7 reasons why we love being a Health Information Professional
Happy Health Information Professionals Week! Today we’re celebrating the hard-working health information professionals who are a part of the Heath Information Management (HIM) team at Northwell Health. Our HIM team members work daily to acquire, analyze and protect patient medical information. With such an important job, there’s a lot to love about being a HIM professional! Check out our team members’ top seven reasons!
1. Opportunity to grow
The health information landscape is constantly changing as technology and applications advance. As health data increases, so do the possibilities for health information professionals. There are always new opportunities to advance your skills as a professional through education, state-of-the-art applications, and collaboration with other units within Northwell.
2. Driven by health data
Any information related to health conditions, quality of life, reproductive outcomes, and causes of death for an individual or population is classified as health data. Working as a health information professional allows us to analyze trends and ensure this aggregated health data is shared across our health system. By prioritizing health data, we’re helping to drive positive outcomes and experience.
3. Making a difference for our patients
Working in healthcare means we as employees have the privilege of helping patients without working inside a hospital. Although health information professionals may never meet the patients directly, they are working hard to ensure that they are not only protecting the patients’ privacy but ensuring the accuracy of their healthcare information.
4. Bridge between the hospitals and patients
A patient’s care doesn’t end when they leave a hospital. Collaborating with different units across our health system allows us to bridge a patient to their care. By helping patients get proper and speedy service to obtain their records, we’re helping the patient stay connected to the quality care they received through the completion of their treatments.
5. Continued education
Educational opportunities are promoted by health information leadership who work hard to ensure our teams have the tools and skills they need to be accurate, compliant and successful. With the support to continue our education from leadership, including access to tuition reimbursement programs through Northwell, we’re able to grow with our growing industry.
6. Teamwork and leadership
Health information professionals at Northwell aren’t just a team, we’re a family. Working truly together under the guidance of supportive leaders helps our entire team to succeed.
7. Protecting our patients
Protecting our patients goes beyond just ensuring data security, it’s protecting their care. As health information professionals, we ensure that the patient data is always accurate, secure, and available when they need it most.
Recipe for Success: Northwell’s teaching kitchens provide nutrition education for employees
At Northwell Health, we’re committed to the health and wellness of not only our patients and the communities we serve, but our team members as well.
Food is a foundation for maintaining good health, preventing sickness and maximizing clinical benefit. To help our staff learn the power of healthy food, Northwell has established free teaching kitchens across our healthcare system.
Making Nutrition Fun
Teaching kitchens combine culinary instruction with education to help participants learn which foods they should be eating more or less of and the best techniques for cooking them. Our nutrition education covers various topics including heart health, low refined sugar and high fiber. Team members are encouraged to use the same healthy and whole ingredients that Northwell chefs are using in our hospitals’ kitchens.
Employees who attend receive hands-on instruction from Northwell chefs and have the opportunity to sample a variety of nutritious food. These chefs partner closely with Northwell’s registered dietitians to host events that are not only informative but also fun. Samantha Gitlin, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital, says: “Northwell’s teaching kitchens provide the staff and community with exciting and interesting ways to include fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients and new cooking techniques into their daily lives.”
And these aren’t your typical meals! Recipes include everything from one pot Italian quinoa to Asian lettuce wraps with avocado cilantro slaw.
Bringing People Together
“We receive a lot of positive feedback,” says Katrina Hartog, MPH, RD, CDN, CHES, clinical nutrition manager, “but the most satisfying is when a participant says they’ve never tried the featured food or item, then walks away with the recipe to make it at home and sends their colleagues to participate!” The teaching kitchens have grown in popularity, and are also leveraged for for internal team building events as well as community outreach.
These lessons are just one of the education tools organized by the Food & Nutrition teams to expand cooking confidence and nutrition education for Northwell employees. Other initiatives include recruiting and developing chef and dietitians, implementing Northwell Healthy Choice nutrition criteria and staff education.
“My favorite thing is seeing how it brings everyone in the hospital together. We get participation from doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, dietitians, food service workers, and various ancillary staff,” says Bethany O’Dea, RD, CDN, CNSC, assistant clinical nutrition manager, “it is fun seeing everyone get excited about nutrition.”
