Discovering unlimited opportunities and a true calling — meet Elyse Isopo
Elyse Isopo started her Northwell Health career journey as a junior volunteer at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) when she was in high school. “I loved the people, I loved the patients, and I love helping,” she says. Today, she is a supervisor for advanced clinical providers (ACP) at NSUH, where she oversees a team of nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
As a volunteer in high school, Elyse became immersed in a hospital environment and patient care as she delivered their newspapers, refilled their water, and transported them, while also helping with art and music programs. The experience impacted her career path. “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she says.
Elyse held many roles during her 22 years at NSUH. She started as a registered nurse on a medicine unit and then transitioned to the medical intensive care unit (MICU). “After becoming a nurse, I knew I wanted to extend my career within the nursing field.” With the assistance of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement, Elyse went back to school to become a family nurse practitioner. “Northwell encourages and financially assists education and advancement of one’s career,” she says. Once Elyse obtained her master’s degree as a nurse practitioner, she transitioned into presurgical testing (PST). After five years on the PST unit, Elyse realized her heart was always with critical care, so she returned to the MICU where she’s worked for the past 14 years.
A driven nurse practitioner committed to learning and growth, Elyse earned her second master’s as an acute care nurse practitioner — and with Northwell’s support, she received tuition reimbursement for her doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) as well. To share her passion for nursing with others, she became a professor at Hofstra University as an adjunct clinical faculty member, where she supervises clinical faculty in the nurse practitioner programs. As a nurse and nurse practitioner, Elyse is involved with patient and family education. “I found a love of teaching throughout my career when I am precepting new nurses; teaching ACPs, residents and interns; and speaking with patients and their families.”
Reflecting on her tenure at NSUH, Elyse says, “You don’t have just a hospital, you have a community.” During COVID and as a frontline health worker, Elyse never considered herself a hero, but once she stepped outside the hospital for a “clap-out” from local first responders — whose ladder trucks erected an arch under which NSUH staff walked as they were applauded — she was reminded that her career was more than a job; it was a true calling. “I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
At Northwell, we strive to have our team members continue their career and education journey. Elyse is proof of that: “Northwell helps build each of us to our greatest potential professionally no matter what your career trajectory is.”
Continuing her growth and creating unforgettable memories—meet Diane Geraci RN, BSN, OCN
In honor of Nurses Week, which Northwell Health is celebrating throughout May, we are highlighting some of our amazing nurses as they share stories about their careers, growth and experiences. Throughout her 36 years as a registered nurse at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH), Diane Geraci has achieved both professional and personal growth.
Continuing her education and evolving her skillset
Diane started her nursing career journey in 1985 as a graduate nurse at SIUH. “It was my favorite hospital to do the clinical rotations,” she says. From her first days at SIUH, she knew she would grow and learn within the same hospital.
“Northwell and SIUH have been very supportive of my growth,” Diane says of a career that’s included roles in rehab/orthopedic surgery, the operating room and ambulatory oncology.
Because continuing education is very important to Diane, leadership encouraged her to enroll in oncology certification courses and offered tuition reimbursement for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the College of Staten Island. “It took four years and a lot of hard work, and I graduated with a BSN—and all thanks to the ease of the program because of Staten Island University Hospital. I’m so thankful for their encouragement and financial support!”
Not only did Diane receive her BSN, she also obtained her nursing certification in oncology and immunotherapy to further her knowledge in her field.
From Harvey to hockey: experiences she’ll never forget
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made a Category 4 landfall in Texas, devastating much in its path. Northwell quickly assembled a medical mission team to assist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. When Diane received the email about the catastrophe, she immediately volunteered to go!
“MD Anderson Cancer Center needed oncology nurses who were certified and who had a chemotherapy/immunotherapy certification, and thanks to SIUH I was certified in both,” she says. “The MD Anderson staff was great to work with, and I met so many cancer patients from all around the world. This truly was one of the highlights of my career.”
When Diane and her team returned home—with indelible memories from the front lines of care—they were greeted with a dinner reception and the opportunity to meet Michael Dowling. “I thank these two hospitals for their generosity to the teams, and for Northwell helping out a devastated community in another state.”
Another unforgettable moment of Diane’s career at SIUH was winning Northwell’s ”Win it Wednesdays” contest, a weekly prize drawing hosted by Northwell’s internal communications team on the Northwell Life Facebook page. What made it unforgettable wasn’t just the fact she won—it was what happened next.
Diane’s prize was a lavender, official New York Rangers hockey jersey. The jersey was too big, so she wanted to give it to a hockey fan. Her floor and nurse manager alerted her that there was a teenage boy—a big Rangers fan—who wanted a jersey as part of his Make-A-Wish request. “He was being treated for lymphoma on the pediatric oncology unit, which was right next to my unit,” says Diane, who met the boy and gave him the jersey!
When the social workers within the unit heard about Diane’s gracious act, they reached out to the team and received box seat tickets for the patient’s family to attend a home game! “It was meant to be,” she says.
Reflecting on her fulfilling career, Diane says, “Northwell is a great place to work! I feel well supported and encouraged to continue my growth with nursing and create more memories.”
What Nicole Natale Learned on the Frontlines During the Pandemic
In honor of Nurses Week, which Northwell Health is celebrating throughout May, we are highlighting some of our amazing nurses as they share stories about their careers, challenges, and experiences. Nicole Natale faced one of her greatest challenges early in her career and her experience on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped friendships, as well as her understanding of what it means to be a nurse.
Currently a registered nurse at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Nicole Natale began her career in 2017, as a nurse extern at Huntington Hospital. Nicole fell in love with critical care after experiencing the various facets of nursing care while floating from the emergency room and ICU, to the medical-surgical and pediatrics floors during nursing school.
As fate would have it, Nicole was invited to interview with the Neurosurgical ICU at NSUH shortly after losing her aunt to glioblastoma brain cancer just before graduation. The loss of her aunt to brain cancer left Nicole feeling like she was destined to work with neurosurgical patients.
After successfully landing her dream job at NSUH, Nicole’s budding career took an unexpected turn. After she finished the critical care fellowship orientation, the world was suddenly turned upside down as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Being a new graduate in a global pandemic was one of the most challenging obstacles Nicole has ever faced, but she credits the support of her coworkers, her managers, and Northwell leadership for making the experience less tumultuous. As Nicole put it, “Northwell made me feel safe, cared for, and supported, and I am forever grateful to work for this health system.”
Despite the incredible hardships, the experience was invaluable, as Nicole learned so much so quickly. Her coworkers became her role models and her support system as they leaned on one another to survive. “It was such a scary time for all of us. Working in a COVID unit feels like you’re in a battlefield. Working in these conditions brought my work team together and the bonds I have with my coworkers grew so strong that they are like family to me.”
It is this level of support that Nicole cites as one of the many reasons she would encourage anyone to work at Northwell given the opportunity. Examples of the support she receives from Northwell include career growth with clinical ladder and research committees and physical and mental well-being with things like the Lavender Room where staff can relax and unwind. Northwell is proud to advocate for its nurses and all of our team members, at every step of their journey.
Explore nursing opportunities and learn more about a career well cared for at a Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®
In honor of Nurses Week, which Northwell Health is celebrating all month long, we are sharing the stories of some of our incredible nurses and their inspirational journeys. For Nicole Martinez, she decided to become a nurse all because of a smile.
It all began when her mother was being cared for at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) for pancreatic cancer in 2005. Although her mother’s outcome was not the one Nicole’s family had hoped for, the amazing nurses, doctors and patient care assistants left a lasting impression. The day Nicole was told her mother only had one week to live, she walked into the room expecting tears but instead found her mother smiling with her nurse. Reflecting on that moment, Nicole says, “To this day I do not know what that nurse said to make her smile, but I remember thinking here is a 46-year-old woman who was just told she was going to die…and someone made her smile.” That moment and that smile was what led Nicole to become a nurse so that she too could help others find comfort during the most difficult time in their lives.
