Photo: From left to right, Dr. Allen Toles, Dr. Janna Andrews, Zacharie Saintyl
Black History Month: My role as a leader at Northwell
At Northwell, we are Truly Ourselves and we stand united, proud and respectful, always celebrating our differences, together. February is Black History Month, and we sat down with some of our leaders to learn about their history, their dreams, and their career aspirations. With an ever-changing health care landscape, their leadership is critical to our organization’s success because of their unique backgrounds. Check it out.
1. Can you please describe your ethnic background and/or family origin?
Dr. Allen Toles: My ethnic background is African American.
Dr. Janna Andrews: I am African American and my family originates from Alabama and Georgia (and I am very proud of my southern roots). My family moved to Queens when my mother was a child but as many of them get older they all eventually return home to the south.
Zacharie Saintyl: I am originally from Haiti. My family came to this country in hopes for a better future. My parents always told us about the United States being the land of opportunity. They always have high hopes that my siblings and I would become important figures in society through a good education, and their hope was realized when my siblings and I became the first generation in our family to graduate high school and to graduate college. Thanks to my parents, today we each are able to live our dreams.
2. When did you know that you wanted to be a healthcare professional?
Dr. Allen Toles: I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to be in healthcare having been exposed to it, essentially, from birth, and because my mother is a pediatrician who trained at Harlem Hospital and serviced the Greater Jamaica Queens community for more than 40 years. So, it was a natural transition for me as I advanced through my undergraduate and ultimately Medical School years.
Dr. Janna Andrews: I knew I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was five. My goal was first to go to the Olympics in Gymnastics then spend the rest of my career as a physician. After I hit a serious growth spurt at 16 my Olympic aspirations were put aside. I wasn’t anywhere near Olympic quality but I do appreciate that gymnastics taught me how to compete. I should also say that I was fortunate to grow up watching the Cosby show where I got to see very positive images of black professionals that convinced me that becoming a physician was something I could achieve. After gymnastics I then began to focus on what I needed to do to go to medical school and I looked at the journey as just training for another competition. I always had a very deep interest in healing whether it was mentally or physically and what that entailed.
Zacharie Saintyl: It had always been my passion since I was a little boy growing up in Haiti to help others. I was always involved in community service at church and I would always visit the sick at hospitals, brought them food and prayed with them. When I came to the United States I was presented with an abundance of opportunities and education that helped my passion become a reality. As I grew older I became more passionate about working in the medical field as I watched my family members, especially my mother, struggle with sickness. I wanted to be in a position where I can provide professional health to them and that’s when I found my passion in Nursing. I started as a nursing assistant at Northwell Health and after finishing my studies, I continued to set higher goals for myself. I took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me and I am now a Nurse Manager at LIJ Valley Stream.
3. What’s the best part of being a leader here at Northwell Health?
Dr. Allen Toles: The best part of being a leader here at Northwell, is that I have the opportunity every day of breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and being a role model for other employees and my community.
Dr. Janna Andrews: The best part of being a leader at Northwell is having a platform to make a difference. I’ve been extremely fortunate to sit down with some great mentors that have really opened my eyes to the opportunities that exist at Northwell, but also to the impact that I can potentially have. I feel like it is my job to pass this information and these opportunities along. I’m currently serving as a co-chair for the BERG (Business Employee Resource Group) that focuses on employees of African American and Caribbean descent. We are just getting started, but collectively we are committed to ensuring that these employees are aware of opportunities that exist for themselves or their families at Northwell. We are also committed to hosting health initiatives that will have a positive and lasting impact on the communities of color in the surrounding areas.
Zacharie Saintyl: The best part of being a leader at Northwell Health is being able to contribute to the Northwell mission. I am grateful to be a member of a great health system that invests in its mission and vision to improve and promote healthcare across diverse communities. I am truly honored to have this platform to be inspired and I am fortunate to be surrounded by great leaders that I can learn from. I’m presently a member of one of our BERG’s serving as a co-chair. We work to enhance communication and patient experience while serving the diverse communities within our health system.
4. What do you think about when you hear “Black History Month?”
Dr. Janna Andrews: When I think about Black History Month, I very much think about those that came before me and created this space and opportunity for me. I am very aware that I stand on their shoulders and I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve and overcome. There is more work to be done and that is ok. I live my life through the affirmation- to whom much is given, much is expected, and I am happy to carry the baton until it is my turn to pass it. For now, I will roll up my sleeves and ask how I can be of service.
