Written by: John Baez, Environmental Service Worker, Staten Island University Hospital
Environmental services is much more than keeping a clean environment. We are helping keep patients and their families remain comfortable.
I’ve faithfully worked for Staten Island University Hospital for 11 years, and travel three hours each way from my home in Yonkers on public transportation to help care for patients.
I’m not a clinical care provider, but my dedication to patient safety in the Environmental Services (EVS) Department is what I strive for. My coworkers and I are at the top of our field when it comes to bedside manner and being spirited patient professionals.
Unfortunately, our team is no stranger to a crisis. We saw the hospital through the evacuation ahead of Hurricane Irene, the aftermath from Superstorm Sandy the following year and even the Ebola crisis in 2014.
But COVID-19 was something entirely different and something we never faced before. It put the EVS team on the front line to help contain and eliminate the virus, which tested all of our abilities.
When the crisis was at its peak, I remember seeing one case after the other. People begging for their life, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” Before coronavirus, I would always try to befriend and comfort the patients. During the crisis, I showed them love when their loved ones couldn’t be at their bedside.
Then there was one day that would change me forever.
The faithful man
It was a regular day, and then one of patient care associates (PCAs) told me that this person is going to pass away. I knew the patient. I met her days earlier.
It was the end of my shift and I was ready to take my first bus home, but I said to myself “I can’t let this woman pass alone. I’m going to be there for her.”
I walked into the room and leaned over the patient and said, “It’s me, John. If you hear me, squeeze my finger. She did. I told her I want you to go with God. I want you to relax and once you see the light, I want you to go to it. I’m going to hold your hand until you go.”
The PCA cried alongside me.
I told the patient I would pray for her. On her third breath, she passed.
The doctor came in and checked her vitals, and confirmed what I already knew—she was gone.
I took the two busses and three trains home, replaying the day in my head. It’s always going to be with me and sad that she couldn’t have a loved one with her, but I couldn’t let her die alone.
I did what manyhealth care heroesbattling COVID-19 did: make the patients their second family and be their loved one.
During this crisis, my mother was begging me to quit because we’re dealing with something that’s new and scary. But we all have to be here. It’s our job. It’s what we signed up for.
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.
Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program offers endless opportunities for team members
At Northwell Health, we don’t just support our team members, we invest in their careers. Our team members are the heart of everything we do, and by helping them grow, we’re helping our organization grow.
With endless opportunities to expand their careers, many of our team members benefit from our tuition reimbursement program to take their career in a different direction with a new degree or expanding their skills with continued education.
Meet two of our nurses who have made a difference in their career by going back to school with help from our tuition reimbursement program.
From Patient Care Associate to Registered Nurse: Terrance Duncan
Terrance Duncan, RN, first started his Northwell career as a patient care associate (PCA) at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in 2014. As a PCA, Terrance quickly developed his clinical skills, becoming a champion on his units to help promote best practices in rounding and mobility and a patient experience ambassador. His passion for patient care even earned him a Northwell Health Caring Heart Award.
Though he loved being a PCA, Terrance knew that he wanted to continue his work with patients while expanding his own knowledge. “I wanted to become a nurse because I love that as a nurse I could work in many different career specialties.”
With the support of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement, Terrance went back to school and earned his BSN while continuing to work as a PCA. “Northwell has supported me tremendously throughout my nursing career,” says Terrance. “My nurse manager was very supportive working with my school schedule while the tuition reimbursement program helped me financially.”
Terrance graduated from nursing school in 2019 and accepted a position as a Medical/Surgical nurse at North Shore University Hospital where he continues to deliver compassionate care to his patients.
From Nurse Extern to Senior Clinical Appeals RN: Mariel Hughes
Since starting her nursing career as a nurse extern at Zucker Hillside Hospital in 2014, Mariel Hughes, MSN, RN-BC, has grown her passion for nursing. After graduating from nursing school, Mariel started as a Medical/Surgical registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC). In 2018, she was promoted to become a Medical/Surgical assistant nurse manager at LIJMC.
As a nurse, Mariel joined the Collaborative Care Council at LIJMC and eventually became co-chair. The Collaborative Care Council builds interdisciplinary relationships among care teams and lets nurses like Mariel have a voice in the decision-making of the hospital. It was in those years as co-chair that Mariel discovered where she wanted her career to grow. “While in this role I really found a love for leadership–being able to advocate for my fellow colleagues and finding fun and interesting ways to improve our overall work environment as a team,” says Mariel. “Once becoming an assistant nurse manager, I had the foundation I needed to continue my education in order to become a great leader.”
