Answering the Call for Pediatric Cardiac OR Nursing
Anthony Bracco started his Northwell career four years ago as a registered nurse for adult open-heart surgeries, but he would eventually answer the call to join the pediatric open-heart team at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) at Northwell Health. When asked about the opportunity to become a pediatric cardiac operating room registered nurse he says, “I couldn’t say no to a chance to help the pediatric population in the specialty I love.”
Working in a pediatric OR often means participating in life-saving surgeries. “I have the privilege of leaving work every day knowing we not only saved the life of a very young patient, but we also relieved the stress on the family,” Anthony says. He’s also excited about CCMC’s new operating rooms, which will offer more families access to the care he and his fellow OR nurses are passionate about.
Anthony says the cardiac OR team runs so smoothly because they all share the same devotion to saving lives. Witnessing that level of teamwork inspired him to pursue this career path, recalling a specific moment in an OR: “It was incredible to watch the scrub nurse and the surgeon move in perfect synchronization to protect the patient from being on the heart-lung machine for an extended period of time. In that instant I knew I wanted to be a cardiac surgery nurse.”
Declaring the operating room “an incredible place to work because you provide immediate patient care and are always learning,” Anthony encourages any nurse considering an OR opportunity to go for it. “Whether it’s removing a tumor, fixing a congenital heart defect or bypassing clogged arteries, the direct outcome you can have on a patient is incredibly rewarding. There’s no better feeling than being able to help a neonatal, infant or pediatric patient by performing life-saving surgery.”
The days are busy, fast-paced and perfect for those looking to make an instant impact on patients’ lives. Anthony says the interdisciplinary teams he collaborates with at CCMC work in tandem, a manifestation of Northwell Health’s value of being Truly Together, which flows without ebb through the halls and ORs at the hospital.
From the moment Anthony joined the CCMC’s cardiac OR, he felt surrounded by professionals with the shared mission of delivering outstanding care to the youngest of patients, a “heartfelt” desire that’s not limited to the OR.
Support from Northwell doesn’t start and stop with your shift — it tracks with your personal and professional aspirations. Through the relationships built and the knowledge gained while working at Northwell, Anthony has felt inspired to continue his education; he’s now enrolled in a family nurse practitioner master’s degree program. CCMC has also granted him the space to innovate and share ideas by supporting his desire to conduct research. “Currently, I am working on a research project to increase communication and teamwork in the operating room by using white boards for communication.”
The nurses at CCMC are driven to excellence, passionate about having a direct and immediate impact in a young patient’s life, and selfless in regard to helping others — whether it’s colleagues or the patients they treat.
Continue celebrating Pride Month with us by watching our latest Northwell Community series video. Learn how our Expressions BERG (Business Employee Resource Group) provides opportunities for our LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies to connect and promote inclusion in the workplace. Our BERGs are active resources that help to create an informed work environment where everyone feels welcomed, accepted, and respected. Northwell Health is made stronger by the differences in backgrounds and experiences of our employees.
Growing a Wellness Garden at Northern Westchester Hospital when it was needed the most
How an idea designed to give Northwell Health employees a place to decompress in the middle of a pandemic also advanced the culinary experience for patients at Northern Westchester Hospital.
Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) is now home to 35 garden beds that hold organically grown vegetables. Started in June 2020, the garden was created to be a therapeutic space where employees could unwind during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The idea came from Rebecca Martin, committee member and the senior director of food and dining services at NWH and Phelps Hospital. Rebecca presented the project to the Wellness Resilience and Recognition Committee that Richard Mellor, associate executive director of Human Resources, put together during COVID to support our hospital team members. The project was met with positive remarks from senior leadership, and the planning process was set to begin.
Local Eagle Scout Zachary Couzens, whose parents had been COVID patients at NWH, felt compelled to somehow give back to the hospital that took the best care of his parents during such a worrying time. While in search of an Eagle Scout project, Zachary decided to collaborate with the Wellness, Recognition and Resilience Committee and other employees at NWH to create the wellness garden, donated by the Patient Centered Innovation Fund.