After her mother passed away, Nicole needed to pause her education to help support her family, so she took a position as a receptionist at LIJMC where she worked for two years before applying and being accepted to nursing school. With the support of Northwell, her manager, and her coworkers, Nicole was able to continue working full time while attending school full time with support from Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program. Her determination and hard work paid off when she graduated with her Associate Degree in Nursing and began working as a registered nurse on the same floor where she was a receptionist. But she wasn’t finished yet. Nicole went on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, once again aided by tuition reimbursement and encouragement from Northwell. But she still wasn’t finished. After transferring to the Ambulatory Surgery Unit, (ASU), Nicole again set her sights a little higher and completed her master’s degree. She was then promoted to her current role of assistant nurse manager.
About her amazing accomplishments, Nicole says, “Northwell gave me the opportunities, the strength, the financial support, and the courage that I needed to attain my goals. I tell everyone to this day if you want it, there is no excuse. Thank you Northwell for the past 15 years. Because of you, I am who I am today!”
How We Celebrated Our Nursing Health Raisers During Nurses Week!
National Nurses Week is here and at Northwell Health we are celebrating every moment of it. In fact, we will be celebrating all month long to honor our 18,000+ nurses across Long Island, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester. After a year unlike any other, we are stronger today because of our registered nurses’ commitment to raising the standard of care in the communities where we live, love and belong. And as we reflect on the selfless individuals the whole world considers heroes, it fills our hearts with gratitude to call these incredible men and women our colleagues, our friends, our family, and our neighbors.
During Nurses Week, Northwell has many activities planned to honor our nurses including, virtual cooking classes, blessing of the hands, award ceremonies, wellness initiatives such as yoga and wellness retreats, among other activities.
Hear why our nurses in their own words love working at Northwell and how they feel supported.
“Endless opportunities to shoot for the stars.”
“I love working as a nurse with Northwell because its more than a job, it’s a family. The support, the encouragement, the camaraderie, and the overall feeling that you are part of a team making a difference in people’s lives.”
“There are so many opportunities for a nurse at Northwell. Follow your passion and seek new challenges.”
“The fact that I’ve been a nurse at LIJ Medical Center since 1980, way before it was Northwell, speaks of my trust and dedication!”
“I love being a nurse at Northwell because I have the pleasure of working and meeting people with diverse backgrounds to improve the health of our communities.”
“Being a Northwell nurse is like having a second family and a home. Great teamwork, support, a safe place to work and my voice is heard. I like Northwell’s values and commitment to our patients and community.”
“I love being a Northwell nurse because I work with a great interdisciplinary team. Northwell supports my career advancement and continuing education.”
“Compassion amongst team members to provide the best care possible for our patients.”
“I love the ability to work in all different areas of nursing and be able to stay with a system who supports me.”
“I work with a phenomenal group of nurses who never hesitate to help one another, and who I consider to be my friends. We’ve all been working away on the COVID floor, staying strong for our patients and each other.”
“Because you come to realize at some point in your career that nurses are a powerful group that can affect and guide change. Our patients and our communities deserve the voice we can give them.”
Join our team members and discover a career well cared for. Apply today!
Recognizing our skilled nursing facility team members
As National Skilled Nursing Care Week is approaching, Northwell Health would like to recognize the dedicated and compassionate care of our skilled nursing care facilities. Our skilled nurses and certified nurse assistants provide the highest quality care to patients requiring both long-term and short-term care.
Meet some of our team members from the Orzac Center for Rehabilitation:
Alice Caressimo, Registered Nurse
As a registered nurse, Alice’s role is to educate her patients and their families about her patient’s health and help discuss their plan of care. “My work experience with Orzac has been very rewarding,” says Alice. “The compassion and support from the nursing managers and nursing staff I feel is what makes us a great team and contributes to the excellent care we strive to provide.”
Courtney Caldero, Registered Nurse
Working as a registered nurse at Orzac, Courtney not only takes care of rehab patients but she is also a long-term care and hospice nurse. Her daily responsibilities involve wound care, pain management, patient and family advocacy, safe medication administration, and patient safety. She is a proud nurse who loves her job and finds it very rewarding. “You are more than just a nurse,” says Courtney. “You are your patient’s and their family’s sense of comfort–their educator and ears. The profession is not easy by any means but being able to assist and support people through what is the most difficult time of their life is what’s beyond rewarding.”
Nina Bianco, Registered Nurse
As a registered nurse, Nina believes her patient’s physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing is priority. She performs an age-specific plan of care based on the individual needs of each patient. Within her first year working as a new nurse during a global pandemic, Nina was supported by her team through every step. “Working together as a team and effective communication are the essentials for providing quality health care and safety.”
Donna Douglas, Certified Nurse Assistant
As a certified nurse assistant, Donna’s role is to provide the patient with the most dignifying care, and assist with their Activities of Daily Living to help them feel strong and confident enough to return to their community. “Working in my facility is extremely rewarding because I gain new perspective on aging. I also get an opportunity to interact with patients daily during a difficult time in their lives when they are away from their family and in a new environment,” says Donna. “I try my best every day to make this tough experience as easy and rewarding for the patient as I can.”
Andrea McDonald, Certified Nurse Assistant
Working as a certified nurse assistant, Andrea provides compassionate care to her patients. Her responsibilities include direct patient care and putting a smile on their face! Her favorite thing about her job is her team who go the extra mile for their patients. “I find working at my facility rewarding because my team is pleasant and competent and I have professional, caring managers,” says Donna.
Get to know our team members behind the scenes during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week
This week Northwell Health is celebrating Medical Laboratory Professionals Week! Our Medical Laboratory professionals play a vital role within our organization by providing crucial information for detecting, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring a patient’s disease. They are our healthcare heroes behind the scenes!
Meet some of our team members:
Ryan Brenkret, Lead Cytology Technologist, Anatomic Pathology Services, Division of Cytology
Working as a lead cytology technologist, Ryan’s primary role is to screen and diagnose cytology cases using a light microscope to look mainly for cancer, infectious diseases, as well as other inflammatory conditions which people may suffer from. “My favorite thing about my career is trying to figure out what the patient has and provide a quality diagnosis, says Ryan. “We as cytologists really have the power to help the patients by providing accurate diagnoses or also by detecting a patient’s cancer in the early stage. Then they can receive the proper, life-saving treatments.”
Daisey Williams, Pathology Histology Technician, Staten Island University Hospital North
As a histology technician Daisey plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, by turning tissue samples into microscopic slides. Leadership has been a constant role model and support system for Daisey where she can voice her opinions and ideas. “My favorite part of this field is knowing that my work can provide our patients with a diagnosis and aide in their treatment and their next steps to recovery,” says Daisey.
Sean Houston, Clinical Lab Technologist, Automated Lab
As a lab technologist, Sean is responsible for running general immunoassay chemistry and drugs of abuse testing on the state-of-the-art, automated Roche line. Sean is within his first year at Northwell and he is looking forward to continuous growth within the organization and laboratory field. His favorite thing about working as a lab technologist? “I enjoy working alongside my diverse and well-skilled team!”
Christina Mikell, Medical Laboratory Technologist, Histology, Plainview Hospital
In Christina’s role, she aides in the processing of surgical tissue specimens. This is where they would chemically preserve the tissue so that they can then embed, cut, and stain representative sections on microscope slides. Within her role, she also performs specialty stains on slides that can help identify certain diseases and/or infections. As a new graduate, Christina has learned many skills within the pathology lab that will help her grow in her career. “My favorite thing about working as a lab tech in the histology department is the hands-on creative work that we get to perform every day,” says Christina. “I am able to take my technical knowledge and create something that can really be seen as beautiful.”
