Among his vast array of responsibilities as an East End physician, Dr. Lawrence Schiff has always kept his role in helping local emergency crews a high priority.
Those members got the chance to return the favor by helping Dr. Schiff win a prestigious award to recognize all his work.
Dr. Schiff, who’s the North Fork Regional Medical Director and a physician in the Eastern Long Island Hospital emergency room, won the New York State Physician of Excellence Award in May and will be honored at a ceremony in October.
“It’s long overdue in my eyes,” said Chris Manfredi, a member of the Southold Fire Department. “The guy’s been helping us for years, as long as he’s been around on the East End, and he deserves every bit of accolades that they give him.”
Doctors are nominated for the Physician of Excellence award through the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council (REMSCO) in their county, Mr. Manfredi said. Winners within each county then move on as a candidate for the New York State award, which Dr. Schiff won.
Through his position as North Fork regional medical director, where he oversees the ambulance crews at several North Fork departments, Dr. Schiff, a North Fork resident, has worked closely with the Southold Fire Department and the North Fork Volunteer Rescue Squad Association. It was members of these two groups — Mr. Manfredi, Edward Boyd and Brian Mahony — who nominated Dr. Schiff for the award.
“They went way above and beyond trying to get [Dr. Schiff] to win this award because he really has done so much for EMS in the eighth division,” said Southold Fire Department Chief Peggy Killian.
Mr. Boyd pointed out Dr. Schiff’s effort to establish a blood glucometry pilot program as one of his accomplishments. Typically, a patient suspected of suffering a stroke is taken to the nearest stroke center. On the North Fork, that means helicopter transport to Stony Brook University Hospital, Mr. Boyd said.
However, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, has symptoms similar to those of a stroke. In an effort to limit the number of helicopter transports and the attendant risks, Dr. Schiff, along with the North Fork Volunteer Rescue Squad Association, proposed a change. Emergency medical technicians on the ground could now check a patient’s blood sugar, which previously was not allowed, Mr. Boyd said.
“With Dr. Schiff’s help we were able to get the pilot program out here on the East End of Long Island,” he said. “Actually, it was just us on the North Fork and Shelter Island.”
The pilot program ran for approximately 18 months to much success, Mr. Boyd said. Because of that program, Mr. Boyd said, the state changed protocol to make checking blood sugar a mandatory skill for EMTs.
Prior to working at ELIH, Dr. Schiff was a volunteer in the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center emergency department, worked as an EMT with numerous rescue squads and was a CPR/First Aid instructor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Currently, he works closely with North Fork volunteer departments in coordinating training and smoothing the transition from a patient being treated from EMTs to the ER, Mr. Manfredi said.
“He’s extremely dedicated to emergency medicine,” Mr. Boyd said. “He’s a very good instructor and he’s very caring about the people who are providing the emergency medical services.”
To celebrate Dr. Schiff’s accomplishment, the Southold Fire Department and NFVRSA threw a party in his honor last month. In October, he will travel to Syracuse and be recognized at an EMS education conference.