Against the odds: A nurse’s journey to working at LIJ Medical Center after beating cancer
When Nicole Rivera, RN, was diagnosed with cancer at six years old, she was given only a 10% chance of living. Despite these odds, Nicole’s battle with cancer ended in triumph. “I kicked cancer’s butt and to this day, I remain in remission – 18 years and counting,” says Nicole. “Cancer took my right leg but not my life.”
It was her experience fighting cancer that inspired Nicole to become a nurse and ultimately lead her to her career at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. “I wanted to become a nurse after having amazing nurses help care for me as I fought cancer in one of the hardest battles of my life,” says Nicole. Today Nicole works as a cardiothoracic/surgical oncology step-down nurse where she finds her experience gives her a special relationship with her patients.
“My history has made me a stronger and better nurse because I know how it feels to be on the other side of things,” says Nicole. “I know what it feels like being that patient in bed feeling despaired. My story has allowed me to connect with patients on a deeper level.”
Overcoming the challenges she has had to face, including wearing an above-knee prosthetic, has reminded Nicole of the importance of remaining grounded in life and as a nurse. “It’s important to stay humble and never take health for granted. Every day we see people complain over the little things in life, while there are people out there fighting for their life.”
And it’s a fight that Nicole knows firsthand she can help patients through just by being there for them. “My favorite part of being a nurse is seeing the smile on a patients face knowing I helped make a difference,” she says. “Whether it be something as simple as filling up their water, helping escort them to the restroom or providing comfort after bad news. Their smile makes it all worth it.”
It was both Nicole’s passion and her inspirational story that led to her being nominated as a 2019 New York Mets Nurse Hero. She was recognized at the New York Mets Nurses Night game as one of ten nurse heroes for their dedication to providing exceptional care for patients. Nurses received customized scrubs and got to stand on the field during the first pitch.
Throughout it all, Nicole has always known she was made for nursing, “I put my heart into my patients every day and cannot imagine being in any other profession.”
The Northwell Health President’s Awards program honors and celebrates employees who truly represent the very best of Northwell. Each year, these awards recognize team members who not only surpass our expectations and standards of excellence, but also those who drive innovative business outcomes throughout five distinctive categories Nurse of the Year, Leader of the Year, Teamwork and Exceptional Patient/ Customer Experience and Physician of the Year. Get to know this year’s winners and their incredible stories.
Leader of the Year
Ryan J. Guda, RNNurse Manager, Dialysis Services, Ambulatory
Building on his array of experiences in different fields, Ryan Guda has rebuilt a workplace that adapts to change and established a culture of respect with dramatic effects on the quality of care.
Shortly after joining Northwell in 2015, Ryan met with each team member to hear their opinions about their work environment. By listening and acknowledging his team’s feelings, he was able to re-direct negative behavior in a nonjudgmental manner and win their trust. Even his adept computer skills helped during a transition to electronic record-keeping.
Ryan quickly became an agent of change that has improved the work environment and directly affected the quality of services delivered to patients living with end-stage renal failure. He was successful in turning the team members’ fear of change into hope.
Watch Ryan’s Made for this story.
Nurse of the Year
Jeffrey Rosa, RNSurgical Intensive Care Unit, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
Passion for his patients and awareness of the complexities of navigating the emotions and needs of those in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit drive the care provided by Jeffrey Rosa. He witnessed the excellent care provided to his grandmother, and, later, as a paramedic, responded to the horrors of the Sept. 11 attack at the World Trade Center, which solidified his determination to become a nurse.
At Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC), Jeffrey is known as “the go-to player,” someone who has made it his business to know everything he needs to know about every patient in a unit where extra compassion, understanding and respect for what patients and families are going through are crucial. He is completely dedicated to inspiring and teaching new nurses to share his passion and expertise. He coaches, mentors and serves as a role model for his peers. Jeffrey lectures the hemodynamics portion of the nursing fellowship curriculum and shares his passion for work he does daily.
Jeffrey participates in countless committees, including the Magnet task force, and as co-chair of the Surgical ICU’s Collaborative Care Council, he facilitates the agenda and pushes LIJMC nursing units to share innovative solutions and champion new ideas and processes.
Watch Jeffrey’s Made for this story.
Nurse of the Year
Alexa Damone, RN Medical Surgical Unit, Glen Cove Hospital
Alexa Damone’s passion for her work is evident to her patients and colleagues by constantly learning new skills to improve medical care.
Alexa has the ability to relate to patients and their families through her caring manner and attentive demeanor. Her deep commitment is evident to her patients and her colleagues and was recognized by the hospital when she was honored in the hospital’s first “Breakfast with the Stars.” She is empathic, compassionate, an excellent communicator, possesses solid clinical and problem-solving skills and serves as an advocate for her patients.
Her commitment to helping peers is inspirational. Upon returning from a sepsis conference, Alexa shared her newly developed knowledge with her peers to improve the identification and prompt treatment of sepsis. She was a part of a project on infection control that led to better hand hygiene and infection control practices on the unit. Alexa is involved in another project aimed at improving the patient experience. With diabetes becoming increasingly prevalent, especially among the elderly, she attended a two-day workshop recognizing the importance of diabetes knowledge, management and education, enabling her to become a unit champion and valuable resource for her peers and patients.
Watch Alexa’s Made for this story.
ECMO-TO-GO Long Island Jewish Medical Center, North Shore University Hospital, Southside Hospital
Made up of a team of well-honed specialists, ECMO-TO-GO takes its life-saving skills wherever they are needed, elevating the level of care available to seriously ill patients. The team develops its successes with the cardiopulmonary bypass technique through continuity of communication and care delivered by all team members, commitment to continuous improvement and the depth of care provided by experts from across Northwell. The innovative approach of the team traveling to the patient rather than the other way around means a highly qualified, seasoned team is available to the sickest of patients. With a mortality rate of about 50 percent in these kinds of patients, the concept of such a team grew out of the establishment of an acute lung injury program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and the launch of a heart transplant program. Northwell physicians recognized the need to provide stable, quality care as quickly as possible, leading to the ECMO-TO- GO program.
The strength of the group comes from their ability to harness their differences in expertise to meet the dire needs of a complicated patient population. They do so with seamless coordination, deep compassion, and deliberate communication ultimately forging something stronger than any individual person.
Watch ECMO-TO-GO’s Made for this story!
Exceptional Patient Customer Experience
Adrian MazurChaplain, Cohen Children’s Medical Center
Chaplain Adrian Mazur has chosen to work in the midst of medical crisis, supporting the smallest patients and their families in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as they try to cope with life threatening illnesses. It is his empathy that others quickly notice as he helps fearful, weary and distressed parents who are trying to cope with some of the worst days of their lives.
Adrian, who came to the ministry from a career in finance and volunteer work with an orphanage in Ukraine, works with adolescents in pediatric hematology/oncology. There he helps to establish a connection and genuine trust as the young patients face their own mortality, changes in their appearance and an overall loss of health and stamina.
Often, Adrian plays a significant role in the lives of families that ultimately lose their child to illness. In one instance, he later drove through a snowstorm to be with one such couple at the birth of another child. It is through his presence, compassion, dedication, prayers and listening ear that he helps patients and parents redefine their hopes and maintain their dreams. Adrian’s presence brings a vitality to the hospital and all those he touches.
Watch Adrian’s Made for this story!
Physician of the Year
Carmen Rodriguez, MD, FACOG Voluntary Physician, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center
An excellent bedside manner and the care she provides to her patients distinguishes the work of Dr. Carmen Rodriguez and moves many people to say, “She’s the best.” Regarded as reliable, dependable and talented, she is also humble and unpretentious. Dr. Rodriguez leads by example for all clinicians and team members. And her contributions go beyond kindness and compassion. She is known to take on some of the most difficult gynecological challenges via laparotomy, laparoscopic and robotic modalities. Dr. Rodriguez will always fight to defend the reproductive rights of her patients.
Dr. Rodriguez also plays an active role in the affairs and governance of the hospital. She is the associate chair of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center – Performance ImprovementCoordinating Group (LIJMC PICG). She is also a member of the OBGYN department PICG. Dr. Rodriguez finds the time to participate in performance improvement initiatives because she believes that everyone benefits when better care is rendered, mainly for the patient and the community at large, but also for the clinical and administrative team member. She is the president-elect of the LIJ Medical Team member Society, making her the first woman to hold this distinguished position in the history of LIJMC.
