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 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.
We’re investing in our future: Renovations to the ED of Long Island Jewish Valley Stream are underway!
At Northwell Health, we understand that in order to live up to our core value of being Truly Innovative, we need to be constantly investing in our people and our facilities. That’s why we’re excited to announce that we’re renovating one of the busiest emergency departments on Long Island: The ED ofLong Island Jewish Valley Stream.
“The LIJ Valley Stream Emergency Department is going through a long awaited ED renovation. The ED is being designed, not only to accommodate the current volume of patients, but to do so in the most efficient manner possible.” — John D’Angelo, Executive Director & Senior Vice President, Emergency Medicine Service Line
This renovation is more than just your average face-lift. The new ED expands the care that we’re Made for- going from serving 42,000 annual patients to 55,000.
These updates include 27 beds, two isolation rooms, a decontamination room that limits patient and staff exposure to environmental or other dangerous contaminants and a dedicated computed tomography scanner, part of a state-of-the-art imaging area.
The renovation is an investment in not only patient experience, but in the way doctors and nurses perform medicine. The new ED will use a “split-flow” model. Staff will triage and assess patients based on the severity of their conditions and assign them to the appropriate treatment level. Split-flow is the future of emergency care as it eliminates redundancy and waste wherever possible and has already proven effective in other Northwell Emergency Departments including our new facility at Southside Hospital.
“The vision of our leadership is palpable. The new Emergency Department at LIJ Valley Stream showcases Northwell Health’s commitment to our patients, communities and staff.” – Paula Fessler, Vice President of Emergency Medicine Service Line
We’re excited to show off our new look and enhanced experience! Imagine what you could accomplish at these new facilities as a member of our team.
Inside Northwell: How to Stand Out While Applying for Jobs in 2018
At our first Inside Northwell Facebook Live session, we sat down with members of our Talent Acquisition team who gave the best tips for candidates looking to join our team in 2018. Check it out!
1. How can candidates stand out while applying for jobs in 2018?
My best piece of advice would be to only apply to positions that you meet the minimum qualifications for. With the volume of applications we receive we can’t contact everyone and we are contacting only those who most closely match the department’s specific needs. If you don’t hear from us, you will remain in our database and we can contact you for other positions you are suitable for. Just because you were not the right match for one, does not mean you wouldn’t be the right match for another so don’t lose faith – the needs vary from department to department.
2. How can they make their resume stand out throughout the bunch/mix?
Your resume is a living breathing document so you can make changes as you learn or develop new skills sets throughout your career, even if you are not currently looking for a new job. Make sure you mention the special project that you have taken and the impact to the organization because it’ll show you ambition to make a direct impact. If you are looking for a new job, always remember, the job description is your friend – use the information provided to help you craft your resume and use the keywords they have listed within the job description in your resume too. If your previous experiences don’t exactly match the job you are looking for, don’t forget to add the transferable skill sets you’ve learned. (ie: “Customer Service” is really “Communication Skills”)
-Arthur Beechman, Clinical and Non-Clinical Recruiter, Talent Acquisition
Remember to add keywords. We have advanced technology that we are using to source through a variety of candidates. If you have the keywords within your resume our searches will be able to match with yours and pull up your information before someone else’s. Also, remember to send the final version of your resume. You wouldn’t believe the amount of resumes we receive with a coworkers/family members/metors edits on them. Always double check!
If you’re updating your resume, as you should be all the time, make sure that any past experience is referred to in past tense. If it looks like current tense language for a position you held 3 years ago, we notice that and it shows less attention to detail. Also remember to quantify information. If you work for an organization that we aren’t familiar of, it’s very helpful to a recruiter to have some sense of how large that organization is, adding the number of direct reports (if any) you have, if you’ve saved the organization any money and how you achieved that – this will help us quickly understand who you are and what you do for what type of organization.
-Esther David, Director, Talent Acquisition
3. What makes a candidate “made for Northwell Health”?
4. What are the most appropriate ways for them to follow up with recruiters?
5. What is your last piece of advice for our candidates?
Photo: Members of our Radiology team at the 2016 Northwell Health Walk
Radiologic Technologists – the difference they make at Northwell Health
Since Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen’s discovery of the x-ray in 1895, the field of imaging technology has advanced from a chance scientific discovery during a lab experiment in Germany into an integral part of every patient’s management of care around the world, and across Northwell Health.