Zacharie Saintyl: When I think of Black History I think of the time that we celebrate all the accomplishments and the accolades of black people worldwide. The first black president of the United States was in my lifetime. That is an amazing feeling to experience. This accomplishment and others inspire me to also become a great role model, not only to my children, but also to those who look up to me. Knowing about the great achievements of black people through history motivates me to never give up. I become more confident in knowing that I too can accomplish great things such as the people who came before me and created this opportunity for me.
5. Is there a specific leader from history that inspires you? What about a figure from today?
Dr. Allen Toles: It may sound cliché, but Martin Luther King, continues to inspire me, because I was well aware of his presence and actions during my adolescence and was able to witness firsthand, the cataclysmic change that he brought about in American Society. In this 21st century, I have been inspired by many people, but I think for most people of color, Barack Obama has inspired a new generation of believers, that with hard work and determination, all things are possible.
Dr. Janna Andrews: Harry Belafonte inspires me. His legacy as a social activist and devotion to the ongoing fight for our civil rights is tremendous. Harry Belafonte has passed the baton from his mentor Paul Robeson and I have so much respect for someone that recognizes and uses their platform for social good. Mr. Belafonte has shown up, he has written checks, and he has stayed politically engaged his entire life. He has been passionate and outspoken as a humanitarian and I can only hope to accomplish a sliver of what he has but he certainly gave those of us that follow in his footsteps a foundation to stand on. I think ultimately Mr. Belafonte will pass the baton to the actor/social activist Jesse Williams. Already an established social activist in his right, I can’t wait to see what Williams is able to accomplish.
Zacharie Saintyl: Barack Obama is my inspiration. When faced with adversaries and tribulations, he was never shaken – he was a man of character. He has received unprecedented opposition and disrespect, yet he dealt with them peacefully and gracefully. As a father and a husband, he inspires me to be a great leader – to lead with positivity, and to never give up when facing adversary.
6. Why, more than ever, do we need to reignite humanism in healthcare?
Dr. Allen Toles: There is a tectonic shift that is happening ethnically and culturally in this world and right here within our own communities, and as health care providers we need to be exquisitely sensitive to this shift. We are no longer a homogenous population; we are a “melting pot” of such diversity now, with the breaking down of bias, stereotypes, and ignorance. People are in relation with one another, and as a result, families are now multicultural, multiracial, bringing forth more heterogeneity than ever. To this end “Humanism” has to be primary when delivering healthcare, so that one can understand the whole person – what makes them who they are, and therefore, have a better insight, into their health challenge, and develop the best approach to heal their body, mind, and spirit.
When our employees or their family members are sick and unsure of the next steps, it’s a comfort to know someone is there to help, someone who can answer questions and give important assistance, any time of the day or night. If you’re a Northwell Health employee covered by one of the United Healthcare benefit plans, the Clinical Call Center is a new benefit that will provide that assistance. And it’s just one of the benefits that we provide to help our employees feel their best.
“Our highly-trained nurses are available to help 24/7. They are dedicated and caring professionals who provide the highest quality telephonic nursing care when our callers need it most.”
–Karen Abrashkin, MD, Medical Director, Clinical Call Center
When a Northwell Health employee or their covered dependent calls the Clinical Call Center, they will be directly connected with an experienced Northwell Health RN who is certified in emergency care. The best part is our Clinical Call Center is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Be assured that all communications are confidential.
“The Clinical Call Center nurses utilize evidence-based protocols to determine a recommended level of care for our callers. Our call center is the second Accredited Center of Excellence for Emergency Communication Nursing in the world awarded by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch.”
–Debra Tomassetti, Program Director, Clinical Call Center
What kinds of situations can the Clinical Call Center address?
Urgent health questions or concerns
Changes in health condition
Whether or not a trip to the emergency room is needed
Questions or concerns regarding medication
“At Northwell Health, we are continuously looking for opportunities to take better care of our employees and their families. The Clinical Call Center is a great example of that.”
–Greg Bennett, Senior Director, Strategic Planning & Business Development
In our complex and demanding environment of healthcare, it is incredibly important that we care for ourselves – so that we can in turn care for others. Healthcare professionals can be exceptional at providing empathetic quality care, however, we are also human – we grieve, mourn, hurt and feel very deeply – especially during the many challenging situations often faced when caring for complex patients and families.
At Northwell Health, we foster an environment that promotes wellness, self-care, self-reflection and emotional support for our dedicated caregivers.