In her career, Irene Macyk, PhD, RN, NEA-BC has always aspired to do more, “when I get comfortable in a role, I feel compelled to change it. Although there was no premeditation to lead, I was always the person to raise my hand to try something new.”
This drive to take on new challenges has led to Irene’s impressive 10-year career at Northwell. Irene started as a director of nursing education at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC), and has held various leadership positions throughout the health system. The energy and enthusiasm that she experienced in that first interview at CCMC inspired her desire to be part of the Northwell team. Today, Irene is the chief nursing officer and associate executive director for patient care services at Lenox Hill Hospital (LHH), Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat (MEETH), and Lenox Hill Greenwich Village (LHGV). Read more from our CNO Corner interview with Irene.
In what areas are Lenox Hill Hospital, MEETH and Lenox Hill Greenwich Village experiencing the most growth in nursing?
Nursing at LHH, MEETH and LHGV are experiencing growth is so many ways. Looking at quality, safety, patient experience and nurse engagement, we are in the top half of the nation for the past two years. Our professional footprint is strong with BSN rates at 93% and RN professional certification rates at greater than 40%.
Could you talk to the exciting things happening in your surgical services departments?
Over the past few years our surgical services have grown and received national recognition for excellence. We have a very active cardiothoracic program, a comprehensive neuro surgical service and a mature and well-respected orthopedic presence. Additionally our general surgery and GYN programs are continuing to innovate and challenge the status quo by implementing our enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols.
What are some key nursing initiatives in 2019 at your hospitals?
Key nursing initiatives in 2019 for LHH, MEETH and LHGV all involve continuing our evolution as a culture of excellence. In its third year, our shared governance model continues to mature and nurses are the key decision maker in how nursing practice is conducted. We have nursing quality, evidence based practice and research, education, recruitment and retention and an advance practice council. In these councils, clinical RNs and leaders work together to create a healthy, professional work environment and drive the professional image of nursing. In 2018 alone, we had over 28 evidenced based, process-improvement projects that were completed and are in different stages of dissemination. With the desire to celebrate nursing accomplishments, we put in our application for ANCCs Magnet® recognition, and this year we are gathering the sources of evidence and documenting the stories to showcase.
How can nurses take advantage of growth and professional development opportunities at LHH, MEETH and LHGV?
As members of Northwell Health, we have an entire community of support for professional development. Clinical RNs can take advantage of guidance from clinical experts in the nursing education department at LHH, or seek professional development for the various programs offered at Northwell’s Institute for Nursing (IFN) and Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI). Nurses can also become a mentor or mentee in our mentorship program or take advantage of the generous tuition reimbursement by continuing their education at a master’s degree level.
What is the most important quality to have as a nurse?
Resilience. Nursing is hard work but we are privileged to work with people in a very vulnerable time in their lives. The ability to think critically, re-prioritize at a moment’s notice and stay calm under extreme pressure are key qualities of a nurse. In any given day we laugh, we cry, are a sounding board for the frustrated and a shoulder for someone grieving. This privilege can deplete one’s empathy banks and challenge one’s spirit. Resilience is the ability to maintain one’s core purpose and integrity among unforeseen shocks and surprises, the ability to bounce back, to regain strength and come back strong.
What is the best advice you’ve learned over the course of your career?
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
Are you Made for a nursing career at Northwell Health? Apply today!
Celebrated on March 19th, National Certified Nurses Day is a special day that allows us to acknowledge all nurses who have gone the extra mile to earn professional certification in their specialty practice area. All of our Northwell Health nurses are committed to improving care delivery and positive outcomes for our patients and families and those who have earned professional certification exemplify their commitment through national recognition as a certified nurse!
Why get certified? Achieving certification affirms the knowledge, skill, and practice within a specialty of nursing. The certification is nationally recognized and promotes a dedication to lifelong learning that is above and beyond the state requirements to practice as a nurse.
Northwell Health boasts a nursing certification rate that is above the national average for Magnet ® hospitals.
