The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the world around us, and myriad Long Island forces – large and small, corporate and nonprofit, industrial and educational – are rising to the challenge. Innovate Long Island presents Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus as a real-time journal of this region’s resourceful response to the greatest global challenge since World War II. Stay healthy, dear readers.
We are farmers: EEFI’s virtual market serves up solutions
(April 3) Noting “it’s more important than ever to know where your food comes from,” the East End Food Institute has organized a virtual farmer’s market with a two-pronged mission.
Job No. 1: Support local vendors with an online portal that facilitates farm-to-table sales and other direct-to-consumer marketing. The EEFI’s collaborative network of growers and other producers is making its wares available for pick-up (this afternoon at Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus, more to come) and delivery (Wednesdays and Fridays, within the Town of Southampton for now), with new vendors and expanded delivery routes coming soon.
With an online menu of ready-to-go meals, craft beverages, snacks, desserts, pantry staples, condiments and more – including “additional items added by request” – the virtual farmer’s market, hosted by the EEFI via California merchant-services aggregator Square Inc., also addresses growing supply-chain concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, trumpeting the “clear origins” of its locally sourced products. Learn more here. – GZ
Wartime ‘warmline’ helps parents, caregivers lighten the lockdown
(April 2) Parents, caregivers and educators of young children have some very specific questions as the new world takes shape, and Adelphi University’s Institute for Parenting has answers.
The institute, designed to promote the mental health and wellbeing of young children and developing families, has dialed up a “warmline” to help caregivers nurture and educate young children, a challenge exponentially exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. The warmline welcomes calls from parents and caregivers with non-emergency questions about adjustments, activities and how to talk to youngsters about all the recent changes, with callers invited to leave messages and specialists returning calls on Mondays and Thursdays.
“We responded to the coronavirus crisis by launching a community resource,” noted Institute for Parenting Director Joaniko Kohchi. “We are and will be available to support families as their together time extends and questions arise about development, social-emotional growth, age-appropriate communication, family dynamics, routines, transitions and adjustment to new patterns and places.” – GZ
IT ace, PR pro team up for free COVID-19 consults
(April 1) A Farmingdale IT specialist and a Floral Park PR veteran are teaming up to offer free technology and communications consultations for small-business owners struggling through the economy-eating epidemic.
Sandwire Managed IT is offering no-cost, virtual review-and-strategy sessions focused on technology and connectivity, while the consultants at Corbett Public Relations are logging on for gratis PR stratagems, all focused on business during and after COVID-19. The 30-minute sessions, requiring no further obligations to either company, are both helpful to regional entrepreneurs and on-par with the sudden new world, according to Sandwire President Adam Schwam, who marveled that, “within a matter of weeks, [the United States] mobilized a remote workforce.”
“We want to assist businesses that still need guidance to work safely and remotely,” added Schwam, while Corbett PR President Bill Corbett predicted brighter days at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. “We will emerge from this crisis stronger than before,” Corbett said. “And will continue to move forward together as a community and as a nation.” – GZ
Kids’ clinic opens LI’s first pediatric-only COVID-19 swab sites
(April 1) A major national provider of pediatric urgent care has opened two additional drive-up COVID-19 testing centers for pre-screened pediatric patients, including its first on Long Island.
Massapequa-based PM Pediatrics, which last week announced a dramatic expansion of its online telehealth services (see below), has opened drive-up COVID-19 testing centers in Manhasset and North Brunswick, NJ, adding them to drive-up pediatric testing sites already operating in New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Four more drive-ups (parents, ostensibly, should do the driving) are scheduled to open Thursday across the country, including Long Island’s second, in Selden.