Truly Compassionate: One of our unique programs, Team Lavender, provides staff an opportunity for timely emotional, spiritual and physical support, discuss feelings, explore coping mechanisms and extend additional resources for mental well-being if needed.
Truly Together: Team Lavender is comprised of interdisciplinary members, with disciplines and skill sets that complement one another when providing a holistic approach to emotional support for our dedicated staff. Members of Team Lavender may include social workers, physicians, nurses, chaplains, patient and family relations members, holistic and integrative therapy practitioners and employee assistance program team members.
Ultimately, we are dedicated to making sure our 66,000 Northwell caregivers feel supported and valued so that they can be better equipped to provide our patients, families, and customers with the exceptional experience they deserve. This is how we make every moment matter.
Photo: Mary Comerford-Hewitt, pictured right, with colleagues.
An Appointment With: Mary Comerford-Hewitt, VP, Human Capital Business and Program Development
Written by: Amelia Zito
At Northwell Health, we’re proud of the vast knowledge, skills and insight our people bring to our team. People like Mary Comerford-Hewitt. As our Vice President for Human Capital Business and Program Development, Mary is just one of our innovative people driving our change and success!
Throughout her career, Mary has never been satisfied with the status quo. She has consistently been a pioneer in the healthcare field, always seeking new opportunities and bringing new approaches to improving the health of the community – one person at a time. Mary is an amazing example of how careers at Northwell Health have endless roadmaps, and all along the way, she has helped those around her learn, grow and advance in their careers as well. Meet Mary and gain valuable insight you can use in your career!
Why did you come to Northwell Health and what is your role today?
When I first heard of Northwell Health in 2011, I had no idea of the size and scope of the health system. Once I investigated the opportunity, I saw all the good work being done as well as how innovation was part of its core. These both spoke to who I am as a nurse and an entrepreneur. That was five years ago. Where has the time gone!
Today, I am the VP of Human Capital Programs and Business Development. When I first came here, I led the Talent Acquisition team. I helped re-engineer this very busy department, responsible for over 10,000 hires per year, and helped create the Workforce Readiness Department. I also pioneered the creation of FlexStaff. Today, my role is focused on creating pipelines, internships, career ladders, school programs, diversity with our Workforce Readiness team and the development of new programs and businesses that will benefit both the community and the health system.
What is FlexStaff all about?
FlexStaff, which just celebrated its 3rd birthday, was created to help meet the temporary staffing needs of health systems. As a stand-alone company, FlexStaff has partnered with Northwell to help meet their contingent staffing needs. Additionally, we deliver our contingent staff to other healthcare organizations. As millennials enter the workforce and baby boomers work less, a flexible working arrangement becomes vital to an organization. FlexStaff is the connection they need to make that happen, and we’re looking forward to sharing their brand new website in the coming weeks!
How are you leading change in health care?
One area that I am focused on is neurodiversity. We created the first ever Bridges internship in partnership with Adelphi and helped give five students on the spectrum an internship last summer. I am happy to report we hired two of those interns! Another area that we are focused on is creating career ladders for students who are looking to enter the health system in an entry-level position, but are focused on career growth. For example, we may hire an individual as a medical assistant and they can have a career path to RN or NP through Northwell Health’s opportunity for tuition reimbursement and commitment to continuing education.
Another area that we are leading the way in is as co stewards of the Long Island STEM Hub. We are partnering with schools and industry and challenging them to look at talent differently. Because of our STEM partnerships and awareness efforts, Northwell is an approved STEMJOBS employer.
What makes someone Made for this™ at Northwell Health?
They must realize that Northwell isn’t a normal 9-5 and they must be flexible. They should also live by our new refreshed values – Truly Compassionate, Truly Ambitious, Truly Together, Truly Ourselves and Truly Innovative. Michael Dowling, Northwell’s President and CEO, has told us that we are transitioning health care – it’s up to us to define the future. If you’re someone who wants to help us do that – you’re Made for this!
What makes a great Northwell Health leader?
Someone who is engaged, passionate, loves to learn and can see the big picture. Health care is moving fast. You need to embrace change, be a good communicator, be humble and kind. You need to invest time in learning about the company – and this is a big company. I’ve been here nearly five years and I still learn something new every week. The ability to create followership is key. It enables everyone to blaze new trails together.
If you’d like to make an impact on the future of health care as Mary has, you’re Made for a career at Northwell Health.