“Radiology technologists make a difference throughout our health system by providing physicians with images that enables them to treat or diagnose a disease. Over 230,000 studies are performed by imaging technologies in the department of radiology at LIJ alone. It is safe to say that radiology technologists are the eyes of medicine.” Andreas Nicou, Senior Administrative Director, Department of Radiology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
The Imaging Service Line at Northwell Health prides itself on being able to provide prompt and accurate subspecialty imaging and interpretations of images acquired on the most technologically advanced imaging equipment, in a safe and comfortable environment. We offer our patients convenience and easy access to our imaging facilities 7 days a week, throughout the Northwell catchment area. Our highly skilled, licensed, registered, and certified Imaging Technologists make all the difference when it comes to delivering the optimal patient imaging experience and obtaining the highest quality images possible, leading to prompt diagnosis and follow up care.
“Our imaging technologists are “Truly Ambitious” in their pursuit for continuous learning and advancement of both the field of imaging and their personal career development and growth. Our academic program affiliations offer an advanced teaching environment which allows our new recruits entry level opportunities at Northwell Health, as well as additional upward mobility opportunities and career ladders for existing team members.” Jim Henglein, Senior Director, Support Services, North Shore University Hospital
Imaging Technologists at Northwell Health have career opportunities in diverse modality areas which include X-ray, MRI, CT, Special Procedures, Cardiac Catheterization, Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound and Peripheral Vascular, and Radiation Medicine technologists.
“Our technologists are truly ambitious because they never let the increasing demands of the field or the never ending advancement of radiology technology hold them back. They are resilient and always manage to adapt to the changes and thrive in order to provide our patients with the quality care they deserve.” Andreas Nicou, Senior Administrative Director, Department of Radiology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
Our state of the art imaging environment includes an advanced and integrated Picture Archival Communication System, the most advanced clinical & research MR imaging magnets available, the lowest dose CT scanners available on the market, Ultrasound with 3D imaging capabilities, PET and SPECT CT, and the most advanced Imaging for Women’s Health and Breast Imaging including the most current digital platforms for Tomosynthesis.
“Our goal is to attract highly skilled imaging professionals in order to complement our existing imaging team, and offer them career growth opportunities in a very exciting and challenging environment. Each year during the first full week of November we celebrate National Radiology Technology Week by honoring and recognizing all Imaging Technologists for their commitment towards providing the highest level of diagnostic imaging and imaging guidance for our physicians to diagnose and treat diseases. We thank them for their support, teamwork, and dedication to their profession and to our patients they provided during the past year by holding week long activities including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and other social activities.” John J. Aloisio, Assistant Vice President, Imaging Service Line
Photo: Members of our genetic counseling team in the Northwell Division of Genetics & Genomics
What is a Genetic Counselor?
What it is.
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors genetic counselors: “have advanced training in medical genetics and counseling to guide and support patients seeking more information about how inherited diseases and conditions might affect them or their families, and to interpret test results.”
How to become one.
Genetic counselors (GCs) have master’s degrees from one of 30 programs across the country. Applicants generally have a science or psychology background, but they can come from any field. Other valuable experiences include working with people with disabilities, crisis counseling, laboratory work, and shadowing genetic counselors. GCs are accredited through an examination offered by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Genetic counseling programs are also becoming more common around the world.
Why our employees became one.
“My undergraduate degree and first 20 years of work experience were in theater lighting. Like many GCs, the field was a career change for me. Several personal experiences over the years had sent me to GCs, and I was always impressed at how much they seemed to love their work. Now I am proud to count myself among them.”Michele Disco, Senior Genetic Counselor
“I found out about the profession during high school and during my undergraduate degree, found myself more and more attracted to the science of genetics, but basic science lab work was not for me. When I got the chance to shadow within a genetic counseling clinic was the moment I made the commitment that that was what I wanted to do. I transitioned into a genetic counseling graduate program immediately after my undergraduate degree and now here I am!” Amber Gamma, Genetic Counselor
Why you’ll love it.