Michael Desimone, Histology Pathology Assistant, North Shore University Hospital
Working as a pathologist assistant, Michael partakes in high-quality patient care primarily through macroscopic evaluation, examination, and dissection of all surgical pathological specimens that come through the lab. Apart of being a pathologist assistant, Michael has enjoyed growing as an educator for pathology residents, pathologist assistant students, and medical technologist students. “We’re able to bring a pathologic process that a student once learned in a classroom and connect it with a real-life patient and specimen, with real implications for care,” says Michael. “I take a particular pride in teaching students and residents important details in macroscopic examination that make a large difference for cancer staging.”
Alexa Duque, Anatomical, Pathology Assistant, Lenox Hill Hospital
As a pathologist assistant, Alexa facilitates the diagnostic process by providing a comprehensive macroscopic examination and evaluation of all surgical pathological specimens. Alexa started her Northwell career journey two years ago and has grown into her role by supporting the lab in different areas. One example includes assisting her supervisor with process improvements which allowed her to gain new skills and insight. “I love that it is primarily hands on and that I get to appreciate the fascinating anatomy of the human body while being able to help patients behind the scenes,” says Alexa.
Roby P. Raju, Supervisor, Clinical Laboratory Operations, Center for Advanced Medicine
As a supervisor in his role, Roby oversees the day-to-day laboratory operations for his team. He ensures the laboratory maintains and follows compliance standards and regulations set by both accrediting and government agencies. “My favorite thing about being a laboratory technologist is that I am proud of the results we provide to the physicians and nurses from our laboratory,” says Roby.
Became a Health Raiser and discover a career well cared for, explore clinical laboratory careers. Apply today!
Why our Phlebotomists love working at Northwell Health
Phlebotomists at Northwell Health play an important role by collecting blood samples from our patients. These blood samples can help identify a patient’s diagnosis and ultimately help doctors create a treatment plan for them. In February we are celebrating National Phlebotomists Recognition Week and we are proud to recognize the hard work and compassionate care that our phlebotomists deliver every day.
Meet some of our team members and learn why they love being a phlebotomist at Northwell:
Luz Puig, Phlebotomist, Glen Cove Hospital
“My favorite thing about being a phlebotomist at Northwell is meeting patients and learning from their life experiences. I truly enjoy when they share their stories and I have a desire to make them feel comfortable and loved. During these hard times of COVID, my heart breaks to know many of the patients are alone during this process. I believe my role plays an important part in the healing of each patient as it is the start of a treatment for our community members.”
Glenna McKenzie, Phlebotomist, Syosset Hospital
“I have been a phlebotomist at Syosset Hospital for 35 years. I love being with our patients and doing my best to get their blood drawn quickly and painlessly. I love interacting with them and being able to get to know them. We understand that being ill and being in the hospital is not a high point for our patients, so I try my very best to make our patients feel better about their experience at our hospital.”
Michelle Lyn Sambajon, Lead Phlebotomist, Northwell Health Labs
“I oversee the COVID collection site for pre-procedure and pre-surgical testing. My favorite thing about working as a phlebotomist is that I enjoy being out there and helping people from their COVID test to bloodwork. Being a Phlebotomist is a rewarding opportunity to give back and help the community. It is the best feeling knowing that you’re one of the frontline team members to become a part of a person’s diagnostic treatment.”
Amanda Salerno, Mobile Phlebotomy, Northwell Health Labs and LabFly
“I provide mobile services to patients to their personal residence for bloodwork and COVID swabs. The best part of my job is making people laugh and providing compassionate care. Anything to make someone’s heart feel a little lighter when I leave makes me happy. I go into every home the same, a smile, laughter, enlightenment when needed, compassion and with comfort in the experience I provide for them. A little goes a long way.”
Maria L. Pizarro, Phlebotomist, Glen Cove Hospital
“I’ve worked at Glen Cove Hospital for 14 years as a phlebotomist. My job consists of drawing blood samples from in-patients. Patients are my priority and I really love what I do for the organization and working with my team.”
Discover a career well cared for as a phlebotomist at Northwell Health. Apply today!
Cardiovascular professionals at Northwell Health never miss a beat
Cardiovascular professionals at Northwell Health work diligently every day to keep our patients’ hearts healthy and strong. Whether they are technologists, EKG or monitor technicians, supervisors, registered nurses or another role, their hard work provides outstanding patient care that creates a positive impact in our community.
As a nurse in a Cath Lab, Maryann assists in performing diagnostic and interventional procedures through continuous patient monitoring, and administration of medications, and patient education. “My absolute favorite aspect of working as a cardiovascular professional at Northwell is how we are as a team,” says Maryann. “We are cohesive, committed to one purpose with a bond that enables us to always optimize our patient outcomes. In addition, we serve our community by providing emergency care 24 hours a day, to prevent life-changing, long-lasting heart disease.”
Suvada Louthan, RN, CV-BC, Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Interventional Recovery Room, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
Suvada has grown into her role as a registered nurse in both the Cath Lab and the Recovery Suite for eight and a half years at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. In her role, she works in the lab for scheduled and emergent procedures and works in recovery for the pre- and post-patient experience. “Working in the lab can be very exciting,” says Suvada. “Professionally, there is instant gratification when we are in the lab, a vessel is opened, and the patient is no longer having severe chest pain. I am always learning and growing as a professional. It is so rewarding to contribute to the health and wellness of our patients both acutely in the lab and by teaching in the recovery room.”
Michael Kleinschmidt, Supervisor, Cardiac Services, North Shore University Hospital
As a supervisor in Cardiac Services, Michael’s role consists of the day-to-day operation and staffing of the technologists in the Cath Lab, along with scheduling, training, and maintaining equipment quality. “My favorite thing about working as a cardiovascular professional is being able to help people and make a difference in their lives,” says Michael. “Working in healthcare can be one of the most rewarding career choices there is. I consider myself very fortunate to work in a field that is always changing and growing with new technologies, capabilities and ideas.” Michael feels the impact of cardiovascular professionals on the community is indescribable. “The service we provide to the community is second to none. Not only do we help during their procedure, but we can often help post procedure.”
Leslie Pierre, Lead Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist, Adult Cardiac Cath Lab, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
As an invasive cardiovascular technologist, Leslie helps greet patients, set them up in the room and explain procedures. His role includes operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting a variety of diagnostic and invasive equipment. Cardiovascular technologists are tasked with maintaining a sterile field while preparing the table and equipment before and during procedures. “I feel the work we do in the Cath Lab can change our patients’ outlook on their health,” says Leslie. “We have seen patients take that mindset back to their family and friends and become the foundation for them to want to be aware of their cardiac health as well.”
Working as an invasive cardiovascular technologist in the Cath Lab, Kathi works closely with physicians to examine and treat patients with cardiac diseases. She circulates, supports, and assists all aspects of invasive cardiology. “My favorite thing about working as a CVT is being a part of a talented team of individuals who can literally fix a broken heart. The satisfaction that comes along with helping someone get through a nerve-wracking experience is immeasurable,” says Kathi.
Recently opening in September 2020, the Cardiac Cath/EP Lab in Northern Westchester Hospital is a great addition to Northwell. Patricia was initially tasked with opening the lab and developing all aspects related to operations. “The impact on our community has been significant in that our patients can now obtain this care closer to home,” says Patricia. “Additionally, with the implementation of our STEMI program, they can receive emergent treatment at their doorstep, saving time and cardiac muscle.” Patricia explained that her team’s favorite thing about working as a cardiovascular professional is the ability to deliver quality cardiac care utilizing advanced technology to patients and achieving great outcomes.
Meet respiratory therapist and healthcare hero, Emily Shi
The dedication of our respiratory care team at Northwell Health is indescribable, especially during the unprecedented times of COVID-19. Our respiratory therapists deliver vital care through their hard work, teamwork and compassion. This week we celebrate Respiratory Therapist Appreciation Week and recognize our extraordinary team members.