Only patients who have been previously evaluated by PM Pediatrics specialists – either in person or via those ramped-up online services – are eligible for the drive-up tests. Nose swabs are taken in temporary parking lot tents at each location, with results reported in about four days. “While early anecdotal evidence points to children being less susceptible to severe COVID-19 illness, we still want to offer a test to children presenting the specific symptoms,” noted PM Pediatrics co-CEO Jeffrey Schor. “For those not presenting these symptoms, our PM Pediatrics Anywhere app can provide medical guidance and peace of mind, as well as keep children and their parents from visiting our offices unnecessarily.” – GZ
Vulnerable schmulnerable: Jefferson’s Ferry stuffs a bus
(March 31) Some of the pandemic’s “most-vulnerable” (also members of the Greatest Generation) have rolled up their sleeves to pitch in, collecting more than a quarter-ton of foodstuffs for the Island Harvest Food Bank.
During the first two weeks of March, residents of the Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community in South Setauket held a “Stuff a Buss” food drive, collecting 527 pounds of nonperishable food items for donation to, and distribution by, Hauppauge-based Island Harvest. The effort was keyed by resident Jan Parker, who stocked the Jefferson’s Ferry community’s on-campus Country Store with Island Harvest wish-list items, allowing community members to do their part without undue exposure to the rampaging coronavirus.
The “tremendous and immediate” response was deeply appreciated, according to a statement from Island Harvest, and not at all surprising, according to Jefferson’s Ferry President and CEO Robert Caulfield. “The enthusiasm of our residents and staff is matched by their generosity,” Caulfield said Monday. “Our residents are invested in the wellbeing of the Long Island community-at-large and eager to give back.” – GZ
Adelphi undergrads get ‘pass/no credit’ reprieve
(March 31) The swift switch to distance learning has not been completely painless. The tumult will dent the GPAs of thousands of collegians – a real risk for the scholarship set, with failure a sudden option for many others.
Enter Adelphi University, which has adopted a “pass/no credit” grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester. The policy gives undergraduates the option of converting grades of C-minus or higher to “P” (for “pass”) and lower grades to “NC” (a “no credit” designation). Both switches spare the student’s grade point average, a critical consideration impacting financial aid, NCAA eligibility, graduate school applications, Dean’s List eligibility and much more.
Before submitting grade-change requests, students will consult with academic advisors and Adelphi’s Student Financial Services office for a better lay of the land. “This approach supports you in working to your highest potential, but does not penalize you with an ‘F’ if the sudden conversion to remote learning results in unexpected challenges,” noted Provost and Executive VP Steve Everett. – GZ
Already innovating, SBU seeds COVID-19 research
(March 31) Stony Brook University has established a $500,000 seed fund to kickstart university-based researchers and clinicians tackling the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 Seed Grant Program will stake a half-million-dollar’s worth of pandemic-related innovation, courtesy of SBU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the university’s Institute for Engineering-Driven Medicine. A straightforward application process is designed for a quick turnaround, with applications from tenured or tenure-track faculty (with exceptions) and full-time, non-tenure track faculty due by April 10.
Stony Brook staffers have already responded to the resources-devouring pandemic with 3D-printed masks and a new World Health Organization-approved hand sanitizer, shipped by the gallon to regional facilities (details below). “We’re seeing an unprecedented need for researchers across the country to provide innovative solutions to combat COVID-19,” noted SBU Vice President for Research Richard Reeder. “We want to do everything possible to support our outstanding researchers.” – GZ
Risk reward: Insurer feeds workforce at ‘front-line’ nursing homes
(March 30) A top-40 national insurance brokerage with a long history of volunteerism and altruistic community support is picking up lunch for staffers at Long Island’s largest senior-care facilities – “front-line personnel” in the war against COVID-19, according to SterlingRisk Insurance.