Mariel returned to school and graduated in 2019 from Capella University with her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Administration and Leadership. “Through Northwell I was able to utilize tuition reimbursement which covered 95% of my entire master’s program! I definitely would have not been able to further my education due to the financial burden if it was not for Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program!”
Using her newly developed skillset, Mariel is able to deliver a different kind of care as a senior clinical appeals RN in the Centralized Denial Office. Working within the Centralized Denial Office means Mariel’s job includes writing appeal letters to insurance companies who deny medical coverage for patients who required a hospital admission.
“My favorite thing about being a nurse is being someone’s support system, whether it be physically, emotionally, mentally or even financially now that I work in appeals,” says Mariel. “It is one of the greatest feelings in the world when you make the slightest difference in someone’s day or life that they can carry on with them.”
Throughout her time at Northwell Health, Margaret Murphy, DNP, RN, NE-BC has been an influential leader at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC). As Chief Nursing Officer, Margaret knows the importance of providing nurses with educational opportunities to help them grow while igniting their passion for delivering exceptional care. Read more from our CNO Corner interview with Margaret.
Tell us about your career journey at Northwell Health.
Since joining Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) as a director of patient care services in 2006, I have had the privilege of working for an incredible organization. As I think back to my first interview, I am overwhelmed by the exemplary leaders I have encountered along the way and how fortunate to have been mentored by so many of them. I was also fortunate to be afforded the opportunity by Northwell Health to obtain my doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University.
I have been given extraordinary opportunities for professional growth and I believe in paying this forward so that new leaders can have the courage and wisdom to excel. Much of my career has had a dual focus; building a nursing team that is passionate about creating a high-reliability organization and ensuring that patient safety is our ultimate goal as clinical leaders. Having a vision and a strategic plan that include innovation, teamwork, engagement, transparency, and trust, provides a roadmap for organizational success.
What exciting nursing initiatives are happening at LIJMC?
One of our most exciting initiatives for 2019 includes our re-designation for Magnet®. LIJMC continues to outperform all benchmarks with a BSN rate of more than 92% and a certification rate that exceeds the Magnet benchmark with 25% of our nurses receiving clinical ladder designation. Additionally, we have seen great success with the “CNO cabinet” which was established for identifying and developing tomorrow’s nurse leaders.
LIJMC is also always at the forefront of innovation by:
Continuing to utilize collaborative care councils as arenas for shared governance, performance improvement, and organizational growth.
Building a new Oncology Center of Excellence.
Expanding our robotic surgery program, which received a Center of Excellence certification as did gynecological minimally invasive surgery.
Receiving Joint Commission certifications in Total Joint Replacement, Advanced Palliative Care and Diabetes.
Maintaining certification for Nurses Improving Care of the Health System Elder Certification (NICHE).
Launching an acute lung injury center which was created to deliver extra-corporal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to patients that are not recovering with conventional “best practice” treatment.
Why would someone want to work as a nurse leader at LIJMC? How can they make an impact on providing exceptional care?
One of the best reasons to be a nurse leader at LIJMC is that there is a true collaborative spirit. Nursing has a voice at the table. There are so many ways to advance your knowledge at Northwell including continuing education conferences, courses at our Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI), advanced degree programs and leadership development programs. LIJMC is participating in the new Northwell Nursing Mentorship Program with a track for novice nurses and new leaders. This program will focus on individualized development, feedback and partnership.
At LIJMC, there are fellowships in specialty areas such as perioperative nursing, critical care, and emergency nursing. There is a residency program for new graduate nurses. Along with North Shore University Hospital, we partnered with Stony Brook University to facilitate obtaining master’s degrees in Nursing Leadership and in Education; whereby developing our nurse leaders and educators of tomorrow.
What is your career advice for nurses to develop in their career?
My career advice to new and experienced nurses is to understand that they must function as leaders regardless of title. From the onset, they should embark on a life-long journey, and commit to excellence as they move along their career trajectory. Early in their career, it is important to identify mentors, to emulate desirable behaviors such as advocacy, accountability, empathy, and professionalism. Nurses at all levels should mentor and coach while building strong relationships and developing excellent communication skills. Being knowledgeable about the changing health care landscape requires nurses to maintain curiosity and serve as change agents. Most importantly, nurses should recognize each day that while their accomplishments today are extraordinary, striving to make tomorrow’s accomplishments better is truly how we make the greatest impact in our patients’ lives.
