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Northwell Health’s Pathway to Inclusion

Photo: Lesly is the 2nd man from the left in the front with the trophy 

Northwell Health’s Pathway to Inclusion

Written by: Lesly St. Louis

I have been advocating for individuals with disabilities – a group of which I am a proud member – for most of my life. The biggest challenges we have to overcome are not the disabilities, but the stigma surrounding them. As an Inclusion Specialist at Northwell Health, I now facilitate employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. My role provides me with the resources to replace fear with mutual understanding, allowing persons with disabilities to become productive members of society.

My job is especially meaningful to me as I know how it feels to encounter barriers from employers. I was born with a congenital malformation called Spina Bifida, which is a defect of the spine and spinal cord. As a result, my primary way of mobilizing is by use of a wheelchair. But I haven’t let that stop me. Through the support and dedication of my parents, as a child, I began participating in adaptive sports designed specifically for individuals with disabilities just like me. I was embraced by the community and it was empowering. The athletes I met over the years guided me through challenges on and off the court. Because of this experience, I learned that I too had a responsibility to support other individuals with disabilities. I took on a leadership position in my wheelchair basketball team to inspire others to overcome and live better with their disabilities.Northwell Health became the biggest supporter of my wheelchair basketball team.

Northwell Health became the biggest supporter of my wheelchair basketball team. I was fortunate to meet Chief People Officer Joe Moscola, who introduced me to the different employment opportunities Northwell offered.


I will be working to communicate our inclusive workforce vision by connecting with schools, vocational services, and other public forums. Community outreach is key to ensuring people with disabilities are aware of the multiple employment opportunities that exist within Northwell Health. Educating everyone in our organization to work collaboratively on creating dynamic opportunities well suited to both the needs of the individual and those of the organization can result in a successful outcome. Connecting our recruiters and hiring managers to individuals with disabilities through specialized events such as workshops will also foster direct communication, furthering our shared goals of creating an inclusive workforce.

I personally know the difficulties that disabled individuals face when finding a job. I had countless conversations with prospective employers and found a few common themes: they would find multiple reasons why they could not hire this person, or if they were willing to give them an opportunity, why they were not able to promote them within the company. I know that I can play a vital role in helping other disabled individuals find a role here at Northwell Health and can honestly say that the organization is focused on this initiative. It is both my job and my vocation to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. My hope is that through creating opportunities for employment, we can work together to increase confidence within these individuals and inspire them to conquer more challenges and achieve even higher levels of success.

It is both my job and my vocation to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. My hope is that through creating opportunities for employment, we can work together to increase confidence within these individuals and inspire them to conquer more challenges and achieve even higher levels of success.

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Celebrating Hindu Culture and Traditions through Diwali – The Festival of Lights


Celebrating Hindu Culture and Traditions through Diwali – The Festival of Lights

Written by: Neva Harold

Guyana, a small third-world country in South America is made up of six main ethnic groups – Amerindian, Chinese, East Indian, African, Portuguese and Europeans. This is primarily due to the British-era colonialization of land and the use of laborers from different parts of the world to work on the sugar plantations. For a small country, Guyana is very diverse. Learning about culture, values and traditions of our people had been a great passion of mine growing up. It gives me great pleasure as a member of the BRIDGES Asian BERG and the Ambulatory Services Diversity and Health Equity Committee to share with everyone, the culture and traditions of one of the main religions in Guyana – Hinduism through its largest and festive holiday celebration of Diwali.

Diwali is a celebration enjoyed not only by Hindus but also Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. The significance of Diwali is different for each religion. For Hindus, Diwali is as important as the Christmas holiday is to Christians. Diwali is derived from the root word Deepavali which means “row of lights”. The festival is celebrated worldwide in October/November depending on the cycle of the moon (new moon). The common theme of the significance of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil or the destruction of all negative qualities – violence, anger, fear, jealousy, greed, etc, to embrace more positive ones. Diwali celebrates the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.

In Guyana, India and around the world, Diwali is celebrated by lighting clay lamps or diyas to signify light over darkness or good over evil. Hindus celebrate the return of the Hindu God Rama to his kingdom after 14 years in exile. They light diyas as a sign of welcome and tribute to Rama. Additionally, during Diwali, Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth is believed to enter one’s homes to give them good fortune and prosperity for the year.