Northwell launches Women in Healthcare Business Employee Resource Group
Northwell Health is excited to announce the recent launch of our Women in Healthcare Business Employee Resource Group (BERG)! Our newest BERG focuses on empowering women across all levels of Northwell as well as in our communities.
To do this, the Women in Healthcare members are committed to mentoring and developing women leaders at all levels within Northwell, including the executive level. Members will serve as both mentors and advocates for other Northwell team members, to help them develop professionally and to educate on the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
The Women in Healthcare BERG aims to not only promote growth for women and foster greater employee engagement, but it is also a key part of our mission of transforming the future of healthcare.
Co-executive sponsors include Mark Solazzo, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Deborah Schiff, executive vice president, Ambulatory Strategy and Business Development, and Kathy Gallo, RN, PhD, executive vice president and chief learning officer while Dr. Stacey Rosen, vice president, Women’s Health, Katz Institute for Women s Health, Maxine Carrington, deputy chief HR officer, and Kerri Scanlon, RN, deputy chief nursing officer and AED, Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer at North Shore University Hospital serve as co-chairs. Membership is open to anyone within the health system, including team members like Paola Benitez.
Using your career history to support other women in healthcare
Paola is a manager in the Government Rates and Reporting Group within Corporate Finance. Having grown her own career since she was initially hired as an analyst, Paola knows the importance of giving women the resources they need to develop professionally. “I joined this BERG because I wanted to be actively involved in the health system’s effort towards equality and inclusion,” says Paola. ‘I wanted to be part of encouraging more women to aspire to leadership.”
This isn’t the only BERG Paola has joined – she’s an active member of the Bridges LatinX BERG and has participated in community events that helped educate diverse minorities on the importance of access to health care, fitness and nutrition. She is confident that the Women in Healthcare BERG will be as successful within Northwell and its community.
“It is important to create BERG like this because it allows employees to build networks, share challenges and growth, and work together towards professional goals,” says Paola.
And for women looking to start out in their healthcare careers? Paola has the following advice, “Work hard, take risks and fail early. Do not feel that you must check all boxes in a job description – you will learn along the way!”
An Appointment With: Edward Fraser, VP, Community Relations
Since joining the health system in 2006, Edward’s career has evolved from his role at Southside Hospital within the Human Resources department to Nursing Education, and then to the department of Community Relations. He has grown from director of community relations at Southside Hospital to, vice president of Community Relations for the entire organization.
In addition to his role as VP, Edward is Co-Chair of Northwell’s EXPRESSIONS Business Employee Resource Group (BERG). Beyond Northwell, he’s also an active member of many community organizations and is currently enrolled in the Energeia Partnership Program at Molloy College. Throughout every step of his career, Edward has been known for his deep and abiding commitment to his family and to the many communities he serves.
We sat down with Edward to talk about the work of Community Relations and Northwell’s EXPRESSIONS BERG.
Tell us about the work of Northwell’s Community Relations team.
The Community Relations team handles community outreach, corporate sponsorships and promotes employee engagement initiatives for the health system. I’ve worked to build a dedicated team that connects with the communities surrounding our hospitals to bring education and build partnerships with local businesses, faith-based organizations, school districts and charitable organizations. We also manage two immediate care centers on Fire Island, acting as their premier health care provider.
Another big initiative we oversee along with finance is Community Benefit. Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment and/or promote health and healing as a response to identified community needs. They increase access to health care and improve community health. Community Benefit tracking is required for all not-for-profit hospitals seeking to maintain their tax-exempt status, as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Tell us more about the impact your team is making on the communities we serve.
With team members being active members of many community organizations including many Chambers of Commerce, Splashes of Hope, as well as Islip Food for Hope. Inc., we’re able to keep an eye on how trends are impacting our community.
How has the EXPRESSIONS Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) evolved?
Northwell’s EXPRESSIONS BERG is an LGBTQ Employee Diversity group. EXPRESSIONS has grown to be comprised of more than 400 Northwell team members who identify as members, or are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community. EXPRESSIONS was created to ensure our employees have a voice and the opportunity to be heard. It’s initiatives like this that led to Northwell being named among the 50 employers recognized for fostering an inclusive workplace for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and ranking second nationally and No. 1 in New York State as a top health systems for diversity on DiversityInc’s top Hospitals & Health Systems for Diversity list.
Additionally, we oversee is the annual system-wide survey with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) which is the national benchmarking tool evaluating healthcare practices and policies as related to the equity and inclusion of our LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. Northwell just scored 100% on all 25 surveys that were submitted for this year.
What activities does Northwell Health have planned to celebrate Pride Month?
The EXPRESSIONS BERG is participating in many exciting festivals and marches throughout the month of June to celebrate Pride month. As part of Northwell’s commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community, the health system has partnered with NYC Pride to serve as a principal sponsor of events tied to WorldPride 2019 and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Northwell’s platinum sponsorship with the nonprofit Heritage of Pride, Inc., the organization that produces New York City’s official LGBTQIA+ Pride events, the March, PrideFest and Family Movie Night. We’ll also have a presence at Westchester Loft Pride, Rockland County Pride, Queens Pride, Long Island Pride and Cherry Grove Pride. If you are in the area, join us!
Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at Northwell Health
Written by: Bridges Asian BERG co-chairs
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions that generations of Asian Pacific Americans have made to American history, society and culture.
In honor of the heritage month this May, we are featuring the stories and work of a few of our Bridges Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) members at Northwell Health.
Also featured, is an Asian Pacific American physician leader at Northwell Health, who is partnering with Bridges Asian BERG, to make broader connections and develop new ideas to help transform some of the amazing work spearheaded by this leader.
Please join us, as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May!
I’ve been working at Northwell for about 2.5 years as an Institutional Review Board (IRB) Manager within the Human Research Protection Program at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. My job is to support, facilitate and promote the ethical and safe conduct of clinical research at Northwell Health. We oversee IRB review for all 23 hospitals and facilities throughout Northwell Health that serves to protect research participants’ rights, safety and welfare.
Why did you join the Asian BERG?
I joined the Northwell Bridges Asian BERG in 2017. I have a passion to be a part of that bridge between our health system and local communities, and one of the ways that I serve in that capacity is being the Chair of the BERG Chinese Language Advisory Board (LAB). Our LAB is made up of other dedicated BERG members who are fluent, native speakers who provide consultation to service lines, departments and facilities on optimal methods of communication for the Chinese communities. We also provide feedback on the quality of translated materials by certified vendors to ensure that the messaging is appropriate and clear. By providing advisory services and partnering with Language Access Services from the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity we are working to enhance patient experience, customer service and better connect with our diverse communities.
What do you like about working for Northwell?
I feel so lucky to be recognized for my efforts and it encourages me to continue working harder and to be more innovative. I am proud to use my language capabilities and skillsets as a Chinese American to further the causes of our organization and the diverse communities that we serve.
What advice would you give about mentorship?
Mentorship is always important. However, within this organization of 68,000+ employees, mentorship from successful higher-level leaders is not only critical, but it will help individuals advance in their careers quickly. By encouraging mentorship, we are building our leaders of tomorrow.
In 1995 I started at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) as a registered nurse and in 2005 I became a nurse practitioner in Cardiology.
Why did you join the Asian BERG?
I wanted to actively support my community. Many Asian community members want to come to Northwell Health for its great reputation, but due to the cultural and language barriers it may be difficult for them to navigate our facilities. My contribution to close this cultural gap was to be a part of the committee that introduced the Korean seaweed soup (miyuk gook) for mothers who just gave birth at NSUH. In 2008 I started a free monthly health clinic for the Korean community and have continued my efforts to keep the clinic going since then.
Can you tell us more about the Korean health clinic?
Through my years at NSUH, I observed numerous Korean patients being admitted to the hospital due to the lack of healthcare either because they couldn’t afford it or because they didn’t know how to obtain it. Patients would have very serious conditions but did not have a primary doctor, medical or prescription insurance to recuperate and maintain their health. Various professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers, physical therapists and acupuncturists, volunteered to provide preventive medical services monthly and our team was formed. Since the start of this program, 2,000 patients have been cared for with various conditions, some critical such as abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, breast cancer, unstable angina, laryngeal cancer, hypertensive emergencies and others. The social workers assisted patients in signing up for Medicare/Medicaid and our team helped coordinate care for further medical treatment and follow up.
