The rewarding work of a surgical technologist at Northwell Health
The work of surgical technologists in our operating rooms is a vital part of the perioperative services at Northwell Health. Working alongside our surgeons and nurses, surgical technologists who prepare our operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help team members during surgeries. This Surgical Technologist Appreciation Week and every day, we celebrate our team members.
Meet Jason Dizon, a surgical technologist at Plainview Hospital who is just one of these integral team members keeping our operating rooms running smoothly and ensuring patient safety every step of the way.
Jason has as a surgical technologist at Plainview Hospital for almost five years, but his love for the operating room has him planning to stay until he retires. Working in surgery means his job is never mundane, and each case brings him a new opportunity to learn. Innovative surgeries in our hospitals also provides the chance for Jason to grow his skills as he helps prepare the OR with cutting-edge technology and works as a member of the surgical team.
At Plainview Hospital, Jason focuses mostly on orthopedic cases, such as total joint replacements or spine cases, but has been able to experience work on a variety of specialties. “I have grown a lot working at Plainview Hospital,” says Jason. “We have great leadership that supports us and it’s a great place to work because we are able to learn from a diverse group of team members.”
And within his role, Jason also develops his skillset by helping to teach others. “Teaching and speaking with surgical technologist students and nursing students helps me improve my communication skills,” says Jason. “It’s taught me to always use patience and understanding as students grow in their skills.” Working with the enthusiastic students and helping to teach them about working in perioperative services is one of Jason’s favorite parts of his job. With perioperative services not often focused on in schools, Jason is there for what is often the first look these students get into an operating room. It’s an eye-opening experience he values being a part of.
But it’s not the only responsibility that makes Jason so passionate about what he does. “I love my job. I love science and health, and as a surgical technologist, I’m able to learn every day about the human body and how it functions. To see firsthand how we heal patients and take care of them is very rewarding.”
Interested in a surgical technologist career at Northwell? Apply today!
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Northwell Health
September 15th through October 15th marks Hispanic Heritage Month throughout the United States and Northwell Health is proud to celebrate our Hispanic team members alongside our LatinX Bridges Business Resource Employee Group (BERG). At Northwell, we know the power of our team members being Truly Ourselves and the importance of recognizing their contributions to history, our communities and our organization not just during one month but throughout the year.
Our LatinX Bridges BERG has started their celebrations by focusing on gratitude, asking all of their BERG members to send “thank you” cards to team members they are grateful for within the organization. It’s a nice way to share thanks within the health system, especially during these difficult times where small moments can make a difference. At the end of the month, there will be a virtual panel discussion held highlighting some of Northwell’s Latino leaders titled, “It Can Be Done.” Panelists will be speaking about how they accomplished their career and life goals, despite challenges they may have experienced along the way. Beyond inspiring our Latino team members, the panel also provides an opportunity for them to connect and feel together throughout their own journeys.
“We are a proud people,” says Josephine Guzman, senior director, Physician Relations and co-chair of the LatinX Bridges BERG. “Most of us as individuals or our parents have come to this country in search of a better life, understanding the value of hard work in order to reach our goals. We should celebrate and salute our own diversity and color that exists within the “ Latino” culture, as well as the beauty, compassion and passion that we bring to our colleagues, patients and community!”
Hear from some of our LatinX Bridges BERG team members on how the BERG connects them to their culture year round:
“Being a BERG member brings a sense of community and fellowship with my Northwell teammates. It is important to build both professional and personal connections with people and celebrating our diversity is key to driving the organization in a direction that promotes all backgrounds.”
Ernest D’AmbroseProgram Manager, Clinical Transformation
“As a member of the BERGs I am able to collaborate with a group of intelligent and diverse change makers that challenge me to a higher degree of excellence. Together we are able to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of the Hispanic community locally, regionally, and nationally.”
Dorean J. FloresSenior Manager, Human Research Protection Program
“The LatinX BERG has given me the opportunity to collaborate on meaningful projects and events that serve our Latino Communities alongside talented people outside of my department. This has helped me not only in developing professionally but also in learning new skills and being exposed to different facet of our organization. It is important to recognize the contributions made and large presence of the Latinos within our organization.”