Meet Yang (Emily) Shi, assistant director of Respiratory Therapy at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). Emily has grown in her career at Northwell since she started as a Respiratory Therapist in 2006 on the NICU unit at NSUH. Specializing in neonatal and adult critical care, Emily has developed a skillset that lets her explore many career opportunities and advance her knowledge as a respiratory therapist.
In her current role, Emily oversees the day-to-day operations of the Respiratory Therapy department which includes team management, projects and patient care. To further her education and management skills, she is currently pursuing her MBA in Management and Leadership with the assistance of the Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program.
Respiratory therapists have always been a vital part of the healthcare system, but when COVID-19 peaked the need for respiratory team members grew rapidly. During this time respiratory therapists worked tirelessly to save their patients’ lives and Emily and her team had to rethink the way they cared for their patients on ventilators, prioritize their resources and learn how to keep their patients and colleagues safe.
“It has been stressful yet rewarding to work as a respiratory therapist throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Emily. “Nothing makes me prouder than seeing a patient being liberated from ventilator or oxygen support and seeing them go home to their loved ones. I am proud to work at Northwell Health because it is an organization that provides quality, innovative care and is invested in the well-being of their communities and team members.”
Thank you to all of Northwell’s respiratory therapy healthcare heroes today and every day. Join the respiratory therapist heroes at Northwell Health.
Delivering specialized respiratory care in a new unit at Northern Westchester Hospital
As the battle against COVID-19 continuously evolves, so does the care Northwell Health teams are delivering to our patients. With the shift to recovery, Northwell has opened two specialized, acute ventilator recovery units (AVRUT). The new unit at Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) and its sister unit at Glen Cove Hospital will provide focused rehabilitation to patients recovering from COVID-19.
Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists (RTs), dietitians and physical therapists (PTs) will all work together in these units for 24/7 care. Within these converted units, team members will have the specialized medical equipment and other essential items needed for the recovering intensive care patients who received tracheotomies in order to receive mechanical ventilator care.
Within these new units, respiratory therapists will play an essential role delivering around-the-clock ventilator and tracheotomy care. RTs will work alongside PTs to help their patients in need of ventilator weaning physical, occupational and speech therapy. The work of these team members helps wean patients off ventilators and helps this special patient population recover from their illness as they transition to a more traditional rehab facility.
This dedicated care has already seen success as patients are getting up and walking quicker than ever according to Pete Sequinot Jr., RRT, manager of Respiratory Care, Sleep Center and Pulmonary Rehab at NWH.
“Northwell Health is the best place for respiratory therapists to work,” says Pete. “At Northern Westchester Hospital, our average is 12 years of service. Northwell is always trying new things in respiratory care and administration truly listens to our ideas and concerns. Respiratory therapists come here and they feel like their voices are heard at all times.”
By creating these units for more specialized care, team members are not only helping patients recover but alleviating stress from Northwell’s ICUs. These new units mean patients can be transferred out of the ICU, allowed more critical care team members to return to their normal operating conditions.
The respiratory therapists and other AVRU team members continue to help patients recovering from COVID-19, providing regular consultation to asses recovery goals and next steps. Together they’re helping patients recover alongside our communities.
“At the end of the day, I would go into war with this team. They exceeded all expectations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and showed that they are all team players. I am so proud of them and consider them family. If you want the best possible care for your loved ones, come here to Northwell and Northern Westchester Hospital.”
Volunteering at a COVID-19 testing center in Manhattan was challenging yet rewarding
Written by: Chandra Bishun-Freeman, Senior Medical Assistant, Northwell Health Cardiology Upper East Side
My experience during theCOVID-19 pandemichas been surreal yet terribly real. It has turned our world upside down. Life has changed—under different rules, protocols, even regulations. Like many others, this surreal experience started quickly for me.
For nearly every day of my married life, my husband would stop whatever he was doing to greet me at the door with a warm hello and a kiss when I came home. Our dog also sits patiently by the door, waiting to play. That was all gone in a matter of a few days.
Coming home after work, I run straight to the sink to wash my hands and change my clothes and shower. I greet my husband with an elbow bump. No more kissing or embracing. Our dog has to wait, sadly looking at me until I can give her attention. Since I was not sure if I was working with COVID patients at Northwell Health Cardiology, I followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to practice social distancing at home. Bringing the virus home was a real fear, especially working in health care and traveling on subways and buses.
I’ve been at this cardiology practice for more than seven years, where I’ve focused on providing high quality patient care and support to my coworkers. I am a health care professional and a team player. I did not have a shred of doubt about my role. It is our calling, even if it means working outside normal routines. And in early March, I volunteered to work in one of Northwell’s hospitals that was most affected by COVID-19.
In about a week, I was redeployed to Northwell’s COVID-19 Testing Center on East 76th Street for four weeks in April. I was grateful to work on the front lines despite being fearful for my wellbeing and potentially bringing the virus home. Trying to fall back on my professional training, I ventured out in mask, gloves and worked six days each week, taking the nearly empty bus and train to and from work every day. As odd as this might sound, this was the work that I desperately wanted to do.
At the testing center, we performed nasal swab and blood testing for COVID-19 serology antibodies. The newly formed staff at the facility started training for nasal swabbing by practicing on one another. I was nervous knowing that someone would be putting a long and thin swab up my nose. I was only thinking about the pain and discomfort. Suddenly, I was a patient and a swabber-in-training. Having a swab inserted was the most uncomfortable feeling, but a necessary evil considering the circumstances. Doing it myself allowed me to calm patients and perform the test with precision and efficiency.
Despite the oversized white suit (PPE), I was still fearful of catching COVID-19. Most seven-hour days were spent in an isolation suit, along with a mask, gloves and face shield. What I remember most is how much I had to breathe my own bad breath. Coffee, onions, a bit of everything that went into my mouth would become something I inhaled for the rest of the day. As a swabber, my role was to stand in a room behind a plexiglass separation/protection to perform nasal swabbing. We treated every patient the same—assume they have COVID-19. Some patients came in with a fever. Others were very flush in the face. I remember one patient said to me “please don’t stand close to me. I am coughing and sick. I might be COVID positive.” Every patient, every moment was a heightened state of stress, focus and engagement.
Three days into working at the testing center, my husband told me my color was off. Most likely, I thought, because of wearing a mask, recirculating my own exhale for more than 12 hours. In another week, I had symptoms—runny nose, achy body and a cough.
Still, I enjoyed every moment working at the testing center, especially my colleagues. We made the best of the situation, offering light jokes to keep in the right mindset. During the four weeks working there, I met people from all over the health system. Leadership from Lenox Hill Hospital brought Bombas socks for each employee one day. There were free bagel breakfasts each Monday at another site across the city. Many of the patients I saw at the center were appreciative and thankful of the work I was doing, too, even those who indicated they felt ill and might be COVID positive. Although they were hidden behind their masks I could see how they genuinely felt by just looking at their eyes.
The long hours can wear on you. Waking up early was a part of it, considering I took an early train and crosstown bus to get there. I also volunteered to work 12-hour shifts on Saturdays. After the first Saturday, which followed a 40-hour week, every bone in my body ached, only remedied by a warm bath with Epsom Salt and an 8 p.m. bedtime.
By then, the mild symptoms I experienced a few days earlier worsened. My husband told me he had diarrhea and shortness of breath. Anxiety rose as I now was tested and eagerly anticipated the results while staying home. He and I pretended everything would be fine. And each day, each email or phone call, he would ask “is that the test result?” Luckily, I tested negative, a stress relief like no other. My husband and I kissed and hugged for the first time in what felt like weeks.
I also earned a recognition award from Northwell for working the front lines. Even with the fear of risking my own life, the sweat trickling down my body in the isolation suit, working the long hours, riding the early morning trains alone, without an ounce of doubt I would do this all over again. It was the right thing to do. But, in honesty, it will take the effort of thousands of front line workers who work each day to mitigate the impact of this pandemic. It’s a challenge worth fighting.