What is your advice for others?
We need to care for our families and neighbors. No one can live alone. We need to volunteer our time, support each other’s ideas and use our professional skillsets to help the community become healthier. Many Asian Americans want to help their families and community and can do so in this way. Furthermore, many employees may not know about the BERG, which helps us internally network and externally bridge with communities.
Santhosh Paulus, MD
Santhosh Paulus, MD, site director of Huntington Hospital’s family medicine residency program, is also Northwell Health Human Trafficking Response Program System Taskforce Leader. In 2014, he founded Cycling For Change, a not-for-profit organization, with a mission to cycle, raise awareness and fundraise to support organizations on the front lines of battling human trafficking.
What began as a personal action to raise awareness about human trafficking, “it is a public health issue where individuals are abducted or deceived into servitude and exploited for profit, it is a modern-day form of slavery and the social justice issue of our generation”, said Dr. Paulus.
Dr. Paulus has been appointed as Northwell Health’s Human Trafficking taskforce leader, where he spearheads a human trafficking response program at Huntington Hospital, which currently includes more than a dozen staff members who have been trained by Restore NYC, an anti-trafficking organization, to identify victims and assist human trafficking victims and provide care to survivors. Dr. Paulus is working collaboratively with the Bridges Asian BERG on furthering the mission of the taskforce.
Northwell Health has been named one of the nation’s top health systems for diversity, ranking second nationally and No. 1 in New York State, according to DiversityInc’s top Hospitals & Health Systems for Diversity list.
This achievement marks Northwell’s seventh straight year making the list, jumping up the rankings from last year’s No. 5 placement. DiversityInc’s extensive annual survey yields an empirically driven ranking based on talent results in the workforce and management, senior leadership accountability, talent programs, workplace practices, philanthropy and supplier diversity.
“America has gained strength from the generations of immigrants who have assimilated their cultural beliefs and unique skills into the fabric our country,” said Michael J. Dowling, Northwell Health’s president and CEO. “At Northwell, we also believe that our strength as an organization comes from the diversity of our employees and the communities we serve. This recognition is testament to our commitment.”
This is the second such honor in recent months for Northwell, which was named a FortuneBest Workplace for Diversity. Northwell ranks 80th on the annual 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity list, a partnership between Fortune and Great Place to Work that measures how well organizations create inclusive cultures for women, different cultural and ethnic communities, the LGBTQ community, older employees and workers with disabilities.
DiversityInc’s recognition reaffirms our approach to be representative and inclusive of all the communities the health system and its 68,000 employees serves.
“Receiving this recognition validates Northwell Health’s commitment to integrating the tenets of diversity, inclusion and health equity into our health care delivery model and essential to customizing care to improve health outcomes,” said Jennifer H. Mieres, MD, chief diversity and inclusion officer and senior vice president of the health system’s Center for Equity of Care. “Providing culturally-sensitive healthcare and fostering an inclusive workplace is integral to the partnership with our patients on the journey to improved health and wellness.”
The latest DiversityInc rankings reflect new metrics tied to questions that connect talent programs and workplace practices to desired talent results. The analysis also addressed the intersectionality of race by analyzing women and men representation of each race/ethnicity separately, rather than combined. Northwell also was ranked in the top 50 employers recognized for fostering an inclusive work place for members of the LGBT community.
“As a health care organization, we at Northwell health live our values – we are truly ourselves, and in doing so, seek to build trusted partnerships with our diverse patients and communities,” said Michael Wright, Northwell’s vice president of diversity and health equity.
#BalanceforBetter: Northwell Health celebrates International Women’s Day 2019
March 8th marks International Women’s Day to celebrate women everywhere. At Northwell Health, we’re committed to fostering a diverse work environment that champions its team members regardless of gender or gender identity and where everyone can be Truly Ourselves.
In celebration, hear from some of Northwell’s amazing women and the women that inspire them daily.
Black History Month: My role in helping reignite humanism
At Northwell, we stand united together, celebrating our differences and respecting them. February is Black History Month, and we sat down with Helen White, manager, community relations, Long Island Jewish Valley Stream and Ralph Thomas, project manager, administration, clinical transformation, Northwell Health to learn about their background, journey to becoming a leader, who inspires them and the importance of reigniting humanism through inclusion, dignity and respect.
What is your ethnic background and family origin?
RALPH: I am Haitian American. Both of my parents were born in Haiti and I was born in Brooklyn, NY. My family moved here to seek better economic opportunities.
HELEN: I am an African American woman whose parents proudly originated from Harlem, NY and Pittsburgh, PA.
When did you know that you wanted to be a healthcare leader?
RALPH:I always had an interest in helping others as a child. Growing up in Flatbush, Brooklyn I personally experienced the challenges of accessing health care and the negative effects it had on the community as a whole. In high school, I decided one day that I would become a change agent in the healthcare industry. I began my journey in research and community health and eventually became an administrator.
HELEN:I have always been an outgoing and passionate person with the desire to organize and lead. While I did not plan on a career in health care, I grew to see how my values and my desire to help build bridges throughout our communities could be a powerful force in providing education and access to care to those who need it.
What’s the best part of your job?
RALPH:The best part is collaborating with clinical leaders, front line staff and administrative personnel to overcome barriers and find solutions in clinical transformation and organizational-wide projects. The outcome of our work has an impact on our patients, team members and the communities we serve. I am enthusiastic to be a co-chair for Northwell’s Bridges Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) representing African American and Caribbean employees. Being a BERG leader has allowed me to work in partnership with senior leadership on how to enhance recruitment and retention of culturally diverse talent and increase community outreach.
HELEN:The most rewarding aspect of my current position is how it enables me to partner with other community organizations and provide outreach projects for the underserved.
What thoughts and emotions does Black History Month evoke for you?
RALPH: Black History Month shares our history and contributions to the world with a wider audience. Similar to the Adinkra symbol Sankofa, Black History Month expresses the importance of reaching back to wisdom gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. During this time and every day, I think of celebrating our rich past, present and work toward a better future.
HELEN:When I hear the term Black History Month, I fondly think of my childhood years. Every Saturday morning, the neighborhood children attended a Black History Reading Circle, hosted by a trailblazing woman in our community. We learned about black history on a weekly basis throughout the year and I can vividly remember the impact those sessions had on me to this day.
Is there a leader from history that inspires you? What about a figure from today?
RALPH:Nelson Mandela. He set an example of dedication, courage, and sacrifice for all. Also Angela Rye, an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate that has an unwavering commitment to ensuring positive change in the political process.
HELEN: I have always been inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His strength and stamina to follow his dream while facing constant adversity and life threatening challenges made him larger than life in my eyes. He exemplified what a true leader should be by teaching all of us about inclusion, dignity and respect. Most recently, I have been inspired by former President Barack Obama. I admire how throughout his public life he faced many challenges, but was able to maintain a respectful and dignified character.
Why, more than ever, do we need to reignite humanism through inclusion, dignity and respect?
RALPH:As humans, we are all capable of doing good to create a better society. While embracing our uniqueness, we have the opportunity to change the narrative on inclusion. Our patients and team members all have distinctive stories, challenges and successes in life that can benefit one another. Embracing our uniqueness, relying on each other, and creating new narratives will evolve our organization and surrounding communities.
HELEN:There are many issues dividing people today, all of which make it essential for healthcare providers to incorporate humanism in their care plan. All people need to feel respected, valued and cared for. I believe a purpose-driven life is a life of service and therefore, what better industry is there than health care to fulfill that purpose.
Black History Month: Bridges BERG celebrates being Truly Ourselves
Great things are achieved when we’re Truly Ourselves. Part of being Truly Ourselves means standing together and celebrating our differences. In honor of Black History Month, Northwell recognizes the hardworking members of our Bridges BERG (Business Employee Resource Group) who dedicate time year round to support the cultural and spiritual values of the communities we serve.
Passionate about cultural diversity, team members in our Bridges BERG embrace relationship building through education and support across African American, Asian, Chinese and Latino communities.