Inside Northwell: How to Stand Out While Applying for Jobs in 2018
At our first Inside Northwell Facebook Live session, we sat down with members of our Talent Acquisition team who gave the best tips for candidates looking to join our team in 2018. Check it out!
1. How can candidates stand out while applying for jobs in 2018?
My best piece of advice would be to only apply to positions that you meet the minimum qualifications for. With the volume of applications we receive we can’t contact everyone and we are contacting only those who most closely match the department’s specific needs. If you don’t hear from us, you will remain in our database and we can contact you for other positions you are suitable for. Just because you were not the right match for one, does not mean you wouldn’t be the right match for another so don’t lose faith – the needs vary from department to department.
2. How can they make their resume stand out throughout the bunch/mix?
Your resume is a living breathing document so you can make changes as you learn or develop new skills sets throughout your career, even if you are not currently looking for a new job. Make sure you mention the special project that you have taken and the impact to the organization because it’ll show you ambition to make a direct impact. If you are looking for a new job, always remember, the job description is your friend – use the information provided to help you craft your resume and use the keywords they have listed within the job description in your resume too. If your previous experiences don’t exactly match the job you are looking for, don’t forget to add the transferable skill sets you’ve learned. (ie: “Customer Service” is really “Communication Skills”)
-Arthur Beechman, Clinical and Non-Clinical Recruiter, Talent Acquisition
Remember to add keywords. We have advanced technology that we are using to source through a variety of candidates. If you have the keywords within your resume our searches will be able to match with yours and pull up your information before someone else’s. Also, remember to send the final version of your resume. You wouldn’t believe the amount of resumes we receive with a coworkers/family members/metors edits on them. Always double check!
If you’re updating your resume, as you should be all the time, make sure that any past experience is referred to in past tense. If it looks like current tense language for a position you held 3 years ago, we notice that and it shows less attention to detail. Also remember to quantify information. If you work for an organization that we aren’t familiar of, it’s very helpful to a recruiter to have some sense of how large that organization is, adding the number of direct reports (if any) you have, if you’ve saved the organization any money and how you achieved that – this will help us quickly understand who you are and what you do for what type of organization.
-Esther David, Director, Talent Acquisition
3. What makes a candidate “made for Northwell Health”?
4. What are the most appropriate ways for them to follow up with recruiters?
5. What is your last piece of advice for our candidates?
“I knew that coming to Northwell presented an opportunity for growth and it’s one of best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel appreciated, I feel acknowledged, and I feel my talents are recognized.”
– Edlyn Fernandez, Administrative Director of Radiology, Long Island Jewish, Valley Stream Hospital
Edlyn Fernandez has come full-circle. When she began her career at Northwell Health as a Front Desk Clerk, she used her position to build up her terminology while she went through Radiology school. After graduating from her radiology program with honors, she moved to an X-Ray Technician position and eventually came back to Long Island Jewish, Valley Stream Hospital as a Per Diem Cat Scan Technologist, where she worked for five years while she received her advanced certification in Cat Scan.
Edlyn still had places to go! After four years as a Per Diem Cat Scan Technologist, she was promoted to Cat Scan and MRI Supervisor where she oversaw both modalities in which the department acquired ACR accreditation. She eventually moved into the role of Radiology Manager where she assisted the director in departmental needs such as patient safety and staff scheduling, the ACR accreditation of multiple modalities, IT troubleshooting with PACS and Ris system, the implementation of Sunrise Clinical Manager, and obtaining data for quality metrics such as turnaround time.
Edlyn is putting all of this experience to good use now as Administrative Director of Radiology, the same department she started her career in. Her new role gives her the ability to collaborate with administration, nursing, and the rest of the hospital for timely discharges and lengths of stays, all while performing daily briefs to set expectations and goals for the staff.
“The work you put in at Northwell Health is repaid with opportunities to grow. I’ve always been dedicated and it’s been an honor to be here starting off as a Front Desk Clerk and growing into my current role,” she says.
The Northwell Health values of never settling, relying on each other, and utilizing her ambitious spark make Edlyn an outstanding teammate. Her dedication and career progress make us proud to call her a valued team member. She’s an amazing example of how at Northwell Health, you never know what heights your career will take you.
“When I came here to this very office and interviewed as a Front Desk Clerk, I never thought I’d be where I’m sitting. Now, I look around my office and I’m sitting on the other side of the desk, and I did it.”
At Northwell Health, we love giving our employees the opportunity to grow. Explore how your career can thrive by looking at openings here.
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