Bryan Tompkins, an environmental services team member at NWH, worked to create the vision of the wellness garden. Then Zachary, along with NWH culinary and food service employee volunteers and the committee, built the framework of each garden bed, filled each bed with a compost and soil mix, and planted the vegetables. “It was all really a team effort,” says Rebecca Martin. “It was also nice seeing Zachary’s parents in such great health helping create the beds with the other volunteers.”
All foods grown in the garden are donated to patients leaving the hospital who are food insecure or vulnerable. The garden contributes to healthy, nutritious meals for patients and advances their culinary experience with farm-to-table cooking that enables our culinary staff to deliver delicious meals.
Managed by 35 volunteer hospital staff members, the garden also provides a serene setting for employees and patients and families alike when a calming environment is needed. Although the garden is new and will be completing its first harvest this week, it has already proven to revitalize the spirit of the food and dining team members at NWH.
“We are a team that cares about each other and cares about our patients,” says Rebecca. “This is a team that takes incredible pride in what they do. They work so well together, and they are always there for each other.”
How the culture at Northwell has provided opportunities for LGBTQ+ employees and allies to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community
Jared Oliveira has been with Northwell Health for more than five years and is a gay member of the LGBTQ+ community. Having the security of a safe workplace is important to him and is something that Northwell has always provided. “I believe that Northwell is determined to better the experience for the LGBTQ+ population,” he says.
Jared is a program manager in corporate community relations. He is also a proud member of the leadership team for the Expressions BERG (business employee resource group). He defines this BERG as, “an employee group that is dedicated to influencing a culture of inclusion and advocacy throughout Northwell to support the LGBTQ+ community.”
In his role as program manager, Jared is responsible for overseeing community-based programs, such as managing pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics and assisting with the organization of vaccine distributions during COVID. That passion for impacting communities excited Jared about taking on a lead role in this year’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) survey – a national LGBTQ+ benchmarking tool that evaluates the policies and practices related to equity and inclusion for patients, visitors and employees of healthcare facilities. The HEI survey is an important annual initiative for him and his fellow Expressions BERG team members, such as Kimberly Schwalb, manager of operations for the Cancer Center at Mather Hospital
Kimberly is a proud ally and the executive coordinator for the Expressions BERG. Like Jared, she wants to help in any way that she can to ensure that all employees feel heard and accepted. She believes advocacy is made easier because Northwell is an organization where everyone unites behind the commitment to diversity and inclusion. One of Kimberly’s fondest memories was marching along with a contingent of over 750 Northwell employees down 5th Ave. for World Pride. It was a moving and powerful moment that brought employees together. “Northwell celebrates the diversity of all our team members,” she says.
In her role at the Cancer Center at Mather Hospital, Kimberly is responsible for the management and coordination of all practices for the cancer program. She also supports the planning and implementation of programs and processes essential to two cancer accreditations. Kimberly combines her expertise in management and coordination with her passion for celebrating diversity in the work she does for the Expressions BERG: “I partner with team members from across the health system to implement activities that focus on LGBTQ+ inclusion and that follow through on Northwell’s commitment to diversity.”
Together with the rest of the Expressions BERG leadership team, Jared and Kimberly enjoy curating events that celebrate all LGBTQ+ national awareness days. The BERG also helps promote practices that respect gender identities and pronouns and they collaborate with the health system as a whole to help increase the clinical services available for the LGBTQ+ community at Northwell.
Jared says, “Northwell puts employees first. For me, I am able to be who I am comfortably, regardless of my identity, and I am respected across the health system by my colleagues.” Kimberly adds, “Northwell celebrates our differences and is committed to the communities we serve.”