Behind the Mask: Working as a Respiratory Therapist during the COVID-19 pandemic
Written by: Drew Devlin, RRT, LRCP, Director, Respiratory Care / Sleep Lab / Pulmonary Rehab, Southside Hospital
To say that the respiratory care team was instrumental throughout the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. Although the respiratory care team has always been critical in patient care, it was in this pandemic battling a respiratory virus that the team had a moment to shine, and that is just what they did. Our respiratory therapists have touched every patient in one way or another by providing oxygen, running blood gasses, participating in intubations, managing ventilators, transporting patients to CT scans, and from emergency rooms to other critical care units. We have also been part of the process to meet the challenges of converting noninvasive ventilators into units that were now able to provide invasive applications. This team has truly been front and center playing a large part in caring for our patients during this period in an innovative way.
As the leader of the respiratory care team, I am truly proud of the work they did and how they stepped up to the plate during this difficult time of need. In order to deliver care during the outbreak, the work of the team evolved quickly and continued to change throughout the pandemic. Essentially, our normal process and daily responsibilities were completely revamped to adjust to the high volume of patients and the level of care we were providing to our patients. New policies, processes and protocols were developed rapidly and the respiratory care team was able to play a crucial role in the strategy and development of the new responsibilities. With respiratory therapists being so vital due to the nature of the illness, it gave them a great sense of purpose to be able to step in and provide their expertise. These healthcare heroes were truly able to make a major difference.
Respiratory care team members used posters to leave inspiring messages to each other throughout the pandemic.
Throughout stressful work conditions and long hours, team members found moments of hope and motivation by standing united together. I watched as they came to work every day with pain in their eyes and concern in their hearts for their patients, their colleagues, and their families, and yet they continuously provided the best care possible. There was camaraderie and collaboration throughout the whole process, and they really showed each other what it meant to not only be a team, but a family. To keep our spirits up, we would take time to share positive results of patients and track successful outcomes even after they left our care. There was also constant communication through emails, text messages, and postings on the walls throughout the department including pictures of the team hanging up as a constant reminder that we were all in this together. I also looked for articles on motivation to provide to the team and had the Chaplin come speak to the team in an effort to provide hope during this difficult time.
As a team, we also tried to talk about our experiences and share what we were going through to help each other out and know that we were not in this alone. We also brought in additional resources in the form of respiratory therapists from outside of the organization, to provide extra support and helping hands. This also enhanced motivation amongst the team because there was a realization that we were in a global battle, us versus the virus, and our best chance was to have all hands on deck and work together as a united team with respiratory therapists from near and far. It was also comforting and reassuring to see frequent visits from the senior leadership team to see how the team was doing, ask if there was anything we needed and how they could assist in any way.
The whole respiratory team exceeded expectations during this time, and I know this experience has made them stronger and even better than before. Each and every person on this team is my hero and we always consider ourselves a team and a family. Together, through this experience, they rose to the occasion and I am proud of the entire team for the work they have done and the care they have provided.
Written by: Elisa Vicari, LCSW, North Shore University Hospital
Staying in touch with families of COVID-19 patients have strengthened bonds and helped provide compassionate care against the odds.
As a social worker in the Intensive Care Unit at North Shore University Hospital, I’ve become immune to people passing away. Death is an unfortunate part of the job because we are treating the sickest patients.
COVID-19, though, was quite different for me and my colleagues.
During the patient surge in late March, we were caring for otherwise healthy 20- and 30-year-olds who were unaware of their surroundings and had no business being intubated. These are previously independent individuals who have been abruptly put on life support. This is the heartbreak the coronavirus leaves.
Adding to the complexities of this situation, visitation was restricted and patients in our unit were unable to speak to their families. This didn’t sit well, so I adapted my practice and refocused my efforts to find a solution. A quick Instagram post asking my friends and followers for one iPad donation turned into more than 20 and about $11,000 in community support—the true power of social media. Their assistance has allowed us to set up every unit within the hospital and other facilities in the area with iPads, which have been critical to helping us connect with families.
Not everyone is comfortable going into patient rooms. It’s a personal choice that must be made, one that I did not struggle with. A social worker’s role is to connect and assist, and the iPads have openednew roads to make important video callswhere we could show not just a patient’s condition, but the entire room and care team.
In the ICU, patients are mostly intubated. Finding close connections has been challenging. Instead, we have grown closer to families, FaceTiming with them every other day for status updates, learning nicknames, favorite songs and of their pets who await them at home. They’ve sent pictures so we can build collages and fill their rooms with love. I feel like I’ve become a part of these families just by holding the screen for them.
In some end-of-life circumstances, visitors have been allowed to see their loved ones in their final moments. We’ve been there to help them with personal protective equipment (PPE), addressing their fears and coping with their situation. Some are able to hold their family member’s hand for the first time in weeks. We are also assisting with funeral arrangements, which are very different than usual with increased wait times. It’s overwhelming, physically taxing and mentally exhausting. But it’s worth it. I couldn’t imagine being on the other side, watching the terrible images on the news of beds being piled up and not knowing if my loved one is OK. Showing families that our patients are in private rooms and we are helping them has given them tremendous comfort.
When patients fail, I feel it more than I used to because I’ve grown closer to them and their families. Our conversations aren’t just based on medical concerns, rather vulnerable situations that I’ve now been welcomed into.
It’s bittersweet. When things go well, they go well. But when they don’t, it’s devastating. At the heart of it, we deliver personalized, patient-centered and compassionate care, pandemic or no pandemic. COVID-19 may have tested our mettle and capabilities, but we have survived thanks in part to the camaraderie between us and families. We have all met this challenge with innovation, compassion and integrity. I really admire the people I work with who have stepped up. Teamwork is everything, knowing we will get through this together.
Northwell Health is proud to spotlight our front line health care workers. See how Northwell clinicians – doctors and nurses – are responding and working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.Read their stories here.
After graduating early from the Zucker School of Medicine, Alison Laxer, MD, is entering the effort to care for COVID-19 patients.
March 25 is a day I will never forget. Not because I celebrated my birthday with my family, but because I learned something that would change my life forever.
Late that Wednesday evening, I received a message about a Zoom virtual meeting withLawrence Smith, MD, MACP, dean of the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine, where I was well into my fourth year. We usually don’t have meetings with the dean like this, but under the current circumstances, anything was possible. Dr. Smith told us we are graduating early and have the option to join the fight against thecoronavirus.
My parents, who are both physicians, were nervous. And rightfully so. Who would want their child to voluntarily be exposed to COVID-19? But they understood and would’ve taken the opportunity to do the right thing if they were in my situation. We are physicians after all. This is what we signed up for.
My boyfriend, Alexander Smith, MD, who is also in my class, had similar feelings about the decision — he said we can be a part of history. We both decided independently, and it was never a question of if to do it, but when do we start?
The truth is, I will start in a few days. I finished virtual training earlier this week. Fear. Excitement. Concern. There’s a wide range of emotions flowing. We know we won’t see our families. We know we should avoid highly populated places like grocery stores. But we also know that we can help make a difference for so many struggling with the pandemic.
They say your fourth year of medical school is supposed to be a glorious time. Alex and I had plans to go to Europe, then the Caribbean, then to my cousin’s home in Chicago. It was supposed to be a time to really relax and rest before starting my residency at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. It’s strange that I will be spending this time at a hospital rather than a beach. But if this is what is needed, I’m going.
To say I’m scared would be an understatement. This is something we have never done before and I think I’m more nervous about not being very helpful. I know Northwell has plenty of personal protective equipment. And I can see the camaraderie among staff who are celebrated and sharing their experiences in the media. I just want to play my part.
This virus has touched so many lives. I never thought being a doctor was a hazardous profession, not like a firefighter or policewoman. But we will be exposed and our mission has never been greater. Hopefully, this will encourage more people to go into medicine.
