An Appointment With: Ryon Andersen, AED, Finance, North Shore University Hospital
Over the course of his career at Northwell Health, Ryon Andersen has worked in a variety of positions, from his start as a physical therapy aide to his current role as associate executive director at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). His unique path from clinical to non-clinical professional equipped Ryon with the skills he needed to help him positively impact the financial and clinical operations of the hospital as an AED. Ryon’s career is also proof that there is not one straight career path to working in finance and operations within the healthcare industry.
Learn more about Ryon’s career path and how Northwell’s helping other professionals pursue non-clinical careers at Northwell in this month’s Appointment With.
What inspired you to move from pursuing a clinical career to a non-clinical career within healthcare?
I’ve always had an interest in community and public service which was reinforced when I joined my local fire department. While volunteering as a firefighter and EMT, I had the opportunity to assist Glen Cove Hospital with a disaster drill that was being run by their emergency department. This provided me with a small observation window into how a hospital operates. At the time my only knowledge was based on prehospital ambulance care. Further intrigued by the dynamics of providing care in a hospital setting, I decided to pursue a job as a physical therapy aide in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Glen Cove. I truly enjoyed working alongside the clinical teams and helping patients learn to ambulate after injury or surgery. As time progressed and college commitments increased, I transferred to work as a unit support associate for the critical care and telemetry units. This opportunity gave me good insight into hospital flow, nursing unit dynamics, and the admission/registration process. This transition was especially important because it was a clear indication of how NorthShoreLIJ (at the time) supported development. My managers worked with my schedule so I could attend classes while maintaining employment. Upon finishing my degree, I decided to apply the skills I learned from my science classes to a new role at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Working in the department of experimental immunology as a research assistant, I was responsible for laboratory benchwork and quantitative data analysis.
These three experiences allowed me to gain unique skills and insights while learning about the culture of the organization, they strengthened my desire to continue to grow within the system. Over the course of this circuitous pathway, I met many mentors who pushed me explore all facets of the system and to not solely focus on clinical opportunities. Because we are a healthcare organization, I believe early careerists generally assume the only career pathways are clinical, but that’s not true. Being exposed to the broader landscape of opportunities led me to pursue a role as a project coordinator in hospital administration at NSUH. This allowed me to combine my clinical operations experience and my analytical skills within a hospital. Settled into my new position over the last 9 nine years at NSUH, I’ve grown into the role I am currently in as Associate Executive Director.
What is it like to work in finance and operations within a large tertiary hospital? What role does an administrator in finance/ops play?
Working in financial operations in any facility is quite dynamic and different every day. Hospitals are a 24/7 operation, and the NSUH campus is a bustling city. Whether it’s developing strategic business plans and investment opportunities, revamping processes to increase efficiency, creating a culture of teamwork, or constructing a new building, the push and pull of competing priorities makes the day go quickly. Specifically, a business operations administrator should create strong partnerships with clinical leaders and help support them and enhance decision making. They should utilize their business/analytical skills to help set and inform strategy. That said, the number one job of all hospital administrators should always be patient safety, to provide as safe an environment for patients and providers as possible.
Can you talk a little bit about the creation of the HMP and MAP programs and why is it important to mentor young professionals?
The Healthcare Management Program (HMP) and the Management Associate Program (MAP) were created to expand the talent onramps into healthcare business operations. These programs give us the opportunity to amplify the boarder healthcare career opportunities message and further compete for top talent. Central to every organization, regardless of size or industry, is its dependence on attracting and training a capable workforce. People are at the heart of every company and the quality and engagement of these individuals dramatically impact the overall success of an organization. The programs are structured to give associates a holistic understanding of the business as well as the overall mission of Northwell Health.
Through project work, they have a chance to explore finance, operations, clinical partnerships, quality management, human resources, and patient experience. Additionally, the programs naturally foster great mentorship opportunities. Mentorship is a core component of MAP. It is one of the most important attributes of a successful leader, cultivating talent and growing others is essential for both the mentor and mentee.
What is one piece of advice for someone looking to get into finance and ops in healthcare?
There is no one point of entry into the field, healthcare finance and operations takes on many forms. Whether you are working in revenue cycle and corporate finance or procurement and facilities management, you’re on the playing field. Every career experience you have and opportunity you gain will shape who you become as a leader. Continue to value the skills developed and lessons learned until you ultimately attain your career goals.
An Appointment With: David Gill, AVP, Experience Strategy
Since David Gill, PHD joined Northwell Health in 2012, he’s been committed to making Northwell a great place to work by listening to our team members and ensuring they feel supported both professionally and personally.
Roles he has held during his tenure at Northwell include manager of Workforce and Patient Engagement, director of Talent Management and Engagement, and most recently, AVP of Experience Strategy, which he became in 2017. In this role, he is responsible for informing, designing and shaping a holistic experience for everyone in our organization.
David and his team’s efforts have helped elevate Northwell’s employee engagement, and today the organization is a Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®.
We sat down with David to discuss the vital work of our Experience Strategy team.
What is the Experience Strategy team?
The Experience Strategy team is focused on creating the best team member experience from hire to retire. Our team’s goal is to deliver a world-renowned team member experience by driving a culture of innovation, inclusivity, and well-being to empower our team members to redefine the future of healthcare.
There are three interconnected groups within the Experience Strategy team that bring the vision to life.
Listening and Insights is the team solely focused on always listening to team members by obtaining their feedback whether it is through an annual workforce and physician engagement survey, targeted listening sessions or even social media.
Strategic design is the team that leverages the results from our listening methods to build tools and resources for our leaders and team members to help create an environment that fosters engagement. An example of their work is the development and implementation of our Employee Promise, Made for this™. This group had responsibility for rolling out the activities that exemplified what it is like to work at Northwell.
Awards and Recognition is the team that builds monumental experiences that reconnects team members to purpose while recognizing, and celebrating team members by telling their story. This group oversees our recognition programs like the President’s Award, the Innovation Challenge, the Truly awards, as well as Northwell’s myRecognition platform. They have the responsibility of infusing recognition within every stage of the team member’s career journey. Additionally this team manages our application process for Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for.
Why is employee experience vital to Northwell as an organization?
In 2013 Northwell established a goal of becoming a best place to work on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list as well as being at the 90th percentile for team member and physician engagement and patient experience based on third party measurement from Press Ganey. For us to achieve those goals, employee experience had to become a strategic imperative. We had to look at how we were understanding our team members’ needs and how we were providing them with the resources for them to be most successful in their career and then importantly, how we were recognizing them for all of the great work that they did on a day-to-day basis. It is essential to create an environment for employees/team members to feel that they contribute to something greater than themselves, have an opportunity to grow within their career, and feel like a valued member of the organization.
For Northwell, it is critically important to create an exceptional experience for our team members, because we want them to create exceptional experiences for our patients and customers.
In this critical time, what extra steps are your team and Northwell taking to make sure that our healthcare heroes on the front lines are feeling appreciated and recognized?
Amid COVID-19 at Northwell, we were hyper-focused on ensuring that our team members had what they needed. Specifically, we were focused on ensuring that our team members were aware of the bountiful resources available to them to support their holistic well-being. For example, the Emotional Resource Call Center, which was recently implemented by Total Rewards, provides one telephone number for team members to call to meet their well-being needs. If a team member would like to speak with a chaplain, a member of the wellness team, an employee and family assistance program counselor, or other behavioral health practitioners from the Stress Trauma centers, they can reach them through that call center. In partnership with many groups across the organization such as the Office for Patient and Customer Experience, Total Rewards, and Behavioral Health, we stood up Tranquility spaces at many of our facilities. These spaces were designed to build awareness, provide team members with an opportunity to receive a light refreshment, as well as a place of respite activities which are critical during this period.
Lastly, we cannot forget recognizing our team members for their bravery, for their compassion, and for the focus on making our communities well. The recognition efforts were done in strong partnership with the marketing and communications team, the Office and Patient and Customer Experience, the Employee Experience team and HR to provide collateral and support in the form of what we call clap in and clap outs—which are a show of appreciation for team members during shift changes.
What is on the horizon for employee experience at Northwell?
When I look to the future of employee experience and even specifically the work our team is doing, I look toward four focus areas, listening, growth and empowerment, well-being, and life-long affinity. By focusing on always listening to our team members and partnering to build a simple, transparent work environment, this creates trust in leaders and the organization. The employee experience team will capture feedback more frequently from team members, through other methods of listening, not just an annual survey. Genuine engagement can not occur without a focus on growth and empowering team members to be their best selves. The employee experience team will focus on education and hands-on experiences that provide leaders with the necessary skills to foster an environment where team members feel empowered to own their careers and feel psychologically safe to share their innovative ideas. Team members should feel that working at Northwell Health helps them be well. Well-being is the responsibility of all teams. The employee experience team will work on training leaders on how to engage their teams through recognition and appreciation. Lastly, the focus on lifelong affinity is building pride for Northwell, and the work that we do even after a team member’s career journey has ended. Specifically, the employee experience team will develop an alumni program that will keep former team members engaged and lifelong promoters of Northwell’s team member experience.
An Appointment With: Emily Kagan-Trenchard, VP, Digital & Innovation Strategy
When Emily Kagan-Trenchard started her career at Lenox Hill Hospital in 2007, she was responsible for overseeing and modernizing their website with a new look and feel. She quickly saw the critical role that our digital tools play in the way we deliver care to our patients. From there, Emily embraced the opportunity to continue to expand Northwell’s digital footprint, eventually joining our corporate digital marketing team.
Today as vice president of digital and innovation strategy, Emily helps to lead the Digital Patient Experience (DPX) team who are setting the vision for our patient-facing digital tools to enhance their overall experience.
We sat down with Emily to discuss the innovative work of our DPX team.
Tell us about the Digital Patient Experience team and how they impact the organization.
We know that our patients want to access tools and services from Northwell in the same ways they manage the rest of their life – through simple, seamless apps and websites. The DPX team is focused on innovations that help us care for patients in this brave new digital world. We’re a group of architects, engineers, designers, researchers, analysts, strategists and more, all dedicated to building a connected digital experience for Northwell, especially within the ambulatory experience. From booking online to digitizing forms, paying a bill to reaching customer support, we’re making it possible for patients to easily complete these tasks online, and manage their care all in one place.
What are some innovative projects you are currently working on?
We recently launched the Northwell app, which allows patients to manage their personal information, book appointments online with a growing list of doctors, see past and upcoming appointments, pay bills, find care, connect to Follow My Health and more. While this app unlocks essential features for our patients, it’s really just the start of what will be possible.