The celebration of Diwali is always a festive one. Growing up, we had to always spring clean our home because if we didn’t, it is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi will not enter our home and bring good fortune. We bought new clothes to wear, lit hundreds of diyas and made lots of sweet and savory snacks. The best part of Diwali for me was visiting friends and family and sharing the holiday with them regardless of their religion. It always gave me this sense of warmth and togetherness to be with everyone – family and friends that did celebrate Diwali and the ones that didn’t. Today, Diwali celebrations at our home in the United States are the same like they were in Guyana. And my favorite part – we still invite our non-Hindu neighbors, friends and family to participate in the festivities and educate everyone about the significance of Diwali. This year, I gave each of my team members a diya to light in their homes for good fortune and prosperity and brought in an assortment of sweets for them to savor!

May the light of the diya bring you and your family happiness, joy, good fortune, prosperity and success always! Happy Diwali to all!

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Celebrating Chinese Culture and Traditions through Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid Autom festival

Photo (from left to right): Philip Dong is the fourth employee from the left gathered with the other members of our Asian BERG

Celebrating Chinese Culture and Traditions Through Mid-Autumn Festival

By: Philip Dong 

As a part of the BRIDGES Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) it’s a passion of mine to share the tradition, spiritual and ethical values of the Asian culture across the health system’s facilities and network.  The BERGs are made up of employees passionate about embracing relationships with diverse communities served by Northwell Health, and the BRIDGES Business Employee Resource Group is focused on fostering shared understanding of cultural, spiritual and ethical values in the context of healthcare delivery among employees and communities.

On October 4th, I had the privilege to be part of a Diversity and Health Equity Committee meeting and for the first time, introduced one of my most treasured holidays – Mid-Autumn Festival, to Northwell Health’s executive senior leadership. The festival was also celebrated at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research by the Chinese Association at the Feinstein Institute (CAFI) which was organized by Dan Li, President of CAFI and a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Autoimmune and Cancer Research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Celebrated throughout different Asian regions, this festival has a history of over 3,000 years and commemorates the end of the autumn harvest. It is the second most important festival after the Lunar New Year, where people celebrate through family reunions, akin to Thanksgiving in the United States.

In China, Mid-Autumn Festival was also a time for moon-worship and moon cakes are the must-eat food item during ancient times because the round shape symbolizes reunion and happiness. After worshipping the full moon, family members would savor the cakes together. And while moon-worshiping is no longer a practices ritual, moon cakes are still a traditional pastry to be enjoyed during the festival. The Americans have turkey, but we have delicious cakes with sweet fillings.

The modern day celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival shares much of the same principles as Thanksgiving; that of family gathering and giving thanks. Ever since I was a child, the festival instilled in me a strong sense of family bonds and love. To this day, the clinking of plates and clattering of shuffling mahjong tiles stir up warm, resonant feelings of my Chinese family heritage. To me, the Mid-Autumn festival is more than just a time to eat and be merry – it’s a precious moment when everyone takes a step out of their normal routine to gather as a family and appreciate each other.

To all who celebrate this holiday, I hope you enjoyed this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival!


8 FeinsteinMi Autumn Festival Celebration

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When your military service continues, so does Northwell Health’s support

Vets blog header

When your military service continues, so does Northwell Health’s support

Reservists face unique challenges as they balance a civilian job with ongoing military obligations. Just ask Reservist and Core Laboratories Clerk Davesha Taylor. Her Reservist duties include regular training that often involves weekday assignments overlapping her work schedule. We’re honored to be able to help Davesha grow in her career with us while she continues to meet her military commitments.

“I owe a lot of thanks to the kind staff I work with,” says Davesha. “They are very considerate of me whenever I need to take time off for military training.”

We recognize that there’s more to helping our veterans than merely finding them a job. As a Military Friendly® Employer for three years in a row, we’re there to continue to support veterans throughout their time with us – such as offering flexible scheduling and pay differentials for reservists.

For Davesha, her role as a clerk with us is just the start. Her vision and passion is to attend medical school to become a Forensic Pathologist, and we’ll be there to help her make this dream a reality.

“Thanks to Northwell Health, my transition from the military has been smooth and easy,” Davesha acknowledges.

Veterans like Davesha Taylor have sacrificed so much in the service of our country. At Northwell Health, we’re proud that they choose to continue their life of service with us.

If you’d like to learn more about our commitment to your career transition and growth, please visit: NorthwellCareers.com/Veterans.

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An Appointment With: Northwell Health Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto

An Appointment With: Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto

Welcome to “An Appointment With,” where we sit down one on one with leadership, doctors, nurses and more to bring you their stories. Today we’re meeting SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto, who was the most recent winner of the AHHE Hospital Executive of the Year Award.