Northwell Health offers professional development programs that support nurses in getting prepared to successfully earn certification including continuing education programs and discounts on selected certification exams. Northwell Health also recognizes professionally certified nurses through our certified RN bonus pay program.
This year, there’s even more to celebrate! Congratulations to Launette Woolforde, EdD, DNP, RN-BC, vice president of System Nursing Education and Professional Development at Northwell for being named a winner of 2019’s Certified Nurse Award by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Launette was recognized for demonstrating the value and impact of specialty certification and creating a pathway to help 16,000+ nurses at Northwell achieve certification.
“Becoming certified has been one of the proudest achievements I’ve obtained in my career and also a necessary step in the continuum of my professional growth. It has allotted me a chance to be recognized for my knowledge and skills as a nurse and has enhanced my confidence when providing care.”
Katherine Somefun, BSN, RN -RN IIIntensive Care Unit NPPEC, Northern Westchester Hospital
“Northwell Health at Huntington Hospital made it financially possible for me to obtain dual ANCC certifications by reimbursing me for the out of pocket costs. Without this assistance it may not have been feasible for me during these difficult times. Additionally, the continuing education programs including a medical surgical certification preparation course prepared me for success.”
Here’s how Sypria Bernard, MSN, RN, CNOR, went from surgical technologist to registered nurse at Northwell Health
Surgical technologists have the unique opportunity to work with a nurse inside the operating room (OR) which can lead them to a career change like it did for Sypria Bernard, MSN, RN, CNOR. “Although I loved my career as a surgical technologist, there was that spark of ambition in me that always wanted to become a nurse.” With a passion for the OR guiding her, Sypria decided to become a registered nurse and North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) was there to lend support.
Through the help of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program*, team members like Sypria can go back to school to continue their education and progress into fields such as nursing with financial assistance. Sypria did just that and NSUH worked with her and other surgical technologists who are seeking to become RNs to help develop their skills and grow professionally. The surgical technologist program at NSUH doesn’t just prepare surgical technologists for the opportunity to go into a nursing role, it also fosters their growth in their current roles. Sypria appreciated this dual approach to her career transition, “I became proficient in sterile technique, instrumentation, and procedures and I used my expertise as a surgical technologist to enable my smooth transition into OR nursing.”
After their training, surgical techs-turned-RNs can receive additional support by NSUH through an operating room fellowship. This fellowship builds on their skills to help develop well-rounded OR nurses. The support of NSUH helped Sypria get to where she is today, “I currently hold a position as a nurse manager in the Neurosurgery OR and just completed my master’s in nursing leadership. Without the support of Northwell and NSUH this would not have been possible.”
On the cutting edge and a slice above the rest – Who is a Histotechnologist?
Every March 10th, we celebrate Histotechnology Professionals Day to help raise awareness about the laboratory field of Histotechnology. Despite never meeting patients, histotechnologists play a vital healthcare role in helping patients receive the right diagnosis and care. These laboratory professionals are helping save lives one slide at a time.
But what does a histotechnologist do? To understand the profession, you must first understand Histology.
What is Histology?
Histology is the study of the microanatomy of cells, tissues, and organs as seen through a microscope.
A histotechnologist has advanced training in how and why specimens are collected and processed for testing. This expertise qualifies the histotechnologist to manage even unexpected situations in the laboratory, such as solving technical or instrument problems, understanding the underlying health and disease causes of unusual test results, and evaluating new laboratory techniques and procedures. Histotechnicians and histotechnologists must work quickly, as they are frequently under pressure to deliver results while the patient is in surgery. They are commonly referred to as “histotechs”.
What does a histotech do?
When the pathology lab receives the patient’s tissue sample, it is first examined and dissected by a pathologists’ assistant who will submit tissue samples in a fixative (usually formalin) to the Histology Lab for processing. Some histotechs are also able to gross small specimen biopsies for processing. This process includes a dictation of their “naked” eye description of the tissue which appears in the patient’s final report.
Colleen S. preparing to gross renal biopsies for processing.
Ana V. grossing biopsy specimens.
