Black History Month: My role in helping reignite humanism
At Northwell, we stand united together, celebrating our differences and respecting them. February is Black History Month, and we sat down with Helen White, manager, community relations, Long Island Jewish Valley Stream and Ralph Thomas, project manager, administration, clinical transformation, Northwell Health to learn about their background, journey to becoming a leader, who inspires them and the importance of reigniting humanism through inclusion, dignity and respect.
What is your ethnic background and family origin?
RALPH: I am Haitian American. Both of my parents were born in Haiti and I was born in Brooklyn, NY. My family moved here to seek better economic opportunities.
HELEN: I am an African American woman whose parents proudly originated from Harlem, NY and Pittsburgh, PA.
When did you know that you wanted to be a healthcare leader?
RALPH:I always had an interest in helping others as a child. Growing up in Flatbush, Brooklyn I personally experienced the challenges of accessing health care and the negative effects it had on the community as a whole. In high school, I decided one day that I would become a change agent in the healthcare industry. I began my journey in research and community health and eventually became an administrator.
HELEN:I have always been an outgoing and passionate person with the desire to organize and lead. While I did not plan on a career in health care, I grew to see how my values and my desire to help build bridges throughout our communities could be a powerful force in providing education and access to care to those who need it.
What’s the best part of your job?
RALPH:The best part is collaborating with clinical leaders, front line staff and administrative personnel to overcome barriers and find solutions in clinical transformation and organizational-wide projects. The outcome of our work has an impact on our patients, team members and the communities we serve. I am enthusiastic to be a co-chair for Northwell’s Bridges Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) representing African American and Caribbean employees. Being a BERG leader has allowed me to work in partnership with senior leadership on how to enhance recruitment and retention of culturally diverse talent and increase community outreach.
HELEN:The most rewarding aspect of my current position is how it enables me to partner with other community organizations and provide outreach projects for the underserved.
What thoughts and emotions does Black History Month evoke for you?
RALPH: Black History Month shares our history and contributions to the world with a wider audience. Similar to the Adinkra symbol Sankofa, Black History Month expresses the importance of reaching back to wisdom gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. During this time and every day, I think of celebrating our rich past, present and work toward a better future.
HELEN:When I hear the term Black History Month, I fondly think of my childhood years. Every Saturday morning, the neighborhood children attended a Black History Reading Circle, hosted by a trailblazing woman in our community. We learned about black history on a weekly basis throughout the year and I can vividly remember the impact those sessions had on me to this day.
Is there a leader from history that inspires you? What about a figure from today?
RALPH:Nelson Mandela. He set an example of dedication, courage, and sacrifice for all. Also Angela Rye, an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate that has an unwavering commitment to ensuring positive change in the political process.
HELEN: I have always been inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His strength and stamina to follow his dream while facing constant adversity and life threatening challenges made him larger than life in my eyes. He exemplified what a true leader should be by teaching all of us about inclusion, dignity and respect. Most recently, I have been inspired by former President Barack Obama. I admire how throughout his public life he faced many challenges, but was able to maintain a respectful and dignified character.
Why, more than ever, do we need to reignite humanism through inclusion, dignity and respect?
RALPH:As humans, we are all capable of doing good to create a better society. While embracing our uniqueness, we have the opportunity to change the narrative on inclusion. Our patients and team members all have distinctive stories, challenges and successes in life that can benefit one another. Embracing our uniqueness, relying on each other, and creating new narratives will evolve our organization and surrounding communities.
HELEN:There are many issues dividing people today, all of which make it essential for healthcare providers to incorporate humanism in their care plan. All people need to feel respected, valued and cared for. I believe a purpose-driven life is a life of service and therefore, what better industry is there than health care to fulfill that purpose.
We’re growing! Explore the new additions we’re making at LIJ Forest Hills Hospital!
Exciting things are happening inside LIJ Forest Hills Hospital! We have brought several major programmatic expansion and facility modernization projects to our community and the patients we serve over the last couple of years. This means more career opportunities in a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical areas. Check back often for the latest openings.
Here are some of our newest developments:
Breast Health and Mammography Program
Our brand new revolutionary mammography program led by Dr. Daniel Settle, board-certified radiologist, and mammographer, provides quality breast imaging to our community. Designed with our partners in Northwell Health’s Imaging Service Line, we’re working Truly Together from referral to mammography reading (completed by board-certified radiologists, fellowship trained in mammography) with additional procedures including Ultrasound and/or MRI if necessary. Our mammography suite is equipped with state-of-the-art mammography equipment and our entire program will soon be accredited by the American College of Radiology. Our director of breast surgery, Dr. Susan Lee, is available for immediate consultation and/or surgery, should that be recommended.
New Life Center (Labor & Delivery, NICU, Post-Partum Unit)
Our already Baby-Friendly designated hospital has recently undergone a total renovation. We’ve built a brand new post-partum unit, creating an amazing environment for patients and families, and renovated our well-baby nursery and Level 2 neonatal intensive care unit.
