The HHH team of Clinical Liaisons is readily available to patients and their families, physicians, nurses, case managers, discharge planners and other healthcare professionals to assist with the admission process. They can answer questions on the hospital’s rehabilitation programs, insurance coverage, admission criteria and other concerns. In addition, they serve as an educational resource. Clinical liaisons facilitate the admission process by offering an on-site assessment designed to ensure that the patient receives the appropriate level of medical and therapeutic care to meet his or her needs and rehabilitation goals.
Joanne Jacob, RN, BSN
Coverage Area: Rockland and Orange County, New York
Joanne has been a practicing nurse in the acute setting, as well as in homecare, since 1992. She began her career at Helen Hayes Hospital in 1996 working as a staff nurse on the Traumatic Brain Injury Unit. “I can still remember the day a patient was admitted to the TBI unit, unable to eat, speak, or move. At that time, I wasn’t totally sure of that patient’s outcome, however, the doctor was optimistic. Then, one day, I went into that same patient’s room and he greeted me with a ‘good morning’. How exciting and how rewarding!”
In 2004, Joanne became the Nurse Manager of the Stroke Rehabilitation Service where she was responsible for ensuring high quality, efficient healthcare to all her patients. She cared for patients with diverse neurological disorders including stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. In 2013, Joanne joined the Admissions Department as a Clinical Liaison where she works closely with referring acute care hospitals.
Joanne earned a degree in Business Administration from the Berkeley Business College and a BSN from the Dominican College of Blauvelt.
It comes naturally for Joanne to speak positively about Helen Hayes Hospital since, throughout her career, Joanne has seen first-hand the miracles performed by all of the dedicated clinicians, nurses, and therapists on every unit. “It has always been my belief that everyone deserves a chance and what better place to begin the journey to recovery than Helen Hayes Hospital, where everyone truly cares.”
Joanne believes in being active. In her time away from Helen Hayes Hospital, she enjoys walking, bike rides and also playing tennis as a member of the USTA.
Kathy Donnelly DiNuzzo, RN, BSN
Coverage Area: Orange, Dutchess and Westchester County, New York
Kathy has been practicing nursing for over thirty-five years, a career she is passionate about and one that brings her great fulfillment. Her credentials include an RN from Rockland Community College and BSN degree from Felician College.
Kathy has worked as a staff nurse in the acute care setting, as well as cared for patients with stroke and multiple sclerosis in acute rehabilitation. In addition, she served as Patient Relations Director at Helen Hayes Hospital, where she excelled in assisting patients and family members with any questions or concerns. She takes advantage of a range of professional opportunities to keep abreast of the latest developments in the rehabilitation field.
“It is such a rewarding experience to be able to assist in the transition of patients who have sustained brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as patients with stroke and other disorders, to the rehabilitation program at HHH” Kathy explains. “The families I meet with feel their loved ones are in good hands and it’s very gratifying to know I can respond to any of their questions or concerns and that I can help to reassure them.”
When she is not working or cheering for her beloved New York Mets or Giants, Kathy enjoys traveling, water sports, dancing and camping.
Laurell Jeffrey, OTR/L
Laurell is a graduate of New York University, where she earned a BS degree in Occupational Therapy. She began her clinical career at the Board of Education, where she enjoyed working with children with Cerebral Palsy. After three years, Laurell went on to to change her focus, working with adults in several acute rehabilitation facilities. That experience, along with her work in nursing homes and in acute hospital settings, has sharpened her expertise. Today, she is a skilled and proficient OT who cares deeply about her patients and the care they receive.
Laurell was able to put all of her experience to work when she came to Helen Hayes Hospital eleven years ago. She has spent the majority of those years on the Spinal Cord Injury Unit, where she found her niche. “Our SCI patients come in having recently experienced one of the most traumatic injuries one can sustain, and they have so many challenges ahead of them as they start on the journey of rebuilding their lives,” she says. “It’s truly been an honor to be a part of their recovery.”
Laurell has transitioned into a new and exciting phase of her career, moving over to the Admissions Department where she now assesses patients for admission to HHH. She enjoys spinning, walking, reading and dancing.
Monica Mulligan, RN, BSN, MST
Monica Mulligan has a BA and a BSN from William Paterson University and a MST from Fordham University.
In 2000, Monica joined Helen Hayes Hospital as a staff nurse, working first on the spinal cord injury unit before moving over to the stroke unit. In 2008, Monica joined the Admissions Office as a Clinical Liaison where she screens and educates patients and families about the rehabilitation process.
Prior to joining Helen Hayes Hospital, Monica worked at several acute rehabilitation hospitals throughout the country, forging a vast amount of rehabilitation knowledge and experience.
“I feel fortunate to be part of Helen Hayes Hospital because it is truly a place that inspires hope in people that have undergone catastrophic events,” she explains. “The staff at Helen Hayes Hospital has an incredible spirit of community that provides a common goal of helping our patients get back to their life in the best possible manner.”
During her free time, Monica enjoys hiking, biking, reading and traveling.
Valerie Rifelli, BSN, CRNN
Coverage Area: Westchester County, New York
Valerie Rifelli, BSN, CRRN
Valerie has been a practicing nurse for 36 years in diverse clinical settings. Her career began as a staff nurse on a medical/renal unit before she ventured into the world of home and hospice care. She then went on to healthcare sales and marketing positions before entering the rehabilitation field.
“Being able to participate in the beginning of an injured person’s journey to wellness has had a profound effect on me both personally and professionally,” says Valerie. “Witnessing the transformation of a stroke or brain injured patient from severe disability to being able to lead a productive life has truly inspired me.”
Realizing the scope of rehabilitation medicine and the amazing outcomes that can be achieved led Valerie to attain her Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse (CRRN) certification
Valerie joined the Helen Hayes Hospital Admission’s team in 2014. “I am in awe of the degree of caring, the level of expertise and the community spirit of hope that I have found since joining Helen Hayes Hospital,” she says.