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Zelenyak and Sarsfield Receive EMS Awards

Matthew Sarsfield, MD, FAAEM, and Joseph Zelenyak, RN, received top honors at the Central New York Emergency Medical Services Regional Council awards banquet May 21.

Joseph Zelenyak, RN, Emergency Medicine, has been named Registered Professional Nurse of Excellence by the Central New York Emergency Medical Services Regional Council.

The annual award is bestowed upon a registered nurse who contributes to the EMS community by showing dedication, professional behavior, ingenuity, and insight into the pre-hospital environment.

Doug Sandbrook, EMS liaison and director of EMS education at Upstate, nominated Zelenyak in recognition of his work navigating the EMS-to-hospital patient transfer process.

“While our area hospitals struggle with ED overcrowding and delays, Joe goes out of his way to acknowledge EMS staff, support the ED nursing staff, and find creative ways to expedite the offload process to ensure patients get access to quality care in a timely fashion. He juggles all of his tasks with a positive attitude,” said Sandbrook.

“Health care is not delivered exclusively in hospitals and clinics—it extends into our neighborhoods, streets, and homes,” said Zelenyak. “EMS first responders are crucial to the health of our community. They are an integral part of our team for the health care delivery system in Central New York and we at Upstate could not do what we do without the work of EMS professionals. I am honored to be recognized by the Council.”

Upstate’s Chief Nursing Officer Nancy Page, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, considers Zelenyak to be a gift to Upstate and our EMS partners. “Joe serves not only as a clinical expert but an air traffic controller for patients requiring care. Navigating 180 to 200 patients each day is a career role that was made for Joe. He safely guides the patients through their arrival, assembles the right care team, and assures expert hand off with our valued EMS team,” said Page.

Zelenyak joined Upstate University Hospital in 1991 and has served as a clinical leader since 1999. Zelenyak has worked in Upstate’s Adult Emergency Department for more than 20 years and has received several recognition awards throughout his career, including the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service in 2013. He received nursing excellence awards from Upstate in 2007 and 2011.

Matthew Sarsfield, MD, FAAEM, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and director of Undergraduate Medical Education, has been named Physician of Excellence by the Council. Sarsfield works in Upstate’s Emergency Departments at Downtown and Community campuses, the Pediatric Emergency Department, and GEM Care.

Sarsfield says EMS appreciation week is a time to reflect on the importance of the emergency medical services system that provides a vital service to our community. “I have been lucky enough to observe this firsthand, in the emergency department and on calls with my local agency,” said Sarsfield.

“Our local EMS teams respond to complex and difficult situations with skills that make a true difference in the lives of our community members—frequently, literally saving lives. I’m humbled and honored to be recognized for my work with EMS, but even more grateful to get to know and work with these great men and women,” said Sarsfield.

Sarsfield earned his medical degree from Upstate in 2006 and completed his residency at Upstate in 2009. He holds memberships with the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Zelenyak and Sarsfield received their awards at the CNY EMS Regional Council awards banquet May 21.

The CNY EMS Regional Council serves Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Oswego, and Tompkins counties and is one of 19 EMS program agencies in New York state.

Regional award winners are submitted for statewide recognition at Vital Signs, an annual ceremony hosted by the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

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