Telehealth and telestroke programs
Telestroke is a telemedicine technology that utilizes a computer screen and video camera to allow our board-certified, fellowship trained stroke neurologists to quickly evaluate patients presenting with stroke symptoms, even though those stroke neurologists may not be on-site. Through this technology, patients, families, and our health care teams in the Emergency Department can speak to Northwell Health specialists via the computer screen/camera, who can readily evaluate a patient with stroke symptoms to determine the best course of care. This is just one part of our continuous goal to renovate our Emergency Department to be on the forefront of medical advancements.
In 2019, LIJFH opened its non-denominational meditation center with the input and help of chaplains from our community. This quiet space in the hospital provides an area for staff, visitors, and patients to reflect. This meditation center will also offer services from different community-based spiritual leaders who dedicate their time at the hospital.
Black History Month: Bridges BERG celebrates being Truly Ourselves
Great things are achieved when we’re Truly Ourselves. Part of being Truly Ourselves means standing together and celebrating our differences. In honor of Black History Month, Northwell recognizes the hardworking members of our Bridges BERG (Business Employee Resource Group) who dedicate time year round to support the cultural and spiritual values of the communities we serve.
Passionate about cultural diversity, team members in our Bridges BERG embrace relationship building through education and support across African American, Asian, Chinese and Latino communities.
As part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, Northwell recently held our 49th consecutive event honoring the teachings and visions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This memorial event honored the teachings of Dr. King and included a keynote from noted author and motivational speaker Steve Pemberton. The Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial program scholarship was also awarded to two high school students from the community. We sat down with team members to talk about their time volunteering at this wonderful event, as well as their experience being a member of the Bridges BERG.
Hear from some of our Northwell team members volunteering with the Bridges BERG:
Amanda Basdeo Registrar Financial Cohen Children’s Medical Center
“I am so glad I was able to be a part of this event because there are so many wonderful people there and it was truly inspirational. The BERGs get you involved in the community as well as building professional relationships throughout the company. Working in the medical field, you already have an interest for the people at heart…I feel like I have finally been given the opportunity to give back like I always wanted to.”
Ashley Cohen Business Analyst Organization Change Management Revenue Cycle
“The tribute was amazing and meant a lot to me in so many ways. I felt overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for the speakers, performers and award recipients. I’m proud to work for such a diverse organization that affects and saves thousands of lives each day.”
Iva Rowe Business Manager Revenue Cycle
“I have worked at Northwell for almost five years, and I have learned so much at this organization. I am a proud member of the Bridges BERG, and volunteering at the Martin Luther King Jr. event was a true honor for me. It was my first time volunteering for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Northwell, and I look forward to being a part of it again. “
Ambulatory Human Resources
“This event means a lot to me that we were acknowledging the great work of the Honorable Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was so overwhelmed with the stories people shared with us at the event and I greatly appreciated being an ‘ear’ for some of them.
As a BERG member, I am afforded the opportunity to network with other employees from different facets of the health system…we are all able to bring our own experiences forth and are able to learn from one another.”
“As I’ve only been with the organization for 5 months, being afforded the opportunity to volunteer was priceless. Being a part of such a giving organization that places emphasis on community, philanthropy and education is such an honor. I share with my son the importance of giving back to others who give us so much and Northwell does a great job of doing just that!”
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MEETH the team at Manhattan Eye, Ear, & Throat Hospital revolutionizing perioperative ambulatory care
Throughout 2018, Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital (MEETH) worked hard to increase the efficiency and quality of care in our ambulatory OR in New York City.
As part of this effort, MEETH had the exciting addition of robotic surgery in November, making us the first Northwell Health ambulatory center to perform robotic surgery. The program launched with Robotic Assisted Hernia Repair and Robotic Assisted Cholecystectomy cases to great success. The addition of robotic cases within MEETH empowers our team to deliver state of the art and highest quality care to our patients.
By allowing surgeons greater precision, dexterity, control, and visualization, robotics have proven to contribute to less post-operative pain and discomfort, minimal scarring and improved patient recover times. The OR team here at MEETH is very excited and proud to be able to offer this great service to our patients!
The OR Team at MEETH has also started doing ambulatory Total Shoulder Replacement Cases. We’ve also increased our ENT, GU, General Surgery, and GYN case volume to help better serve patients. This increase in volume has come along with a steady increase of our on time start times for the first cases of the day – with a 10% improvement over 2017.
Our collaborative care council has been revitalized to help improve our work environment with collaborative feedback from our team. Employees also participated in the MEETH Career Day Panel which helped introduce high school students to different healthcare opportunities and help excite them about joining the industry.
Not to mention, there’s always something to celebrate! One of our surgical technicians presented in-service focusing on the history of surgical technologists and the proud moments from MEETH during Surgical Technologist Week. In celebration of Perioperative Nurses Week, MEETH hosted our very own fashion show in which the staff created designs from unused OR supplies. During the holiday season, we hosted an International Holiday Breakfast/Lunch during which our team could bring in and share their traditional food to celebrate our diverse heritages.
It is the policy of Northwell Health to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all employees equally regardless of age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, generic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, or other characteristics protected by applicable law. Northwell Health leaders, including the CEO, are committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action.