A few other innovative initiatives include:
Developing a completely virtual check-in process, and already have a pilot program where you can complete your doctor’s office forms digitally at home.
Testing several kinds of biometric identification tools so that one day patients can check into a doctor’s visit with nothing but a selfie – the same way Face ID technology opens our phones.
Developing tools that will help personalize a patient’s visit such as nicknames, hobbies or interests – so they are remembered wherever they go at Northwell.
Why is having a team like this important to Northwell and our patients?
Technology has the potential to make so many complex things simple, understandable and stress-free. The DPX team identifies new technologies and trends, evaluates how technology could help us better care for our patients, and then drives the development of solutions. A critical part of what we do is make sure that patients’ feedback is incorporated every step of the way, and patient feedback is one of our most important measures of success. The DPX team keeps the patient voice at the table, shaping every part of how we care for the patient in the digital world.
What attributes do you look for in your team members?
Our team is a great place for people who like to solve puzzles. There are no easy answers in the work we do, and we are challenged to find clever solutions. Our team looks like many modern software development teams. We have IT roles such as software engineers, architects, systems analysts and QA testers. We have a strong user experience practice that keeps human-centered design at the heart of all our products. These include roles like visual and interface designers, user research and testing. We have analytics and strategy roles such as business and data analysts, who work at understanding how our products perform and identify where we have opportunities to improve or develop new features. And then we have a whole group of team members who ensure that we provide new products and features on a regular basis; these roles include product owners, project managers, and scrum masters.
What is your advice for someone looking for a career at Northwell?
My advice for someone looking for a career at Northwell is that just about anything it possible here. People sometimes think of healthcare as just what takes place in a hospital or doctor’s office but, there is so much that happens behind the scenes both before and after those moments of care, to make it all possible. And because healthcare is at a really dynamic point in its evolution, people who have skills and perspectives from other industries have a real opportunity to bring fresh thinking to the work. I will also say, as a person who has had a long tenure with Northwell, it’s a great place to grow your career. I get to do work that makes a meaningful impact on our communities, and within an organization that’s always looking to be better tomorrow than it was yesterday.
An Appointment With: Michael Dowling, Northwell Health President and CEO
What does the 2020 vision for Northwell Health look like?
Northwell Health will measure success in 2020 on our ability to maintain a strong financial footing while preserving our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve. Achieving that is a significant challenge in the midst of the dynamic, ever-changing environment in which health care providers operate.
There’s growing competition among both traditional providers and new entrants trying to break into the market such as Google, Amazon and CVS, to name a few. Government intervention looms over the horizon. No matter what others are doing, delivering great care should always be our first priority. Our patients are why we’re here.
Taking a stance on issues we believe in is another area we won’t shy away from, whether it’s immigration reform or common-sense gun legislation. We’ll stand up for our beliefs, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. We need to be a voice for the disenfranchised in the communities we serve.
Explain why the year ahead is a crucial one for Northwell’s capital investments.
Beyond preserving our mission in the year ahead, we look to:
increase our investments in basic infrastructure, technology and people;
expand inpatient bed capacity at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and North Shore University, Staten Island University Hospital and Southside hospitals, which are routinely at or over capacity;
target continued ambulatory growth;
try to maintain a good payer-mix balance; and
achieve a higher operating margin, which would strengthen the health system’s credit rating, enabling us to borrow at lower interest rates as we continue to invest in our future.
I’m excited about the transformation at hospitals happening throughout the health system, from the new Corey Critical Care Pavilion at Peconic Bay Medical Center opening this month to the planned groundbreaking of the Petrocelli Advanced Surgical Pavilion at North Shore University Hospital this spring and the ongoing transformation of Southside Hospital into a regional destination for top-notch care on the south shore. We will continue to work with our Upper East Side neighbors and city agencies to develop a plan that will enable us to move forward with the redevelopment of Lenox Hill Hospital.
In what ways will ambulatory care fuel future growth?
At Northwell, we are well positioned for success in 2020 and beyond, based on the continued maturation of the clinical, academic and research enterprise the health system has built over its 28-year history. Beyond our 23 hospitals, the health system now has 744 outpatient locations – and we’ll have 786 by the end of this year, including:
21 additional primary care practices (increasing the number of practices to 239);
23 additional specialty centers, including seven more kidney dialysis centers (increasing the number of centers to 18);
two additional outpatient cancer centers, including one in Eastern Long Island and another on Staten Island;
three additional urgent care centers (increasing the number of urgent care centers to 55); and
two additional ambulatory surgery centers (increasing the number of ambulatory surgery centers to 18).
Due to our ambulatory patient expansion, it’s noteworthy that Northwell’s revenues, projected at $13.5 billion in 2020, will be a 50-50 split between inpatient and outpatient. By comparison, the inpatient/outpatient revenue split was 70-30 percent in 2005.
The recent addition of Concorde Medical Group in Manhattan and its 23 physicians) and clinical affiliations with two large private physician practices, CareMount Medical and AdvantageCare Physicians, further expands our reach into the communities we serve.
How will the Presidential election impact health care?
If the last decade of health care reform and regulation are any guide, then the outcome of the 2020 President race promises to bring more changes to the industry in the coming years. Regardless of what party controls the White House and Congress, health care will receive more than its share of government scrutiny.
Meeting our patients’ needs poses a whole other set of challenges in this uncertain regulatory environment. On the business side, providers are relying to a much greater degree on government payers like Medicare and Medicaid, as relationships with commercial payers continue to become more complex. On top of all that, there’s a growing push from the federal government for increased transparency, with a push toward greater value, cost containment and increased access to care.
Most importantly, we’ll continue to stand by our values. While it may be coincidental, one week after hosting our first Northwell Health Gun Violence Prevention Forum in December and pledging $1 million toward research, prevention, education and advocacy efforts to combat gun violence, Congress approved $25 million in funding for gun safety research – the first time in a quarter century that it has allocated funds for that purpose.
Why is developing and retaining talented employees important to the health of the organization?
To succeed in this environment requires providers to be adaptable, flexible and entrepreneurial. You need to be comfortable dealing with ambiguity, while relying on a progressive culture and a strong talent base. Educating and empowering our employees along their professional journey is personally important to me, but also essential for the long-term success of the health system.
That’s why Northwell created the Center for Learning and Innovation, rebuilt the foundation of the health system upon its own medical school, the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, as well as the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. These and other educational opportunities allow Northwell and its workforce to grow and stay ahead of the competition in a fast-moving industry.
As health care providers, we also have an obligation to not only treat people when they’re sick or injured, but to promote healthy lifestyles and help people avoid getting sick in the first place. We’ve made concerted efforts to think about the communities we serve in a holistic way. That means gaining a better understanding of the social determinants of health that have caused significant disparities in life expectancy in our most-vulnerable communities, where chronic disease is prevalent. We’re responding to those needs by pursuing problem-solving solutions, whether it’s providing access to fresh produce and nutritious meals through our hospital-based “Food as Health” program, educating people about the importance of HIV testing and Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication for at-risk populations, or training community-based health workers to help local residents adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. It’s all part of our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve.
An Appointment With: Patti Drolet, VP, Revenue Cycle
While Patti Drolet’s career in healthcare may have started in an entry-level clerical role, today she is the vice president of Revenue Cycle Operations at Northwell Health. Her experience at every level allowed her to gain well-rounded knowledge in all areas of revenue cycle. She accepted a leadership position at Northwell Health in 2004, where she has been using her strengths and history to help elevate the department’s performance and outcomes.
“As a leader, I take great pride in the role I have at Northwell,” says Patti. “To strategize and lead in the transformation of a business at this level requires commitment, passion, and authenticity in order to drive high-performing initiatives and teams.”
We sat down with Patti to discuss Revenue Cycle and why it’s an exciting career to join at Northwell in this month’s Appointment With.
What is revenue cycle and why is it important to Northwell Health?
Revenue cycle represents the business side of a health system and is responsible for billing and collecting all hospital receivables – a monumental task in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment.
Our role is to secure financial strength, enabling the health system to provide extraordinary quality of care in modern facilities by our clinicians. We have an impact on patient care and the patient experience, and we take pride in knowing that our efforts help Northwell succeed in its mission.
What career opportunities are available in revenue cycle?
In revenue cycle, roles and skill sets range from entry-level clerical to leadership positions. Someone can begin in patient-facing areas, such as patient registration in our hospitals, patient financial counseling and customer service. Revenue cycle is also in non-patient-facing areas, such as insurance verification/scheduling, accounts receivable billing and follow-up, and in Health Information Management (HIM) documentation management. Additionally, there are clinicians on our team who specialize in medical billing appeal writing, the Clinical Documentation Initiative (CDI) that validates the quality of our patients’ medical records, and in the Denial Prevention Unit (DPU) which helps us secure authorizations from our patients’ insurers for emergent admissions.
There is a very broad assortment of fulfilling careers available within the department. And we are always looking for talented people!
What are four fun facts about working in revenue cycle at Northwell Health?
We have a unique opportunity to touch upon many different areas within the health system, such as patient experience, clinical departments and hospital executive leadership, among others.
Most of our leadership team began their careers in entry-level clerical positions.
We have a fun committee! We provide interactive activities for our team members throughout the year to engage in the community and the areas we serve.
We have a mentoring program for team members in addition to Northwell’s development opportunities at the Center for Learning and Innovation
What is your career advice to candidates looking for a career in revenue cycle?
If you have the passion and desire to work in a fast-paced, challenging and dynamic business environment, with a mission to improve the health system’s financial viability, this department is for you. Understanding all aspects of revenue cycle and learning the intricacies of this business makes for an exciting career. Having experienced this firsthand, the opportunities available within revenue cycle and meeting the challenges of our ever-evolving health care system can be very rewarding.
An Appointment With: Dr. Dwayne Breining, Executive Director, Northwell Health Labs
Starting his Northwell Health career as the director of Lab/Pathology at LIJ Valley Stream Hospital 13 years ago, Dr. Dwanye Breining held that title at multiple Northwell hospitals before coming to our Core Laboratory. Now as executive director of the Northwell Laboratories, he leads the talented team that coordinates laboratory testing for our new Core Laboratory at the Center for Advanced Medicine (CFAM), the new Core Microbiology Laboratory at Little Neck Parkway, and the 43 hospital laboratories that rely on our laboratories for reference testing. Northwell Labs is also responsible for testing for physician offices, nursing homes, the Department of Health, clinical trials, urgent care centers and more.