“I love supporting families in learning more about genetics and their health, listening to their stories, and guiding them in their decisions. Sometimes the scientific information can help dispel fears about conditions running in the family; other times I need strong counseling skills to compassionately convey difficult news. Constantly staying informed about the rapidly changing field of genetics means that I am always learning. I am also fortunate to teach genetic counseling students, and to give educational presentations, both ways to learn more myself.” Michele Disco, Senior Genetic Counselor
“My favorite part of this field is the blending of education, human connection and science. Genetics is becoming increasingly more important in the field of medicine and being on the forefront of that innovation is incredibly exciting, but being able to translate it to everyday patient care and how the information affects these people and their families is where the real reward lies for me. Through an emphasis on strong patient relationships via empathy and advocacy, I find that not only am I always on a journey of learning to stay abreast of new scientific developments within the field, but I’m also on a journey of learning about my patients, what’s most important to them and how we can use this information to empower them in their healthcare and reproductive choices.”Amber Gamma, Genetic Counselor
What your role will be.
At Northwell, genetic counselors see prenatal, pediatric, and adult patients. For example, prenatal genetic counselors work with expecting couples interested in knowing more about their baby’s health and pediatric counselors work with children. Cancer genetic counselors at the Northwell Cancer Institute and the recently launched, multidisciplinary Northwell Center for Cancer Prevention and Wellness work with patients and families concerned about a family history of cancer, or who have cancer themselves.
We are also integrated into many Northwell Health departments and programs, including cardiology, hemophilia and sickle cell disease, pediatric hematology/oncology, reproductive endocrinology/fertility, and the Craniofacial, Marfan’s, and Neurofibromatosis Clinics, among others. Our role is continually expanding. Part of our expansion within the health system means increasing our close collaboration with physicians, advanced care practitioners, nutritionists, social workers, and other health care professionals, and partnering with them to provide patients with the highest level of compassionate care. We also serve as mentors for prospective and current genetic counseling master’s students completing their clinical rotations at Northwell, and are involved in research initiatives through the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
My Northwell Health career began before I had even discovered the passion I had to help others. My mother, a Nurse, and my father, a Physician Assistant, both worked at hospitals that would one day become part of the Northwell Health family. Although I admired their work and saw them excel in their careers, I never pictured myself following in either of their footsteps. After high school and through the first few years of college, I worked at a number of jobs, but it was hard to see any of those jobs as a long-term career. It wasn’t until I took an EMT- Basic course that I immediately realized, “This is it. This is my passion.” I get to come to work, help people improve their lives, and even save lives on a daily basis.
At a young age, my grandfather told me to find a career that I loved, a role that would make me want to wake up in the morning and go to work every day. If you can do that, he said that I would never work a day in my life.
Joining Northwell Health
After I completed the EMT – Basic course, I started working at various EMS companies, but I had a desire for more. I wanted to be able to make a bigger impact on the lives of my patients and I wanted to work for a company that shared the same goals as me. I began working night shifts as an EMT and started attending Stony Brook University’s Paramedic Program during the day. One year later, I graduated at the top of my class and started to practice as a Paramedic.
I started looking and applying to Northwell Health’s careers website at every opportunity. I would apply for any position I was qualified for with the plan that once I got in the health system I could transfer into CEMS (Center for Emergency Medical Services). Then finally in January 2016, while waiting for the next emergency call at work, my phone rang and it was Northwell Health- the day had finally come. During the interview and on-boarding process, every individual I had the pleasure of dealing with made me realize that I could not have made a better choice than becoming part of this organization. Since my hiring as an EMT-Basic I was upgraded to Paramedic I in under a year.
“I was made for this”
Academic accomplishments aside, what I am most proud of is being able to do what I love for my patients. I can truly say I treat every one of my patients as if they were my own family and it has paid off. I have received numerous awards and stars on myRecognition, our internal employee recognition platform, and accomplishment pins from supervisors and fellow staff members. Numerous patients and their families write letters to thank me and my partner for going above and beyond to make a stressful, scary situation easier on them. When our CEMS EMTs and Paramedics show up, it’s usually due to an emergency situation. Knowing the community can trust the EMTs and Paramedics to take care of them or their family members and that CEMS is leading the way in its industry allows them to take a sigh of relief.
I know I was “made for this,” because of the letters I receive from a patient’s family thanking me for taking care of their loved one or another patient has called to say thank you. Every day I wear my recognition pins proudly. It reminds me to always uphold my organization’s values and it shows the pride I have for my job. They also ensure that I never forget how blessed I am to work as a Northwell Health Paramedic. My plan is to soon advance my career even further and become a Critical Care Paramedic.
Most importantly, every time I put on my uniform it reminds me that I have another chance to make a difference or save a life. After all, the simple act of caring creates an endless ripple that passes from person to person.
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.