic, we can show support by signing up to feed a team (about 20 people) at Norwalk Hospital.

Ordering online through for this meal train helps them — and your favorite restaurant. Click here; it’s easy, quick and important.

Volunteer Lisa Power says, “If you’ve already signed up, and/or already donated to one of the many other places or people in need, please pass the link along to others. Spread the word!”


Speaking of Meal Trains: Garelick & Herbs participates. And they donate 20% of the price of any order to Jewish Family Services.

The popular market offers “Do Good, Feel Good” meal trains for Norwalk Hospital (20 staff members), Greenwich Hospital (50), Carrollton Nursing Home (35), and 5 options for police and fire department shifts.

They’re all on Garelick & Herbs’ website (scroll way down to the bottom). While you’re there, check out the huge variety of options for yourself, either curbside or delivery: breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, noodle bar, dinners, quiches, breads, pastas, desserts and more.

Plus Mother’s Day brunch, dinner, gift baskets, cakes — and a special “You Cook for Mom” feature.


In 6th grade, Emma Borys was diagnosed with epilepsy. The teenager is now an outspoken advocate for research and education.

The Walk to End Epilepsy — which she has raised plenty of funds for — has been canceled by the coronavirus. She also will not be able to take part in her long-awaited graduation walk at Weston High School.

But Emma is not deterred. She organized a virtual Walk to End Epilepsy — and promises to walk 2,020 steps (get it?) every day, from now until graduation, in return for pledges to the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut. Click here to help.

Emma Borys


The Avery Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology now offers COVID-19 antibody testing to determine whether you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, even if you have no symptoms. It’s by appointment, at 12 Avery Place. Call or text 203- 227-5125.


And finally … a couple of years ago I saw “Bruce Springsteen on Broadway.” (Remember Broadway?!)

It was an evening of poetry, passion and power. Among the most powerful moments: a stripped-down version of this song. As always, The Boss says it best:

COVID-19 Roundup: Daffodils; Pink Moon; Earthplace; Easter Egg Tree; Augmented Reality; More

Thanks to the wonderful, multi-talented Miggs Burroughs for the new “06880” logo above. It will grace every Roundup from here until there’s no more COVID news to report. Fingers crossed …

Speaking of masks, here’s what the well-dressed blogger should wear. Apparently I can now look like this even at the bank.


Eileen Ward — director of the Children’s Community Development Center — writes:

“A long long time ago, as children would say (but really only last fall), we planted 1,000 daffodil bulbs in the beds along Hillspoint Road, and our entrance in back.

“Our volunteers — along with hundreds of other people Westporters — decided to ‘paint the town yellow’ in memory of people we love, and to brighten our passings all over town.

“Now, in the most bittersweet of ways, they are blooming en masse. As I come and go, to and from an empty CCDC, I remember the families and children who helped make this beautiful scene possible — and I hope and hope some more.”

The project was conceived by Debra Kandrak. Other daffodil gardens can be seen by the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown, the Sherwood Island Connector, Beachside Avenue, and Project Return.

Daffodils around town.


Rindy Higgins writes: “Calling all Westporters to go outside tonight at 8 p.m. and howl at the pink moon! If the Italians can sing from their balconies to connect during social distancing, we can howl to the moon as a way to reconnect with the human pack.

“Even if it’s cloudy, there’s still the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2020 in the sky. So let’s connect to nature and each other by howling tonight at 8!”


Lisa Power provides this update on the Norwalk Hospital meal train:

The goal is to get daily meals to every unit at Norwalk Hospital (20 people each), delivered by a restaurant. It’s a win-win: feeding hard-working medical personnel, while supporting local businesses.

Many restaurants are even providing discounts for donors. Click here for a list of participating restaurants (scroll down to “General Instructions,” and to donate. Restaurants interested in being listed should email lapower2014@gmail.com.


A special shout out to Food for the Front Line who have been amazing and feeding all units at Norwalk Hosptial on Mondays. I’m hoping this Meal Train will help fill the gap on those other days.

Earthplace now has its own YouTube channel. Features include animal videos, activities to do at home, and story time. Click here to see.


The coronavirus is taking a toll even on Stew Leonard’s. Departments are shutting early — the butchers now leave at 5 p.m. weekdays — and the entire store will be closed this Easter. That’s a first in the store’s history.


Easter services may be canceled, but one tradition lives on: Jalna Jaeger’s Easter Egg tree!

For the 13th year, the 1971 Staples High School graduate has decorated a large tree on her 3 East Avenue property in Norwalk (just down the hill from Stew Leonard’s) with hundreds of eggs.