We sat down with Dr. Breining to discuss the growth of careers within Northwell Labs.
What types of careers are available within Northwell Labs?
While I think everyone is aware that we employ many MD & DO pathologists, as well as PhDs, laboratory technologists, and phlebotomists, not everyone knows that we also have people in sales and finance, as well as numerous IT specialists, data analysts, customer service representatives, materials management personnel and many delivery vehicle operators, and even a pharmacist. It is indeed a very big department, and we are a 24/7/365 operation – laboratory services never stop.
What makes our Labs at Northwell unique?
I like to think that we combine the best of both worlds: the high-efficiency of a commercial lab-type setting with the personal touch and hands-on engagement of your local hospital lab that knows you as a patient, and your physician as a colleague. As the largest nonprofit health system lab in the country, we have access to the most advanced medical testing technology available, including the largest Roche chemistry automation line in North America at the CFAM lab and the largest Kiestra automated microbiology system at the Little Neck Lab.
We are recognized internationally as an innovator in the laboratory industry, not just on the technology side but also in the business arena through forming unique partnerships with other health systems such as the one we formed with NYC Health & Hospitals, in which we also serve as the Core Laboratory for their 18 hospitals and affiliated clinics. Another unique innovation we just launched, and are especially proud of, is LabFly. This is an Uber-like app, available for both iOS and Android devices, to have our phlebotomy services come to you, in your home or office at whatever time is convenient, for a low convenience fee. We are seeing rapidly growing interest in this type of service.
Why should Bio/Chem students who are unsure of what they want to do as a career explore the clinical lab field?
The level of fulfillment and sense of purpose one derives from working within healthcare in general, and knowing that the work you do directly affects the well-being of our community, is second to none, as any healthcare professional can attest. In the lab tech arena specifically, you will never be bored, as there are over 30 different tech sub-specialty areas in which to train, which creates many opportunities for career advancement. There is regular interaction with colleagues from all aspects of the lab, and also with physicians, office and hospital staff, and even school students and the general public at times. In addition, many of our Laboratory Information System computer specialists started out as lab techs, and are now trained and regularly installing and troubleshooting the highly advanced medical information systems that make modern healthcare run.
Why is Northwell an employer of choice for lab professionals?
Because of our demanding position within a large, leading healthcare system, we will always be at the cutting edge of clinical laboratory medicine. There are abundant opportunities for career evolution and advancement, and our staff can choose to partake in as much as they like. We work hard to create a comfortable and collegial work environment (after all, we all spend almost half our waking hours at work) because we want to attract and retain the best of the best.
Where do you see the future of clinical laboratory sciences evolving?
The future of the lab industry is incredibly bright. New testing technology keeps coming along faster than we can automate the simpler testing, and it is always a challenge to have enough techs coming on-board to keep up with it. In addition, we are already seeing opportunities for the lab to step more forward in healthcare, and participate in things like patient risk assessment, care coordination and escalation, and population health, especially given an aging population., We expect these trends to continue well into the future.
An Appointment With: Iris Berman, VP, Telehealth Services
From the time she was a little girl, Iris Berman knew she wanted to become a nurse. Helping to care for her friend’s playground scrapes since she was six years old, Iris couldn’t have imagined that one day she would actually be a nurse with a bright future in medicine.
Starting her career as a registered nurse at Glen Cove Hospital more than 30 years ago, Iris worked per diem in a variety of environments before transitioning to culinary care. Discovering her passion for critical care, Iris eventually became a critical care nurse educator. It was as an educator working in stroke improvement where she first learned how Telestroke’s outcomes were bringing advanced care to patients through the power of technology in a way that wasn’t possible before. With this growing interest in Telemedicine, Iris jumped at the opportunity to apply for a job working in Telehealth within Northwell.
Today, Iris is the vice president of Telehealth Services at Northwell Health. “Telehealth highlights the opportunities and ability of our health system to be progressive, agile, and welcoming all at once,” says Iris. “I am one of the fortunate who truly loves going to work every day.”
We sat down with Iris to learn more about Telehealth Services at Northwell Health and how it’s an exciting career opportunity.
What are the benefits of Telehealth?
Telehealth uses technology (two-way audiovisual equipment) that enables patients and care providers to connect across distances, such as a hospital, clinic, office or home.
At Northwell, telehealth has grown monumentally in both acute inpatient, outpatient and direct to consumer (DTC) care. We have coverage of nearly 200 critical care beds in our Tele-ICU environment and use that platform to add other specialty care such as intensivist consultation to EDs, Tele-Neuro Critical Care, Telestroke Care, Teletrauma, Telepeds, Telehospitalists, Remote care to Skilled Nursing Facilities (TeleSNF) and the list will continue to grow. In addition we have a number of DTC programs (currently approaching nearly 30 programs) enabling patients to get care and consultation in their home, clinic, hospital and doctor’s office. Some examples include Tobacco Cessation support, Telegenetics consults, Neurology for movement disorders, Coumadin Clinic and more. These programs are helping to expedite time to expert opinion and mitigate complications that come from delays in care.
Why is Telehealth the future of healthcare?
As more people become accustomed to the digital world, they also become used to technology when they purchase services and encounter healthcare. In addition, the advent of improved technology makes this a more convenient way for everyone to access care on the go with a known provider no matter where they are. I believe care and outcomes will improve as we become more efficient in our access and consumption of that care. Telehealth also leverages nursing expertise in a technology-driven environment that is not as physically demanding, which is appealing for many nurses as well.
How can someone build a career in Telehealth?
There are a number of jobs in Telehealth and at Northwell we are continuing to expand our reach. Jobs will continue to grow and will rely a great deal on gaining experience at the bedside. If you like to mentor, Tele-ICU is for you. As we grow, jobs will continue to expand into areas that may include triaging of calls, training, project management and business analytics. NPs and PAs are especially gaining in popularity as part of a remote Telehealth team.
What is the best career advice you have for those looking to get into TeleHealth?
First and foremost it’s important for nurses to get bedside experience. This is necessary in order to become an expert in the field before transitioning into a Telehealth role. If you are interested in informatics and process design, find a way to thread it through your clinical experience. More and more jobs will look somewhat hybrid as we continue to evolve. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. And lastly, be sure that you are comfortable with being on camera if you are looking to be in the patient care arena of Telehealth.
An Appointment With: Edward Fraser, VP, Community Relations
Since joining the health system in 2006, Edward’s career has evolved from his role at Southside Hospital within the Human Resources department to Nursing Education, and then to the department of Community Relations. He has grown from director of community relations at Southside Hospital to, vice president of Community Relations for the entire organization.
In addition to his role as VP, Edward is Co-Chair of Northwell’s EXPRESSIONS Business Employee Resource Group (BERG). Beyond Northwell, he’s also an active member of many community organizations and is currently enrolled in the Energeia Partnership Program at Molloy College. Throughout every step of his career, Edward has been known for his deep and abiding commitment to his family and to the many communities he serves.
We sat down with Edward to talk about the work of Community Relations and Northwell’s EXPRESSIONS BERG.
Tell us about the work of Northwell’s Community Relations team.
The Community Relations team handles community outreach, corporate sponsorships and promotes employee engagement initiatives for the health system. I’ve worked to build a dedicated team that connects with the communities surrounding our hospitals to bring education and build partnerships with local businesses, faith-based organizations, school districts and charitable organizations. We also manage two immediate care centers on Fire Island, acting as their premier health care provider.
Another big initiative we oversee along with finance is Community Benefit. Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment and/or promote health and healing as a response to identified community needs. They increase access to health care and improve community health. Community Benefit tracking is required for all not-for-profit hospitals seeking to maintain their tax-exempt status, as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Tell us more about the impact your team is making on the communities we serve.
With team members being active members of many community organizations including many Chambers of Commerce, Splashes of Hope, as well as Islip Food for Hope. Inc., we’re able to keep an eye on how trends are impacting our community.
How has the EXPRESSIONS Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) evolved?
Northwell’s EXPRESSIONS BERG is an LGBTQ Employee Diversity group. EXPRESSIONS has grown to be comprised of more than 400 Northwell team members who identify as members, or are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community. EXPRESSIONS was created to ensure our employees have a voice and the opportunity to be heard. It’s initiatives like this that led to Northwell being named among the 50 employers recognized for fostering an inclusive workplace for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and ranking second nationally and No. 1 in New York State as a top health systems for diversity on DiversityInc’s top Hospitals & Health Systems for Diversity list.
Additionally, we oversee is the annual system-wide survey with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) which is the national benchmarking tool evaluating healthcare practices and policies as related to the equity and inclusion of our LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. Northwell just scored 100% on all 25 surveys that were submitted for this year.
What activities does Northwell Health have planned to celebrate Pride Month?
The EXPRESSIONS BERG is participating in many exciting festivals and marches throughout the month of June to celebrate Pride month. As part of Northwell’s commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community, the health system has partnered with NYC Pride to serve as a principal sponsor of events tied to WorldPride 2019 and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Northwell’s platinum sponsorship with the nonprofit Heritage of Pride, Inc., the organization that produces New York City’s official LGBTQIA+ Pride events, the March, PrideFest and Family Movie Night. We’ll also have a presence at Westchester Loft Pride, Rockland County Pride, Queens Pride, Long Island Pride and Cherry Grove Pride. If you are in the area, join us!
An Appointment With: Juan Serrano, Director, Military and Veterans Liaison Services
As director of the Office of Military and Veterans Liaison Services, Juan Serrano leads Northwell’s mission to provide military veterans and reservists with the resources they need to make a successful transition to civilian life including partnering with Talent Acquisition for career opportunities. Northwell is proud to employ thousands of military veterans, and reservists.
A veteran himself, Juan served in the Marines for nine years before he was medically discharged in 2009. From there, he continued his education before joining Northwell as the administrator manager of the Queens World Trade Center Health Program in 2012. In 2015, he started in his current position to help lead and develop innovative programs to serve the veteran community.
We sat down with Juan to discuss his career and the services Northwell offers military veterans.
How has your experience in the military prepared you for a career in healthcare?
My experiences in the military provided me with the skills necessary to pursue and succeed in the civilian sector in a number of ways. Being in the military puts you in situations where you not only have to learn to follow, but learn to lead. It prepares you to work under pressure, to adapt and overcome, and to be innovative. In the military, there’s no task too big and no task too small. Everything is about attention to detail, responsibility, and taking pride in what you do. I think that veterans from all branches of the military possess important skills that are fundamental to the success of an organization across industries. If a veteran is presented with an opportunity, they will thrive.