Developing clinical careers through learning and innovation
At Northwell Health, we understand our role in building stronger, healthier communities and the value of the dedicated experts our patients trust in delivering their care. Our biggest assets are our employees and we are committed to our team members’ growth as they contribute to ours.
Northwell’s Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI) serves our growing workforce of 72,000 employees and offers continuous learning and development programs to meet the needs of our changing health system. CLI has worked to contribute to the preparedness of our organization by helping to ensure our clinical and non-clinical team members have the skills they need to be successful.
The Center for Learning and Innovation uses hands-on, interactive approaches to help guide employees through educational classes and best practices, including games, reflective debriefing, interactive technology, and simulations that enhance their profession and the care they deliver. In 2019, CLI had a total of 61,888 learners in attendance, which equated to over 301,445learner hours. Programs can vary in length from a few hours to a few months and span the personal, professional, and leadership domains.
With so many classes offered to our clinical and non-clinical team members, there’s a lot to highlight. Read below to learn about the programs CLI offers focusing on clinical growth and development. Stay tuned for our future blog highlighting the courses that foster non-clinical development!
The Clinical Skills Center
Providing a safe, structured, and standardized learning environment, The Clinical Skills Center allows healthcare professionals to reach beyond the clinical diagnosis and engage in a more humanistic way to care for patients. We use standardized patients (SPs), who are specially trained team members, for both clinical and non-clinical simulated encounters. The SPs are specifically educated to portray patient scenarios for the instruction and assessment of the clinical skills of medical professionals within our network.
Programs are customizable to meet the needs of our diverse community, and curriculum-specific goals are created to teach our team members while applying the industry’s best practices.
The Patient Safety Institute (PSI)
Outside of real patient simulation, we also incorporate high fidelity simulator training at the Patient Safety Institute (PSI). PSI is the simulation center for Northwell Health, the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies, and the Zucker School of Medicine. Its mission is to support the workforce by creating a realistic training environment where clinical teams can simulate real-life scenarios so individuals gain increased hands-on experience. This training makes use of advanced clinical mannequins which allow participants to develop an in-depth knowledge of patient care without practicing on human patients.
With the help of innovative technology, the PSI team can facilitate multiple patient care scenarios such as a multi-trauma simulation for a pediatric patient, the complicated birth of a preemie, and the cardiac arrest of an adult patient. The clinical team cares for the patient and then debriefs, discussing what went well and what can be improved so that the patients in our clinical care facilities can receive the best care possible.
The Bioskills Center’s purpose is to further medical research and development. As the first health system in the country to be accredited as a Network of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the SRC, Northwell stands firm in its commitment to advance the healthcare industry and the skills of its employees. This center functions as a fresh, frozen cadaver lab where physicians, residents, medical students, nurses, surgical technologists and others in the medical field can receive surgical training and continue their medical education while working with some of the most innovative, advanced technology around.
By helping sharpen clinical skills and equipping team members with the tools they need to develop as leaders, our organization can guide our employees down a path that transforms their careers. As a result, CLI is not only ensuring growth within our employees, but ensuring each patient that walks into any of our facilities receives the highest quality of care available.
Northwell is committed to investing in the professional growth and development of its employees. Remember to check back next month to learn about our non-clinical programs!
Photo: Mark Compas and Child Life team members with some Cohen Children’s patients.
Something about child’s play
Mark Compas brings a distinctive mix of technical skills, a child psychology background and passion for both fields to his work as a per diem certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). “It’s like I dreamed this job up and then it found me,” he said.
Mark divides his time between North Shore University Hospital (NSUH), including its Dorothy and Alvin Schwartz Ambulatory Surgery Center, and Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC). As a CCLS, he educates patients about procedures and helps them to have a positive experience in the hospital setting. “In simple terms,” he says about his Child Life team, “we are basically teachers, coaches, and companions that help patients and families have an easier time at the hospital.”
How Mark came to be at Northwell is a roundabout story, where every twist has led him to exactly where he is thrilled to be. “Every day, I can’t believe how lucky I am,” he said.
He began his studies in electrical engineering and computer science, always honing his skills with hobbies like building computers and websites. He learned graphic design and video editing to promote a band he performed in. While attending college, Mark also taught swimming part-time, and that changed everything. “As much as I like building things, I realized that I love working with kids. It never felt like work and helping kids overcome obstacles and succeed was so meaningful to me.”
Mark finished his Bachelor of Science degree at Stonybrook University, pivoting from electrical engineering to psychology with a focus on child studies. He learned of the Child Life field, began volunteering at a hospital and attained his certification. Now he spends his days managing the technical needs of the Child Life and Creative Arts team. Among his projects is MeTV, a closed-circuit TV channel hosted by Child Life team members that children who are patients at CCMC can watch and play along, live. Games are aimed to teach children about hospitals and procedures, and Pictionary, which is purely for fun. Children can also co-host on MeTV. “It empowers them to be able to speak to other children and educate them about being in the hospital,” Mark said.
One of Mark’s favorite activities during his two years at Northwell has been the WeCraft event. Combining forces with Microsoft and the Extra Life Gaming Guild of NYC, Mark’s team hosted the WeCraft event that allowed all hospital-wide patients to play MineCraft together. He also loves to share his knowledge with children who are interested in technology. “Kids might be stuck in a room all day and I can drop in and show them a cool project I’m working on.”
Mark is always dreaming up new projects for the children at NSUH and CCMC and says that his colleagues’ dedication fuels his inspiration. Currently he is working on a virtual reality headset called Smileyscope for children to use during procedures like IV starts or injections. Smileyscope was developed in Australia and brought to CCMC for trial and research. CCMC is one of the first facilities in the United States to implement it and training is underway.
Mark networks with Child Life Specialists in similar roles as his, collaborates with children’s charities and keeps his ear to the ground for new opportunities. After his telephone interview, he followed up with a long email outlining novel ways that technology can help children cope with their hospital experiences. He hopes to create apps and video games to educate children and connect them socially, so that they can support each other. He sees great potential in using video games therapeutically and has been in touch with clinical psychologists who use games in their practices. Mark plans to study game design, play therapy and, eventually, to obtain a PhD in neuropsychology to further these goals. He has bigger ideas for MeTV and WeCraft, as well, and would also like to host regular classes and events for patients who are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
Using technology to help children is a job that fits Mark Compas as if it were designed for him.
Why I’m Made for an ultrasound technologist career at Northwell
Written by: Gennifer Albaum
Working at the front desk for a radiologist at a young age, I quickly realized I had a passion for interacting with patients. With the encouragement of my team, I decided to became an ultrasound technologist and have worked at Northwell Health for nearly two years.
People assume radiology is just someone taking pictures and that’s all. It’s much more than that. It’s scanning a women who just had an abnormal mammogram and is getting a second look. It’s having a patient come in with stroke like symptoms who just a few hours ago could walk and talk but now has no motor function. It’s the parents of a child who is sick with a cold. It’s scanning a cancer survivor to see if their cancer has come back. It’s dealing with the patient’s pain, worry and sadness, and still providing care that helps make them forget about their fears for a moment. Because as an ultrasound technologist, we’re taking images that will help patients get the answers.
Knowing a visit to an Imaging Center can be a stressful time for patients, I try to ease their anxiety and keep them calm during their visit especially when they are looking to me for results and I have to politely explain that their images need to be interpreted by a radiologist. As a radiology professional I know that can be trying for the patient but we want to ensure we have reviewed all images thoroughly before providing results.
I was introduced to women’s imaging, especially breast imagining early in my career and quickly found that I had a passion for early diagnosis of breast cancer. Some of my fondest memories as an ultrasound technologist are when breast cancer survivors returned to visit us at the practice. To see her smile when she saw her face and knowing I was part of delivering her care was so rewarding. I know that what I do made a difference in not just her life but her kids and her family. It makes me feel so proud of my hard work and dedication.