As part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion, Northwell recently held our 49th consecutive event honoring the teachings and visions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This memorial event honored the teachings of Dr. King and included a keynote from noted author and motivational speaker Steve Pemberton. The Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial program scholarship was also awarded to two high school students from the community. We sat down with team members to talk about their time volunteering at this wonderful event, as well as their experience being a member of the Bridges BERG.
Hear from some of our Northwell team members volunteering with the Bridges BERG:
Amanda Basdeo Registrar Financial Cohen Children’s Medical Center
“I am so glad I was able to be a part of this event because there are so many wonderful people there and it was truly inspirational. The BERGs get you involved in the community as well as building professional relationships throughout the company. Working in the medical field, you already have an interest for the people at heart…I feel like I have finally been given the opportunity to give back like I always wanted to.”
Ashley Cohen Business Analyst Organization Change Management Revenue Cycle
“The tribute was amazing and meant a lot to me in so many ways. I felt overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for the speakers, performers and award recipients. I’m proud to work for such a diverse organization that affects and saves thousands of lives each day.”
Iva Rowe Business Manager Revenue Cycle
“I have worked at Northwell for almost five years, and I have learned so much at this organization. I am a proud member of the Bridges BERG, and volunteering at the Martin Luther King Jr. event was a true honor for me. It was my first time volunteering for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Northwell, and I look forward to being a part of it again. “
Ambulatory Human Resources
“This event means a lot to me that we were acknowledging the great work of the Honorable Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was so overwhelmed with the stories people shared with us at the event and I greatly appreciated being an ‘ear’ for some of them.
As a BERG member, I am afforded the opportunity to network with other employees from different facets of the health system…we are all able to bring our own experiences forth and are able to learn from one another.”
“As I’ve only been with the organization for 5 months, being afforded the opportunity to volunteer was priceless. Being a part of such a giving organization that places emphasis on community, philanthropy and education is such an honor. I share with my son the importance of giving back to others who give us so much and Northwell does a great job of doing just that!”
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Northwell Health honors Universal Human Rights Month by reflecting on diversity and inclusion
December is Universal Human Rights Month and this year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To honor this important anniversary, we’re spending the month reflecting on diversity and inclusion within Northwell Health.
At Northwell Health, we are unyielding in our commitment to welcoming, respecting, and leveraging the talent of individuals who apply their diverse perspectives and experiences in helping us understand and best meet the needs of the broad range of communities we serve. In the words of Deputy Chief HR Officer Maxine Carrington, “fully realized, the insights and contributions of a diverse workforce will enable us to fulfill our mission and values, grow and evolve, and assure our reputation as a best place to work and receive care – for all.”
We know that, as a healthcare provider, our diversity is the backbone of our ability to better serve the equally diverse communities that we touch. “I’ve always believed that the power of the health system doesn’t lie in Northwell Health being the largest healthcare provider or private employer in our state but from a much deeper place,” says Regional Director, Community Relations Matthew DePace. At Northwell Health, we draw our strength from the deep diversity of our workforce throughout our levels of operation. This variety of perspectives and points of view allow us to solve the problems of our employees, our patients’ and their communities.
Northwell’s Emerging Leaders Diversity & Inclusion Council shows the power of being Truly Ourselves
Northwell Health knows that as impressive as we are individually, we’re even better working Truly Together. We’re committed to standing together and building a diverse and inclusive work environment that strengthens our organization. By standing Truly Together, we’re allowing our employees to confidently be Truly Ourselves.
This is also the goal of Northwell’s Emerging Leaders Diversity & Inclusion Council, a group formed in 2017 of some of our exemplary employees working to ensure that diverse voices are being heard throughout the organization.
“Early last year, I was asked by Joe Moscola [SVP and Chief People Officer] to form a group that could provide a voice from the perspective of a young, emerging leader on the diversity and inclusion efforts at Northwell Health,” says Jason Philip, Administrative Director of Emergency Medicine at Southside Hospital & Peconic Bay Medical Center, “A small group of 10 individuals from across Northwell were asked to participate, and together we have been committed to attracting, developing, and retaining young diverse talent for leadership positions.”
“I have always found that the health system understands the diversity of its employee population and makes an effort to engage all members of the team, from larger initiatives like the Emerging Leaders Diversity & Inclusion Council or respecting cultural backgrounds with things like holiday cards,” says Ines Ruiz, council member and Senior Administrative Manager.
Northwell’s continually growing awareness of diversity and inclusion will help to more effectively manage an increasingly diverse workforce and serve our patient population. This inclusive culture will also build an organization for the future that is more creative, innovative, and responsive to change in our market.
The Diversity Council is working hard to craft recommendations for programs that will roll out in the beginning of 2019. These talented leaders are looking to enhance our diversity and inclusion programs already in place as well as helping to form best practices for onboarding, mentoring and succession planning.
But their work won’t stop there! “We hope to continue to be an active voice at Northwell to ensure that our organization keeps making steps toward inclusiveness for all people, and that the leadership at Northwell continues to grow to reflect that,” says Jason.
At Northwell, we’re striving to change the future of health care. Diversity and inclusion helps continue to not only make our organization a great place to work, but helps us deliver extraordinary care to all of our varied patients. We’re looking for candidates like you to help us continue to stand Truly Together!
At Northwell Health, we can be Truly Ourselves. Happy National Coming Out Day!
“Our employees should never have to make a choice between a career they love and living with their truthfulness and integrity. I am so proud to be part of an organization that lets me be who I am every day at work. Every morning I wake up looking forward to my workday and what exciting things are in store for me. As an openly gay male executive working at Northwell Health I am surrounded by support from senior leadership and my colleagues; I am able to come to work and be my true self. Through our Business Employee Resource Group EXPRESSIONS, I have been able to align with my fellow LGBTQ co-workers and our allies to make this organization such a great place to work.” – Edward C. Fraser, Vice President of Corporate Community Relations, System Administration
On October 11th, Northwell Health employees are celebrating National Coming Out Day with our LGBT community members, allies, patients and the members of our Expressions BERG. At Northwell Health, we’re always striving to create an accepting culture where we can all be Truly Ourselves.
This National Coming Out Day, Northwell is taking the pledge to #WearTheRibbon. This one-day campaign encourages employees to take a stand against the discrimination, violence, harassment, and bullying of LGBT people by showing support for safe spaces where they LIVE, LEARN, WORK, PLAY, and PRAY. Expressions BERG members and allies are signing this pledge and wearing a rainbow ribbon at work to visually “come out” in support of safe spaces for LGBT individuals. This pledge is just one way that Northwell encourages employees to achieve their full potential and supports a safe and inclusive working environment and.
The Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) program at Northwell Health helps our patients by elevating diverse voices so we can better serve our diverse population. It also helps our staff, so they can find and engage with the specific communities that understand their experiences and ensure representation of their perspective and experience. This culture of acceptance creates a safe space for BERG’s like Expressions to thrive.
The Expressions BERG consists of Northwell Health employees who identify as LGBT, are allies of the LGBT community, are passionate about or are interested in promoting health equity and awareness of the LGBT community. Wayne Kawadler, Dir, Community Relations, Administration explains, “through our Expressions BERG I have been able to connect with fellow LGBTQ workers and allies, all who are able to be truthful and open about their sexual and cultural identity. From celebrating Pride Month to acknowledging Coming Out Day, Northwell Health is a truly accepting place to work for.”
Learn more about other BERG’s at Northwell Health here. Join us and find the support you’re Made for.
At Northwell, we know that when we’re Truly Ourselves, we can create great things. We’re committed to developing a supportive work environment that’s as diverse and inclusive as the communities we serve. Part of championing our team members and patients includes delivering the best care possible regardless of race, ethnicity, cultural background and language proficiency.
The “We Ask Because We Care” campaign is a new effort by Northwell to ensure we’re understanding and meeting the unique ethnic and cultural needs of our patients. This initiative aims to educate both our team members and community members about the importance of collecting and using accurate race, ethnicity and preferred language data. This system-wide campaign is part of a national push to support the goals of the National Call to Action to Eliminate Health Care Disparities and comes as a result of our CEO, Michael J. Dowling, signing the Equity of Care Pledge from the American Hospital Association.
As part of this new initiative, Northwell employees will be educated on how to appropriately ask patients their preferred language, their race and their ethnicity. Our patients’ health is important to us – we ask because we care. Though it is not mandatory for patients to answer, these questions aim to help us deliver the best care possible. By better understanding our patients, we can deliver personalized care to best meet our patients’ needs. Accurate patient information helps make exceptional care possible.