What are some of the exciting things happening in the Office of Military and Veterans Liaison Services in 2019?
We have migrated all veteran services into one centralized location to make it easier for veterans and active duty personnel to gain access to healthcare and other resources such as housing, advocacy, community engagement, as well as a direct connection to our recruitment team for employment opportunities. Northwell Health is committed to providing veterans with resources and solutions that help make their lives better. We stand side by side through every stage of their reintegration process post-military career.
What should military veterans and reservists know about working at Northwell Health?
At Northwell, we offer more than just clinical careers – we provide a variety of opportunities where individuals can thrive such as finance, IT, security, culinary, and administration. Our goal is to change the way companies and communities view veterans and inspire other organizations to do more. Outside of the VA, we provide the most healthcare opportunities for veterans, including at the Rosen Family Wellness Center in Queens which is dedicated exclusively to caring for veterans, first responders, law enforcement personnel and their families. We also have a pay differential which has awarded $1.7 million total to employees to ensure they are continuing to receive their Northwell salary while out on military leave. My career advice to veterans is to never turn down a job opportunity and to always approach your career search with an open mind.
Our history of standing side by side with our community has led us to the creation of this pinnacle event during NYC Fleet Week. Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ is a two-part concert that honors Northwell Health’s commitment to veterans and their families, and celebrates their service and sacrifice throughout the years. It’s not just about the celebration itself, it’s about never forgetting.
Taking place on May 25th, 2019, the day event will be held at 31 Rockefeller Center. During the afternoon program, we will hear inspirational stories from veterans and see special performances from artists that include Gavin DeGraw and Boyz II Men, as well as the Broadway casts from Jersey Boys and Wicked. The second portion of our event is a concert at Radio City Music Hall with Imagine Dragons. The concert is completely sold out but Northwell has made tickets available for veterans through VetTix.org. Throughout both events, we will be joined by active duty personnel who are visiting for NYC Fleet Week.
What are some of the ways you stay connected with the Marines?
I will be preparing to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. this October. It will be the first time I do it after my injury in 2004 and I’m excited to be running again.
An Appointment With: Winnie Mack, SVP, Health System Operations
When Winnie Mack started her career as an OB registered nurse, she never expected where her career would take her. Since joining Northwell Health in 2002 as associate executive director at LIJ Valley Stream Hospital, her journey has led her to becoming associate executive director at two Northwell facilities, chief operating officer and nurse executive at Southside Hospital, executive director at Southside Hospital, and into regional executive director positions.
Today, Winnie is senior vice president of health system operations. In her role, Winnie is responsible for system periOperative services, the development and implementation of policy and procedure, senior leader adviser to Human Resources for Labor Relations, oversees Community Relations, and works with strategic planning on different programs. Up next, Winnie will become interim president and CEO of Nassau University Medical Center as part of their multiyear agreement with Northwell Health. “In all of the things that I have done in my career, the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do was make a difference,” says Winnie, “I want to have a positive impact on patient care, on employees and on the community. I think this new position will afford me again the opportunity to help a distressed hospital and help stabilize it.”
We sat down with Winnie to hear about her impressive healthcare career and what’s still to come.
While at Southside, you helped fortify its position in Suffolk County and become a tertiary hospital. What initiatives did you lead there to help strengthen the hospital?
The mission at Southside Hospital was always to provide exemplary medical care with compassion and expertise to all in need. When I came to Southside as both chief operating officer and nurse executive, it already offered many services but they needed to be improved and upgraded. Holding both jobs allowed me to really familiarize myself with the staff. To go in and make the right organizational changes to positively impact the hospital, you have to get to know the staff.
One of the major accomplishments Winnie was a part of was starting an open heart program, opening and a large part of that was thanks to the support of the community. To gain that community backing, we started building out a community relations team. Our community relations team went out everywhere we could to talk about Southside, to talk about the changes we were making and to talk about the direction we were going
Along with getting the open heart program, we were able to get CARF accreditation for our extensive rehabilitation services, improved our medicine and surgery programs, received the Gold Stroke Award, built one of the busiest orthopedic programs in the system, and achieved a zero infection rate! We also brought in new trauma surgeons and became a level II trauma center and became the most eastern Northwell tertiary hospital.
How has your experience in a clinical career as a nurse helped prepare you to work in the corporate environment?
I started my healthcare career as a registered nurse in OB and went through several specialties that gave me a well-rounded clinical background. This clinical experience helped me to understand as an administrator in a hospital what issues could evolve and what needed to be done about them. I understood where clinical team members were coming from and was able to listen and relate to them. Having been a nurse in dialysis, medical/surgical, transplant, and critical care among other specialties, also allows me to utilize my clinical expertise to develop protocols. Understanding clinical operations, for me, has become an important piece of how I am able to be successful in administration.
Could you talk a little bit about Ideas at Northwell and how it is helping drive innovation across the health system?
I was given the opportunity to develop the new program called Ideas at Northwell that’s built to help drive innovation among Northwell’s team members. This is a tremendous program that’s taken a year in the making. As an employee engagement program, Ideas at Northwell creates a platform for team members to share their ideas in a challenge-based format to help improve efficiency and potentially save the health system money in operations. These ideas are first crowd sourced, then put to an employee vote and then go through expert review. Our goal is to help employees in their respective places of work within the organization to do their job better. Ideas at Northwell gives them a venue to share their ideas for improvements in processes to help us help them. Whether the ideas are for a better management of conference room scheduling or to remove certain processes that are extraneous, we want our employees to have a space to have their ideas heard. Our launch for our first system-wide challenge is May 6th.
What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?
One of the things that is really important is to lead with your heart. What do I mean by that? Do the right thing. If you always have in the back of your head to do the right thing, you can never go wrong. When you’re in a leadership position, you also have the opportunity to work with your team to energize them and inspire them to move up in their careers. Don’t micromanage – set the goal and let your people be creative and develop their own style to get you there.
It’s also important to always trust and champion your boss and to create the environment that your team is always on the same page. You may disagree, and that’s okay, but you want to remain a united team. Part of that unity is that I don’t say work for me, I say work with me. From the house cleaner to an associate executive director – this is a team, we work together. I also encourage leaders to keep their doors open unless they’re on a call or in a meeting. It’s important for anyone to have access to you and you can help short circuit big problems with visibility. Be visible and be available and you get a whole lot more.
EDIT: Since this interview has been conducted, Winnie has moved into her position of overseeing Nassau University Medical Center as president and CEO of NuHealth.
An Appointment With: Jaclyn Schindler, Clinical Director, Medicine Service Line
Just as Northwell Health’s Medicine Service Line continues to grow so has Jaclyn’s career within the organization over the past 16 years. Today she serves as the clinical director of the Medicine Service Line, which includes more than 100 internal and family medicine practices across the New York metropolitan area..
Throughout her career, including her start as an RN patient education coordinator, Jaclyn has always felt encouraged to spread her wings by her senior nursing leaders. Nominated into the High Potential Program, she gained exposure to health care experts, skills and concepts that helped her develop professionally.
The experience Jaclyn gained throughout her tenure at Northwell has helped her lead tremendous growth in ambulatory care since 2017. Learn more from her about the Medicine Service Line and advantages of working in ambulatory practices.
Tell us about the growth of the Medicine Service Line.
Since I joined this team in 2017, the outpatient Medicine Service Line has grown in both size and scope, and today is spread geographically across Suffolk and Nassau counties, Queens and Manhattan, with partnerships in medical outpatient groups in Staten Island and Westchester.
We have doubled the amount of nursing staff, both registered nurses and nurse practitioners, as these roles have become essential to effective patient management and facilitation of access to care.
Our team is highly structured to provide support to individuals and keep everyone connected. Communication is valued and opinions are sought from all. Talent is welcomed from all areas, and existing team members are encouraged to grow through opportunities for promotion.
Could you talk about the various types of Medicine Service Line practices and locations?
The majority of Medicine Service Line practices are centered on primary care in internal and family medicine. Many specialties exist within the service line, including: endocrinology, rheumatology, GI, pulmonology, gerontology, hepatology, nephrology, infectious disease, and occupational health.
Services include preventive health measures, annual assessments, treatment of acute illness, and overall health promotion. Scope has expanded during the past decade as the focus of medicine has shifted to promoting wellness rather than solely treating illness. More care is delivered out of the hospital, and attention given to lifestyle changes and holistic measures.
A portion of our practices support academic partnerships. Medical residents treat patients in supervised clinics and participate in ongoing grant and research activity.
Thus, Medicine is the largest and most diverse service line within Northwell Health!
What types of positions are available within the Medicine Service Line?
The ambulatory team is centered around the office site, whether a two-person or 30-person practice.
The team is typically led by a practice manager, with physicians and advanced care providers (NP, PA, CNM) treating patients. Other positions include medical office assistants, licensed practical nurses, practice office associates, front desk staff, billers, and other support functions. On-site teams may also include registered dietitians, certified diabetes educators, pharmacists, and behavioral health coaches.
The role of the registered nurse is shaped in ambulatory locations to add value to the patient visit and facilitate achievement of health care goals. RNs practice at the top of their license; they administer medication, provide patient counseling, and enable care through medication/treatment renewals, referrals, and preventive care services. Patients may also have “Nurse Visits” which capitalize on expertise in nursing science and allow enhanced access to provider appointments. These visits allow patients to receive care directly from nurses and may include Coumadin management, blood pressure checks, vaccination, and diagnosis-specific education.
And, there is a huge amount of behind the scenes support in the areas of project management, finance, leadership, quality review, and business development.
What are some of the advantages of working in an ambulatory practice?
Ambulatory is an exciting and rewarding opportunity for career and skill development.
Smaller teams than inpatient counterparts mean that the work environment is truly collaborative, and all disciplines learn from each other.
Relationships developed over time with patients and their families contribute to professional reward and purpose, where one can see the effect of invested effort.
All staff have a great impact on quality output, patient experience, patient empowerment, improved health outcomes, and quality of life for our customers.
Cognitive and critical thinking skills, as well as engagement of technological advancements, are essential to success.
Ambulatory setting provides work-life balance for those who wish to make a difference in health care yet have personal home and/or family obligations to juggle.
Schedules tend to be more regular, without overnight shifts, most major holidays are off, and the weekend and evening obligations are reduced, depending on the site.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get into internal medicine?
Understand the environment. Visit a practice if you can and note what you think works or does not work. We are always looking for new solutions.
Nurses can check out the Ambulatory Nurses’ Association (AAACN) website. Ask colleagues or interviewers to describe the differences between inpatient and outpatient settings. If you are looking for a supportive role, achieve certification if offered, such as for a medical assistant.