How did you know that coming to Northwell Health was the right career move for you?

I didn’t at first. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Patchogue. When I heard about the Chief Marketing Officer position at Northwell Health, then known as North Shore-LIJ Health System, I just remembered the small health care company from my childhood. After doing my research, hearing Michael Dowling speak, and learning about the advancements at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Hofstra School of Medicine, I fell in love. I saw the power of this organization and I knew there were stories waiting to be told. This is the best job I’ve ever had.

How has the rebranding process at Northwell Health impacted the organization?

Fundamentally, our hospitals used to run regionally and people associated themselves with the single hospital they worked for. Now people feel like they are all together, and there is a sense of community. This has helped improve our engagement scores. As separate entities,  people didn’t know who we were and how we were all connected and now they see all of our locations as one. There has been an undeniable unifying effect on the inside, and ability to shine as a destination health care system.

What is your perspective on leadership?

90% of leadership traits are trainable and there are things you can do throughout your career to be a good leader. My philosophy is: don’t just “dabble” in anything, take it on with all you’ve got. You should know your stuff and strive to be the subject matter experts.   When making a decision, you should bring everyone together to help. Leverage diversity of thought and unity in action. If you give people a voice, the execution is always better. If you can adapt your leadership style to fit the needs of your audience as well as the organization, you will be able to grow and flourish.

You recently earned the AHHE Hospital Executive of the Year Award. What have you learned from that experience and what did that mean to you?

The most important part of the awards evening was that my family was there and I was able to reflect on my heritage. This award made me think of my father. He came from Puerto Rico when he was 12 and he didn’t speak a word of English. He pulled himself up from poverty by going to school at night and working hard. He believed you always had a choice: work a job you enjoy or work a job as a chore. He also said to always stretch yourself, whenever you think you can’t do more, you can. His wisdom helped shape who I am today. I went back to get my MBA at 40 even though I had a successful career because of the drive he instilled in me.

Many people of diverse backgrounds have stories like this, and that’s why in terms of diversity in the workplace, it’s important to include individuals from all backgrounds based on their experience and what they’ve done. We need qualified candidates and we need to choose the best of the best. If we don’t include everyone in that pool of candidates, we’re missing out.

However, no institution should ever settle for people who aren’t the top or relax their standards to bring on talent that isn’t qualified.

What is an interesting fact that people should know about you?

I had a perm in high school!

We invite you to come back for the next moment in our Appointment With… blog!

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We’re Truly Ourselves and it makes us stronger

Two lesbian girls holding hands and rainbow flag

We’re Truly Ourselves and it makes us stronger.

At Northwell Health, understanding and respecting the values and backgrounds of our patients and employees leads to more open communication, an enhanced patient experience, and improved health outcomes. This is why we continually provide an accepting, welcoming and supportive setting for all – especially those within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community.

“As an ally of the LGBTQ community, it’s wonderful to work for an organization that is dedicated, passionate and committed to promoting health equity.  I am thankful to have EXPRESSIONS as a business employee resource group where I can give my time outside of my normal job function to do this!” –Patricia McColley, Community Relations, Northwell Health

For the fifth consecutive year, DiversityInc has ranked us as one of the top 12 Hospitals and Health Systems in the nation for diversity and inclusion. We also continue to be recognized as a leader in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Healthcare Equality Index.

Engaging our employees.

We’re pleased to be able to foster and promote EXPRESSIONS, a Northwell Health Business Employee Resource Group (BERG). EXPRESSIONS is comprised of employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) or who are allies of the LGBTQ community. Through this group, these individuals are able to express their passion for promoting health equity and awareness in a number of ways within the community.

“Over the years, I have gone from being afraid to go to school or work openly to recently marching with Gov. Cuomo down Fifth Avenue with my husband.  It is great to work for an organization where I can bring my whole self to work, feel included, and can promote health services within the LGBTQ community. It is gratifying that at our workplace we all feel comfortable and can work together to make sure that everyone feels welcome.” –Bill Self, Director, Health Sciences Library, Lenox Hill Hospital

Partnering with our community.

We will be taking part in a number of community activities during Pride Month, stop by and say hi, we’d love to meet you.

  • June  9-11th: Long Island Pride Festival in partnership with the LGBT Network of Long Island
  • June 17: Employee seating area at Citi Field on the 2nd annual pride night.
  • June 25: NYC Pride Parade with Lenox Health Greenwich Village.