Jenny LinoClaims Representative, Risk Management
“As a BERG member, I am able to have a voice and share ideas in an inclusive and diverse environment that allows me to partake in activities to help improve the health disparities in our communities. We celebrate the efforts and contributions that our Hispanic workforce have made to their teams, departments, and the organization to deliver culturally appropriate quality care and enhance the patient experience.”
Lesidet Salce, MHAAdministrative Manager, Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention
“I am proud to be part of an organization that values and honors diversity and the contribution that our background differences bring to the workplace. Here, we can be Truly Ourselves and join the organization in fulfilling its mission to deliver the best care possible to our patients and to our communities. My experience here at Northwell has been enriched by the colleagues I have met through the BERGs.”
Dora Santa MariaDirector, Organizational Change Management, Revenue Cycle
Carol Battaglia, AVP of Benefit Operations continues to grow her career with Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program
No matter what stage of your career, there’s always room for continued growth and development. Just ask Carol Battaglia, AVP of Benefit Operations, who is currently benefiting from Northwell Health’s tuition reimbursement program to earn her master’s degree.
Since starting here 18 years ago as the team lead of Benefits, she’s grown her Human Resources career with a passion for helping others. Throughout the years, she has overseen Benefits, the HR Service Center, HR Processing and the myRecognition program, which all help to engage and reward our team members.
Today, Carol is responsible for the oversight and management of the benefits, retirement, leave of absence, tuition and physician/executive total rewards teams, where she strategizes new ideas to enhance processes and techniques to improve the overall experience. In addition to her daily operations, she is also responsible for the employee discount program, system-wide-blood drives and child care offerings.
Continued growth at every step of her career
Benefiting from the programs she helps develop, Carol is currently enrolled in a Human Resources master’s program at St. Joseph’s College. “Obtaining a master’s degree has been top of mind and something I always wanted to accomplish,” says Carol. “Pursing this degree will provide a sense of personal accomplishment.”
Beyond tuition reimbursement, Carol has also been able to participate in various programs unique to Northwell, such as being a culture leader and participating in the High Potential Program that develops future healthcare leaders. She plays an active role in our Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) as co-chair of the GreenBERG and recently became chairman of the Caregiver Support Fund, which provides resources to team members in need including programs and services related to emotional, psychological and financial well-being. She was also published in Closing the Engagement Gap-How Great Companies Unlock Employee Potential for Superior Results, a book about how organizations can inspire, inform and reward employees in order to get superior results.
For Carol, earning her master’s degree is just one more way to better serve our team members. “With this degree, I hope to grow my career and broaden my knowledge within HR. I’m always looking to attend workshops and conferences to stay on top of best practices and look for new ways to enhance the team member experience. Knowledge is power.”
Her passion for continuous learning is something she hopes will inspire others. “There is so much opportunity within Northwell to advance your career. My advice would be to learn what you love, enhance your skillset and connect yourself with leaders across the organization. Get involved in all that Northwell has to offer even it if may be out of your comfort zone. Learn more about the organization and understand how you can make a difference.”
Get moving with a career that grows with you at Northwell Health. Apply today!
Appointment With: Joseph Castagnaro, VP, Lab Services Integration and Operations
Joseph Castagnaro has grown in his laboratory services career at Northwell Health from being the laboratory administrative director at Southside Hospital (soon to be South Shore University Hospital). From overseeing the pre-surgical testing and patient experience departments at Southside to being promoted to senior lab administrative director and overseeing all of our community hospital labs, Joseph’s well-rounded experience has given him the skills he needs to be successful. Today as vice president, of Lab Services Integration and Operation, he is responsible for all hospital lab operations, including our health system owned labs and non-system labs we manage in other local communities. We sat down with Joseph to discuss the variety of careers in clinical laboratory and what makes working in Northwell’s labs so unique.
How has the work of our laboratory team members been vital to our organization and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and as we recover?
