STAR Program ( for Special Needs Patients)

Overview of the STAR Program

The STAR program aims to minimize the stress of patients and families on the autism spectrum or those who have Down Syndrome (birth through 18 years of age). The purpose is to streamline their care in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. We aim to maximize our patient’s success rate while empowering the child and their family to advocate for their specific needs.  Through the intake process we are able to get a better feel to what works and does not work and aim to eliminate many potential triggers through the creation of a “game plan” between the patient, family, child life and other members. The main component of the program is that it is patient driven; once enrolled families need to notify the STAR phone a few days prior to their visit to ensure that our team has the proper time to create our “game plans”.

How to Participate in the STAR Program

Thank you for your interest in participating in our newly formed Children with Special Needs Program here at The Children’s Medical Center at Winthrop-University Hospital.

Help us navigate your child and family through Winthrop-University Hospital. Once enrolled, you may call (516) 419-7940 prior to your inpatient or outpatient visit/procedure, or on your way to the emergency room and a child life specialist will be available to you with your child’s information Monday through Friday 9:00AM-5:00PM.

  1. Please complete our Parent/Child Intake form to help us to better know you and your child. Please contact us at (516) 663-2112 if you have questions about the forms or the process
  2. Please complete our “All About Me” form. This will further help us with things we should know about your child
  3. Set up a session with a team member to further evaluate your child’s needs should they have a hospital visit or a test/procedure
  4. Bring forms to your next visit or fax to Lori Benzoni at (516) 663-2308
  5. Follow up and update forms as needed

Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns regarding this program. Please see below for our contact information.

Lori Benzoni, MPH Pediatric Program & Event Manager Department of Pediatrics, Winthrop University Hospital Pediatric Diabetes Program 101 Mineola Blvd, Mineola, NY 11501 Phone: 516-663-2112 E-Mail:

Nicole Almeida, M.S., CCLS Director, Child Life Program The Children’s Medical Center at Winthrop University Hospital 259 First Street Mineola, NY 11501 Phone: 516-663-2761 Fax: 516-663-8955 Cell: 516-419-7940 E-Mail: