Riverhead Rotary president Beth Hanlon and president-elect Angela Reese present a symbolic check to PBMC vice president Samantha Vigliotta yesterday at a Rotary club meeting. Members of the club's garden festival committee and PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell gathered for the presentation. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Rotary yesterday presented Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation with a $20,000 donation as a result of the service club’s successful garden festival event last month.

This year, Rotarians took on responsibility for running the giant plant sale, a longstanding annual Mother’s Day weekend event that had been run by the hospital for many years. The hospital struggled to staff the labor-intensive festival with its already-overextended cadre of volunteers.  Rotarian Jack Van de Wetering, owner of Ivy Acres in Baiting Hollow, whose support over the years has been vital to the success of the garden festival, had the idea to have the Rotary Club take over the event.

The Rotary Club of Riverhead has had a close relationship with the hospital since the hospital was founded in 1951. The club established a garden festival committee to organize the event, which the club staffed with volunteers for four days in May in the Tanger parking lot on Route 58.

The donation to PBMC boosts the hospital foundation’s capital campaign to support the construction of its planned advanced heart center and critical care center, which is scheduled to break ground next month, said PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell.

The planned facility in Riverhead, with an estimated price tag of about than $60 million, is a three-story addition near the existing emergency department, complete with a rooftop helipad. The new construction would accommodate a future emergency department expansion as well as a catheterization/electrophysiology suite with two catheterization labs and a nine-bay prep and recovery area.

PBMC Foundation has already raised more than $20 million of its $28 million fundraising goal for the new facility, including a $5 million gift from the John and Elaine Kanas Foundation. Among the other cornerstone gifts thus far are $3.6 million from Joseph & Annette Irom, $3 million from Emilie Roy and Michael Corey and $1 million from Peggy and Stanley Zinberg.

Mitchell said yesterday the hospital will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Kanas Heart Center and the critical care tower on July 12.

The garden festival event also raised money for International Surgical Mission Support, a volunteer organization of doctors and nurses created in 1996 to provide free medical care to the poor all over the world. Rotarian and Riverhead physician Rajesh Patel is a member of the organization’s board of directors and has made 22 surgical mission trips over the past 20 years, providing medical and surgical care to poor people in Africa, South America, Central America, India and Asia.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.