This past year has been one of the biggest challenges the laboratory services teams have ever seen. The COVID-19 pandemic was, and continues to be, at the forefront of every person and patient in every community nationwide. Luckily we had the fortune of building a brand-new, state-of-the-art lab a year earlier in Lake Success, NY, which ultimately gave us the ability to enhance and expand our molecular department this year in order to meet the COVID-19 testing demands in our area. Our health system has always had a great lab team and has always worked well together. This past year we had to work together in a fashion unlike ever before. The pandemic brought out the best in all of our laboratory healthcare heroes. The resiliency and teamwork of our lab staff across the health system was unprecedented.
What are some of the careers for laboratory professionals within our hospitals and Northwell Health Labs?
We have a variety of clinical labs in Long Island, New York City, Staten Island and the Westchester areas that range in size and scope and we operate 24/7 across 365 days a year. Whatever type of lab or shift you’re looking for, we have it available. Aside from the MDs, pathologists, pathology assistants, cytotechnologists, PhDs, laboratory technologists, technicians and phlebotomists, we have many other types of positions from entry level to very specialized areas which include:
Lab Information System Specialists
Quality Managers and Specialists
Lab Support Associates
Route Service Drivers
What makes working at Northwell Health unique?
Working at Northwell is unique in so many ways:
Our health system laboratories handle EVERY aspect of lab services and testing.
We are the largest, not-for-profit health system reference lab in the region.
We’ve developed a partnership with the NYC Health + Hospitals lab services and created the largest joint venture lab in the country.
We have two core lab facilities, our automated lab and our microbiology lab that specializes in infectious disease.
We also have careers in tertiary care hospitals, small community hospitals, physician offices, cancer centers and other ambulatory settings. Whatever kind of lab you would like to work in, we have it for you!
The most important and unique thing that we do is to work as “one” lab amidst many locations. One way we did this was by establishing joint standards/methods committees. This is where we bring the experts within each lab discipline together on a regular monthly basis to network, brainstorm and determine best practices within their respective areas. This is then shared among all of our sites.
Our employee development programs are second to none. Our Center for Learning and Innovation teaches project management courses such as, LEAN and Six Sigma and basic leadership essentials classes for those looking to enhance their leadership skills. We also have an established High Potential and Lead Next program for staff already in leadership positions and our lab created a leadership development program, L-Lead (Laboratory Leadership), which is designed for new, current and future lab leaders.
Are there any exciting initiatives on the horizon for our laboratories?
We are in the process of developing a Medical Technology program with Hofstra University. Recruiting and finding laboratory staff has been difficult industry wide across the nation so we decided to grow our own. We’re also constantly upgrading our lab equipment system wide. This coming year we’ve selected new blood gas analyzers to roll out across our entire health system. The remainder of this year and well into next year, we will be addressing the probable collision of influenza and COVID-19 and how we will best be prepared to ensure we meet all of the clinical care patient needs related to laboratory testing.
Northwell Heroes Challenge promotes team member well-being while giving back
When our team members need help, you can expect everyone to rally behind them. The culture of giving runs strong at Northwell. That shined through during our first Northwell Heroes Challenge.
Inspired by a team member hoping to run a marathon to raise money for Northwell colleagues in need, a cross-functional team created the Northwell Heroes Challenge. This challenge was a way to encourage team members to focus on their well-being while raising funds in support of their colleagues.
Participants were encouraged to choose an activity and distance that fit their lifestyle, whether it be bicycling, running, swimming, walking, lifting, dancing or more. Over the next four weeks, team members trained and tracked their activity and movement on Northwell’s myWellness platform to meet their goals leading up to the first weekend in August when the challenge took place.
Partnering with Northwell’s Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) rehabilitation team, stretching and recovery exercises were shared throughout the challenge. Training materials were also provided including goals for beginner, intermediate and advance levels from the New York Road Runners, a Northwell non-profit partner that helps and inspires people to run the New York Marathon. Northwell’s wellness team also curated a nutritional guide featuring recipes for training and race day. These resources and more helped take care of our team members have fun and achieve their well-being goals.
“During the height of the pandemic, the well-being of our team members was something that we passionately invested in as an organization,” says Pat Flynn, assistant vice president, Employee Wellness. These trying times only brought to the forefront the importance of physical, psychological and emotional health, and it was inspiring to see our team members using all forms of movement to improve their own health and well-being goals while so generously supporting our Caregiver Support Fund.”