We look for individuals who have a passion for people, and demonstrate creative thinking, excellent customer service, and the ability to work well with team members.
An Appointment With: Michael J. Dowling, Northwell Health President and CEO
What does the year ahead hold for Northwell Health?
As we kick off 2019, it’s important to understand that the business of health care has never been more challenging, from navigating state and federal regulation to ever-increasing competition and integrating emerging technologies. These demands make the mission of delivering world-class health care to the communities we serve a test of resolve that requires discipline and focus from everyone at Northwell Health, beginning with the frontline staff on up.
That said, I believe we’re in a good place. There are phenomenal things going on. Very positive things will continue to happen, so long as we continue to adapt and be creative. We are the number one provider of care in New York, with a market share of nearly 30 percent – almost double our next-closest competitor. That’s a credit to the staff and leadership throughout the health system. You can only succeed if you have great passion and a dedicated staff. Because we have both, I’m bullish and optimistic about our future.
How will Northwell meet these challenges?
We will meet these challenges by being innovative, providing the best service and delivering the best quality.
Fundraising and philanthropy need to be an important component for the health system to thrive. In the past, philanthropy accounted for one-third of the funding required for any capital expansion project. Debt and operations made up the rest. That’s no longer the case.
Thankfully, the launch of the health system’s “Outpacing the Impossible” fundraising campaign in October and its $1 billion goal puts us on track to fund the projects that will move Northwell forward over the next decade. Philanthropy is increasingly important, especially for a nonprofit operating on a one percent margin. Our greatest contributors remain the employees. No gift is too small.
Can you explain how Northwell plans to continue to grow?
Our focus is targeted growth. We need to make investments in infrastructure, technology and clinical excellence, including new physicians along with new capabilities. There needs to be an emphasis on building alternative funding streams to offset the continuing reduction in insurance reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and commercial payers, as well as a focus on efficiency and productivity.
Give an example of why investing in capital projects matters?
We suffer from a legacy problem. The health system right now encompasses 17.8 million square feet of real estate with more than half accounting for the hospitals themselves. Most of our hospitals date to before 1950, which means when you try to modernize, you’re doing it in a space that was originally built 70 years ago or even longer.
We currently spend nearly $500 million to maintain our infrastructure with no return on investment – that’s just to maintain our facilities. That money is built into our budget every year. None of the new technologies we take for granted existed when these hospitals were constructed. Obviously, the expectations that existed back then are different than today. The leaders back then who planned these projects couldn’t possibly have anticipated the current state of health care delivery. That’s why we have projects in various stages of completion happening at facilities throughout the health system. Modernization is expensive but necessary to our survival.
Why are partnerships in Brooklyn and with Nassau University Medical Center important?
It’s our civic responsibility to help communities where a lack of access and health disparities exist. These efforts may have any financial benefit to us, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s easy to be successful by being selective and only investing in programs and services that make money, but our mission is to improve the health of our communities, especially those where there’s a high proportion of people at risk for chronic disease and other socio-economic factors that contribute to poor health.
For example, we’re currently lending our support in Brooklyn to help Brookdale, Interfaith, Kingsbrook and Wyckoff hospitals, as well as providing management and operational expertise to Nassau University Medical Center. These are all financially distressed hospitals that care for people in medically underserved communities. We have an obligation to run our own health system well and to be successful as an organization. But we also have an obligation to use our resources to help others who are less fortunate. We can’t walk away from difficult challenges. Other health systems do that. That’s not us. Our mission is imbedded in our culture.
An Appointment With: John Bosco, SVP and Chief Information Officer
The role of Information Technology in healthcare is ever more important in delivering outstanding care that patients can trust. Whether it be delivering real-time access to patient information or helping consumers access Northwell services in a convenient mobile environment, Northwell’s IT department is leading the way. As a leader within Northwell since 2004, John Bosco serves as the senior vice president and chief information officer. Overseeing the information technology function of the largest integrated healthcare network in New York is no small task. We caught up with John to hear about how the IT department is continuously growing and how it’s a department that’s Truly Innovative.
How has Northwell’s IT department grown over the past few years and how will it continue to grow?
Northwell’s IT department has grown and continues to adapt to the changing landscape in healthcare delivery and financing. Our priorities have shifted as a result of new care models, new payment models, the move toward personalized medicine, consumer demands, and the acceleration of new, innovative technologies that are starting to take hold. For example, we expect artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies will help drive improvements in clinical care, operations, or financial performance, providing better clinical decision support to clinicians, making the systems more efficient for them to use, and helping to automate repetitive tasks. There is a new device or app invented multiple times every day. It’s our job to understand how to take advantage of these emerging technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of care.
As Northwell continues to grow and expand, so do the technologies and staff needed to support our health system. We are very focused on building a connected, integrated health system, where clinicians have real-time access to the information they need to treat their patients. Every Physician practice, hospital, imaging center, ambulatory surgery center, and our many other care venues, are connected together through our Health Information Exchange technology so all data about a patient can be delivered where and when it is needed.
Providing easier and more convenient access for consumers to access Northwell services is a major focus right now. We have got to make consumers feel we know them and their preferences when they come to us, make it easy to get an appointment through an app on their smartphone, and reduce the burden for them to provide the information we need to collect in order to treat them and produce a bill for our services. We want patients to visit our health system from the time they are born and throughout their lifetime.
The protection and safeguarding of our patient’s data is one of our most important responsibilities as a health system. With all of the cybersecurity problems happening today that you can read or hear about in the media almost every day, we continue to invest in people and technologies that prevent hackers and malicious software from entering our networks and systems. Training all Northwell employees on safe practices, such as not responding to potentially malicious emails, is paramount to our effort to protect our technology environments.
Are there any areas in IT that are helping to drive current or future growth?
The changes and innovations taking place in health IT require me to find new skills in the marketplace. Software developers used to shun healthcare given that we traditionally purchased commercial software systems and focused on implementations -but the rapid changes in healthcare delivery, and the innovations taking place, now enable us to develop innovative software that is not available in the market to purchase. IT Security engineers are one of the hottest jobs in the market. Data scientists who can comb through large databases to find insights into how we can improve quality and efficiency are another hot, and difficult skill to find. Software developers and support people who know how to operate in the ‘cloud’ environment are also very valuable to us.
Healthcare IT is going through some big changes industry-wide. How is Northwell being Truly Innovative with technology to stay ahead of the curve?
The three vectors changing the healthcare landscape include consumerization, mobility, and “uberization” of our technology infrastructure. These three vectors are empowering the patient to manage their data, and get access to the right care giver, at the right time, and at the right place. The increase in the tech savvy consumer population has pushed technology towards a consumer model. Smart phones used to belong to a privileged few, now the value of two way real-time voice, data, and video communications has resulted in there being a super computer in the hands of every citizen. Phones have become the camera, the recorder, the guide, and a healthcare access device.
With the arrival of the ‘cloud’, transmission, storage and retrieval of information made the mobile ecosystem whole. Traditional locked-down regimented data centers and applications are in the evening of their life. Cloud is available to the consumer on an as needed basis with a pay as you use model. Uberization has engulfed the technology infrastructure.
Northwell is in the eye of this paradigm shift affecting all facets of healthcare and the care delivery model. Innovation is the art of thinking that leverages this paradigm shift and enables care delivery effectively. With consumerization, mobility, and uberization of information technology, Northwell is on a journey to be a health buddy to our patients throughout the continuum. Agility is our accelerator that enables a real time interface with our patients, providers, administrators, payers and regulators to provide actionable clinical information.
We have invested in people, tools, and new processes that will enable us to be more innovative and quicker to market with new technologies. It is hard work to shift from older technologies and ways of doing things that have existed for decades. We are deploying systems architected on open industry standards such as web, HL7, FHIR, and other standards. Handshakes with external systems are enabled by employing open application programming interfaces (API) stacks. Applications are developed using an agile framework with hybrid-cloud back end, enabling the transmission of data to the right environment to enable mobility and scalability. The overarching strategy is to move data from creation to destination to retrieval in the most effective and economical manner.
Northwell IT is positioned to optimize opportunities resulting from these paradigm shifts in the development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies. The future is exciting and holds the promise of a vastly different way of our consumers and clinicians interacting with each other.
How is Northwell IT innovating its workforce practices?
As one of the most innovative healthcare systems, we want to ensure that our technology culture is progressive and attracts and retains top talent. The workforce of the future is more mobile and want new ways to work. In response to this shift, the Information Services department has a group of leaders working on what the future of our workforce will look like and how to keep them engaged and productive.
We see more opportunities to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing across internal departments. Using more virtual workers and work-from-home programs presents an opportunity for us to bring down our labor and office space costs, while increasing employee satisfaction by providing the flexibility they may need and want for work-life balance. It’s also possible we will look toward an IT office in another state in order to find enough talent for our projects.
In addition, the jobs of the future at Northwell must become increasingly centered around the consumer, and some IT workers may not require as much healthcare expertise as they currently require.
We also see an opportunity for using external and internal crowdsourcing to solve problems and innovate.
Northwell IT is already making progress to be ready for the future of our workforce from a leadership perspective, now we are more focused from an organizational and talent perspective.
Our goal is to become an employer of choice and best place to work. In order to meet this goal, we need to respond to the changing labor demographics which in turn allows us to expand our talent pool and retain the best. It’s a win-win for both employer and employees!
What role will Data play in the future of Healthcare IT and here at Northwell?
Northwell has a long history of utilizing the vast amounts of data available to assess our performance and drive clinical improvements, operational efficiencies, and improve financial performance. We continue to grow our capabilities to enable more and more sophisticated analytics with the implementation of an enterprise data warehouse that combines clinical, operational and financial data and cutting edge visualization tools that enable both enterprise-level and department-specific analytics. The next iteration of this will be the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to begin moving toward more predictive analytics to improve clinical care and financial outcomes. Northwell will compete on our data in the future. Our ability to mine the vast amounts of data we possess will be our differentiator, very much like how Amazon revolutionized the consumer experience of buying goods online.
What is an interesting fact that people should know about you?
