STONY BROOK, N.Y., February 25, 2013 – Stony Brook Heart Surgeon Harold A. Fernandez, M.D., has been honored by the Hispanic Counseling Center of Hempstead, NY., for his inspirational success story as an undocumented immigrant who came to America, attended Harvard and became a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Dr. Fernandez, Co-Director of the Stony Brook University Heart Institute, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, received the award at the center’s gala, held Feb. 1 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY.
Dr. Fernandez received the award “because his story is a wonderful example of the American Dream,” said Marcos Martorano, LCSW, Acting Executive Director, Hispanic Counseling Center. “He is an inspiration and a role model for all immigrants, especially those from Latin America who struggle to overcome so many obstacles.”
Dr. Fernandez, who joined the Stony Brook Heart Institute in 2012, has received national publicity for his journey as an undocumented immigrant who has risen to the height of his profession. He came to the United States at age 13 from Colombia and within 10 years received his bachelor of science degree in molecular biology from Princeton University. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, followed by a residency in general surgery and a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at NYU Medical Center.
He has published a memoir entitled “Undocumented: My Journey to Princeton and Harvard and Life as a Heart Surgeon,” and has been featured in national media stories, including the New York Times.
“I am honored and humbled to be the recipient of this prestigious award,” Dr. Fernandez said. “The Hispanic Counseling Center occupies a special place in my heart because for many years it has been a beacon of hope for the entire Hispanic community. I want to extend my best wishes and appreciation to the president and the board of directors of this organization, which continues to fight for the rights and dignity of our community.”
The Hispanic Counseling Center was founded in 1977 by the Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol Addiction to provide substance abuse services to the county’s growing Latino population. Today it serves as a resource center for Latinos in Nassau and Suffolk counties, promoting family and community wellness through bi-cultural counseling, prevention, vocational and educational services. The non-profit organization operates locations in Hempstead and Bay Shore, NY. It remains the first and only agency on Long Island to provide mental health services in a completely bilingual/bicultural environment.
About Stony Brook University Heart Institute:
Stony Brook University Heart Institute is located within Stony Brook University Hospital as part of Long Island's premier university-based medical center. The Heart Institute offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The staff includes 50 full-time and community-based, board-certified cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, as well as 350 specially trained anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, surgical technologists, perfusionists, and other support staff. Their combined expertise provides state-of-the-art interventional and surgical capabilities in 24-hour cardiac catheterization labs and surgical suites. And while the Heart Institute clinical staff offers the latest advances in medicine, its physician-scientists are also actively enhancing knowledge of the heart and blood vessels through basic biomedical studies and clinical research. To learn more, visit www.heart.stonybrookmedicine.edu.