“The enthusiasm and generosity of the Northwell team is incredible. Providing support through the Northwell Heroes Caregiver Support Fund is a critical and timely need, and we are grateful to everyone who has donated to this important initiative,” says Brian T. Lally, senior vice president and chief development officer, Northwell Health Foundation. The Northwell Heroes Challenge is an extraordinary example of our mission and values coming to life through the Northwell team.”
And while giving back is a reward on its own, those who fundraised had the ability to reach three different goals with rewards including a certificate, points on our team member reward platform myRecognition, Northwell branded swag, and the chance to win the grand prize – a Peloton bike and one-year Peloton digital membership!
Julie Argueta, a unit service associate at Huntington Hospital was the lucky winner of the grand prize. “I joined the Northwell Heroes Challenge to honor the heroes who work with me at Huntington Hospital,” says Julie. “Their bravery and courage during the height of the pandemic inspired me to take challenges and reach goals with pride. What an honor for me to win this, I only wish I could get one for all the heroes on my unit. My daughter Alexus and I cannot wait to cycle to nowhere!”
Hear from some of our Northwell Heroes Challenge ambassadors, who led the way throughout training with motivational posts and tips:
“Having the honor of being ambassador for the Heroes Challenge, I witnessed firsthand how team members supported and motivated each other to meet their fitness goals. It was so inspiring and outcomes of the challenge surpassed my every expectation I had at the beginning of this journey. If we keep moving forward together, anything is possible!”
Elizabeth DowlingRegistered Nurse, MEETH Infusion Center
“When I learned about the challenge, I knew I had to take this opportunity to give back to Northwell to say thank you for investing in me, my co-workers, and my family. I also used it as a platform to encourage my friends and family to continue to invest in self-care by living a healthy lifestyle. I always tell them that you only fail when you stop trying.”
Mystique HaynesPhysical Therapist Assistant, Orzac Center for Rehabilitation
“Under normal circumstances, I’m a very active person. However, during the pandemic, I lost motivation. And seeing how our front line workers battled the virus, I wanted to help as much as I could. The challenge was an excellent opportunity for me to help my fellow Northwell coworkers and get back on track. It was a great feeling to raise money for a good cause, train together, and support each other.”
“I participated in the Northwell Heroes Challenge because I felt it was the right time to challenge myself. After months of just going into the hospital for work and returning home, I needed something to get me back into a healthier regimen and this good cause was the perfect motivation.”
Eric SiedenDirector, Nutrition and Food Services, Plainview Hospital
Northwell Health engages students in unique voluntary summer program
While the start of summer usually marks the beginning of the Healthcare Management Program (HMP) Internship at Northwell Health, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic things looked a little differently.
Due to safety precautions, the elite and extensive 10-week internship was cancelled for summer 2020; however, Northwell’s enthusiasm and passion for the program remained. Internship programs like the HMP are vital to providing students with learning experiences that help them prepare for joining the workforce after graduation. Knowing the importance of engaging our students, Northwell developed a voluntary virtual summer program instead for interested participants who had been previously selected for the HMP Internship.
“Although not configured as our normal internship experience, we wanted to maintain our commitment to the students who chose to spend their summer with us prior to COVID-19,” says Ryon Andersen, associate executive director at North Shore University Hospital. “Their pursuit to understand healthcare management and the culture of Northwell was a priority to us. We wanted them to gain that experience as well as take the opportunity to engage our talent pipeline.”
Though it wasn’t an official internship, this virtual program offered the unique opportunity for upcoming college seniors to participate in weekly sessions where they could learn about healthcare administration, finance and operations, and hear from some of our team members about how our hospitals and service lines handled COVID-19.
Additionally, students were given the option to participate in a voluntary final project. Interested participants were assigned a healthcare topic relevant to today’s industry- telemedicine, ICU bed capacity planning, health disparities, talent and staffing, and finance and operations. Once assigned to groups, they were mentored by senior associates in the Management Associate Program (MAP) and operations and finance leaders to help guide them through their project. Since most of the mentors were alumni of the HMP internship and/or MAP, they were uniquely positioned to guide these students through their research. Students were also given the opportunity to connect virtually with senior leaders across the organization to gain insight into their project areas and Northwell.