Kids (of all ages) enjoy it. “We all need something cheerful these days,” Jalna says. She provides it!


Here’s a novel way to amuse yourself (and others), during the pandemic.

Westporter Steven Kranz is a founder of Strax Networks. The new company just launched “StraxAR.” It’s “augmented reality” — and all you need is a smartphone.

Take a video. Then digitally “stick it” to any item: a logo, a painting, a stop sign…

Take a look at this video:

Strax is offering any “06880” reader the chance to submit a video (45 seconds or less). It could be a special recipe, a do-it-yourself project, even a singing dog. They’ll “stick it” to the target of your choice. Your content will be available worldwide, to anyone who “Straxes” that target.

Send your video to support@straxnetworks.com. Their crew will turn it into an augmented reality experience. And — completing the circle — “06880” will feature some submissions here. (The Strax app is available through the App Store and Google Play.)

PS: If you’d like, your augmented reality experience can lead to the home page of a charity of your choice.


And finally, this one might be a springtime cliché. But — as Jalna says above — “we all need something cheerful these days.” We can always count on the Beatles for that.

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Drive-By Palm Sunday; Hospital Meal Train; Find Your Fitness; Give Hemp, And More

Palm Sunday is coming. What’s a church — closed for the pandemic — to do?

Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal will make it a “drive by.”

Just drive to the front of the church, receive a priestly blessing, and listen to bagpipes!

Of course, like every other religious institution, CHT is doing a lot more during the pandemic.

For example, they put donation bins in the back door servery. Anyone can donate food. Volunteers bring it to the Gillespie Center, and 2 Bridgeport organizations: King’s Pantry (for elderly patrons, veterans, people with disabilities and the homeless) and Feed My Sheep, which helps over 80 families.

The church also provides meals for Westport police, fire and EMS personnel.

Donations can be made online too (the church buys the groceries). Click here for details.

In addition, Christ & Holy Trinity offers a short Facebook Live prayer service every night at 7. The men’s group meets every week for a spiritual discussion on Zoom. An abbreviated virtual church service is livestreamed every Sunday. Click here for details.


Westporter Lisa Power helped put together a meal train to help feed the overworked and often hungry Norwalk Hospital staff.

Lunch and dinner slots are connected with specific units. Each unit has 20 or so staff members.

The request is for individually packaged or wrapped meals (no large food trays that require sharing). Meals can be donated by individuals, families, groups or businesses. Call your favorite restaurant or deli to order.

(A&S Fine Foods in Westport has done a great job delivering food so far, Lisa says.)

Click here to sign up for the meal train. For questions and more information — including restaurants and delis that would like to be listed on the mail train — email lapower2014@gmail.com.


When COVID-19 forced the closure of gyms and fitness centers, thousands of Westporters lost their daily routines. And scores of Westporters lost all their income.

Jessica Newshel is trying to help.

The Westport resident and Pilates instructor has launched Fit Finder CT.  The free service helps people find accredited trainers who can work with them one-on-one or in small virtual groups, on the platform of their choice.  Workouts are tailored to each client’s specific needs and ability, and the equipment (or lack of) available at home. There are many types of trainers, for all ages. Click here for the FitFinder website.

Yoga instructors are also listed on FitFinder. (Photo/Frances Hoyte)


Westonite Elan Wischkin is the founder of The Giving Hemp, a craft CBD company.

He’s put 18 CBD “Giving Boxes” on his website, for $10. That money will be donated to a GoFundMe providing ventilators for Connecticut COVID-19 patients.

The box can be sent to someone as a gift, to help ease stress and anxiety.  Each includes a bottle of CBD tincture, a dark chocolate with 15mg CBD, and a poem by Kahlil Gibran: “On Giving.”

Elan will also donate 20% of sales all month to the GoFundMe for ventilators. Click here for the Giving Boxes, and the Giving Hemp website.


The Fairfield County Story Lab was all set to celebrate 1 year as a gathering place for local writers.

Instead, all gathering places are closed.

But founder Carol Dannhauser has the “write” stuff. From now through the end of the coronavirus quarantine, she’s opening up all events — free — to any writer in Connecticut, Westchester and New York City.

There are sessions for freelancers, memoirists, and people looking for agents; virtual happy hours, game nights — you name it. For details, email info@fcstorylab.com.


And finally, just another reminder:

A Westporter’s Difficult Journey Through The COVID-19 Healthcare System

The Westport woman felt fine on Monday.

She played tennis, as she does nearly every day. She took her 2 kids — both Staples High School students — to various activities.

