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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

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