“I was impressed with Northwell Health’s willingness to engage us in the HMP program and provide us with a valuable internship experience, even though the internship was cancelled,” says Emily Reyes, a participant in this summer’s program. “I was able to network with employees and other HMP interns and work with a team to analyze data and produce a deliverable related to COVID-19 bed capacity in preparation for a resurgence.”
Once their projects were completed, students participated in a virtual video conference where they could present their work to a panel of Northwell team members. The winning team was presented with a special Northwell gift, but all teams received an invaluable experience that will help prepare them for their future careers.
And for Emily, it’s only furthered her desire to work in healthcare. “The program reaffirmed my interest in hospital operations and finance and I am excited to one day make an impact on the healthcare industry!”
Rebecca’s experience during COVID-19 in Northwell’s Reassignment Reserve
As COVID-19 peaked throughout New York, Northwell Health took the initiative to create a Reassignment Reserve team. This team was comprised of healthcare heroes from a variety of clinical and non-clinical backgrounds who were temporarily reassigned to other facilities that needed extra assistance.
Meet Rebecca Reinold, a practice registered nurse at Family Medicine of Lindenhurst, Long Island, who was redeployed as a nurse practicing bedside patient care for six weeks at Plainview Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a change from her day-to-day activities as a practice nurse but a role she embraced. “I felt an obligation to help as many people as I could—staff and patients alike,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca’s career journey before COVID-19
Rebecca started her career at Northwell as a practice office associate at General Pediatrics of Garden City in 2014. After graduating college as a registered nurse, she started working at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Orthopedic Unit. She then transferred to North Shore University Hospital to the Orthopedic Trauma Unit and has since left bedside nursing to be a practice nurse at one of our many physician practices. She is also currently pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, at the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies with the assistance of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program.
Career development during a critical time
During a pandemic, learning opportunities and professional skills development is not top of mind, yet Rebecca’s growth came in many ways at this critical time. Before going back to bedside care, Rebecca attended a refresher course that Northwell provided for those who wanted to brush up on their in-patient skills. Rebecca says, “My fellow nurses were very supportive if I had any questions regarding current protocols and practices.”
To ensure our team members and patients were safely cared for, all team members were fit tested and Northwell had ample personal protection equipment (PPE) available. Because of this, Rebecca stated that she never felt that her safety was compromised whenever she was at work. This created a safe work environment that allowed team members to feel comfortable.
During her reassignment, Rebecca held many duties but one stood out in particular. “One of the most significant roles that I held during my reassignment at Plainview Hospital was being able to help patients communicate with their families through video on an iPad,” says Rebecca. She felt a strong connection to her patients in this role because she also had a family member hospitalized at Northwell due to COVID. Rebecca was extremely grateful knowing her family member was provided the utmost care and that she was able to connect with them in the same way she connected her patients to their families to ensure they were not alone.
Once her reassignment at Plainview Hospital ended, Rebecca was temporarily reassigned to another internal medicine office in Woodbury, Long Island. Once again she had to adapt to a new location and policies due to the pandemic. She was grateful to be supported by leadership and her new team was very welcoming. Her role resumed as a practice registered nurse where she worked alongside the lead nurse and together they completed daily tasks such as medication refills, hospital follow-up calls, immunizations and assisting patients in the practice and by phone.
On the last day of her reassignment, Rebecca was surprised with balloons and treats for a sweet goodbye. “During my last day at Woodbury, the staff thanked me with a beautiful card and balloons.” This was an experience that Rebecca will never forget. “I would highly recommend joining the Reassignment Reserve team. It is a great way for healthcare providers to show how dynamic and versatile they are.”
Northwell is an organization that offers endless opportunities to its employees for pursing personal and professional development. Rebecca says, “I cannot say enough about how this organization has given me every opportunity to be the best version of myself.”
Join the next generation of leadership at Northwell Health
Meet Ralph Thomas, a program manager for Clinical Transformation who is responsible for implementing strategic initiatives focused on process improvement, operations and performance across our organization.