The Woodbury-based firm has engaged “Lunch Is On Us,” a campaign delivering catered meals to employees of nursing homes and other senior facilities “keeping residents safe, comfortable and comforted during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to SterlingRisk. The longtime affinity-programs administrator – which has raised thousands for regional charities in recent years, primarily the American Heart Association – has already fed staffers at Roslyn’s Sunharbor Manor, Kings Park’s St. Johnland Nursing Center and Smithtown’s St. Catherine of Siena Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
The moveable feast lands next at Jefferson’s Ferry of Centereach, with SterlingRisk now accepting suggestions for additional senior-living facilities worthy of a lunch break. “This is clearly an opportunity to mobilize and make a difference,” noted SterlingRisk Programs President Geraldine DelPrete. “In the best of times, our programs provide peace of mind to restaurant owners, mental health professionals and others who are now impacted by today’s events. We wanted to do more.” – GZ
Island law firms digitize their coronavirus response efforts
(March 30) From the When in Rome Department comes a bevy of Long Island lawyers generating online “resource centers” for coronavirus compliance and COVID-19 news.
Uniondale-based Rivkin Radler is the latest to wade in, announcing Monday its online Coronavirus Resource Center, a running log of news updates focused primarily on litigation and insurance issues. Rivkin Radler joins several Island firms creating online hubs specifically to inform clients about the virus and its fallout, including:
- Farrell Fritz, Uniondale: COVID-19 Crisis Response and Help
- Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, Uniondale: COVID-19 and Workplace Impact FAQs
- Nixon Peabody, Jericho: Coronavirus Response Team
- Cerini & Associates, Bohemia: Coronavirus updates page
- Moritt Hock & Hamroff , Garden City: COVID-19 Resources
- SilvermanAcampora, Jericho: COVID-19 Legal Resources for Businesses
Myriad Long Island-based, non-law enterprises have also crafted webpages designed to help Islanders navigate the pandemic, including Stony Brook Medicine, accounting giant EisnerAmper – which maintains a busy Syosset office – and of course Northwell Health. – GZ
Smut site cleans up its act for livestreamed weddings
(March 28) A libidinous online broker of “discreet hookups” between “adult singles and swingers” is getting all dressed up, offering online wedding ceremonies for lovers who just can’t wait out the pandemic.
California-based AdultFriendFinder, an even-more-blunt Tinder with a coast-to-coast membership and a two-decade legacy of catering to the randy, has also done its share of full-frontal matchmaking, with “hundreds of our members [finding] their special someone and [tying] the knot,” according to the website. Now, with COVID-19 canceling ceremonies and celebrations across the land, the self-billed “world’s largest sex & swinger community” is dramatically redefining “camming,” reaching out to brides and grooms with this heartfelt message: “Don’t postpone your dream wedding.”
While a livestreamed ceremony and virtual reception on AdultFriendFinder is almost nobody’s idea of a dream wedding, the innovative pivot is undeniable. For more information on the wedding packages – including private channels for friends and family and public channels that invite the world to watch, all in “crisp 4K and 1080p” – come hither. – GZ
SBU chemists churn out WHO-approved hand sanitizer
(March 27) Multiple laboratories within Stony Brook University’s Department of Chemistry have united to produce a government-approved hand sanitizer from “raw health-grade materials,” with gallons of the rub already being bottled for frontline healthcare workers.
Manufactured with contributions from six different laboratories – including labs directed by SUNY Distinguished Professors Nicole Sampson, SBU’s dean of the sciences, and Peter Tonge, chairman of SBU’s Chemistry Department – the sanitizer, which adheres to World Health Organization protocols regarding reagents and bottling, is being packed into 4-liter containers and shared with staffers at both Stony Brook University Hospital and the Long Island State Veterans Home, located on the SBU campus.
“We are in a traumatic community emergency and people have come together and said, ‘We’re going to get this done,’” noted Interim Stony Brook University President Michael Bernstein. “It’s quite amazing.” – GZ
PSEG temporarily suspends nonpayment shut-offs
(March 27) Long Island’s primary electricity utility announced this week that, for the length of the coronavirus pandemic, it won’t turn off electricity for customers who don’t pay their bills.
In additional to keeping the lights on by ensuring key facilities are staffed and running, Public Service Electric Group, the New Jersey-based parent of PSEG Long Island, has taken several innovative actions in response to the health crisis and its widespread societal effects. Among them: new remote account-access tools for customers and a pair of $45,000 grants for Hauppauge’s Island Harvest Food Bank and the FoodBank of New Jersey.