7 reasons why we love being a Health Information Professional
We’re celebrating the hard-working health information professionals who are a part of the Heath Information Management (HIM) team at Northwell Health. Our HIM team members work daily to acquire, analyze and protect patient medical information. With such an important job, there’s a lot to love about being a HIM professional! Check out our team members’ top seven reasons!
1. Opportunity to grow
The health information landscape is constantly changing as technology and applications advance. As health data increases, so do the possibilities for health information professionals. There are always new opportunities to advance your skills as a professional through education, state-of-the-art applications, and collaboration with other units within Northwell.
2. Driven by health data
Any information related to health conditions, quality of life, reproductive outcomes, and causes of death for an individual or population is classified as health data. Working as a health information professional allows us to analyze trends and ensure this aggregated health data is shared across our health system. By prioritizing health data, we’re helping to drive positive outcomes and experience.
3. Making a difference for our patients
Working in healthcare means we as employees have the privilege of helping patients without working inside a hospital. Although health information professionals may never meet the patients directly, they are working hard to ensure that they are not only protecting the patients’ privacy but ensuring the accuracy of their healthcare information.
4. Bridge between the hospitals and patients
A patient’s care doesn’t end when they leave a hospital. Collaborating with different units across our health system allows us to bridge a patient to their care. By helping patients get proper and speedy service to obtain their records, we’re helping the patient stay connected to the quality care they received through the completion of their treatments.
5. Continued education
Educational opportunities are promoted by health information leadership who work hard to ensure our teams have the tools and skills they need to be accurate, compliant and successful. With the support to continue our education from leadership, including access to tuition reimbursement programs through Northwell, we’re able to grow with our growing industry.
6. Teamwork and leadership
Health information professionals at Northwell aren’t just a team, we’re a family. Working truly together under the guidance of supportive leaders helps our entire team to succeed.
7. Protecting our patients
Protecting our patients goes beyond just ensuring data security, it’s protecting their care. As health information professionals, we ensure that the patient data is always accurate, secure, and available when they need it most.
Here’s how Sypria Bernard, MSN, RN, CNOR, went from surgical technologist to registered nurse at Northwell Health
Surgical technologists have the unique opportunity to work with a nurse inside the operating room (OR) which can lead them to a career change like it did for Sypria Bernard, MSN, RN, CNOR. “Although I loved my career as a surgical technologist, there was that spark of ambition in me that always wanted to become a nurse.” With a passion for the OR guiding her, Sypria decided to become a registered nurse and North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) was there to lend support.
Through the help of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program*, team members like Sypria can go back to school to continue their education and progress into fields such as nursing with financial assistance. Sypria did just that and NSUH worked with her and other surgical technologists who are seeking to become RNs to help develop their skills and grow professionally. The surgical technologist program at NSUH doesn’t just prepare surgical technologists for the opportunity to go into a nursing role, it also fosters their growth in their current roles. Sypria appreciated this dual approach to her career transition, “I became proficient in sterile technique, instrumentation, and procedures and I used my expertise as a surgical technologist to enable my smooth transition into OR nursing.”
After their training, surgical techs-turned-RNs can receive additional support by NSUH through an operating room fellowship. This fellowship builds on their skills to help develop well-rounded OR nurses. The support of NSUH helped Sypria get to where she is today, “I currently hold a position as a nurse manager in the Neurosurgery OR and just completed my master’s in nursing leadership. Without the support of Northwell and NSUH this would not have been possible.”
#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.
This post is part of a blog series highlighting Northwell Health’s Advanced Clinical Providers (ACP). Each Northwell Health employee was nominated by their manager as an individual that exemplifies a central Northwell Health value. This month, we’re proud to introduce you to Sharon Hasfal DNP, ANP-BC., who is a “Truly Compassionate” member of our team. Here’s why:
It’s hard to find an Advanced Clinical Provider who provides more Truly Compassionate care than Sharon Hasfal. Sharon is a nurse practitioner (NP) in the medicine service line, where she plans and participates in many of the team building/engagement activities that help keep our team working well, together. But Sharon’s compassion goes way beyond the call of duty, and she does so with a humbling grace that shows, no matter the challenge, she’s Made for this.
Sharon was born to be an NP. Blessed with, as she claims, “the gift of gab,” she uses her skill to speak with her patients and takes time to let them know what their plan of care is for the day. She remembers a dedication that struck a chord in her career early on, “a colleague of mine on 3 DSU instilled into her nurses the importance of sitting with your patients and taking the time to speak with them and help them understand what is going on.” This lesson stuck with Sharon.