An Appointment With: Joe Molloy, Vice President, Workforce Safety
As vice president of workforce safety, Joe Molloy is responsible for ensuring a safe work environment for our 76,000-strong Northwell employees. Joe started his career with Northwell in 2005 as corporate director of benefits with prior job experience in employee safety in hospital settings in addition to expertise in benefits and employee wellness. In 2014, Joe’s role and proficiency resulted in the creation of the workforce safety department that carries out Northwell’s commitment to safety in the workplace.
We spoke with Joe Molloy to learn more about how this department keeps safety a top priority.
What is the role of workforce safety at Northwell Health?
Workforce safety is committed to reinforcing a culture of safety for everyone from patients to team members, and ensuring that we are all advocates for a safe work environment as employees across the health system. Patient safety starts with team member safety, so our department has developed many programs and educational modules to reinforce the importance across the organization. As a result, we have award-winning programs that have been recognized by New York State and nationally for their success.
What are some of the different positions on the workforce safety team?
A few teams operate under the workforce safety umbrella. We have roles that include safety training, communications, programs and care coordination, OSHA compliance, workers’ compensation, and industrial hygiene.
We take our mission to enforce a safe environment for all very seriously and really appreciate the partnerships we have throughout the health system, including with the safety officers, the office of legal affairs, security, HR, risk, engineering and the organization as a whole. We couldn’t drive safety without everyone’s participation. Workforce safety’s efforts are made easier by the culture of Truly Together that permeates every corner of the health system.
How did your team make an impact during the pandemic?
Like many departments at Northwell, our team members were re-deployed around the health system to help with the COVID-19 response. In addition, we organized the re-fit testing of more than 40,000 employees to ensure proper safety, fit and use of PPE. Further, the team made yeoman’s efforts to support wherever there was a need.
What advice would you offer someone thinking of a career in workforce safety?
If you are the kind of person that enjoys taking care of fellow team members, or, you have an interest in how we keep our team members safe, you may want to consider a career in workforce safety.
Edie Marden, Assistant Vice President of Operations for the Northwell Health Trauma Institute, has a career journey that spans nearly three decades all at Northwell Health
“I have been working at Northwell Health for almost 28 years and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” says Edie Marden, assistant vice president of operations, Northwell Health Trauma Institute.
Edie’s Northwell career comprised many roles, starting in 1993 at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) as a registered nurse in the medical intensive care unit (MICU). She then transitioned to medical oncology where she advanced to become assistant nurse manager. With that leadership experience, she transitioned to nurse manager of various units at NSUH. She then progressed to become the assistant director of Department of Surgery, where she was responsible for quality management, and then assistant director of clinical services. Today she is an assistant vice president of the Trauma Institute and the Department of Surgery.
“My day-to-day role varies and that is what is exciting to me,” Edie says. In her current role, she directs the system-wide development, coordination and administration of the Trauma Institute along with its policies, guidelines, services and programs across the health system. She spends most of her time collaborating and guiding team members at each of Northwell’s seven trauma centers. “I focus on employee engagement to ensure the team gets the support and direction they need from leadership,” says Edie.
The support of Northwell
Northwell provides many opportunities for professional and personal growth. With Northwell’s support, Edie obtained her master’s in healthcare administration at Walden University. She continues to develop her skills and leadership by attending Northwell’s educational courses at the Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI) and served as a mentor for Northwell employees. “Northwell has been supportive throughout my career,” Edie says, noting encouragement by her leaders to attend national conferences — she was even a speaker at several events. “The support of leadership is paramount and having leaders I could talk to and get advice from has helped me achieve these goals.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to advance my career without having to leave Northwell,” says Edie. “There are so many avenues to explore and different roles to pursue.”
Northwell Health’s 2021 Innovation Challenge Brings in Breakthrough Ideas From Employees
Northwell Health was proud to once again hold its annual Innovation Challenge after a one-year pause due to the pandemic. The competition encourages Northwell employees to be Truly Innovative by submitting ideas with the potential to change the future of medicine and patient care.