Early detection saves lives and knowing that I can play a part in helping to save a life, is why I chose to become an ultrasound technologist. Working for Northwell has been a life-changing experience, I have met so many amazing technologists, radiologists and administrators. I truly feel like this is where I was meant to be.
Day in the life: Central Sterile Processing Technician
Instrument sterilization is a vital step in any surgical procedure, but you may not always think about what goes into the process – or who’s doing it. At Northwell, we know our sterile processing technicians are invaluable members of our operating rooms. These technicians handle the sterilization of our instruments from decontamination to dispatch all inside our new centralized facility in Bethpage, NY. Working in the world’s largest sterile processing center, our technicians provide around-the-clock services using the most innovative technology available.
“Our new central sterile processing facility was built with the comfort of our sterile processing technicians in mind,” says Marc MacLaren, RN, BSN, MSN, program director of System Sterile Operations. “As we continue to grow and refine our procedures, we listen to their feedback. The work our technicians do every day is changing the way people look at sterile processing and defining the future of where the industry is going.”
Follow a day in the life of some of our sterile processing technicians at our new state-of-the-art central sterile processing facility in Bethpage.
Step 1: Surgical instruments are brought in for the decontamination team
The first step of sterilization is decontamination. With the facility servicing operating rooms from hospitals all across Northwell, it’s important for our central sterile processing technicians in the decontamination room to handle each delivery promptly and efficiently. The technicians soak the trays as they come in, hand washing them before placing them on the cart to go through the automated sterilized washers. “I love working in decontamination because we’re one of the most vital parts of the process of sterilization,” says La’Queen Burrell, sterile processing technician.
Step 2: Instruments are unloaded and tracked through automated systems
After the instruments go through the washing cycle, a sterile processing technician unloads the clean instruments from the machine into the ‘clean room’ which is kept sterile to protect the instruments. Each tray is processed through a barcode system so it can be tracked throughout the sterilization process. “My favorite thing is how organized our team is to keep things running smoothly,” says Libin John, supervisor, central sterile. “It’s also great knowing our work is helping patients even though we don’t have a clinical degree.”
Step 3: Sterile processing technicians sort trays to create priority order
The washed trays are then sorted in priority order. And with the facility’s capacity to handle a maximum of 22 million instruments a year, our technicians know the important role keeping the trays in priority order plays in ensuring prompt delivery back to the hospitals. Caprice Morgan, lead sterile processing technician, places the trays on shelves to mark them for the proper turnaround time. “I love working as a sterile processing tech because you are always learning new things,” says Caprice. “Every day is a new opportunity to grow.”
Step 4: Instruments are counted and passed through a safety test
Once the trays are separated, the instruments are counted, inspected and placed for packing by our technicians. It’s a vital step to make sure that the instruments are not only accounted for, but properly hand-washed and still maintaining their integrity. “It’s great being able to work on the instruments and know that even though you’re not in the operating room, you still are a part of the surgery helping that patient,” says Kevin Vega, sterile processing technician.
Step 5: Team members package the instruments for sterilization
Clean instrument trays are then packaged by the technicians. Packaging the instruments keeps them safe for when they are placed into sterilizers to finish disinfection before their return to the hospitals. The work spaces in the new facility allow for plenty of room for packing the large trays and individual instruments. “At the new Bethpage facility there’s more room to work and more space for everybody” says sterile processing assistant Patty Guess, who transferred to the facility from a Northwell hospital in April.
Step 6: Instrument trays are sent into the sterilization systems
Now that the instrument trays have been packaged, they’re ready for the final step of sterilization. Sterile processing technicians track and check the trays before placing them in autoclaves (which use steam at high temperatures to sterilize) or into low temperature sterilizers (which use low temperatures and gas to ensure missing something here) depending on the needs of the instrument. “This is my favorite spot to work because it keeps me on my toes,” says Gregory Thurneau, sterile processing technician. “I did it for eight years at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and now being able to do it at the Bethpage facility gives me an opportunity to expand my horizons.”
Step 7: Technicians sort the trays for hospital dispatch
Trays are passed directly through the sterilization systems built into the wall moving them from the ‘clean room’ to dispatch. There they are prepared for delivery back to the hospital. Once the trays have been tracked and accounted for, sterile processing technicians sort them into their respective cabinets for the transport teams. “It’s an important part of making sure the hospitals are getting their trays on time,” says Thomas Varkey, sterile processing technician. “Being part of that helps me make sure the patients get the care they need when they need it.”
Certified Sterile Processing Apprentice Program celebrates its first graduating class
As part of our commitment to growth, development and education, Northwell Health partnered with the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the 1199 Training and Employment Funds to create a new Certified Sterile Processing Apprenticeship Program that is registered with the Federal Department of Labor (DOL).
Due to our new Certified Sterile Processing Apprenticeship Program, Northwell Health 1199 team members from various departments across the organization had an opportunity to train in a new specialty and grow their careers. Team members were provided with the education and training they needed to become a certified sterile processing technician (CST), including the support in preparing for the certified registered central service technician (CRCST) exam so they could earn their national certification. Thanks to the partnership program, Northwell was able to provide employees with paid training in addition to free tuition, books, exam prep and other classroom materials.
We’re proud to announce that all 11 of our program participants passed the exam and all received full time positions at Northwell Health.
“The apprenticeship program has opened doors for employees who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to advance in their field,” says Marc MacLaren, RN, BSN, MSN, program director of System Sterile Operations. “It allows us to ‘grow our own’ within healthcare and empowers individuals in our organization who otherwise might not be eligible for technical professional careers.”
“This program helped me achieve a goal in my career,” says Gabriel Taveras, a recent graduate. “I started as a housekeeper and now I’m a certified central sterile technician. It has changed my life.”
Students in this unique program are prepared for their career with:
200 classroom hours
400 hours of on-the-job training
600 additional on-the-job hours to earn the Federal DOL certification
Upon graduation, students earned:
LaGuardia Community College Adult Continuing Education Certificate
Federal DOL Certificate
“I was given an opportunity that will change my life for the better,” says fellow graduate Candice Thomas. “I’m grateful that Northwell and 1199 believed in me. The possibilities are endless. Because I stepped outside of my comfort zone and learned what it meant to be a CRCST, I now have a great career.”‘
What is Northwell Health’s Radiology Administrative Succession Program (RASP)?
The Radiology Administrative Succession Program is a one-year program that develops and enhances Northwell’s radiology leaders to enable them to take the next step in their career. During the program, leaders are provided with educational opportunities, knowledge sharing, hands-on learning and training with senior radiology leaders across the Imaging service line and hospital radiology departments.
“Succession planning is vitally important for ensuring the continued success of any business. The radiology service line has an amazing pool of top talent who we have identified and developed in an effort to fill future roles. Our goal is to focus on cultivating managers from within Northwell to ensure the leaders of the future are in place,” says Melone Pernice, Administrative Director, Radiology at Plainview Hospital.
Radiology team members are nominated by their leaders to participate in RASP and then the RASP Committee selects the final participates based on their nominations. This year, three team members were selected to participate in the inaugural class.
“RASP demonstrated to me that everyone is part of the same team and each person is fully invested in your success. All components of the program — from the subject matter classes, system level meetings and one-on-one mentoring — gave me the confidence I would need to handle any future obstacles. RASP is essential to ensure the future leaders are prepared for tomorrow, “says RASP participant Adrienne Wilson, radiology manager at Plainview Hospital.
The need for students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers is greater than ever and for good reason. Between 2000 and 2010, STEM-related jobs grew three times as fast as non-STEM jobs – a rate projected to increase.
You may be left wondering what STEM jobs you can pursue. STEM careers go beyond just being a doctor or an engineer – the opportunities are endless! So what are some of the major STEM careers you should be exploring?