“In improving the accurate collection of patient data collection of race, ethnicity and preferred language and educating our communities about the importance of providing us with this data, we will help to advance diversity and inclusion and reduce health disparities,” says Elizabeth McCulloch, PHD, AVP, Diversity & Health Equity, “We will also be able to use this data to help inform our community efforts, strengthen our community partnerships and stratify our data by key quality indicators.”
All answers provided by patients will be kept confidential and only be shared with providers and within Northwell Health. This information however marks an important first steps to improving community health and eliminating health disparities. As the future market for health care services changes, Northwell is evolving to ensure we continually redefine health care while advancing diversity and inclusion.
Our staff is as diverse as the community we serve. By promoting effective communication and cultural and linguistic competence, we’re able to improve patient and family-centered care, eliminate health disparities and enhance health outcomes for patients and their families.
Northwell’s Path to Inclusion program wins Diversity Excellence Award from NACE
As a leader in healthcare, Northwell is committed to cultivating and fostering diversity so that we may better serve our communities and patients. Our Workforce Readiness team helps provide a supportive, caring and inclusive environment for our employees all year long. In 2017, they developed the Path to Inclusion program to help people with disabilities take advantage of our opportunities and achieve success in their careers. The program launched to great success and has recently been announced as a winner of a Diversity Excellence Award from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)!
Lesly St. Louis is proud to be a part of this award winning Path to Inclusion program. As an Inclusion Specialist at Northwell Health, Lesly works as a liaison with candidates to help facilitate employment for individuals with disabilities. As part of this mission, Lesly develops important partnerships for outreach and manages the Path to Inclusion seminars. These seminars help candidates with resume writing, interview tips, networking, the hiring process and more.
“I have been advocating for individuals with disabilities – a group of which I am a proud member – for most of my life,” says Lesly, “The biggest challenges we have to overcome are not the disabilities, but the stigma surrounding them.” And this is a stigma both Lesly and Northwell are working to eliminate, “Connecting our recruiters and hiring managers to individuals with disabilities through specialized events such as workshops fosters direct communication, furthering our shared goals of creating an inclusive workforce.”
Our 2018 Intern Finale Celebration included some of our Bridges to Adelphi graduates!
Another important part of Northwell’s Path to Inclusion program is our Bridges to Adelphi. Northwell partnered with Adelphi University to develop this model student internship for college students who are on the Autism Spectrum or have communication or social adjustment challenges. This nationally recognized program allows for students to gain invaluable work experience in meaningful job positions, helping them build skill sets for successful careers upon graduation – and careers with Northwell! The 2018 summer program boasted 6 interns with 5 students moving into full-time positions.
“It is truly an honor to have partnered with the Bridges to Adelphi program. This is our second year working with them and it has been an amazing experience. I enjoy mentoring and finding meaningful internship placements with some turning into full time jobs for them to grow and flourish in.” says Elizabeth Zgaljardic, an HR Coordinator with the Workforce Readiness team, “It’s inspiring to work with these remarkable students and the entire staff at Bridges to Adelphi. Just one of the many highlights in working for Workforce Readiness!”
Northwell’s N-Able Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) is another asset Path to Inclusion’s efforts. The Workforce Readiness team co-chairs this BERG with Zucker Hillside, aiming to further expand our inclusive hiring efforts with resources and awareness. Rolling out system-wide in September, N-Able will host celebrations, events, and workshops as well as aid provide an information database. This database will allow for all employees to easily see what inclusive resources Northwell offers.
“The N-Able BERG is a resource to assist employees in increasing awareness of Northwell Health’s disability services,” says Cheryl Davidson, Senior Director of Workforce Readiness, “our goal is to help educate and bring together people who understand that our uniqueness makes us stronger.”
And the Path to Inclusion program goes beyond just these key initiatives! Between speaking at national events and continually engaging and educating employees, the Workforce Readiness team is developing and strengthening our diverse and inclusive team. “I am so proud to work for an organization that takes action to ensure all of its employees feel included and important,” says Cheryl. Northwell is proud to be Truly Ourselves and will continue to stand united, proud and respectful in celebrating our differences. Congratulations again to the Workforce Readiness team!
Every June marks LGBTQ Pride Month and here at Northwell we stand proudly with our LGBTQ community and celebrate – in June and every month! We value being Truly Ourselves and Northwell stands united, proud and respectful, always celebrating our differences.
As a large supporter of the LGBTQ Community, Northwell attended numerous Pride events across all regions along with participation and guidance from our EXPRESSIONS BERG (Business Employee Resource Group).
EXPRESSIONS is Northwell’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) BERG. Members consist of Northwell Health employees who identify as LGBTQ, are allies of the LGBTQ community, and are passionate about promoting unity, health equity and awareness of the LGBTQ community. They promote awareness and inclusion in the workplace, and connect the community with services based on their unique health care needs.
As a champion of Health Equity Northwell Health has earned recognition and been designated as a Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index for 2018 and is a committed ally in the fight to break down barriers and offer individualized, and compassionate health care to each and every person it serves.
Check out some highlights from Northwell’s Pride activities!
On June 2nd, Westchester’s largest LGBTQ center held its annual pride festival “LOFT Pride” with a pet parade, food trucks, vendors, raffles and advocacy stations. The event had performances by Broadway Sings for Pride, Sutton Lee Seymour, Fogo Azul NYC, Lyane Deep Priest as well as the LOFT Pride Chorus. Phelps Hospital and the Phelps Medical Associates participated with an informational table.
Phelps Hospital and Phelps Medical Associates attended the 20th annual Rockland Pride on June 10th. In addition to the informational tables, the event had live music, kids’ activities, art, dancing and food trucks.
Northwell Health attended the 20th annual Pride Parade in Cherry Grove, Fire Island on Saturday, June 16th. The town was decorated with our Northwell Health pride flags prior to the parade along with float and marchers that participated in the event.
The 28th Annual Long Island Pride Parade took place on Sunday, June 10th in Long Beach, NY. This year’s theme: “Brave.Strong.United” rang loud with Northwell’s very own parade float and full marching contingent composed of engaged and devoted employee volunteers ready to show their pride!
Northwell Health participated in the annual NYC Pride Parade and Festival on June 24th. In addition to a marching contingent of 200 participants, Northwell had a large presence at the festival with representation from Lenox Health Greenwich Village, Imaging, Orthopedics, the Center for AIDS Research & Treatment, the Center for Retroviral Diseases as well as the Friedman Transgender Program.
Looking to get involved? EXPRESSIONS BERG is currently in the processing of planning their next meeting. Start your career with Northwell to get involved today!
For years, she’s collected shoes and drawn sneaker designs that she posts on her wall at work. Last year, at Levitt Pediatric’s Christmas gift exchange, she received a sneaker coloring book from one of the nurse practitioners.
“I’ve always dreamed of designing them,” says Gabrielle Serrano, Northwell Health Administrative Supervisor, “I’ve drawn and colored them and posted pictures around my desk.”
Another one of her passions? New York City. It was the first city her grandmother ever traveled to and she never left. Gabrielle loves the people that make up New York City and the melting pot of diversity that comes with that. “Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn, uptown, downtown,” explains Gabrielle, “You can literally travel all over the world without leaving New York.”
Gabrielle is also a street photographer, a homeless advocate, and an artist. She is Truly Innovative which is one of Northwell’s core values and loves finding, capturing and communicating the diversity and dynamic spirit of New York’s unique people.
Recently, all of her passions came together as she entered a contest to design a new sneaker for Nike. The Nike On Air Shoe Competition was the chance for Gabrielle to bring together her many interests so that she could communicate with the world who she really is. This is how the Air Max 98 “La Mezcla” was born.
Gabrielle’s goal was to bring all the diversity of New York City, the character of its people, its melting pot heritage and infuse it into her sneaker design. “I wanted to showcase all the different types of skin tones of different types of people,” says Gabrielle, “But I wanted to make sure I represented it the right way – not just to show my city, but to show myself.”
Gabrielle not only entered the contest… she was one of six winners representing countries from around the world!