Histotechs work around the clock and play a large role in saving lives, but do it in an orderly fashion. The first step in tissue processing is to run the tissue sample through a series of alcohols to remove any water, clear the tissue in xylene and infiltrate the tissue sample in paraffin (wax material). The Histotech will then embed the tissue in melted paraffin, creating a “paraffin block”, which hardens to room temperature.
George S. loading cassettes in the tissue processor
Lori A. loading cassettes in the tissue processor.
Patrick F. embedding the tissue in cassettes.
Rachel R. embedding the tissue in cassettes.
The next step is for the paraffin blocks to be cut/sliced on a microtome, also known as microtomy, at paper-thin or less slices (measured in microns). This process will create a ribbon of tissue sections which is floated on a temperature-controlled, heated waterbath. The histotech will then pick up the tissue sections, placing them on a glass slide and routinely stained with special dyes that make the cell details visible under the microscope. The pathologist can now microscopically examine the tissue on the slide and determine if disease is present, or if it has spread, and help the clinician decide the best course of treatment for the patient.
Aparna G. cutting ribbons of tissue on microtome (microtomy).
Yana M. cutting ribbons of tissue on microtome (microtomy).
Cryotomy, a frozen section procedure to perform a rapid microscopic analysis/diagnosis of a fresh tissue sample, is also performed by a histotech. These samples are sent from the surgeon in the operating room, while the patient is still under anesthesia, allowing the pathologist to provide an immediate analysis/diagnosis to aid the surgeon on how to proceed with the surgery.
Histotechs can also perform more complex techniques such as enzyme histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy. A histotechnologist can also teach and be a supervisor in a laboratory.
LIJ Immunohistochemistry Lab: Guillermo P., Perry A., Steve M., Danielle L
Histotechs will tell you that their work is an art form. They value precision and work with knives, chemicals and glass slides, as well as fragile, delicate instruments that require careful monitoring.
While patients do not see or speak with the lab team helping behind the scenes, the connection is still very meaningful for the histotechs. They care about the production side of their work and the quality of the slides. All histotechs will tell you they treat every specimen as if it belongs to one of their own family members waiting for their test results.
Thank you to all of Northwell’s histotechnologists!
#BalanceforBetter: Northwell Health celebrates International Women’s Day 2019
March 8th marks International Women’s Day to celebrate women everywhere. At Northwell Health, we’re committed to fostering a diverse work environment that champions its team members regardless of gender or gender identity and where everyone can be Truly Ourselves.
In celebration, hear from some of Northwell’s amazing women and the women that inspire them daily.
This post is part of a blog series highlighting Northwell Health’s Advanced Clinical Providers (ACP). Each Northwell Health employee was nominated by their manager as an individual that exemplifies a central Northwell Health value. This month, we’re proud to introduce you to Chris Summers, PA, QA, education coordinator and critical care specialist, who is a “Truly Compassionate” member of our team. Here’s why:
At Northwell Health, our Advanced Clinical Providers have the resources and support they need to follow their passions, wherever they lead. Chris Summers’ passion for delivering Truly Compassionate care led him from a career in the Coast Guard to one as a physician assistant in the operating room, the classroom, and into disaster areas throughout the world.
Chris started his career as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard where he was mostly involved in maritime search and rescue as well as counter-narcotic operations in the high seas of the North Atlantic. After the Coast Guard, Chris became a paramedic on the streets of New York City, eventually studying to become a physician assistant (PA). At Northwell Health, he found an environment where veterans were especially valued for their experiences and values. “Northwell Health is very pro-veteran. The health system values their experience and expertise and understands how that can translate into a veteran becoming a superior member of our healthcare team. Northwell has many programs available to assist veterans to integrate into the civilian healthcare sector and there are many veterans who are valued team members in every level of the organization,” says Chris. The healthcare experience Chris has built along his career path across a variety of Truly Compassionate positions led him to Northwell Health.