I don’t know that I’m all that interesting of a person! My priorities are my family, my friends and my career. I love working at Northwell with so many people who share the same passions I do for excellence in everything we do. I am thankful to work at such a great health system where helping people is always our highest priority. I’m a born-and-bred New Yorker and truly believe New York is the center of the universe! I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
An Appointment With: Dr. Lewis Teperman and Northwell’s New Liver Transplant Program
Being Truly Innovative is in our blood at Northwell Health, and Dr. Teperman is leading the way in our liver transplant services at North Shore University Hospital. From the start of his Northwell career in 2016, Lewis Teperman, MD, FACS, was helping to lay the foundation for Long Island’s first adult liver transplant program. Housed at NSUH, this program will provide convenient care not only for NSUH’s liver patients but to all patients with liver disease who are currently commuting into Manhattan throughout their long liver transplant process. We sat down with Dr. Teperman in this edition of Appointment With…. to learn more about his career and the new liver transplant program.
What is your career history and why did you decide to continue your career with Northwell Health?
I have been involved in transplant for my entire professional life. While in medical school my roommate’s mother needed a liver transplant and the technology was considered experimental. She was not afforded care and she expired. I have spent the last 35 years of my life helping to make organ transplant access easier for all populations. I was Chief of Transplant at another hospital for the last quarter of a century. It became clear after Hurricane Sandy that their patients were going to remain on Long Island. 45% of the transplant list in the State of New York comes to Northwell’s catchment area so they wanted to start a world class comprehensive Transplant Program. It was a perfect fit for my move.
Can you talk about the new adult liver transplant program being developed at North Shore University Hospital?
Northwell has always needed a Liver Transplant Program and as they say, timing is everything. The state approved our CON application and we have hired world class faculty and support staff. We are building a brand-new state of the art Transplant Intensive Care Unit and intend to open one of the most competitive and innovate programs on the Northeast coast in the first quarter of 2019.
Will this new program offer new career opportunities with Northwell Health?
The foundation of any successful transplant program is Acute Care Practitioners. We are hiring nurses, NPs, PAs, and Social Workers to complement our already outstanding and robust staff. We are looking for SICU registered nurses, inpatient, as well as outpatient, Transplant Coordinators with Transplant and liver experience. We are lucky to have Donna Campbell, NP as our AVP of Transplant who helps supervise our team members. She has been a legend in the Transplant Community and came to Northwell with me from my previous job.
Why should an NPs and PAs be excited to join this program?
We have a culture of innovation, education and warmth. All of our ACPs are afforded the opportunity for a rigorous orientation program and continuous education. New and innovative technologies and care measures are constantly brought to the forefront. The environment is rigorous, collaborative and friendly. They are an integral part of the Transplant Team.
Can you talk about the new state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit that will be housing the new Adult Transplant Service?
The 8 Tower state-of-the-art transplant ICU is housed at North Shore University Hospital. It has the newest technologies including eICU capability. No expense has been spared, however it is only as good as the outstanding people who work in it.
Getting to North Shore University Hospital and our brand new unit is easy. We are right off the LIE and Northern State Parkway by car and we are easily accessible by train to the Great Neck or Lake Success train stations. From there we offer a free Northwell inter-campus shuttle for our employees. We are also accessible by bus and there’s a stop right at our entrance.
How is this new program helping deliver better care to transplant patients?
The new transplant program relies heavily on coordinators and ACPs. The Transplant Coordinators will be afforded the ability to keep in touch with their patients through our telemedicine initiative. A dedicated outpatient transplant facility was completed in 2017 and houses the transplant clinic.
What’s one fun thing you did this summer?
I held a party for 100 of our employees and their family members in East Marion, NY. The highlight was taking our staff’s kids out on the banana boat!
An Appointment With: Kelly Cifu, MSN, RN and VP of System Perioperative Services
When it comes to PeriOperative careers at Northwell Health, there’s an environment for everyone! With 23 hospitals and more than 665 outpatient practices, nurses have the flexibility to choose the right shift and specialty opportunity. Just ask Kelly Cifu, MSN, RN and VP of System PeriOperative Services. As a nurse for more than 20 years, Kelly grew her career with Northwell to her current position where she oversees 18 periOperative sites. We sat down with Kelly to discuss her history as a nurse with Northwell, the innovative technologies changing perioperative services, and the different career opportunities that are available for nurses looking to grow their career in perioperative nursing.
Why did you come to Northwell and what is your role today?
I started my nursing career at Franklin Hospital which is now known as Long Island Jewish at Valley Stream in 1987. I grew up in Franklin Square and knew that I wanted to work someplace close to home. For the first year of my career, I worked on a Medical/Surgical floor where I took care of many postsurgical patients. At the time this was a requirement for all new staff nurses that were hired. In nursing school, I had decided that I would really enjoy working in the operating room.
After my year of Med/Surg experience, I requested a transfer into the OR. I worked as a staff nurse for about six years and then was promoted to the Director of PeriOperative Services. I later moved to CFAM Ambulatory Surgery as Senior Administrative Director and then to Regional Director of Northwell’s PeriOperative Services. Next, I was promoted to the Associate Executive Director at North Shore University Hospital and then to VP of System PeriOperative Services. In my current role, I have oversight of 18 periOperative sites.
How is Northwell’s PeriOperative Services redefining health care with truly innovative technology?
The pace of medical and surgical innovation continues to increase. A wide range of new technologies are changing the way that surgeries are performed – while improving patient safety and outcomes and reducing health care costs in the process. Northwell works to be at the forefront of innovative health care as the deployment of new technologies in surgery creates many opportunities to provide our patients with better outcomes and a faster return to their everyday lives.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into perioperative nursing?
Candidates interested in periOperative nursing must be energetic, have good people skills and a great attitude. PeriOperative nurses love the fast-paced environment and the fact that no two days are the same. In one shift, you have multiple patients facing different surgeries. Nurses also enjoy the environment because it’s a specialty area in which they typically become close with their team members and enjoy the camaraderie.
PeriOperative careers offer a great deal of flexibility. There are many different shifts that are offered to fit anyone’s schedule and there are opportunities in a variety of periOperative settings such as the main hospital, an ambulatory surgery center or even a surgeon’s office. Northwell Health has 18 main surgical sites giving nurses a variety of opportunities to choose from. There are also a multitude of opportunities for growth in this specialty area. Nurses can choose to pursue leadership or educational roles within perioperative services. Career progression/certification is encouraged and supported at every level in periOperative services.
How is Northwell committed to keeping our employees engaged?
Northwell Health System has made employee engagement a top priority. The system continuously strives to improve employee satisfaction and workplace commitment. To accomplish this the leaders at Northwell clearly define and articulate our mission and vision, communicate effectively and often, coach employees for success, and strive to provide the most trusting and respectful work environment for all employees. Along with ongoing dialogue with our employees regarding Northwell’s achievements and opportunities, perioperative services holds an annual retreat specifically for our surgical services leaders and staff.
The periOperative leaders at Northwell are committed to continual improvement, teamwork, achievement, and obtaining the best results possible for our patients.
Northwell recently became the first health system to receive the Network of Excellence in Robotic Surgery designation from Surgical Review Corporation. Can you tell us more about Northwell’s robotic surgery technology?
Since it first started to gain traction about 15 years ago, robotic surgery has become increasingly common for many different types of surgical procedures, and is rapidly expanding in cardiac, GYN, ENT, thoracic, and neurosurgery, to name a few specialties. At Northwell, there’s a continuous movement to be truly innovative, adopting the latest technology to ensure the best care for our patients. Robotic surgery has results in greater precision while also providing enhanced visualization via video images. Providing our highly skilled surgeons with robotic surgery technology results in improved outcomes with faster recovery times.
Northwell’s surgical services has grown tremendously over the past few years. How are we continuing to grow in the future?
Northwell’s periOperative services is growing fast and we continue to enhance our extensive capabilities. We strive to continue to build top-notch interdisciplinary surgical teams and professionals. Northwell continues to add operating rooms with hybrid technology and constantly invests in state-of-the art technology. We have added kidney and liver transplant to those services provided and opened a world-class heart transplant center in 2018.
An Appointment With: Thomas Thornton SVP and Executive Director, Northwell Ventures
When someone thinks of Northwell Health, one of the first words that comes to mind is innovation. Northwell Ventures, a for-profit department focusing on new corporate ventures, is a big driver of the new technology and services that help maintain that reputation. Whether it’s a curtain that helps stop the spread of infection efficiently or UV light technology that helps disinfect hospitals, Northwell Ventures is at the forefront of progressive transformation in the industry. As SVP and executive director of Northwell Ventures, Tom Thornton is responsible for identifying and fostering these innovative ideas that enhance the growth of the health system’s clinical and nonclinical enterprises. We sat down with Tom to discuss the latest in Northwell Ventures.
What’s the mission and vision for Northwell Ventures and how has this department grown over the past few years?
Northwell Ventures was launched four years ago in an effort to advance medical technology by investing in innovative ideas and services across healthcare. Our mission is to generate attractive returns, build profitable companies that drive quality health outcomes, increase operating efficiency, lower the overall costs of healthcare, and improve the patient experience.
It’s an exciting time for Ventures as so much in health care is changing to engage patients and improve patient experience with digital tools. As the department grows, it’s helping improve efficiency, care, and patient engagement through health care business services. Recently, we’ve begun commercializing these services and products to improve quality of care not only within Northwell but across the nation.
What are some upcoming technologies or areas that you are looking at that you believe are truly transformative?
There are many areas that are seeing transformation as technology advances. Some of these key areas are virtual care, wearables, healthcare business services, AI, healthcare information technology, and clinical trials. Innovation in these area are helping to improve health care with world-class products and capabilities. And patients are seeing the outcome from healthcare IT creating applications that allow them to easily access efficient scheduling systems from home, to virtual care giving them access to top physicians across the system.
How do you work with Northwell physicians and administrators to redefine patient care?
At Northwell we know that our employees are our most valuable resource to help solve the challenging problems in health care. This year we hosted our 2ndannualNorthwell Health Innovation Challengewhere employees can pitch new technologies to a panel, ”shark tank” style. The winning teams are awarded up to $500,000 in funding from Northwell Ventures to help turn these ideas into reality as they continue to help Northwell keep our reputation as one of the most innovative health system in the country.
Additionally, we know that our staff is our best asset in terms of deciding which investments are right for Northwell. We meet directly with clinicians and staff to help decide where to invest and test new innovations for improvement and efficiency. And innovation is in every corner of our health system – one of our environmental services supervisors helped develop anew curtain that helps reduce the spread of infection. This curtain is now being used in hospitals across the country.
Can you highlight a recent success story with one of your portfolio companies or partnerships?
Our first investmentAviziais the perfect example of a success story with Ventures. Avizia allows healthcare organizations to have access to system-wide telehealth efficiently and cost-effectively. Northwell used our own telehealth team and physicians to test and perfect this system throughout our investment.