As an Office Associate in one of Northwell Health’s Pediatric Practices, Gabrielle’s many talents and interests make her an even more valuable employee. That’s why Northwell Health is so proud to support Gabrielle’s interests away from work. Support that helped push Gabrielle closer to her dream, “Northwell sent an email to all employees and posted on social media and everyone shared. People I didn’t even know voted for me.”
Northwell truly believes that employees are much more than just their professional abilities. We are better together when we are Truly Ourselves. “It’s awesome to work for a company that is so supportive of me,” says Gabrielle, “both at work and in my personal passions.”
If you’d like to be part of an organization that values diversity and empowers and inspires people to express their individuality to the fullest, take a look at Northwell Health careers.
Change is rarely a smooth transition. For Registered Nurse Eva Galan, the road back to civilian life was a challenge that she felt unprepared to attempt.
Eva had spent 10 years in the Army as a medic and was now seeking a civilian nursing position in the health care world. Though she had skills superior to fellow applicants, she found it hard to compete for local nursing jobs.
That is, until she found Northwell Health.
While attending a veteran-centric job fair at Northwell Health, she met a Veterans Program Specialist who showed her how our health care system has everything she desires to help her get the job she and her family needed for her career post-military.
Northwell Health offers job fairs, veteran recruitment events, and webinars to support each veteran’s transition. In addition to these events, our Barracks to Business webinars and workshops cover practical needs like resumes, interviews, and networking advice with the goal of translating your military skills into career success.
For many veterans, like Eva, the transition to a civilian career is a difficult one and our military services are designed to help veterans understand the job search process and create a strategy to pursue civilian employment while introducing you to vast career opportunities and benefits at Northwell Health.
“Northwell Health offers employment workshops for transitioning service members, partnering with the VA to provide female Veterans much needed women’s services, a dedicated job site that matches Northwell Health jobs with applicants military skills, and even being a leader in new prosthetic technology. I am so very grateful to finally feel like someone out there has my back.”
When you’re Truly Ambitious, you don’t let anything stand in your way
What makes a great leader? To some, tenacity. To others, grit. To others, a vision. At Northwell Health, we believe that what makes a great leader isn’t necessarily one specific trait, it’s the culmination of all of these ideals with time, experience and determination. Which is why our recent panel highlighting some of our most ambitious female leaders, was so uniquely inspiring. It takes an exceptional level of leadership to redefine health care while creating tomorrow’s health system.
Despite adversity throughout their careers, these women have created real change in our health system, inspiring their peers and motivating their department teams to do the same.
Panelists discussed their career progressions, the challenges they’ve faced and the inspiring women who helped them along the way.
In particular, each participant drew from her own career to offer a piece of advice for overcoming adversity to those looking to be leaders themselves. Their answers, much like their careers, will inspire you:
“Seek to become a change agent. Do not fear adversity as it usually manifests itself in your life to challenge you, to build your resiliency, to help you evolve and achieve greater goals. Always seek to participate in something greater than yourself, something with a community or global impact. The effects will be powerful and meaningful. Don’t just wait for change to happen, lead the change and make it what you want it to be.”
— Emmelyn Kim, AVP, Research Compliance and Privacy Officer – Office of Research Compliance
“Stay grounded in who you are. Be confident and authentic. Those who approach the world with bias have a smaller world than those who approach the world through a lens of possibilities. Remember, the bias speaks about who they are, not who you are. You are the architect of your own destiny! Stay true to who you are and learn from the mistakes of those who are biased.”
— Mary Comerford-Hewitt, AVP, Talent Acquisition
“Women continue to make extraordinary contributions in healthcare leadership roles. To continue to do so, we need to believe that everything is possible – we are limited only by our imaginations. Seek out role models and mentors. I love the quote from the Greek philosopher, Epictetus, ‘We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout.’’
–Penny Stern, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACOEM
“My advice will be the same advice my mother gave to me, which was why are you letting other people define you? If you know what you want to do, then do it”
–Tochi Iroku Malize, MD, MPH
We’re proud to call these Truly Ambitious women part of the Northwell Health Family. If you’re looking to make the most of your passion, vision and ambition, we have opportunities that offer the autonomy and support you need to reach your true potential. Watch the full diversity lunch and learn below and learn more here.
Photo: From left to right, Dr. Allen Toles, Dr. Janna Andrews, Zacharie Saintyl
Black History Month: My role as a leader at Northwell
At Northwell, we are Truly Ourselves and we stand united, proud and respectful, always celebrating our differences, together. February is Black History Month, and we sat down with some of our leaders to learn about their history, their dreams, and their career aspirations. With an ever-changing health care landscape, their leadership is critical to our organization’s success because of their unique backgrounds. Check it out.
1. Can you please describe your ethnic background and/or family origin?
Dr. Allen Toles: My ethnic background is African American.
Dr. Janna Andrews: I am African American and my family originates from Alabama and Georgia (and I am very proud of my southern roots). My family moved to Queens when my mother was a child but as many of them get older they all eventually return home to the south.
Zacharie Saintyl: I am originally from Haiti. My family came to this country in hopes for a better future. My parents always told us about the United States being the land of opportunity. They always have high hopes that my siblings and I would become important figures in society through a good education, and their hope was realized when my siblings and I became the first generation in our family to graduate high school and to graduate college. Thanks to my parents, today we each are able to live our dreams.
2. When did you know that you wanted to be a healthcare professional?
Dr. Allen Toles: I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to be in healthcare having been exposed to it, essentially, from birth, and because my mother is a pediatrician who trained at Harlem Hospital and serviced the Greater Jamaica Queens community for more than 40 years. So, it was a natural transition for me as I advanced through my undergraduate and ultimately Medical School years.
Dr. Janna Andrews: I knew I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was five. My goal was first to go to the Olympics in Gymnastics then spend the rest of my career as a physician. After I hit a serious growth spurt at 16 my Olympic aspirations were put aside. I wasn’t anywhere near Olympic quality but I do appreciate that gymnastics taught me how to compete. I should also say that I was fortunate to grow up watching the Cosby show where I got to see very positive images of black professionals that convinced me that becoming a physician was something I could achieve. After gymnastics I then began to focus on what I needed to do to go to medical school and I looked at the journey as just training for another competition. I always had a very deep interest in healing whether it was mentally or physically and what that entailed.
Zacharie Saintyl: It had always been my passion since I was a little boy growing up in Haiti to help others. I was always involved in community service at church and I would always visit the sick at hospitals, brought them food and prayed with them. When I came to the United States I was presented with an abundance of opportunities and education that helped my passion become a reality. As I grew older I became more passionate about working in the medical field as I watched my family members, especially my mother, struggle with sickness. I wanted to be in a position where I can provide professional health to them and that’s when I found my passion in Nursing. I started as a nursing assistant at Northwell Health and after finishing my studies, I continued to set higher goals for myself. I took advantage of every opportunity that was presented to me and I am now a Nurse Manager at LIJ Valley Stream.
3. What’s the best part of being a leader here at Northwell Health?
Dr. Allen Toles: The best part of being a leader here at Northwell, is that I have the opportunity every day of breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and being a role model for other employees and my community.
Dr. Janna Andrews: The best part of being a leader at Northwell is having a platform to make a difference. I’ve been extremely fortunate to sit down with some great mentors that have really opened my eyes to the opportunities that exist at Northwell, but also to the impact that I can potentially have. I feel like it is my job to pass this information and these opportunities along. I’m currently serving as a co-chair for the BERG (Business Employee Resource Group) that focuses on employees of African American and Caribbean descent. We are just getting started, but collectively we are committed to ensuring that these employees are aware of opportunities that exist for themselves or their families at Northwell. We are also committed to hosting health initiatives that will have a positive and lasting impact on the communities of color in the surrounding areas.
Zacharie Saintyl: The best part of being a leader at Northwell Health is being able to contribute to the Northwell mission. I am grateful to be a member of a great health system that invests in its mission and vision to improve and promote healthcare across diverse communities. I am truly honored to have this platform to be inspired and I am fortunate to be surrounded by great leaders that I can learn from. I’m presently a member of one of our BERG’s serving as a co-chair. We work to enhance communication and patient experience while serving the diverse communities within our health system.
