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Sun River Health Teams With Island Harvest Food Bank

Lee Fryd

Joy Pak. (Photo: Ryan Pak)

In the past year, Sun River Health has stepped up to the plate as the go-to for COVID-19 defense in the Hamptons. Last spring, they opened pop up testing sites. This January, they began vaccinating us. Now, they have teamed with Island Harvest Food Bank to feed the needy. Last Wednesday marked the first distribution effort out of the Sun River Health Kraus Family Center in Southampton.

Formerly known as Hudson River Health Care, the charitable organization is committed to providing across-the-board quality medicine to the underserved, regardless of ability to pay. Out here, they take care of the Latin community that takes care of us. But, their pristine facilities are increasingly becoming a favorite resource for all. Relocated New Yorkers who kept their concierge doctors in the city have discovered them. Insured locals who lost their GPs to the growing, pricy, concierge practice out here, have turned to them as well.

The Southampton facility is run - with a whole lotta heart - by Director Joy Pak RN, CNOR. Dr. Temur Chowdhury presides over their practice, also a teaching outlet for Stony Brook medical students. OBGYN attending providers are also on site.

The Food Bank effort started Wednesday, February 17 and is slated to be a weekly event. "Island Harvest approached us to come to Eastern Long Island and use our patient leads to reach people in need," Joy Pak told us, "And I was delighted. They are a wonderful organization that provides healthy farm-to-table food, utilizing uncultivated local fields, a network of volunteers and partnering with local charities."

"My staff also loved the idea and began distributing flyers," she continued. "My girls even gave up their lunch hours to drive carless recipients, so the food wouldn't spoil. The sealed boxes include milk, yogurt, frozen packets of meat, pork or chicken and fresh vegetables."

"We gave out 100, taking the last few to the men who look for work near the 7-Eleven. Next week, Island Harvest has promised us 175 boxes," Joy added.

As to those coveted vaccines: "Because of our federally qualified status, Sun River has been included in the state's list to receive the vaccines," Joy told us. "So, we were one of the first, besides the hospital, to receive them, and uniquely able to service the community beyond the medical front line." Every week, Joy waits to see what the state will send. They gave first shots in mid-January. For the next few weeks, Sun River could only give second shots. Now there will be first shots again. "Sun River is committed to get as much vaccine and distribute it as quickly as possible to everyone," Joy said, "including our various underserved ethnic groups."

When she gets them, Joy puts in 14-16 hour days. She can only schedule and begin paper work when the vaccines are on site. That means at home, 3:00 a.m. starts to her day, putting shots in arms for seven to eight hours and then scheduling for the future at night. Once the vaccines start rolling in, she says, those on their extensive waiting list may be routed to one of Sun River's other facilities on the East End: in Greenport, Riverhead, Coram, Patchogue, Brentwood, Amityville, Huntington, Shirley or Wyandanch.

"It's an extra layer of responsibility and an extra layer of pleasure," Joy told us, "knowing I am doing something good for the community and stalling the pandemic at large."

To get on their waiting list, or to get more information, go to sunriver.org. If you don't have internet or can't negotiate the site, come in, to the Sun River Kraus Family Center at 330 Meeting House Lane. They will help.

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