First starting at Northwell as an intern with our IT Project Management Office in 2015, Ralph collaborated closely with cross-functional teams and received a great introduction to tech project management in healthcare – an introduction that would make a lasting impression on him. After gaining experience elsewhere, Ralph knew he wanted to return to Northwell and to the work that we are doing here every day to make a difference in our communities.
Accepting a position as a project manager on the Clinical Transformation team in 2017, Ralph had the opportunity to successfully advance clinical programs such as his work on the Sepsis Taskforce which works to reduce sepsis mortality within the organization. Ralph also plans and coordinates two internal learning sessions a year to gather all task force members to discuss and report out on breakthroughs. Since the inception in 2008, the task force has successfully decreased Northwell’s sepsis mortality rate by 64%. It’s an important project that Ralph still works on in his role as program manager.
And as program manager, Ralph is continually creating and implementing new clinical programs that help increase the skills of our team members and the efficiency of our facilities in innovative ways. Recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ralph developed and taught the first virtual improvement science program for the Behavioral Health service line that included educational sessions, interactive activities and coaching.
Building leadership skills at Northwell
Northwell’s Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI) also played a major role in teaching him new skills and developing the leadership qualities his own manager saw within him. CLI provides development courses for all our team members, including project management classes and programs Ralph enrolled in such as LEAN, Six Sigma, Intro to Project Management and the Change Acceleration Program. He credits these programs for teaching him processes that help him identify opportunities and barriers in a project and effectively brainstorm to create new solutions.
Along with providing Ralph important tools and methods for project management, CLI’s programs gave him the opportunity to work on projects within the organization. As part of the Six Sigma program, Ralph was assigned to co-lead a project at Glen Cove Hospital that created a standardized discharge process for patients from inpatient to subacute rehabilitation facilities. Ralph and his team used the tools he had learned in the Six Sigma course to work on this project which successfully led to a decrease in unnecessary transfers to the ED and readmissions while improving patient satisfaction.
According to Ralph, in order to succeed we must always be continuously learning. “Northwell has a wonderful resource for employees to develop their skills in the Center for Learning and Innovation. These classes were beneficial to building my professional skillsets along with learning the organizational structure.”
Connecting Northwell to our communities
Beyond leading projects, Ralph is co-chair of Northwell’s African American/Caribbean Business Employee Resource Group (BERG). Open for all team members, the role of our BERGs is to provide resources to ensure we have an inclusive environment where all feel accepted and respected. For Ralph, one of the most exciting parts of being a co-chair is being able to cultivate a trusting and safe work environment for all.
Beyond supporting diversity and inclusion within our organization, Ralph is passionate about the work our BERGs do to organize and drive events for the individuals we serve within our regions. “Being a co-chair of a BERG allows me to be a part of a bigger initiative that directly impacts our communities in and out of the workplace,” says Ralph. “I suggest all team members join a BERG to engage with others across the organization while making an impact on disparities in our communities.”
The experience Ralph has gained at Northwell has expanded what he does outside of our organization as well. Ralph not only serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for Healthcare Leaders of New York but is an active member of the National Association of Health Services Executives, a prominent non-profit association of Black health care executives. Last summer, he participated in the Greater New York Hospital Association Summer Enrichment Program where he mentored a graduate student through a 10-week program to discuss professional development, work/life balance in the healthcare industry, and future planning.
“Healthcare and our world are changing every day, and I am part of the next generation of leaders that will elevate the delivery of quality healthcare services,” says Ralph. “I’m proud to work for a truly patient centered organization where we think about the communities near our hospitals and the NYC metro region as a whole.”
Written by: John Baez, Environmental Service Worker, Staten Island University Hospital
Environmental services is much more than keeping a clean environment. We are helping keep patients and their families remain comfortable.
I’ve faithfully worked for Staten Island University Hospital for 11 years, and travel three hours each way from my home in Yonkers on public transportation to help care for patients.
I’m not a clinical care provider, but my dedication to patient safety in the Environmental Services (EVS) Department is what I strive for. My coworkers and I are at the top of our field when it comes to bedside manner and being spirited patient professionals.
