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Palliative Care: Meet Our Team

Pedro H. Calves, MD, FACP, FCCP

Dr. Calves was born in Havana Cuba and immigrated to the United States along with his family in 1959. Raised in Queens, Dr. Calves is a product of the New York City public school system, attended Pace University in Manhattan as a Biology Major, then Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse for his Medical Degree.

Returning to the metropolitan area, Dr. Calves became a Resident in Internal Medicine at Nassau County Medical Center (NCMC) in 1985. He finished his residency in 1988 and went on to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at Cooper Hospital in Camden for a one-year Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine. Returning once again to NCMC, Dr. Calves entered a fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine, during which he helped to manage the Residency program serving as Chief Resident. Settling on Long Island, he went into practice of Internal Medicine and Pulmonary Diseases in 1991 in Babylon, New York.

“You may not be able to cure everyone… but you can make them feel better.”
           - Pedro Calves, MD

During his many years caring for seriously ill patients, it became clear to Dr. Calves that along with technical expertise, what is needed is an open line of communication with patients and their families. It is just as important to know what the person who is sick wants out of life, as it is to know what antibiotic to use.

With this revelation, Dr. Calves became one of the founding members of the Palliative Care Service at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip in 2002. In 2005, he became the first Chief of the Division of Palliative Medicine at Good Samaritan, developing an Inpatient Palliative Care Unit and an Outpatient Ambulatory Palliative Care Center. Two years later, he was able to bring the program to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.

As the programs continued to grow and in an attempt to properly focus time and effort ont them, Dr. Calves left private practice in 2010, and became the Catholic Health Services Regional Director of Palliative Care Services. In 2011, Dr. Calves brought Palliative Care to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson cementing a partnership between CHS-Palliative Care and Good Shepherd Hospice in which (in 2013) he became Senior Associate Medical Director for Palliative Care Services for Catholic Health Services of Long Island.

During this time, Dr. Calves has presented original research at numerous national Palliative Care meetings and has published several abstracts that have enlarged the knowledge base in this new and important area of medicine.

Serving as Medical Director for Bishop McHugh Family Health Center in Babylon, Dr. Calves helps to deliver basic Medical Services to those residents of Long Island who are uninsured.

Dr. Calves holds the rank of Commander in the US Navy Medical Corps, currently serving in the US Naval Reserve.

 

Gina Marie Zarrilla, DO, FCCP

Dr. Zarrilli attended Trinity College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973, majoring in English Literature. Later, deciding medicine was her true passion, she continued on with her education and graduated from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2002. Dr. Zarrilli completed her internal medicine residency in 2005 at Beth Israel Medical Center, Albert Einstein School of Medicine. She went on to Stony Brook University and in 2008 and completed a fellowship in Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.
 
Dr. Zarrilli is multi-certified to complement her vast array of specialties. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. As a testament to her dedication to her profession, she has been involved in research, lectures and grand rounds and has attended many lectures throughout the country.  Additionally, Dr. Zarrilli has had two manuscripts accepted into The Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography and The Journal of Bronchology, respectively. 

Dr. Zarrilli’s dedication to her patients’ well-being has taken her into the Hospice and Palliative Care arena where she continues to provide comfort and support during all phases of patient care.  Additionally, she has a holistic approach to health for both her patients’ and herself.  Dr. Zarrilli has been training in the Japanese martial art of Aikido since 1975 and is a 6th degree black belt and teacher. She is also a daily practitioner of yoga.

 

 

Roberta Levesque, BSN, RN, CHPN

 

Roberta Levesque's nursing career spans 35 years. After winning the Outstanding Student Award in her practical nursing class, she worked as a LPN.  She began her career as a floor nurse and transitioned to charge nurse before leaving to start a family. While raising her two children, Roberta returned to school, graduating with several awards, and her AAS in Nursing. After graduation she worked at The Valley Hospital as a floor nurse in cardiology and returned to long term care at Waterview Center as manager of a subacute rehabilitation floor. 

 

Roberta continued her education, attending William Patterson University and then St. Joseph’s College for where she earned her BSN.  She then worked as a nurse manager at Our Lady of Consolation Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility and was nominated twice for the Patrick Scollard Award, the highest award in CHS.

 

Deeply concerned with and focused on the welfare of those at the end of life, Roberta opened a six-bed subunit, dedicated exclusively to palliative care. She is deeply passionate about palliative care service, and worked closely with the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital to maintain the comfort and dignity of their patients.  Roberta has been the Palliative Care Coordinator at Saint Catherine of Siena for the past five years and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration. She lives happily with her husband, three dogs, and a flourishing garden, and is deeply proud of her two adult daughters.

 

 

Denise Raab, LCSW-R

 

Denise Raab, a Brooklyn native, graduated from Stony Brook University, School of Social Welfare in 1992 with a Masters in Social Work.  She began her social work career at a home care agency, and in 1988, she joined the Catholic Health Services (CHS) family at Good Samaritan Hospital. After being promoted to social work supervisor at Good Sam, and being primarily assigned to the oncology unit, her interest in palliative and end of life care was greatly influenced.

Inspired by her exposure to the oncology unit and specialized patient care, Denise was selected to complete a competitive social work fellowship in pain management and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. She then went on to work as a program coordinator at North Shore LIJ, to facilitate the development of a palliative care program. The program was initially grant-funded by the Fox Samuels Foundation to explore the impact of a palliative care program on medical decision-making in the setting of chronic and life-limiting illness.  Her work and dedication contributed to the successful development of the palliative care service.

In 2010, Denise rejoined the CHS family at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in the Palliative Care Department—where she makes meaningful and significant contributions daily. When she is not directly connecting with patients, Denise enjoys reading, gardening, nature walks and enjoying time with her two adult sons, daughter-in-law and adorable grandchildren, Laney and Cade.

 

 

Elizabeth Meehan, MA, BCC

 

Elizabeth Meehan has joined St. Catherine of Siena as the Director of Pastoral Care Services. Prior to her new role at the Medical Center, Elizabeth served as a staff chaplain at Stony Brook University Medical Center. Elizabeth’s deep Christian spirituality and passion for helping patients and their families, supports the mission of the Medical Center.