But when she got home later that afternoon, she felt sick. Her temperature was 102.4. “I never get a fever that high,” she says.

She went to bed. And she worried.

Three days earlier, she played tennis with someone from Central America, who had a cold. Her kids’ friends are in and out of the house constantly. And she herself has asthma.

She called her primary care physician. The advice: Take Tylenol and Advil.

Two days later — Wednesday — she heard the news that COVID-19 is definitely in Westport. The schools were shutting down.

She called her doctor’s office again, and asked to be tested. She was told they have no testing kits — in fact, no physician around here does.

And because of her exposure to someone from another country, they said she could not come to the office. Instead, she should go to the Norwalk Hospital emergency room. They — along with Bridgeport, St. Vincent’s and Greenwich Hospitals — have “drive-by” testing, the doctor’s office said. She would not even have to get out of the car.

The office promised to call the hospital, alerting them she’d be there soon.

At Norwalk Hospital, the woman told the valet she’d been expected. He had no idea. He summoned a nurse.

The nurse told the Westporter there was no drive-by testing. She had to park, and go to the ER waiting room.

South Korea has plenty of drive-by testing sites. The United States does not.

She did. A nurse took her pulse, and said, “You know, you won’t be getting the coronavirus test.”

The nurse at the emergency room desk confirmed the news. The only people they’re testing, she said, are those who are pale, have blue skin, and/or an oxygen level below 90.

But the nurse never asked the Westport woman if she’d been exposed to anyone from a foreign country. Or if she had pre-existing respiratory issues. Or anything else about her condition.

She did say that the woman’s primary care practitioner was “not informed” about Norwalk’s procedures. The nurse “heard” there was drive-through testing at Greenwich Hospital. But definitely not Norwalk. (An announcement yesterday confirmed that drive-through testing is available in Greenwich — at a primary care facility, not Greenwich Hospital — as well as Stamford and Stratford. Click here for details.)

The woman was taken to a private room, with a sealed door. She was left there for an hour.

Finally, she opened the door. “Is anyone coming in here?” she asked.

“Close the door!” someone yelled.

The only communication she had was by phone. Finally, a doctor entered. He wore a hazmat suit.

He told the woman, “you won’t be tested. There are only 600 kits in the entire state.”

COVID-19 tests are scarce. There may be only 600 in all of Connecticut.

The woman told a nurse, “Vice President Pence said anyone can get a test.”

“I know,” the nurse replied. “I don’t want hysteria, but people need to know: It’s not true. We’re not equipped for this.”

She did get tested for the flu, and strep throat.

As she was leaving, the woman saw 3 elderly patients on stretchers. They were being transferred to other hospitals.

While waiting for her discharge paperwork, the woman learned that a nurse had run out of containers, for a coronavirus test she had administered to someone. So the nurse taped the swab next to the bed, until the test dish arrived.

“They don’t want people just showing up at the hospital, unless you’re over 70,” the woman says. “They’re not ready for this.”

She is glad she went. She got an Albuterol inhalation prescription, for her asthma.

But, she says, “You don’t want to go to the hospital — especially if you have no underlying health issues. Just isolate yourself.”

Self-isolation is not easy. But it’s important.

Back home, she took off her clothes in the garage. She took over the master suite; her husband is using the guest room, and using a different bathroom. She’s not letting her kids hang out with anyone outside the family.

She also called her physician’s office, and told them they’d given her the wrong information. They were appreciative, the woman says.

Now, her fever has broken. She just feels tired, and has a sore throat.

“I’ll be fine,” she says. “But I want people to know what’s happening.”

She pauses.

“This is not good.”

Alert “06880” reader Chip Stephens sent along this helpful symptoms chart, from WebMD.

 

With iPads, Kids Overcome Cancer

Life was not always easy for David Gottschalk.

During his 15 years in Westport, his daughter spent time in Norwalk Hospital. In 2010, his father and mother-in-law died of cancer.

Despite his grief — and his busy work at a hedge fund — in 2011 Gottschalk searched for a way to give back to the town he loves, and the hospital he relied on.

With the help of an accountant and lawyer working gratis, he formed a non-profit: KIDSovercancer. The goal was to buy iPads, for children in extended hospital stays.

David Gottschalk presents an iPad to Dr. Vicki Smetak, chair of Norwalk Hospital’s Pediatrics Department.

Gottschalk did not realize that any technology donation must go through a rigorous approval process. “Kids will get in trouble sometimes,” he notes. “The hospital had to see a real purpose for iPads in their pediatric wing.”