Unfortunately, our team is no stranger to a crisis. We saw the hospital through the evacuation ahead of Hurricane Irene, the aftermath from Superstorm Sandy the following year and even the Ebola crisis in 2014.
But COVID-19 was something entirely different and something we never faced before. It put the EVS team on the front line to help contain and eliminate the virus, which tested all of our abilities.
When the crisis was at its peak, I remember seeing one case after the other. People begging for their life, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” Before coronavirus, I would always try to befriend and comfort the patients. During the crisis, I showed them love when their loved ones couldn’t be at their bedside.
Then there was one day that would change me forever.
The faithful man
It was a regular day, and then one of patient care associates (PCAs) told me that this person is going to pass away. I knew the patient. I met her days earlier.
It was the end of my shift and I was ready to take my first bus home, but I said to myself “I can’t let this woman pass alone. I’m going to be there for her.”
I walked into the room and leaned over the patient and said, “It’s me, John. If you hear me, squeeze my finger. She did. I told her I want you to go with God. I want you to relax and once you see the light, I want you to go to it. I’m going to hold your hand until you go.”
The PCA cried alongside me.
I told the patient I would pray for her. On her third breath, she passed.
The doctor came in and checked her vitals, and confirmed what I already knew—she was gone.
I took the two busses and three trains home, replaying the day in my head. It’s always going to be with me and sad that she couldn’t have a loved one with her, but I couldn’t let her die alone.
I did what manyhealth care heroesbattling COVID-19 did: make the patients their second family and be their loved one.
During this crisis, my mother was begging me to quit because we’re dealing with something that’s new and scary. But we all have to be here. It’s our job. It’s what we signed up for.
Formerly homeless veteran turned nursing hero is giving back to our communities during COVID-19
Overcoming his own adversities, veteran and registered nurse Andy is now giving back and caring for those who need it most.
Antranik “Andy” Garabedian, RN, BSN, is a registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital (LIJVS) who uses his compassion to not only deliver care to our patients, but to our communities.
Prior to becoming a registered nurse, Andy first served in the U.S. Marines as a Private. “I think that people often forget that military missions are usually based off humanitarian issues first and that is why many military members join healthcare teams,” says Andy. “It’s a common thread, that leads to a common goal and the delivery method is embedded as a team. Northwell has been great to everyone I know who is a veteran across many different facilities because of the inclusivity. It is a feeling of belonging and that you matter at Northwell.”
After receiving a medical discharge from the Marines in the early 2000s, Andy later decided to find a new way to serve people as a nurse. “Nursing is a passion of mine because of my grandmother,” says Andy. “My grandmother became ill in 2004 and passed away. I took care of her for the last few weeks of her life and every patient interaction reminds me of her and why I am here. I came into nursing with her in my heart, the drive of a warrior and the passion for being there for those who need us.”
Today Andy still uses the vital experience he gained in the Marines while working as a nurse. “In the Marines I learned the ability to adapt to almost any situation and to press ahead and complete the tasks ahead – skills that have been invaluable to me as a nurse. What makes me a better team member is that I will jump in and help anyone who is struggling or needs that extra hand.”
Giving back beyond the bedside
On top of working at LIJVS as a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, Andy was inspired in another way to help those struggling in our communities. “One random April day, I went into Manhattan to see how empty the city was at the height of the pandemic. Nobody was there except the homeless and hungry. I was homeless myself in my early twenties for about three years and I know how tough it is on a regular day, but add in a pandemic and the homeless people I encountered were really struggling.”
Doing what he could that day, Andy purchased meals, water bottles, drinks, socks and more, for the individuals he encountered but he knew there was more that could be done to help take care of our communities. Within 24 hours, Aggregate Hearts was born – a charity created to focus on supporting the sick, hungry and homeless during the pandemic.
Andy co-founded Aggregate Hearts with Dawna Scheich, a registered nurse with FlexStaff, and since their start they’ve felt support at Northwell. “Leadership has really been great,” says Andy. “In addition to helping me raise money, donating clothing and items, several members of the management team have physically joined us and came to deliver food and items with me. The overwhelming support of my colleagues and coworkers has been tremendous, from ideas of how to serve these individuals, to raising money.”