His journey with Northwell Health began in 2006 when he was hired right out of PA school to the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ). In this position, he was assigned to the CTICU where he cared for critical patients who required cardiothoracic surgery or were recovering from surgery. Chris then transitioned to the operating room, where he learned how to assist in all aspects of cardiac and thoracic surgery as well as advanced bedside procedures. “In the operating room, I am a valued member of the surgical team and directly contribute to the positive outcome of our patients,” says Chris. “It’s very gratifying to be able to apply my knowledge and skills to advance the healing and treatment of our patients and to work within a supportive team environment.”
Chris enjoys that ACPs in the cardiothoracic surgery department can work at the very top of their license and are given a large amount of responsibility. They can be found anywhere from the operating room assisting in the most complex surgeries, to the floors managing the daily needs of recovering patients.
Once he became a critical care specialist, Chris felt the call to share his knowledge with his peers. Northwell recognized Chris’ gift for teaching with a promotion in 2016 to Quality Assurance and Education coordinator, which included coordinating various aspects of staff education such as a lecture series for the Thoracic Surgery service line.
Chris’ Truly Compassionate nature takes his work outside of Northwell and into the world to care for people in the most critical situations. Chris is the co-founder of NYC Medics Global Disaster Response, a team that provides a rapid expeditionary style of emergency care in disaster zones throughout the world. NYC Medics travel into remote regions by whatever means necessary to set up clinics and assist those in need, treating tens of thousands of patients of hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes. “I’ve spent most of my career in some form or another in service to others and have taken care of people in a wide variety of situations. These experiences taught me that whether on a sinking ship at sea, in a disaster zone in some far-off country, on the streets of NYC or in an operating room, we all are equally susceptible to disasters, disease, trauma and the suffering these bring.”
For Chris, Truly Compassionate patient care is always at the forefront of his mind and helps him to be a better PA.
More than an acronym: Northwell Health’s Culture of C.A.R.E Lived by Joseph Aigbojie Every Day
For Joseph Aigbojie, a practice admin manager, the Northwell Health Culture of C.A.R.E stands for more than connectedness, awareness, respect, and empathy for the patients and communities we serve. It began 8 years ago when he first joined Northwell Health and ever since, he’s been applying it to his day-to-day interactions with patients and co-workers each day.
A New Beginning at Northwell
Joseph started his journey with Northwell Health at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) as an environmental services supervisor. Since that time, he’s been promoted twice: first to assistant director of Environmental Services at CCMC, and second to practice administrative manager for the division of Pediatrics Cardiology & CT Surgery, which followed his completion of a graduate program in Public and Health Care Administration.
“What I love most about being a Northwell employee is the feeling that the organization is willing to invest in me and further develop me.” One example is Joseph’s participation in Northwell’s High Potential Program, which is focused on career development. “I participated in a number of growth opportunity programs that have allowed me to broaden my horizons as a professional.”
The Culture of C.A.R.E in the Workplace
To Joseph, the Culture of C.A.R.E means, “displaying a genuine concern for the team members that you work with and patients you care for. It means going above and beyond for a patient or their family, or for a need that they might have, and responding to it. It means noticing when a coworker needs you to lift them up because you sense that they aren’t in the best of spirits.”
And Joseph has always made that effort to help patients feel that Culture of C.A.R.E. One example from his days in Environmental Services always stands out to him, “I was doing routine rounds on the unit and I met with a parent of a patient. When I asked her how her stay was, she stated that she felt like she was being treated differently.” Joseph discovered that the patient had previously received Mott’s Apple Juice but hadn’t during this stay. An item as simple as apple juice may seem small, but it made the difference for this child. After checking the patient’s dietary restrictions, Joseph worked with team members to deliver the apple juice to the child for the rest of their stay, along with additional snack selections to provide any comfort he could.
C.A.R.E for our Patients and Each Other
As much of Joseph lives the Culture of C.A.R.E for his patients, he sees it among his Northwell team as well. In August of 2014, when Joseph’s father passed away from Alzheimer’s, he only informed his director of his passing and no one else. Yet, on the day of his father’s funeral, he was at the door of the church greeting guests and in walked his coworkers from CCMC. “It was the first time that I was overwhelmed and brought to tears during my father’s passing. That day was when Northwell and CCMC became more than just a workplace to me. … I will never forget them being there for me during that time in my life.”
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.