Can you speak to any non-traditional partnerships or strategic relationships that have developed and why?
First and foremost, we provide care. The exciting part about being with Northwell is that the definition of care is ever-changing. We’re continually redeveloping health care by partnering with entrepreneurs, investors and now entire countries. Through Ventures we have created partnerships with international governments to help improve quality of care outside of the United States. Our perpetual need to empower the best and the brightest has allowed us to develop products and services that further enhance care and patient experience on a global scale.
Do you have any fun summer plans?
I would love to wake my wife and kids to the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater to see some concerts. I’m also a big sailor and am excited to spend some time out on the water.
An Appointment With: Jonathan Sobel, Senior Administrative Director for PA Services
Physician Assistants (PAs) are playing a larger role in defining and delivering outstanding patient care, and Northwell Health is helping to drive some of these changes. At Northwell, advanced clinical providers (ACPs) are greatly valued and given a tremendous amount of autonomy, support and professional respect. Whether PAs are assisting complex hand surgeries on professional athletes or working on cutting-edge bypass procedures to restore cerebral blood flow, their expertise and insight are highly sought after. As a leader within Northwell as well as the overall PA community, Jonathan Sobel is playing a leading role in these exciting developments. He is not only the Senior Administrative Director for PA Services, he is also President Elect at the American Academy of PAs. Get to know Jonathan.
Tell us about your career at Northwell Health.
After graduation, I joined Cohen Children’s Medical Center, caring for pediatric open-heart surgery patients alongside a world-class team of surgeons, cardiologists, and nurses. I then joined the CT Surgery team at LIJ Medical Center and later became the Supervising PA, leading innovations in care, quality improvement, and patient experience. I received leadership training and resources at Northwell’s Center for Learning and Innovation and went on to complete my MBA through the Northwell-Hofstra University partnership. Thanks to Northwell Health, my career has continued to progress. I am currently the Senior Administrative Director for PA Services for our Manhattan campuses.
How are PAs being innovatively utilized at Northwell Health?
At Northwell, we realize the tremendous role that PAs bring to the changing healthcare landscape as we move toward value-based care. We’re integrating PAs into roles where they can increase access to quality, cost-effective care in a highly autonomous way. Our PAs serve in every clinical area and medical specialty. They are a big part of our new cardiac transplant team at North Shore University Hospital and are key members of the robotic surgery program. As we increase our focus on our outpatient facilities, our PAs are right there to be an integral part of caring for these patients and in responding to gaps in the healthcare workforce.
Why is being a PA at Northwell unique?
We recognize the value that PAs bring to the new arena of health care. Our supportive environment includes a dedicated PA Leadership structure with direct linkage to medical leadership. Our PAs participate on medical staff committees and are actively involved in quality improvement initiatives. Their clinical expertise and leadership are highly sought after, creating pathways for advancement into senior leadership. Our neurosurgery PAs are learning cutting-edge bypass procedures to restore cerebral blood flow. In orthopedics, they’re reducing fractures and dislocations in the ED and assisting complex hand surgeries on professional athletes. Our Urology PAs are helping with robotic prostatectomies. PAs in our Vascular Birthmark Institute provide total care for these complex cases.
How does being President-Elect of the AAPA help you shape patient care at Northwell?
I’m involved in national conferences focused on advancing the PA profession, the scope of practice, reimbursement, and much more. I’m helping define where health care and the PA practice is heading in the next five to ten years. I can then apply these strategies to our PA practice here at Northwell.
What career paths are available to a PA at Northwell Health?
There’s no limit to what a PA can do here. They can advance their clinical career from PA to Senior PA and Supervising PA. A Senior PA mentors new PAs and students, participates in quality improvement and helps develop educational programs. A Supervising PA takes on the role of team leader, managing administrative functions. There are opportunities to become an educator, with roles for PA Fellowship Directors and Coordinators. We have PAs who run service lines, hospitals and clinics, PAs working in clinical informatics, and serving on our Joint Ventures team. Our Chief People (HR) Officer is a PA!
What training and development opportunities are available to PAs?
Our orientation programs are robust, tailored to individual PA needs and include the use of state-of-the-art simulators. For ongoing education, our academic medical centers offer directed didactic and clinical skills training. PAs can enhance their surgical skills at our Bioskills lab, or on simulators at our Patient Safety Institute. We also have a vast catalog of courses available both online and in person through The Center for Learning and Innovation. We encourage our PAs to attend national meetings and participate in the governance of their PA societies. Through our partnership with Hofstra, we offer generous support toward advanced academic degrees.
Think you’re Made for this challenge, advancement, and enrichment Jonathan is talking about? Start here.
Photo: Mary Comerford-Hewitt, pictured right, with colleagues.
An Appointment With: Mary Comerford-Hewitt, VP, Human Capital Business and Program Development
Written by: Amelia Zito
At Northwell Health, we’re proud of the vast knowledge, skills and insight our people bring to our team. People like Mary Comerford-Hewitt. As our Vice President for Human Capital Business and Program Development, Mary is just one of our innovative people driving our change and success!
Throughout her career, Mary has never been satisfied with the status quo. She has consistently been a pioneer in the healthcare field, always seeking new opportunities and bringing new approaches to improving the health of the community – one person at a time. Mary is an amazing example of how careers at Northwell Health have endless roadmaps, and all along the way, she has helped those around her learn, grow and advance in their careers as well. Meet Mary and gain valuable insight you can use in your career!
Why did you come to Northwell Health and what is your role today?
When I first heard of Northwell Health in 2011, I had no idea of the size and scope of the health system. Once I investigated the opportunity, I saw all the good work being done as well as how innovation was part of its core. These both spoke to who I am as a nurse and an entrepreneur. That was five years ago. Where has the time gone!
Today, I am the VP of Human Capital Programs and Business Development. When I first came here, I led the Talent Acquisition team. I helped re-engineer this very busy department, responsible for over 10,000 hires per year, and helped create the Workforce Readiness Department. I also pioneered the creation of FlexStaff. Today, my role is focused on creating pipelines, internships, career ladders, school programs, diversity with our Workforce Readiness team and the development of new programs and businesses that will benefit both the community and the health system.
What is FlexStaff all about?
FlexStaff, which just celebrated its 3rd birthday, was created to help meet the temporary staffing needs of health systems. As a stand-alone company, FlexStaff has partnered with Northwell to help meet their contingent staffing needs. Additionally, we deliver our contingent staff to other healthcare organizations. As millennials enter the workforce and baby boomers work less, a flexible working arrangement becomes vital to an organization. FlexStaff is the connection they need to make that happen, and we’re looking forward to sharing their brand new website in the coming weeks!
How are you leading change in health care?
One area that I am focused on is neurodiversity. We created the first ever Bridges internship in partnership with Adelphi and helped give five students on the spectrum an internship last summer. I am happy to report we hired two of those interns! Another area that we are focused on is creating career ladders for students who are looking to enter the health system in an entry-level position, but are focused on career growth. For example, we may hire an individual as a medical assistant and they can have a career path to RN or NP through Northwell Health’s opportunity for tuition reimbursement and commitment to continuing education.
Another area that we are leading the way in is as co stewards of the Long Island STEM Hub. We are partnering with schools and industry and challenging them to look at talent differently. Because of our STEM partnerships and awareness efforts, Northwell is an approved STEMJOBS employer.
What makes someone Made for this™ at Northwell Health?
They must realize that Northwell isn’t a normal 9-5 and they must be flexible. They should also live by our new refreshed values – Truly Compassionate, Truly Ambitious, Truly Together, Truly Ourselves and Truly Innovative. Michael Dowling, Northwell’s President and CEO, has told us that we are transitioning health care – it’s up to us to define the future. If you’re someone who wants to help us do that – you’re Made for this!
What makes a great Northwell Health leader?
Someone who is engaged, passionate, loves to learn and can see the big picture. Health care is moving fast. You need to embrace change, be a good communicator, be humble and kind. You need to invest time in learning about the company – and this is a big company. I’ve been here nearly five years and I still learn something new every week. The ability to create followership is key. It enables everyone to blaze new trails together.
If you’d like to make an impact on the future of health care as Mary has, you’re Made for a career at Northwell Health.
An Appointment With: Northwell Health President and CEO, Michael J. Dowling
1. Growth has been a big part of Northwell Health’s success over the past years. How do we plan to continue to grow in 2018?
Everybody wants a piece of the health care space, from Google and Amazon to IBM Watson and other tech companies looking to disrupt the status quo. More recent examples include the purchase by Optum of the DaVita Medical Group, and CVS’ proposed acquisition of Aetna.
As New York’s largest health care provider, we’re not going to stand still. There are ongoing opportunities for Northwell to pursue new, innovative partnerships. Most of the traditional consumer transaction companies trying to gain a foothold in our industry are not providers of care, so they will need to be connected to hospitals and health systems that are firmly established in major metropolitan areas. Their goal, like ours, is to improve the continuum of care and make the delivery system as seamless as possible, so there could be synergies and opportunities in the year ahead to pursue ventures that will enable us to compete more effectively in this rapidly changing environment.
2. How will we push the boundaries and be Truly Innovative in 2018?
This era of consumerism forces everybody – including traditional providers – to think about doing things differently. I’m a big believer that competition is good. It’s disrupting. It can give you headaches and lead to sleepless nights, but it’s good because it forces you to work harder and get better. It forces organizations to be more efficient, more productive and more creative. These types of disruptions are occurring in all industries, not just health care. To that end, we continue to look to our employees for innovative ideas on how to do their jobs better, invest in startups that are trying to bring exciting new technologies to market and partner with other organizations to enhance what we’re already doing well.
3. What is your top goal this year for Northwell Health?
Northwell Health will continue to expand its ambulatory network, and focus on ways to further enhance the patient experience. As noted earlier, we will continue to pursue innovative partnerships with other companies within and outside of health care. In keeping with our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve, we will also enhance our efforts in the disease prevention arena by strengthening our focus on promoting health and wellness. We’ll also continue to leverage new technologies that help improve access to care and our ability to monitor patients’ progress by maximizing our use of artificial or automated intelligence and telemedicine. Another important focus will be on strengthening customer loyalty by connecting with people early in their lives, and then meeting or exceeding their expectations during every encounter we have with them thereafter.
As many of you already know, I was at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson last month when they signed an agreement to join Northwell. It was a happy moment for everyone involved. They represent the 23rd hospital in our health system. Mather has a history and tradition of excellence that we’re proud to be associated with. And we bring to them an array of services and expertise they can leverage to help complement their offerings to Suffolk County residents. We are stronger together. We’ll work hard in 2018 to continue to strengthen that value proposition for our customers.