In addition to helping those in need, Andy and Aggregate Hearts have been sourcing food from several local businesses regularly to help support local and small businesses in our communities as well.
Northwell Health launches new Career Development Certificate Program
Northwell Health is committed to engaging our future and current workforce, especially during these unprecedented times.
As many companies, including Northwell, cancelled summer internships in the interest of safety precautions due to COVID-19, our Workforce Readiness team saw a growing need to develop a program that would help students, job seekers, or anyone looking to sharpen their resume writing and interviewing skills.
The Northwell Health Career Development Certificate Program was launched this summer to provide a free series of recorded and live virtual sessions that participants could complete at their own pace with curriculum focusing on healthcare careers, job search tips and more about Northwell., Although initially envisioned as a resource for college students, the program expanded to include materials that could apply to anyone interested in a career in healthcare.
More than 5,300 participants attended the 10 live sessions. “Even though COVID-19 has forced us to change the way we do things, education will always continue,” says Kathryn Graves, project manager with the Workforce Readiness team. “We wanted to ensure students and job seekers can still engage with Northwell throughout the summer and learn more about the incredible careers we have to offer.”
The Certificate Program was conducted in two parts so participants could build a program that best suited their passions and needs. The first part included live virtual sessions taught by Northwell team members with topics such as Northwell’s patient experience, diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and professional development, including resume writing and tips for virtual interviewing. During the second part, participants watched on-demand videos at their own pace to discover a variety of healthcare careers such as nursing, radiology, business, telehealth, clinical laboratory science and others. And for those unsure about what area of interest they want to pursue, it offered a chance to gain unique insight from professionals who could help them determine the trajectory of their career journey.
Earning their Northwell Health Career Development Certificate is the perfect addition to any aspiring healthcare professional’s resume. The program was such a success that another is already being planned for the fall.
Shanell Blanchard MPH, RN-OCN, started her nursing career in 2014 at Huntington Hospital as an oncology registered nurse. Throughout her career at Northwell she has achieved many accomplishments that have helped her to grow personally and professionally including winning the 2020 Nurse Excellence Award at her hospital. Get to know Shanell, why she achieved this prestigious award and how she is a Truly Ambitious Northwell team member.
Going above and beyond
In her role as an oncology nurse, Shanell embraces the connection she makes with her patients. “I get to go on a journey with them, and however happy or sad it may be, I would not want to do anything else,” she says. Shanell is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure they are well taken care of on that journey. Her role as an oncology nurse also allows her to be a preceptor and lecturer for nursing students in the Oncology Nursing Fellowship. In this capacity, she acts as a role model to new nurse graduates to help them achieve their career and clinical education goals.
Whether teaching or giving back in other ways, she is willing to help anyone in need and get involved with communities near and far. Shanell was offered the opportunity to travel to Texas after Hurricane Harvey with fellow Northwell team members to aid in their clinical efforts. She has also presented at the American Nursing Association conference in Orlando and she is a member of the Huntington Hospital’s Human Trafficking Task Force. “This experience really showed me how much teamwork, community and support means to Northwell,” she says.
While working at Northwell Shanell was motivated to pursue her dreams and obtain a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. With the help and encouragement of her managers she partnered with them to have a flexible work schedule so she could complete her studies successfully. Shanell has now taken her dedication to education a step further. She is currently enrolled in law school and looking toward continued growth within her career at Northwell. “I would like to work in leadership and hopefully work for corporate once I have my law degree,” she says.
Her Career Pinnacle
Shanell’s career journey and who she is as a nurse, leader and individual is best exemplified with the Nurse Excellence Award that she received this year.
The award, which is peer and leadership-nominated, recognizes a nurse who inspires other nurses to provide the highest level of quality care and supports them in their development. Other areas considered for this prestigious achievement include, exemplary patient care, a positive image, community involvement, and committee contributions.
Shanell goes above and beyond for her unit and patients, as well as her community, and we are proud to call her a Northwell nurse hero. At Northwell we’re dedicated to patient care, teamwork and we are committed to our employees’ future by providing them with the resources to help them excel like Shanell.
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