On Thursday, PSEG President and CEO Ralph Izzo said the utility would further support customers by “suspending shut-offs for nonpayment” during the pandemic. “It’s more important than ever to find ways to send help to those in our communities who need it most,” Izzo said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure that people are still able to charge their phones to call loved ones, stay warm and comfortable in their homes, and provide a hot meal for their families.” – GZ
Nassau IDA/Hofstra poll eyes pandemic’s economic impact
(March 27) An online poll will attempt to determine the true effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Nassau County business climate.
The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency is working with the county’s newly established Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council, led by Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz and Nassau IDA Chairman Richard Kessel, to “assess the countywide impact on both small and large businesses,” according to the IDA. The online poll – comprised of a “10-minute survey” with specific questions regarding operations, finances and employees – is being conducted now through April 1 by Hofstra University.
The idea is to “inform advocacy for economic relief,” according to the IDA, with data ultimately relayed to Albany and federal representatives – a unity-in-a-time-of-need effort with forward-thinking ambitions, according to Kessel. “Working together as a business community will be critical to our future success once the crisis subsides,” the IDA chairman noted. – GZ
Albany exploring additional emergency hospitals for LI, NYC
(March 26) The need for additional hospital beds is rising, and Albany is scouting multiple downstate sites – including Long Island locations – for new emergency hospitals, in addition to facilities already planned for the Stony Brook University and SUNY Old Westbury campuses.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that health officials were targeting new facilities by mid-April for each of New York City’s five boroughs and Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties, each ready for a “1,000-plus patient overflow.” The state is also preparing hotels and college dormitories for emergency “beds” – a catch-all phrase covering physical beds, critical-care equipment and trained staffers – and recruiting a 12,000-strong “surge healthcare force,” including retirees and medical students.
As of noon Thursday, New York had soared past 37,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases – eight times more than second-sickest New Jersey (about 4,400), with 3,914 cases in Nassau, 2,735 in Suffolk and regional hospitals crowding fast. “We are continuing to work aggressively to increase our state’s hospital capacity and flatten the curve,” Cuomo said. “Our top priority is finding more beds for patients and getting the ventilators we need to ensure our most vulnerable patients are being treated properly, and we are actively scouting new locations for temporary hospital sites.” – GZ
As layoffs pile on, a Long Island job board rises
(March 26) As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the job market, the self-billed “most popular website destination” for all things Long Island is leveraging its popularity for an employment-focused coronavirus countermeasure.
LongIsland.com on Thursday flipped the switch on a free job-listings board designed to connect out-of-work Islanders with much-needed job opportunities. The help-wanted page features customizable searches (by company, industry, job type, location and other factors), along with functions that allow registered users to submit résumés directly to employers, or upload their CV into a database for hiring agents on the hunt.
“LongIsland.com is a resource for the community in both good and challenging times, and now is certainly a challenging time,” noted LongIsland.com Publisher Andrew Hazen. “We want to support Long Islanders and Long Island businesses in every way we can.” – GZ
High-tech heart bus sets house calls for LI cardiac patients
(March 26) A Long Island cardiovascular team known for its mobility is scheduling house calls to help keep Island cardiac patients safe and sound during the quasi-quarantine.
New Hyde Park-based Advanced Cardiac Diagnostics provides on-site cardiac testing aboard its 40-foot mobile unit, a bright blue, tech-stocked bus that regularly visits police departments, churches and large corporations. Now, the bus – capable of administering lab tests, EKGs, echocardiograms, carotid studies, stress tests and more to up to six patients simultaneously – is adding at-home, by-appointment stops to its itinerary, first on Long Island and eventually around the entire state.