4. What do you think about when you hear “Black History Month?”
Dr. Janna Andrews: When I think about Black History Month, I very much think about those that came before me and created this space and opportunity for me. I am very aware that I stand on their shoulders and I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve and overcome. There is more work to be done and that is ok. I live my life through the affirmation- to whom much is given, much is expected, and I am happy to carry the baton until it is my turn to pass it. For now, I will roll up my sleeves and ask how I can be of service.
Zacharie Saintyl: When I think of Black History I think of the time that we celebrate all the accomplishments and the accolades of black people worldwide. The first black president of the United States was in my lifetime. That is an amazing feeling to experience. This accomplishment and others inspire me to also become a great role model, not only to my children, but also to those who look up to me. Knowing about the great achievements of black people through history motivates me to never give up. I become more confident in knowing that I too can accomplish great things such as the people who came before me and created this opportunity for me.
5. Is there a specific leader from history that inspires you? What about a figure from today?
Dr. Allen Toles: It may sound cliché, but Martin Luther King, continues to inspire me, because I was well aware of his presence and actions during my adolescence and was able to witness firsthand, the cataclysmic change that he brought about in American Society. In this 21st century, I have been inspired by many people, but I think for most people of color, Barack Obama has inspired a new generation of believers, that with hard work and determination, all things are possible.
Dr. Janna Andrews: Harry Belafonte inspires me. His legacy as a social activist and devotion to the ongoing fight for our civil rights is tremendous. Harry Belafonte has passed the baton from his mentor Paul Robeson and I have so much respect for someone that recognizes and uses their platform for social good. Mr. Belafonte has shown up, he has written checks, and he has stayed politically engaged his entire life. He has been passionate and outspoken as a humanitarian and I can only hope to accomplish a sliver of what he has but he certainly gave those of us that follow in his footsteps a foundation to stand on. I think ultimately Mr. Belafonte will pass the baton to the actor/social activist Jesse Williams. Already an established social activist in his right, I can’t wait to see what Williams is able to accomplish.
Zacharie Saintyl: Barack Obama is my inspiration. When faced with adversaries and tribulations, he was never shaken – he was a man of character. He has received unprecedented opposition and disrespect, yet he dealt with them peacefully and gracefully. As a father and a husband, he inspires me to be a great leader – to lead with positivity, and to never give up when facing adversary.
6. Why, more than ever, do we need to reignite humanism in healthcare?
Dr. Allen Toles: There is a tectonic shift that is happening ethnically and culturally in this world and right here within our own communities, and as health care providers we need to be exquisitely sensitive to this shift. We are no longer a homogenous population; we are a “melting pot” of such diversity now, with the breaking down of bias, stereotypes, and ignorance. People are in relation with one another, and as a result, families are now multicultural, multiracial, bringing forth more heterogeneity than ever. To this end “Humanism” has to be primary when delivering healthcare, so that one can understand the whole person – what makes them who they are, and therefore, have a better insight, into their health challenge, and develop the best approach to heal their body, mind, and spirit.
Photo: Lesly is the 2nd man from the left in the front with the trophy
Northwell Health’s Pathway to Inclusion
Written by: Lesly St. Louis
I have been advocating for individuals with disabilities – a group of which I am a proud member – for most of my life. The biggest challenges we have to overcome are not the disabilities, but the stigma surrounding them. As an Inclusion Specialist at Northwell Health, I now facilitate employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. My role provides me with the resources to replace fear with mutual understanding, allowing persons with disabilities to become productive members of society.
My job is especially meaningful to me as I know how it feels to encounter barriers from employers. I was born with a congenital malformation called Spina Bifida, which is a defect of the spine and spinal cord. As a result, my primary way of mobilizing is by use of a wheelchair. But I haven’t let that stop me. Through the support and dedication of my parents, as a child, I began participating in adaptive sports designed specifically for individuals with disabilities just like me. I was embraced by the community and it was empowering. The athletes I met over the years guided me through challenges on and off the court. Because of this experience, I learned that I too had a responsibility to support other individuals with disabilities. I took on a leadership position in my wheelchair basketball team to inspire others to overcome and live better with their disabilities.Northwell Health became the biggest supporter of my wheelchair basketball team.
Northwell Health became the biggest supporter of my wheelchair basketball team. I was fortunate to meet Chief People Officer Joe Moscola, who introduced me to the different employment opportunities Northwell offered.
I will be working to communicate our inclusive workforce vision by connecting with schools, vocational services, and other public forums. Community outreach is key to ensuring people with disabilities are aware of the multiple employment opportunities that exist within Northwell Health. Educating everyone in our organization to work collaboratively on creating dynamic opportunities well suited to both the needs of the individual and those of the organization can result in a successful outcome. Connecting our recruiters and hiring managers to individuals with disabilities through specialized events such as workshops will also foster direct communication, furthering our shared goals of creating an inclusive workforce.
I personally know the difficulties that disabled individuals face when finding a job. I had countless conversations with prospective employers and found a few common themes: they would find multiple reasons why they could not hire this person, or if they were willing to give them an opportunity, why they were not able to promote them within the company. I know that I can play a vital role in helping other disabled individuals find a role here at Northwell Health and can honestly say that the organization is focused on this initiative. It is both my job and my vocation to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. My hope is that through creating opportunities for employment, we can work together to increase confidence within these individuals and inspire them to conquer more challenges and achieve even higher levels of success.
It is both my job and my vocation to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. My hope is that through creating opportunities for employment, we can work together to increase confidence within these individuals and inspire them to conquer more challenges and achieve even higher levels of success.
Celebrating Hindu Culture and Traditions through Diwali – The Festival of Lights
Written by: Neva Harold
Guyana, a small third-world country in South America is made up of six main ethnic groups – Amerindian, Chinese, East Indian, African, Portuguese and Europeans. This is primarily due to the British-era colonialization of land and the use of laborers from different parts of the world to work on the sugar plantations. For a small country, Guyana is very diverse. Learning about culture, values and traditions of our people had been a great passion of mine growing up. It gives me great pleasure as a member of the BRIDGES Asian BERG and the Ambulatory Services Diversity and Health Equity Committee to share with everyone, the culture and traditions of one of the main religions in Guyana – Hinduism through its largest and festive holiday celebration of Diwali.
Diwali is a celebration enjoyed not only by Hindus but also Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. The significance of Diwali is different for each religion. For Hindus, Diwali is as important as the Christmas holiday is to Christians. Diwali is derived from the root word Deepavali which means “row of lights”. The festival is celebrated worldwide in October/November depending on the cycle of the moon (new moon). The common theme of the significance of Diwali is the triumph of good over evil or the destruction of all negative qualities – violence, anger, fear, jealousy, greed, etc, to embrace more positive ones. Diwali celebrates the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.
In Guyana, India and around the world, Diwali is celebrated by lighting clay lamps or diyas to signify light over darkness or good over evil. Hindus celebrate the return of the Hindu God Rama to his kingdom after 14 years in exile. They light diyas as a sign of welcome and tribute to Rama. Additionally, during Diwali, Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth is believed to enter one’s homes to give them good fortune and prosperity for the year.
The celebration of Diwali is always a festive one. Growing up, we had to always spring clean our home because if we didn’t, it is believed that the Goddess Lakshmi will not enter our home and bring good fortune. We bought new clothes to wear, lit hundreds of diyas and made lots of sweet and savory snacks. The best part of Diwali for me was visiting friends and family and sharing the holiday with them regardless of their religion. It always gave me this sense of warmth and togetherness to be with everyone – family and friends that did celebrate Diwali and the ones that didn’t. Today, Diwali celebrations at our home in the United States are the same like they were in Guyana. And my favorite part – we still invite our non-Hindu neighbors, friends and family to participate in the festivities and educate everyone about the significance of Diwali. This year, I gave each of my team members a diya to light in their homes for good fortune and prosperity and brought in an assortment of sweets for them to savor!
May the light of the diya bring you and your family happiness, joy, good fortune, prosperity and success always! Happy Diwali to all!
Photo (from left to right): Philip Dong is the fourth employee from the left gathered with the other members of our Asian BERG
Celebrating Chinese Culture and Traditions Through Mid-Autumn Festival
By: Philip Dong
As a part of the BRIDGES Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) it’s a passion of mine to share the tradition, spiritual and ethical values of the Asian culture across the health system’s facilities and network. The BERGs are made up of employees passionate about embracing relationships with diverse communities served by Northwell Health, and the BRIDGES Business Employee Resource Group is focused on fostering shared understanding of cultural, spiritual and ethical values in the context of healthcare delivery among employees and communities.