There were a variety of driving forces behind the decision to participate in this year’s challenge, but a few threads connected them all:
• The notion that there is always room for improvement
• The desire to improve treatments and experiences
• The knowledge that Northwell invests time and money into health care advancements
• The passion to do more for patients in need
There were two categories this year: Innovation in Science and Innovation in Care Delivery. Read about the top two ideas in each category and the inspiring Northwell team members who helped develop them.
Innovation in Science
The winning project for this category was “Treating Bleeding via Ultrasound Stimulation of the Spleen,” led by Jared M. Huston, MD, FACS, associate investigator at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. Asked about the medical impact of the project, Dr. Huston says, “We expect this innovation can decrease complications related to bleeding and improve outcomes for millions of patients.”
The category’s runner-up project was “Novel Stilbenes: Science against HPV,” led by Mario Castellanos, MD, associate chair of research in the Department of Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH). Dr. Castellanos has been passionate about finding a therapeutic to treat cancer-causing HPV infections since his days as a medical resident at SIUH. “My passion for research and the patients I encountered in my medical practice drove me to want to do more for them.”
Innovation in Care Delivery
The winning idea in Care Delivery was “Infrared Thermography (IRT) for Early Detection of Tissue Pressure Injury,” led by Alina Segal, acute care physical therapist at SIUH, who says this project takes into consideration improved patient care and decreasing health care costs. According to Alina, “it may also be a valuable tool for managing surgical wounds, diabetic foot ulcers, burns and amputations, among other uses.”
The runner-up project was “Let Sleeping Patients Lie,” led by Theodoros Zanos, PhD, head of the Neural and Data Science Lab at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, who explains that his team, “developed an AI algorithm based on a large volume of Northwell clinical data to safely and accurately determine for each patient whether it is safe to forgo overnight vitals.”
Dr. Zanos says, the project’s impact could lead to “uninterrupted sleep to more than 50 percent of patient nights and improved patient experience and outcomes, shorter lengths of stay and reductions in clinician workload.”
We asked the winners and runner ups how Northwell prepared them for this big moment
Alina Segal says, “Northwell Health provides great educational opportunities and encourages personal growth.”
Dr. Zanos credits his preparedness to the support and leadership at the Feinstein Institutes. In combination with “a uniquely large and diverse clinical dataset,” leadership helped the team pursue this innovation.
Dr. Huston says his team benefitted from “the invaluable mentorship from many of our Feinstein Institutes and Department of Surgery colleagues.”
Dr. Castellanos cites the long history of support at Northwell for researchers, whether junior or seasoned. The kind of work that goes into developing new ideas in medicine often takes a lot of collaboration. “Northwell’s support facilitated key connections both within Northwell and externally, including the NIH, industry and the biotech communities.”
The sharing of ideas is embedded as an important part of the culture at Northwell. According to Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, “Innovation and creativity are the essence of good organizations who strive to excel and move forward.”
Why Northwell Health was named DiversityInc’s top company for diversity in health care
2021 is the second consecutive year Northwell Health has been awarded “Best Health System for Diversity” in the nation by DiversityInc. It is the ninth consecutive year that the organization has been included on this list.
As New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, Northwell has 76,000 employees who are a reflection of the communities they serve: one of the nation’s most diverse populations. Building an organization and work environment where everyone feels valued and included is integral to Northwell’s journey toward the tenets of diversity, inclusion and health equity for its team members, patients and communities.
Here are just a few examples of how Northwell Health has prioritized diversity and inclusivity
• We’re proud of being one of the first health systems, in partnership with the Healthcare Anchor Network, to declare racism a public health crisis.
• We continue to address health and racial disparities for COVID-19. More than any other health system, Northwell treated more COVID-19 cases – more than 191,000 patients – over a 13-month span as it collaborated with state and local government to aggressively roll out diagnostic testing and then vaccination efforts to underserved communities across New York City, Long Island and Westchester.