“Everyone is worried about coronavirus, but heart attacks remain the No. 1 cause of death in America,” noted Perry Frankel, a board-certified cardiologist and founder of Advanced Cardiac Diagnostics. “A heart attack occurs in the [United States] every 42 seconds. Those people can’t wait for coronavirus to pass to see a doctor – and we can’t risk them becoming patients for coronavirus themselves.” – GZ
Student Emergency Fund pulls together at New York Tech
(March 25) Even tomorrow’s professionals – today’s college students – are feeling the pandemic’s financial pinch, and the New York Institute of Technology is responding.
New York Tech has created a new Student Emergency Fund for students who subsist on financial aid and part-time jobs – income directly threatened, if not outright eliminated, by the coronavirus outbreak. Already stepping up are the school’s two American Association of University Professors chapters (which collectively donated $50,000) and New York Tech’s annual Big Give marathon fundraiser (which will be held virtually April 1, but is channeling donations made before the actual event straight into the Student Emergency Fund).
The fund is more than a token effort, notes New York Tech, which calculates that 98 percent of its student body receives financial aid and/or works at least part-time. “Thanks to the New York Tech community’s generosity, resiliency and dedication, we will get through this together,” noted New York Tech President Hank Foley. “We will not let this pandemic prevent our students from becoming the doers, makers, innovators and healers who are tackling today’s challenges and reinventing the future.” – GZ
Cradle of Aviation Museum spreads its virtual wings
(March 25) A little thing like the global shutdown of human society won’t stop the Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center from reaching new heights.
In fact, the Garden City-based historical hub – on a continuing mission to “collect, preserve and interpret Long Island’s rich aerospace heritage” and inspire future generations of scientists and technologists – is boldly going where it’s only kinda gone before, with a dramatic expansion of its online offerings. Remote learning sessions, 360-degree virtual tours and a smorgasbord of at-home activities stand ready, all designed to keep minds – especially young minds – reaching toward the future, according to Catherine Gonzalez, the museum’s director of education.
“Learning takes place beyond the four walls of a classroom,” Gonzalez said. “It can be fun and exciting in any environment. During this time, when families are learning at home … we look forward to being a free resource for our community, and to bringing STEM to everyone.” – GZ
Regional SBDCs funneling state, federal small-biz resources
(March 25) The U.S. Small Business Administration is stepping up its local coronavirus countermeasures, with the Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State College Small Business Development Centers standing by to assist entrepreneurs and early-stage enterprises.
The SBA has made information on a host of small-business resources – including the administration’s Coronavirus Economic Injury Disaster Loan, state employee-retention grants and more – available here, along with virtual-appointment scheduling with the Stony Brook and Farmingdale State SBDCs.
“America’s SBA’s slogan right now is, ‘Keep Calm and Small Business On,’” Stony Brook SBDC Administrator Martha Stansbury told Innovate LI. “A lot of businesses are hurting right now with the lack of revenue, and this is where we come in – providing information about the resources that are available to them.” – GZ
Networking moves online with ‘Virtual Breakfast Club’
(March 24) A self-made stalwart of Long Island marketing is embracing re-invention in the Age of Coronavirus, and inviting Long Island’s networking-deprived business professionals along for the virtual ride.
The Virtual Networking Breakfast Club – brainchild of marketer, author, blogger and adjunct Hofstra University Professor Hilary Topper, also the founder of Long Beach-based HJMT Public Relations – is scheduled to kick off March 26 via videoconferencing platform Zoom (advanced registration required). Featuring short business pitches and tons of social-distancing-appropriate interaction, the weekly, members-only gatherings will help regional professionals “connect with others, share concerns and brainstorm ideas on how to stay relevant,” according to Topper, author of “Branding in a Digital World” (2019, iUniverse).
“I think that it’s more important now than ever before to stay connected with the business community,” Topper told Innovate LI. “Everyone is isolated and concerned about the future of their business. This is a way for people to … get advice from other businesspeople who are going through the same thing.” – GZ
With protective gear dwindling, SBU jumpstarts 3D printing
(March 24) Supplies of personal protective gear – the masks, gloves, etc. keeping healthcare professionals safe as they battle the pandemic – are running low, and an innovative Stony Brook University program is heeding the call.