We recently purchased an immediate care clinic in Cherry Grove, Fire Island, one of the most popular LGBTQ accepting resort communities in the United States. This clinic will enable us to provide immediate/urgent care to the summer residents of the island. We are also a committed partner to these local community organizations:

  • The LGBT Network, Long Island
  • Long Island Crisis Center, Long Island
  • Pride For Youth, Long Island
  • The LGBT Community Center, Greenwich Village

Caring for the transgender community.

To accommodate patients of all ages and at all stages of the transitioning process, we provide a wide variety of transgender healthcare services in New York City and Long Island, including:

  • Primary and preventative care
  • Hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers
  • Surgical specialty care for gender-affirming surgery
  • HIV prevent (PrEP) and HIV treatment
  • Screening for sexually transmitted infections
  • Mental health care
  • Immunizations
  • Healthy and sexuality education
  • Risk reduction counseling
  • Referral services

At Northwell Health we live by our value Truly Ourselves. We stand united, proud and respectful, always celebrating
our differences. This and every month we stand proudly with our LGBTQ community and celebrate. 

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Sharing traditions and culture with Lunar New Year celebrations.

Northwell Health's Chinese BERG

Sharing traditions and culture with Lunar New Year celebrations. 

Written by: Julie Liu

Spanning a total of fifteen days, the Lunar New Year is a joyous time of renewal marked by gatherings with family and friends, elaborate feasts, parades, fireworks and gift giving. It marks the return of spring and reunion of family.

One thing that makes the Lunar calendar different than the Gregorian calendar is its use of representative animals, following a 12-year cycle, and 2017 ushered in the Year of the Rooster. Marking the end of the holiday, a magnificent red lantern festival will be on display as celebrants symbolize their letting go of the past and welcoming in of future good fortunes.

On February 4th, for the eighth consecutive year, contingents from Northwell Health marched in the Lunar New Year Parade in downtown Flushing, New York. The parade is the highlight of Lunar New Year celebrations in Flushing, including dragon dancers, kettle drummers and fireworks. The march draws a considerable amount of spectators each year.

Demonstrating its commitment to the Asian-American community, the senior leadership at Northwell Health participated in the customary tradition of receiving and gifting red envelopes to its Asian-American employee business resource group (BERG).  Our Chinese BERG leadership also had the opportunity to network with some of the most prominent, world-renowned Chinese medical scientists and researchers at the Northwell Health Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, during its annual Chinese New Year luncheon, hosted by the Chinese Association at the Feinstein Institute (CAFI). What a great honor to be surrounded by creative thinkers who share a singular focus of advancing science to prevent disease and cure patients (pictured above).

Overview of Lunar New Year Traditions

Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is China’s most important traditional festival. It is also a time for families to be together and celebrate a year of hard work and wish for a lucky and prosperous coming year.  Chinese people believe that a good start to the year will lead to a lucky year.

On New Year’s Eve, every street, building, and house is decorated with red.  Red is the main color for the festival, as it is believed to be a “lucky” color.  Red lanterns are also displayed in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with pictures and writings representing prosperity.

The New Year’s Eve dinner is called “reunion dinner”, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year, where families sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together. Certain foods are eaten during the New Year’s Eve dinner, because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearances, such as:

  • Fish – serving a whole fish symbolizes a year of abundance for the whole family. The Chinese word for fish is pronounced the same way as the word for abundance;
  • Nian Gao or sticky rice cake –symbolizes prosperity in the New Year. The word of Nian Gao can be pronounced the same way as higher year;
  • Oranges or Tangerines – because of their plump shape and golden color, oranges and tangerines are said to bring fortune and good luck. The Chinese word for orange sounds like success;
  • Dumplings – made to look like ancient Chinese currency and legend has it, the more dumplings you eat during New Years, the more money you will make;
  • Noodles – a staple food to Chinese culture, but when they are long noodles, it means longevity. The longer the noodle, the longer the life. Legend has it, the strand should be eaten whole and if you bite them half way thru, you might be cutting your life short

Just in the western culture, gifts are exchanged during the festival.  The most common gifts are red envelopes.  The envelopes have money in them and are given to children by the elder of the household.  According to a legend, there was monster that would come out during the New Year’s Eve and terrify children while they were asleep.  To keep children safe from being harmed, parents gave their children eight coins to play with the monster, in order to keep him tired.  The children would distract the monster by wrapping the coins in red, opening the packet, re-wrapping and re-opening the packet until the monster was too tired to fall asleep.  From then on, giving red envelopes to children became a way to keep them safe and bring good luck.

Gong Xi Fa Cai
Gong Hey Fat Choy