• Our Emerging Leaders Diversity & Inclusion Council — whose members include women, minorities, persons with disabilities and veterans with a passion for leadership — is empowered to build a culture of diversity awareness and inclusion to attract, develop and retain enthusiastic and ambitious talent for all leadership levels.
• Our neurodiversity virtual mentorship program and summer internship program offer neurodiverse college students insights into a career in health care while cultivating a better understanding of how to support our neurodiverse population within the workplace.
• Team members can join one of our many Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs), which enhance engagement, innovation and talent development while promoting an inclusive culture by celebrating our differences and commonalities. Our BERGs range from our Expressions BERG, which includes team members who are passionate about promoting unity, health equity and awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community, to our Bridges BERGs, which focus on Asian, Black/African American, Jewish and Latinx communities, among others.
• As a Military Friendly Employer award winner, we support service members transitioning from active duty to civilian life with career training, veteran-friendly transition programs, health and wellness services, MOS code job search, a student veteran mentorship program, and other resources.
• Our spirit of caring and celebration infuses every holiday, from legal holidays to meaningful religious observances to national days. Our team members strive to make each holiday special.
In addition to the top hospitals ranking, Northwell was also included on several other DiversityInc specialty lists. Northwell ranked eighth among top companies for Veterans, sixth for Latino Executives, No. 10 for Asian American Executives and No. 11 for Talent Acquisition for Women of Color.
DiversityInc examined companies using a 200-question survey that focused on six key areas: Leadership accountability, human capital diversity metrics, talent programs, workforce practices, supplier diversity and philanthropy.
Click here to learn more about Northwell’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and discover a career well cared for.
Discovering unlimited opportunities and a true calling — meet Elyse Isopo
Elyse Isopo started her Northwell Health career journey as a junior volunteer at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) when she was in high school. “I loved the people, I loved the patients, and I love helping,” she says. Today, she is a supervisor for advanced clinical providers (ACP) at NSUH, where she oversees a team of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
As a volunteer in high school, Elyse became immersed in a hospital environment and patient care as she delivered their newspapers, refilled their water, and transported them, while also helping with art and music programs. The experience impacted her career path. “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she says.
Elyse held many roles during her 22 years at NSUH. She started as a registered nurse on a medicine unit and then transitioned to the medical intensive care unit (MICU). “After becoming a nurse, I knew I wanted to extend my career within the nursing field.” With the assistance of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement, Elyse went back to school to become a family nurse practitioner. “Northwell encourages and financially assists education and advancement of one’s career,” she says. Once Elyse obtained her master’s degree as a nurse practitioner, she transitioned into presurgical testing (PST). After five years on the PST unit, Elyse realized her heart was always with critical care, so she returned to the MICU where she’s worked for the past 14 years.
A driven nurse practitioner committed to learning and growth, Elyse earned her second master’s as an acute care nurse practitioner — and with Northwell’s support, she received tuition reimbursement for her doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) as well. To share her passion for nursing with others, she became a professor at Hofstra University as an adjunct clinical faculty member, where she supervises clinical faculty in the nurse practitioner programs. As a nurse and nurse practitioner, Elyse is involved with patient and family education. “I found a love of teaching throughout my career when I am precepting new nurses; teaching ACPs, residents and interns; and speaking with patients and their families.”
Reflecting on her tenure at NSUH, Elyse says, “You don’t have just a hospital, you have a community.” During COVID and as a frontline health worker, Elyse never considered herself a hero, but once she stepped outside the hospital for a “clap-out” from local first responders — whose ladder trucks erected an arch under which NSUH staff walked as they were applauded — she was reminded that her career was more than a job; it was a true calling. “I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
At Northwell, we strive to have our team members continue their career and education journey. Elyse is proof of that: “Northwell helps build each of us to our greatest potential professionally no matter what your career trajectory is.”
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