On October 4th, I had the privilege to be part of a Diversity and Health Equity Committee meeting and for the first time, introduced one of my most treasured holidays – Mid-Autumn Festival, to Northwell Health’s executive senior leadership. The festival was also celebrated at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research by the Chinese Association at the Feinstein Institute (CAFI) which was organized by Dan Li, President of CAFI and a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Autoimmune and Cancer Research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
Celebrated throughout different Asian regions, this festival has a history of over 3,000 years and commemorates the end of the autumn harvest. It is the second most important festival after the Lunar New Year, where people celebrate through family reunions, akin to Thanksgiving in the United States.
In China, Mid-Autumn Festival was also a time for moon-worship and moon cakes are the must-eat food item during ancient times because the round shape symbolizes reunion and happiness. After worshipping the full moon, family members would savor the cakes together. And while moon-worshiping is no longer a practices ritual, moon cakes are still a traditional pastry to be enjoyed during the festival. The Americans have turkey, but we have delicious cakes with sweet fillings.
The modern day celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival shares much of the same principles as Thanksgiving; that of family gathering and giving thanks. Ever since I was a child, the festival instilled in me a strong sense of family bonds and love. To this day, the clinking of plates and clattering of shuffling mahjong tiles stir up warm, resonant feelings of my Chinese family heritage. To me, the Mid-Autumn festival is more than just a time to eat and be merry – it’s a precious moment when everyone takes a step out of their normal routine to gather as a family and appreciate each other.
To all who celebrate this holiday, I hope you enjoyed this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival!
When your military service continues, so does Northwell Health’s support
Reservists face unique challenges as they balance a civilian job with ongoing military obligations. Just ask Reservist and Core Laboratories Clerk Davesha Taylor. Her Reservist duties include regular training that often involves weekday assignments overlapping her work schedule. We’re honored to be able to help Davesha grow in her career with us while she continues to meet her military commitments.
“I owe a lot of thanks to the kind staff I work with,” says Davesha. “They are very considerate of me whenever I need to take time off for military training.”
We recognize that there’s more to helping our veterans than merely finding them a job. As a Military Friendly® Employer for three years in a row, we’re there to continue to support veterans throughout their time with us – such as offering flexible scheduling and pay differentials for reservists.
For Davesha, her role as a clerk with us is just the start. Her vision and passion is to attend medical school to become a Forensic Pathologist, and we’ll be there to help her make this dream a reality.
“Thanks to Northwell Health, my transition from the military has been smooth and easy,” Davesha acknowledges.
Veterans like Davesha Taylor have sacrificed so much in the service of our country. At Northwell Health, we’re proud that they choose to continue their life of service with us.
An Appointment With: Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto
Welcome to “An Appointment With,” where we sit down one on one with leadership, doctors, nurses and more to bring you their stories. Today we’re meeting SVP, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto, who was the most recent winner of the AHHE Hospital Executive of the Year Award.
How did you know that coming to Northwell Health was the right career move for you?
I didn’t at first. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Patchogue. When I heard about the Chief Marketing Officer position at Northwell Health, then known as North Shore-LIJ Health System, I just remembered the small health care company from my childhood. After doing my research, hearing Michael Dowling speak, and learning about the advancements at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Hofstra School of Medicine, I fell in love. I saw the power of this organization and I knew there were stories waiting to be told. This is the best job I’ve ever had.
How has the rebranding process at Northwell Health impacted the organization?
Fundamentally, our hospitals used to run regionally and people associated themselves with the single hospital they worked for. Now people feel like they are all together, and there is a sense of community. This has helped improve our engagement scores. As separate entities, people didn’t know who we were and how we were all connected and now they see all of our locations as one. There has been an undeniable unifying effect on the inside, and ability to shine as a destination health care system.
What is your perspective on leadership?
90% of leadership traits are trainable and there are things you can do throughout your career to be a good leader. My philosophy is: don’t just “dabble” in anything, take it on with all you’ve got. You should know your stuff and strive to be the subject matter experts. When making a decision, you should bring everyone together to help. Leverage diversity of thought and unity in action. If you give people a voice, the execution is always better. If you can adapt your leadership style to fit the needs of your audience as well as the organization, you will be able to grow and flourish.
You recently earned the AHHE Hospital Executive of the Year Award. What have you learned from that experience and what did that mean to you?
The most important part of the awards evening was that my family was there and I was able to reflect on my heritage. This award made me think of my father. He came from Puerto Rico when he was 12 and he didn’t speak a word of English. He pulled himself up from poverty by going to school at night and working hard. He believed you always had a choice: work a job you enjoy or work a job as a chore. He also said to always stretch yourself, whenever you think you can’t do more, you can. His wisdom helped shape who I am today. I went back to get my MBA at 40 even though I had a successful career because of the drive he instilled in me.
Many people of diverse backgrounds have stories like this, and that’s why in terms of diversity in the workplace, it’s important to include individuals from all backgrounds based on their experience and what they’ve done. We need qualified candidates and we need to choose the best of the best. If we don’t include everyone in that pool of candidates, we’re missing out.
However, no institution should ever settle for people who aren’t the top or relax their standards to bring on talent that isn’t qualified.
What is an interesting fact that people should know about you?
I had a perm in high school!
We invite you to come back for the next moment in our Appointment With… blog!
At Northwell Health, understanding and respecting the values and backgrounds of our patients and employees leads to more open communication, an enhanced patient experience, and improved health outcomes. This is why we continually provide an accepting, welcoming and supportive setting for all – especially those within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community.
“As an ally of the LGBTQ community, it’s wonderful to work for an organization that is dedicated, passionate and committed to promoting health equity. I am thankful to have EXPRESSIONS as a business employee resource group where I can give my time outside of my normal job function to do this!” –Patricia McColley, Community Relations, Northwell Health
For the fifth consecutive year, DiversityInc has ranked us as one of the top 12 Hospitals and Health Systems in the nation for diversity and inclusion. We also continue to be recognized as a leader in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Healthcare Equality Index.
Engaging our employees.
We’re pleased to be able to foster and promote EXPRESSIONS, a Northwell Health Business Employee Resource Group (BERG). EXPRESSIONS is comprised of employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) or who are allies of the LGBTQ community. Through this group, these individuals are able to express their passion for promoting health equity and awareness in a number of ways within the community.
“Over the years, I have gone from being afraid to go to school or work openly to recently marching with Gov. Cuomo down Fifth Avenue with my husband. It is great to work for an organization where I can bring my whole self to work, feel included, and can promote health services within the LGBTQ community. It is gratifying that at our workplace we all feel comfortable and can work together to make sure that everyone feels welcome.” –Bill Self, Director, Health Sciences Library, Lenox Hill Hospital
Partnering with our community.
We will be taking part in a number of community activities during Pride Month, stop by and say hi, we’d love to meet you.
June 9-11th: Long Island Pride Festival in partnership with the LGBT Network of Long Island
June 17: Employee seating area at Citi Field on the 2nd annual pride night.
June 25: NYC Pride Parade with Lenox Health Greenwich Village.
We recently purchased an immediate care clinic in Cherry Grove, Fire Island, one of the most popular LGBTQ accepting resort communities in the United States. This clinic will enable us to provide immediate/urgent care to the summer residents of the island. We are also a committed partner to these local community organizations:
The LGBT Network, Long Island
Long Island Crisis Center, Long Island
Pride For Youth, Long Island
The LGBT Community Center, Greenwich Village
Caring for the transgender community.
To accommodate patients of all ages and at all stages of the transitioning process, we provide a wide variety of transgender healthcare services in New York City and Long Island, including:
Primary and preventative care
Hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers
Surgical specialty care for gender-affirming surgery
HIV prevent (PrEP) and HIV treatment
Screening for sexually transmitted infections
Mental health care
Healthy and sexuality education
Risk reduction counseling
At Northwell Health we live by our value Truly Ourselves. We stand united, proud and respectful, always celebrating
our differences. This and every month we stand proudly with our LGBTQ community and celebrate.
It is the policy of Northwell Health to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all employees equally regardless of age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, generic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, or other characteristics protected by applicable law. Northwell Health leaders, including the CEO, are committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action.