People in the News

Monday, August 13, 2018
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Andrew Gitkind, MD

Andrew Gitkind, MD, has been named Vice Chair for Clinical Operations, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Montefiore Health System. Dr. Gitkind is the Medical Director of the Montefiore Spine Center and an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He completed his residency at Montefiore in 2005 and joined the faculty in 2008.



Julia Schwartz-Leeper has been appointed as the VNSW Foundation’s inaugural Executive Director.

Amy Ansehl, Board Chair of the VNSW Foundation Inc., announces the appointment of Julia Schwartz-Leeper as the Foundation’s inaugural Executive Director. Schwartz-Leeper brings to the organization close to 25 years of experience in high-level leadership roles at major nonprofit organizations in the healthcare and social service sectors in Westchester and New York City.

As Executive Director of the VNSW Foundation, Schwartz-Leeper will lead efforts to structure and expand resource development and to collaborate with other community and government resources in order to support the home healthcare and community health services provided by Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester (VNSW). VNSW is the largest independent, nonprofit, Medicare-certified home healthcare agency in Westchester, also serving residents of Bronx, Dutchess, Putnam and Rockland counties.

Schwartz-Leeper is a licensed social worker with a master’s in social work from Columbia University and a BA in psychology from the University of Colorado. She served as chair of the ACTION Committee of LiveOn New York, a statewide advocacy group for older New Yorkers, and as board secretary for Wainwright House, a holistic wellness center. She is a certified yoga instructor.


Calvary Hospital has just added the newest “employee” to its Bronx campus: Banjo, a facility assistance dog. Bred and trained at Canine Companions for Independence, Banjo is a 3-year-old Labrador/golden retriever cross. As a facility dog, Banjo is an expertly trained dog who partners with a human facilitator working in a healthcare, visitation or education setting. Facility dogs are different from typical family pets; they receive extensive and specialized training and are partnered with professional facilitators to primarily provide structured, practical, task-oriented interactions to groups of children and adults with disabilities in healthcare, education and other professional settings. Banjo was matched with his Calvary facilitator, Shannon McCourt, LCSW, during an intensive two-week training program in Long Island, New York. Shannon is responsible for handling and caring for Banjo. In fact, he lives with her.


Banjo, a facility assistance dog, and Shannon McCourt, LCSW, Calvary facilitator

Calvary is the country’s only medical facility dedicated solely to the care of adult patients with advanced cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. Not surprisingly, the level of stress that patients, family members and staff feel on a daily basis is quite high. Banjo’s primary role at Calvary is to help people decrease their stress. In the weeks since Banjo joined the Hospital, he and Shannon have been enthusiastically received by everyone at the 200-bed Bronx campus, the largest of Calvary’s four inpatient locations.

Canine Companions for Independence provides expertly trained assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Established in 1975 in California, Canine Companions is the largest nonprofit provider of assistance dogs in the United States. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between people and dogs. There is no charge for the dog, its training and ongoing follow-up services.


Zarina Nestor, MD, and Noble Jacob, MD, represented Crystal Run Healthcare at the 2018 Power of Age Conference at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York. Dr. Jacob, a specialist in family medicine, answered questions for attendees, and Dr. Nestor, a specialist in pulmonary and critical care medicine, provided a free screening for attendees on sleep apnea risk.


Zarina Nestor, MD, and Noble Jacob, MD, celebrate older adults in Rockland County.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Director of the Office for the Aging Tina M. Cardoza-Izquierdo presented the event for seniors, including free workshops, exhibits, programs and awards. Thirteen informative workshops were offered to attendees on a variety of topics ranging from Alzheimer’s awareness to step-by-step painting. To find out more about services offered by Rockland County’s Department of the Aging, visit rocklandgov.com/departments/aging/.

Dr. Nestor earned her medical degree from SUNY Upstate University in Syracuse and completed her residency in internal medicine at Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine in Manhasset, New York. She is board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine and critical care medicine and completed her fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. Dr. Nestor provides care in Crystal Run’s Monroe and West Nyack locations.

Dr. Jacob earned his medical degree at Medical University of the Americas in Nevis, West Indies, and completed his residency in family practice at New York Medical College at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Yonkers. He is board-certified in family medicine and is seeing patients in Crystal Run’s West Nyack location.


Crystal Run Healthcare announces the addition of six new providers to the practice. Joining Crystal Run Healthcare are:

Shawn J. Brito, MD, who earned his medical degree from American University of Antigua Medical College and completed his residency in internal medicine at Connecticut Institute for Communities in Danbury. He is board-certified in internal medicine and will provide inpatient care in the hospital setting as part of Crystal Run’s Hospital Medicine program.

AnnMarie Colandrea, LCSW-R, who completed her master of social work degree at Arizona State University. She is board-certified in clinical social work and specializes in adult and adolescent mental health. She will be seeing patients at Crystal Run locations in Middletown, Newburgh and Rock Hill.

Andrea G. Isaacs, MD, who earned her medical degree from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed her residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. She is board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine and critical care medicine and completed her fellowship training in pulmonary/critical care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Isaacs is seeing patients at Crystal Run’s Monroe and Newburgh locations.

Michelle Newell-Whitney, NP, who completed her master’s of science in the family nurse practitioner program at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. She is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and will provide care to patients in Newburgh and Middletown.

Nisha Rowzani, PA, who completed her master’s of science in the physician assistant program at Touro College in Bay Shore, New York. She is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in otolaryngology and will provide care to patients in Middletown.

Charles N. Walker, MD, who earned his medical degree from Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York and completed his residency in general surgery, urology, at Yale New Haven Hospital. He is board-certified in urology and specializes in men’s health, including erectile dysfunction, penile implantation surgery, benign prostatic hyperplasia, treatment of low testosterone, prostatitis, Peyronie’s disease and general urology. Dr. Walker is seeing patients at Crystal Run’s Newburgh and Monroe locations.