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 Accessioner
- Data Analysts
- Lab Information System Specialists
- Lab Informatics
- HR Specialists
- Project Managers
- Quality Managers and Specialists
- Lab Support Associates
- Route Service Drivers
- Materials Management
- Medical Billing
- Medical Coder
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.