Part of SBU’s Division of Information Technology, the iCREATE laboratory provides the tools (and reinforces the ideology) necessary for collaboration, with the ultimate goal of “redefining technological boundaries.” The lab is now focusing its 3D-printing resources on manufacturing much-needed face shields for the medicos on COVID-19’s front lines, with enough materials on-hand to produce 800 “medically compliant” masks – reviewed and approved by Stony Brook University Hospital experts – and plans to acquire the necessary materials for about 4,000 more.
“We are doing something positive to protect the health of the medical professionals that are helping the community,” noted SBU Interim Senior Vice President and Enterprise CIO Charlie McMahon. “Being able to be a part of keeping our medical professionals safer is a really good feeling.” – GZ
PM Pediatrics deploys new kids’ online options
(March 24) The self-billed nation’s largest provider of pediatric urgent care has dramatically expanded its telehealth services.
New Hyde Park-based PM Pediatrics – which boasts 55 total offices across 13 states, including eight on Long Island – has extended its telemedicine program to include its entire coverage area, adding new online options in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other regions. The practice group, which last month launched an ambitious pilot program offering in-depth telehealth diagnoses and treatment options in real time, says it rolled out the new digital services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 10,000 parents have signed up for the telehealth services since March 1, according to PM Pediatrics, which treats roughly 175 daily patients – a number that spiked closer to 280 per day this past weekend. “Many patients don’t need to come in but do need to be evaluated,” Jeffrey Schor, co-CEO of PM Pediatrics, said Tuesday. “For people who can or want to avoid coming into an office, it’s an effective option, especially when people are practicing social distancing.” – GZ
Suffolk wellness group expands ‘tele-mental health’ services
(March 23) The Association for Mental Health and Wellness, the Suffolk County chapter of both Mental Health America and the Mental Health Association of New York State, is steadily transitioning its menu of services to “tele-mental health platforms.”
In a world suddenly filled with frightening messages and “the negative effects of social isolation,” the MHAW is expanding the hours of operation of its Peer Support Line and Healing Connections Peer Support Group, both available to all Suffolk County residents and staffed by trained specialists.
The Ronkonkoma-based association is also planning additional online group sessions, including virtual meetings facilitated by its Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project. – GZ
Long Island media consultant reaches out to small business
(March 23) From the Department of Pulling Together comes an Oyster Bay-based small business with a plan to help other small businesses weather the coronavirus crunch.
Dig Down Media, a content specialist and media-solutions provider located in the Village of Sea Cliff, announced March 23 it will provide free online training, no-charge one-on-consultations and other gratis, customized technology resources to business owners with fewer than 50 employees, to help them “transition to remote operations, open new revenue streams and continue employee payroll.” The free-for-some is scheduled to kick off with “Remote Work and Productivity Solutions,” a webinar slated for March 26.
“Small and family-run businesses are disproportionately affected by shutdowns and social distancing,” Dig Down Media CEO Ian Busching said in a statement. “Many business owners don’t know they have options. We provide practical advice companies can start using today to help get back on track.” – GZ
SBU ramps up employee online-wellness programming
(March 23) Stony Brook University’s Healthier U – a preventative-health program designed specifically for the university community – is planning daily “wellness programming” sessions for SBU employees, to be livestreamed via Facebook.
A team led by Stony Brook alum Joshua Hendrickson, an adjunct professor of social welfare and licensed clinical social worker who earned his PhD in philosophy from Saybrook University, will lead 30-minute sessions focused on meditation, nutrition and stress reduction. Daily programs, beginning at 3 p.m., are scheduled now through April 10 and “possibly longer,” according to SBU.
“We hope the streaming programming provides some comfort and stress relief for the healthcare providers and support staff at our hospital who are working around the clock to save lives and keep us all safe,” noted Healthier U Director Cathrine Duffy. “We also want to forge connections and a sense of community wellbeing to all staff now working remotely.” – GZ