Cards brighten days for patients at LIJ Forest Hills
by Sara Krevoy
Apr 08, 2020 | 4320 views | 0 0 comments | 145 145 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Like many New Yorkers these days, six-year-old Queens native Naomi Semkhayev found herself at home with a new wealth of spare time with the city’s COVID-19 restrictions in place.

The youngster was beginning to feel restless and anxious from staying indoors, when she came up with the idea of creating get-well cards for pandemic patients at the local Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital.

Her older brother, Boris Semkhayev, is department secretary at the hospital’s Imaging Center, and she promptly enlisted his help with the mission.

“I thought it was a great idea,” said Boris. “She’s able to utilize her time in a way that both helps the community and keeps her distracted from all the stress of the pandemic.

“And it brings emotional support to patients dealing with the virus,” he continued. “Especially at a time right now when they can’t have visitors.”

So far, Naomi’s daily work has produced more than 50 cards and counting, which are being placed on food trays as a small reminder that even though patients are currently isolated from loved ones, they are still cared for.

She’s even gotten some family and community members to pitch in, including a cousin in San Diego who is looking to make cards for a hospital there. Boris says that anyone, anywhere is welcome to join the effort.

“If we get enough people we will branch out to other hospitals in the Northwell system and beyond,” he explained. “It would be a really big help to all of these patients.”

Those interested in contributing can coordinate with Boris through email at

In addition to his role at LIJ Forest Hills, Semkhayev is an active member of the community, serving on the health committee of the Alliance of Bukharian Americans.

He is also the founder and CEO of NAPHAS, a pre-health app for students. Semkhayev is pledging 30 to 50 percent of income generated through paid subscriptions on the app to Meals on Wheels, an organization which has seen an uptick in demand for service during the coronavirus outbreak.

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