Because they were new devices, the hospital added necessary protocols. Gottschalk was good to go.

His initial donations were to Norwalk, Yale, Danbury, Bridgeport, Greenwich and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospitals. Soon he added other states, including rural hospitals where youngsters may not have had access to technology before.

Gottschalk promised contributors that every penny KIDSovercancer received would go directly toward iPad purchases. There are no administrative expenses — not for shipping, IRS filings, nothing.

“It’s much more than entertainment,” Gottschalk notes. Hospitals use the iPads to teach youngsters about their illnesses, and as a distraction tool during small surgical procedures.

An iPad is a welcome distraction for youngsters in hospitals.

Eight years later, KIDSovercancer has sent tablets to over 56 hospitals, in all 50 states. An average of 100 children use the iPads a year in each hospital — a total of over 11,000 kids.

Gottschalk calls the project “the most satisfying thing” he’s ever done.

Of course, he can’t do it alone. He needs everyone’s help. Contributions to KIDSovercancer can be sent to: 606 Post Road East, Suite 515, Westport, CT 06880.

Norwalk Hospital Seeks Memories, Memorabilia

No one alive today remembers a time without Norwalk Hospital.

Founded 125 years ago, it’s been an integral part of the birth, life and death of countless area residents.

Norwalk Hospital then …

Now — in honor of its quasquicentennial — the hospital hopes people remember what it’s meant to them.

They invite community members, staff and retirees to share memories and photos of Norwalk Hospital over the years. They’ll be displayed on its website, and posted on social media. Click here to complete the form.

They’re also gathering historical items — memorabilia, photos, newspaper clippings, etc. — for display in the hospital archives. Email maura.romaine@wchn.org for more information.

Be creative! Though I’m sure they’re not looking for your old hospital bracelet.

Or your tonsils or appendix.

… and now.

Whittingham Cancer Center: Care With A Hometown Heart

Tony Menchaca’s 2006 colonoscopy was clean. With no family history of colon cancer, he was happy to wait 10 years for his next one.

But when he saw blood in his stool in 2013, he had another procedure. Diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, a foot of his colon was removed at Norwalk Hospital.

The disease had spread to his lymph nodes. He faced 6 months of chemotherapy.

Tony Menchaca

Tony — a Westporter since 1990, whose 3 boys earned fame as Staples High School wrestlers — had a choice. He could undergo chemo at world renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, or at the much smaller Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital.

His surgeon, Dr. James McClane, described the value of a local center. It was important, he said, to think about ease of access, and the personalization of a smaller facility.

Tony chose Whittingham. Four years later — and cancer-free — he is very pleased with his experience.

“I got super treatment,” Tony says. “The level of expertise is comparable to New York. And the amount of caring was phenomenal.”

(Whittingham Cancer Center recently affiliated with Memorial Sloan Kettering. MSK medical and radiation oncologists are now onsite at Norwalk Hospital.)

Over 6 months, Tony underwent 12 rounds of chemo. He’d go in on Monday, for 3 hours of infusion. On Wednesday, he returned to have his pump disconnected. The next day, he went back for a booster shot.

Tony drove himself to his appointments. He did not want his wife Sara or his kids hanging around the infusion suite.

However, the setup encourages loved ones or friends to be there during treatment. “If you want people around, it’s great,” he notes.

Whittingham Cancer Center

Tony’s oncologist, Dr. Richard Frank, was very accessible. “I always saw him,” Tony says. “He’s a great guy, and like most of the doctors there, he’s local.”

So local, in fact, that he plays sax in the popular doctor-dominated rock band DNR.

“I may not have had that level of exposure to a physician in a larger cancer center,” Tony says.

But, Tony says, the heart of Whittingham is its chemo suite infusion nurses. They’re the ones he spent most of his time with. He can’t say enough about their expertise and concern.

The real eye-opener, though, was “the value of a local cancer center. If he spent 6 months commuting to chemo, Tony believes his recovery would have been far harder.

Even before his diagnosis, Tony had ridden in the CT Challenge, a bike ride fundraiser for cancer survivors. He’s now done it 7 times.

His other major effort is Whittingham’s 3K walk and 5K run. It’s doubly special this year: the 15th annual event for the cancer center falls on the 125th anniversary of Norwalk Hospital.

It’s Saturday, May 5 at Calf Pasture Beach. That’s just a couple of miles from his Westport home, so of course Tony will be there.

It’s not like he has to go all the way to New York for exercise.

Or excellent, life-saving cancer care.

(For more information on the Whittingham Cancer Center Walk & Sally’s Run, click here.)