Imaging technologists are Allied Health professionals that complete a two or four year program from accredited college. Graduates are licensed by the NYS Department Of Health or registered or certified in a sub-specialty area to perform diagnostic imaging examinations. Using the most advanced imaging equipment, imaging professionals are trained to produce high-quality images that enable the Radiologist (physician) to make a critical diagnosis. Without their expertise, care teams wouldn’t be able to diagnose and treat patients effectively.
You can enjoy the flexibility to choose additional specializations such as computed tomography (CT), ultrasound, nuclear medicine, mammography and more. And as an imaging professional, you’d have the ability to work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, diagnostic labs, and ambulatory centers.
Careers to consider:
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Special Procedures Technologist
2. Certified Surgical Technologist
Surgical technologists have the important task of prepping patients for surgery and ensuring the operating room’s equipment has been sterilized and properly stocked with supplies. Your job as a surgical technologist doesn’t end there – you’d remain in the OR to assist surgeons throughout the surgery and then help to dress wounds. At Northwell, Registered Nurses and the Certified Surgical Technologist function as a subunit within a team, interacting through a unique, dynamic relationship—one sterile role and one nonsterile role, working in collaboration.
Job opportunities for surgical technologists are on the rise as the growth in population and technology leads to an increase in the frequency of surgical procedures. Completing a surgical technologist certification program usually takes around two years, allowing you the unique chance to quickly scrub into your first surgery after school.
Becoming a doctor or nurse isn’t the only option for science majors to join the healthcare industry! Research careers enable professionals to work in programs and partnerships that help study, test and improve clinical breakthroughs. Medical research also includes working on some of the most exciting technology to treat disease and injury, such as bioelectronic medicine. Not all research careers are clinical either – as a medical researcher you can work in engineering, statistics, and more.
Join together research and technology as part of a team working on cutting-edge discoveries in areas such as health outcomes research, translational science, behavioral science and more. As a member of the research team, you’d also have the ability to work on breakthroughs in major diseases from cancer to lupus to sepsis. Your work could help discover new treatments, therapies and technologies for patients to live a healthier life.
Careers to consider:
Associate Research Statistician
Post Doc Research Trainees
4. Telemetry Technicians
Telemetry technicians, also called monitoring technicians or electrocardiograph technicians (EKG or ECG), are important allied health professionals. These technicians use non-invasive electrocardiographic equipment to monitor patients’ heart rhythms and alert nurses and physicians to changes in the patient’s rate, rhythm and the occurrence of dysrhythmias while on the Telemetry Unit.
Working as a telemetry technician allows you to work within a hospital using advanced technology. There are also increasing opportunities for you to deliver compassionate care to patients within a hospital or ambulatory setting. And training programs prepare you for entering the healthcare industry in just a few months!
5. Clinical Laboratory Scientist
To become a clinical laboratory scientist you must obtain your bachelor’s degree from an accredited clinical laboratory science program, pass your ASCP national certification exam and then become licensed by New York State Education Department (NYSED) to practice. As a clinical laboratory scientist, you can work in exciting fields such as:
Fun fact, Northwell has two brand new, state-of-the-art labs. Our Core Lab/Automated Lab is the largest health system-based lab in the region with the largest Roche automated line of its kind in North America, and one of the largest in the world. Our new Microbiology Lab that has the largest Kiestra Micro automated line in the U.S!
Meet our Truly Ambitious Pediatric NP Andrea Orbon
This post is part of a blog series highlighting Northwell Health’s ACPs – Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. Each Northwell Health employee was nominated by their manager as an individual that exemplifies one of Northwell Health’s values. This month, we’re proud to introduce you to Andrea Orbon, who is a Truly Ambitious Nurse Practitioner. Hear her story.
Andrea Orbon CPNP has always considered herself a very ambitious person. After being a pediatric nurse, she pushed herself to become a nurse practitioner (NP) so she could do even more for her patients and their families. “As an NP, I’m here not only for the patient, but for their parents as well. I’m not only the diagnostician, but I’m their friend. I’m here to listen.”
Since starting her career with Northwell Health in 2014, Andrea has maintained valuable connections with her patients and their families as they’ve grown, even caring for her former patient’s children. Andrea empathizes with her young patients and their families. Her commitment to her work is inspiring. “It takes dedication to your profession, regardless of your position, to ensure you are still there for your patients. What’s nice about our practice is your patients become part of your family,” she says.
Though she’s been in the field for years, Andrea continues to push for new ways to connect with her patients. She’s helped orchestrate visits with local offices to develop a personal connection with doctors. This opens direct lines of communication, builds relationships with other doctors and, eventually, leads to referrals. Andrea goes above and beyond when building relationships with doctors and patients, and she frequently visits the hospital nursery during her rounds, on weekends, and on her days off to provide care to newborns and their parents before they officially become her patients. Andrea says, “I’m proud of this office because most pediatricians don’t take the time to go to the nursery, but we take efforts to be there at that first moment to deliver continuity of care.”
Andrea feels that the way she makes a difference as an NP is to fight for services that children need today. These services include early intervention, anxiety management, and working with schools and psychologists that serve as the liaison between behavioral and psychological care. “As an NP, we do more because we are the connecting piece between all the care delivered. We’re nurses first, and then NPs. We’re there for the patient and the family, which helps us treat the whole picture and not just the specific case. Continuing our personalized care and taking the extra step or making the extra call that’s needed to provide the patient with what they need, especially with kids who need early intervention or have school issues, makes a big difference in their daily lives.”
Being Truly Ambitious inside a large health system means going beyond delivering quality care. It means focus on personalized care that’s more than a quick check-up, and it’s dedicated service that accounts for patients’ whole selves, now and in the future. Andrea’s work is the definition of Truly Ambitious, and we are proud to call her a member of our Northwell Health family.
Top 5 Reasons to make the move to the Northwell Health’s Rehabilitation Team
You’ve chosen to pursue a career in one of the rehabilitation disciplines because you’re passionate about restoring the quality of life to those recovering from illness and injury. If you’re looking for the best place to grow your rehabilitation career, there are many reasons to join the rehabilitation team at Northwell Health. Here are the top five!
#1 – Made for Flexibility
With positions that cover the full continuum of rehabilitation care and opportunities throughout Long Island, the boroughs of New York and Westchester County, you’ll find a career that’s right for you. Northwell Health seeks professionals to join our team as physical and occupational therapists, speech-language therapists, rehabilitation aides, physical therapy assistants, clinical rehabilitation supervisors & directors, activities specialists and more in a variety of settings, including:
Hospital acute care
#2 – Always reaching higher
If you’re looking to take your rehabilitation career further, Northwell Health has what you’re looking for. Our rehabilitation services cover every specialty imaginable, including:
Inpatient/outpatient brain injury
Spinal cord injury
Women’s Health/Pelvic Floor
And much more!
In addition, Northwell Health features CARF-accredited rehabilitation facilities that ensure the highest standards of care.
#3 – Innovation in motion
We are always looking for smarter and better ways to restore quality of life. For example, Glen Cove Hospital is the only facility in New York and one of only seven in the country to offer the G-EO System ™. This Robotic Assisted Gait Trainer is the world’s most advanced robotic-assisted device for restoring ambulation. We also utilize:
Upper and lower extremity robots for stroke patients
Functional electric stimulation bikes for spinal cord injuries
Motion capture technology to assess athletic performance
And much more
#4 – Stretching your professional possibilities
Northwell Health offers a range of educational and professional development programs, including continuing clinical education, conference networking, physician rounding, clinical research opportunities and advanced training at the Center for Learning and Innovation. Northwell also provides individual mentoring in order to identify and develop outstanding clinicians.
#5 – Stronger together
Talk about your winning teams! Our teams systems-wide have been recognized as a leader in employee engagement with scores ranking over the 97th percentile nationally for four years in a row. With strong interdisciplinary collaboration, the rehabilitation professionals at Northwell Health are always better together.
Ready to take the next step? Learn more about job opportunities within our rehabilitation department here.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Join our talent community and learn about future rehabilitation career opportunities here.
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