4. If you could give advice to someone interested in joining the Northwell Health family as an employee, what would it be?
Have a curious mind and a belief in the concept of lifelong learning. Your education doesn’t end when you get a degree. Continue to educate yourself on a daily basis. Next, work hard and always try to do the right thing. Always have a sense of humility about your contributions to the organization. Having a positive attitude is one of most important attributes of any employee, as is perseverance. All of us are going to have bad days from time to time. Never give up when times are tough. And lastly, don’t be afraid to fail. As Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
5. What inspired you to get into health care?
Long before I joined the health system in 1995, I spent more than 20 years working in many different jobs within health and human services, so transitioning into a health care organization seemed like a natural transition. While quite a few people are aware of my background working as director of health, education and human services for former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and as a professor of social policy at Fordham University, I previously worked as an administrator in the Rockland County (NY) Department of Social Services, as a social policy consultant and analyst for the Columbia University School of Social Work, the New York State Communities Aid Association, the National Urban League and the United Church of Christ, and earlier as a caseworker in New York City schools.
In terms of inspiration, certainly my upbringing in a poor, rural area of Ireland was a major factor in why I decided to pursue a career in health and human services. I’ve always been driven by a desire to do the right thing and by the benefits I thought I could deliver to the community-at-large. For me, it has never been about personal benefits, but the whole idea of purpose: do well and do good for others.
6. How do you stay focused and motivated year after year?
By continually pursuing new ideas that help me become a better leader and help the organization become more successful. While a lot of people think stress is bad, it pushes you to be more innovative. To be successful in any leadership position, you have to be a little bit unhappy and always searching for ways of doing your job better. As a former athlete, I always draw a parallel to sports. The only way to become good at any sport is to push yourself to the limit. There’s a big gap between our capabilities and our current level of performance. No matter how good you think you are, you can always get better. Having that personal drive and never being satisfied helps you grow, develop and exceed expectations.
Photo: Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories is pictured on the far right.
An appointment with: Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories
Northwell Health maintains the preeminent laboratory system in New York. With a state-of-the-art Central Lab and 15 hospital-based labs, we perform 27,000,000 tests per year. The lab system is also known for its innovative technology (including the first fully robotic lab systems in the country) and exceptional growth opportunities with the construction of a new 110,000 sq. ft. general laboratory and state-of-the-art, 40,000 sq. ft. microbiology laboratory. Mike Eller, AVP, Laboratories is driving much of this exciting growth. Get to know Mike and his vision for lab leadership!
How did you get into Laboratory Administration?
It was more of a career evolution. I started working in a lab, but as I learned about all the opportunities available, I decided to become more well rounded. I learned about sales by being a sales rep at Core Labs. I learned about finance and the business by working with Bob Stallone, our VP of Labs. I learned about how small, medium and large tertiary hospitals work by becoming administrative director of four of our hospital labs. I learned about project management by running projects and getting my Project Management Certification.
How did you know Northwell Health was the right career destination for you?
Northwell Health is the major player in the region. I wanted to be part of something big and I am amazed at how the system continues to grow. I can make a difference because I have been given that freedom to be innovative, take risks and move out of my comfort zone into new areas, new experiences and new ways to deliver care.
What would you tell someone who is just starting their career in this field?
Be the best at what you are doing, whether you’re a lab tech, accountant, environmental worker, nurse, client services, billing rep, etc. Be the best at whatever you do and this will lead to the next challenge. Then, be the best at that.
What characteristics make a great leader at Northwell Health?
A great leader creates and communicates the vision to the organization. Great leaders surround themselves with great people because they know they can’t be successful alone.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to move into leadership?
Get to know the leaders you admire and respect and let them know where you want to be. You must show interest or you will be overlooked! If you show interest and have the ability, you will get noticed and excel.
How does Northwell Health encourage its employees to progress in their fields?
It’s important to be able to follow a clear map so you know where to go and the steps it takes to get there. Northwell Health Labs has formal career ladders to guide staff and help them reach their goals.
What would you tell an employee who is interested in being a mentor?
If you’re a mentor, be a resource, a teacher and a guide. Do not try to change the person. Let them be who they are and put their own creativity and spin on it. The role of a mentor is to be a guide and resource and help make a better leader than you were. That’s the goal – I want to help someone be better than me.
What exciting developments are happening at Northwell Health’s labs?
For me, it’s the opening of our new Labs at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Little Neck. These two new state of the art labs will be a combined 140,000 square feet. It is a culmination of our growth over the last 20 years. It gives us the ability to perform 5-6 times our current volume.
What can someone expect working at one of the nation’s largest laboratory systems, that they won’t find anywhere else?
When you combine our size with our culture of innovation and excellence, you’ll find opportunity that you can’t find anywhere else. If you have talent, drive and the desire to succeed, you will be successful here.
What’s the single biggest reason to work at Northwell Health labs?
You will be part of the best, most forward thinking health system lab in the country. You will get out of the “basement” and deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to change behavior of patients and providers to improve care and reduce cost.
An Appointment With: Orthopedic Physician Assistant Rachel Zawodzinski
Welcome to An Appointment With, where we sit down one-on-one with our Northwell Health colleagues. Today we’re meeting Orthopedic Physician Assistant (PA) and marathoner, Rachel Zawodzinski.
Why did you choose a career at Northwell Health?
I’m from Buffalo and I wanted to move to the city. I had heard that Northwell Health was a great place to work and that they provide great education to the staff and PAs. Everybody’s happy here because Northwell Health really supports you. Being a Physician Assistant, you learn a lot on the job and since it’s a learning institution with residents and fellows, there’s always an opportunity to learn.
Tell us about your role as an Orthopedic Physician Assistant.
I work with Dr. Hepinstall in adult reconstruction. I started a year ago last April and it was my first job out of PA school! I alternate days between the office and the OR, and in the office I see patients alongside the doctor as well as my own patients. We have an elderly population, as our focus is in total hip and knee replacements. I assist in the OR, which I love. When you are in surgery, you get to see exactly what you’re doing so when patients ask you questions, you can answer them more clearly because you were there — you know what happened. It’s a great environment to experience and learn the best practices.
What should people know about working at Lenox Hill Hospital?
It’s a very close-knit team that we work with regularly which allows us to work together very well. We enjoy each other’s company which also means that we try to make the job as fun as it can be.
How does your job affect your ability to stay active and how does this translate into your work?
One of the hardest things in this field is time management, so it can be hard to maintain an active lifestyle outside of work. I am a runner, so I try to run or work out in the morning before work. When you’re in surgery, you never know how late the day will go. But exercise is something I enjoy and I feel better after doing it — I am a more productive person when I am active, so I prioritize it.
In our field, everyone always wants to achieve something and likes to train for something, whether it be a marathon or to be better in their career. Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves and likes to work toward a goal. We see the complications every day that people can have if they’re not healthy, and that makes you want to be healthy and promote a healthy lifestyle to your patients.
Are you training for a marathon right now?
I continue to run to stay active and plan to do a half marathon in the spring and hope to do another marathon next fall.
What kind of person would be great at being an Orthopedic PA?
Someone who is motivated. A lot of people in ortho are active people and they like the variety between the office and the OR. You have to be flexible and work with change because you can always uncover something unexpected in the OR!
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to become an Orthopedic PA?
It’s a great field to work in and I really love what I do. It’s a great career being a PA in general, so if you want to go down that path, then just work hard and have that goal in mind. When you have the opportunity to learn from the people around you – doctors, techs, nurses – take advantage of it.
We have exciting Orthopedic PA opportunities in new, state-of-the-art facilities in Greenwich Village and Long Island. Like achieving success in a marathon, it starts with one step. Take it here.
An Appointment With: Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto
Welcome to “An Appointment With,” where we sit down one on one with leadership, doctors, nurses and more to bring you their stories. Today we’re meeting SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto, who was the most recent winner of the AHHE Hospital Executive of the Year Award.
How did you know that coming to Northwell Health was the right career move for you?
I didn’t at first. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Patchogue. When I heard about the Chief Marketing Officer position at Northwell Health, then known as North Shore-LIJ Health System, I just remembered the small health care company from my childhood. After doing my research, hearing Michael Dowling speak, and learning about the advancements at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Hofstra School of Medicine, I fell in love. I saw the power of this organization and I knew there were stories waiting to be told. This is the best job I’ve ever had.
How has the rebranding process at Northwell Health impacted the organization?
Fundamentally, our hospitals used to run regionally and people associated themselves with the single hospital they worked for. Now people feel like they are all together, and there is a sense of community. This has helped improve our engagement scores. As separate entities, people didn’t know who we were and how we were all connected and now they see all of our locations as one. There has been an undeniable unifying effect on the inside, and ability to shine as a destination health care system.
What is your perspective on leadership?
90% of leadership traits are trainable and there are things you can do throughout your career to be a good leader. My philosophy is: don’t just “dabble” in anything, take it on with all you’ve got. You should know your stuff and strive to be the subject matter experts. When making a decision, you should bring everyone together to help. Leverage diversity of thought and unity in action. If you give people a voice, the execution is always better. If you can adapt your leadership style to fit the needs of your audience as well as the organization, you will be able to grow and flourish.
You recently earned the AHHE Hospital Executive of the Year Award. What have you learned from that experience and what did that mean to you?
The most important part of the awards evening was that my family was there and I was able to reflect on my heritage. This award made me think of my father. He came from Puerto Rico when he was 12 and he didn’t speak a word of English. He pulled himself up from poverty by going to school at night and working hard. He believed you always had a choice: work a job you enjoy or work a job as a chore. He also said to always stretch yourself, whenever you think you can’t do more, you can. His wisdom helped shape who I am today. I went back to get my MBA at 40 even though I had a successful career because of the drive he instilled in me.
Many people of diverse backgrounds have stories like this, and that’s why in terms of diversity in the workplace, it’s important to include individuals from all backgrounds based on their experience and what they’ve done. We need qualified candidates and we need to choose the best of the best. If we don’t include everyone in that pool of candidates, we’re missing out.
However, no institution should ever settle for people who aren’t the top or relax their standards to bring on talent that isn’t qualified.
What is an interesting fact that people should know about you?
I had a perm in high school!
We invite you to come back for the next moment in our Appointment With… blog!
It is the policy of the organization to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all employees equally regardless of age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, immigration status or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, genetic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, sexual or other reproductive health decisions, or other characteristics protected by applicable law.