On her most rewarding day at Northwell Health, she joined the senior case manager and social worker of her hospital and medicine hospitalists to work with patients with an excessive length of stay. As a team, they took the time to speak with patients and their families to learn the ins and outs of what was affecting the patients’ hospitalizations. “I felt I was effective in helping patients make very difficult decisions like advanced directives or arrangements for a safe discharge to home. Good teamwork makes a big difference in providing good care for our patients and working with this team was great.” Speaking of volunteering, Sharon co-chairs every nurse practitioner event that takes place in her hospital. The planning is done on her own time and she usually comes in on her day off to allow herself to fully focus on the success of the celebration. Sharon says, “I enjoy being a nurse practitioner. I believe if you do not enjoy what you are doing you will not be able to be an advocate for your patients and their families.” Her goal is to celebrate nurse practitioners and ensure they have a fun, memorable time- and it’s definitely been accomplished! She’s organized a Hawaiian Luau, a Carnival, a Tea Party, a Beach Party, a Mardi Gras and many more! And that’s just her own hospital. Sharon also serves as the chairperson for the Nurse Practitioner Association of Long Island (NPALI) annual conference, a volunteer position where she organizes a full day educational conference for nurse practitioners throughout Long Island!
Sharon’s compassion is shown in how she cares for people in her workplace, in her community, and in the world. She volunteers for medical missions in underserved countries, using her vacation time and her own money to travel to the needed destination. She does not want or expect anything in return. Her reward is the knowledge that she was able to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s a job she loves. It’s a career she’s Made for. “As an NP I will continue to be true to my patients, their families, along with my peers,” said Sharon. “I will continue to keep my patients informed while they are in the hospital; take the opportunity to educate patients, their families and my colleagues both inpatient and outpatient; and my missionary work. It’s how I can make a difference as an NP.”
Are you Made for working with exceptional Advanced Clinical Providers like Sharon?
Explore your career opportunities at Northwell Health here.
Portraits of Caring at Northern Westchester Hospital
Welcome to 2019. We’re living in the age of medical marvels and miracles. We’re using robotic tools, GPS technology, and machines that defy gravity to help keep our community healthy. As a Planetree designated hospital, Northern Westchester Hospital is also proud of raising the bar for patient-centered care. Meet five extraordinary staff members who surpass all expectations to bring comfort and relief to our patients and their families.
Dorothy Cafran: Handcrafted with Love
Years ago, when a patient with advanced cancer told Nurse Dorothy Cafran how much she loved autumn, Dorothy got an idea. “I’m a quilter and I have a lot of fabric at home,” she says. So I whipped up a pillowcase for her using fabric with fall leaves on it. It brought her great joy.” It was the first of many pillowcases Dorothy has handcrafted for patients and their families.
As a palliative care nurse, Dorothy sits down with patients and gets to know the people behind the diagnoses—their interests, likes, dislikes, fears. Hearing about their lives often prompts her to create personalized pillowcases for patients and their family members. “Pillowcases are universal,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how old or young, big or small you are—everyone sleeps on a pillow.”
Recently Dorothy met a woman with cardiac disease whose condition was very tenuous. “She was extra-sad, very sick,” she says. “She told me what she feared most was not seeing her granddaughters grow up. Her granddaughters loved to dance.” The next day Dorothy surprised the patient with homemade pillowcases featuring ballerina slippers. “I told her, ‘These are for you to give your granddaughters. You’ll always be with them, and every time they sleep on these pillows, it’s like you’re giving them a hug.’ The woman burst into tears of joy.”
While her thoughtful gestures never fail to raise the spirits of patients and family members, Dorothy insists, “Trust me, I receive far more than I give.”
Tammi Gonzalez: Tea-Cart Tammi
Many patients have trouble sleeping at night in the hospital. So Tammi Gonzalez, also known as Tea-Cart Tammi, a patient care associate on the seventh-floor cardiopulmonary unit, provides nightly “tuck-in rounds” to make patients feel comfortable and relaxed before bed.
“I go around with a little tea cart, and I offer decaf tea and coffee, hot chocolate, graham crackers, and sugar-free cookies.” Other tuck-in options include warm blankets, eye masks, earplugs, hand massages, scented sachets and recordings of soothing sounds. “If we don’t have something they want before bed, I try my hardest to get it because if I were a patient, it would make me feel like somebody really cares. I love the idea of knowing that someone’s there to wish me goodnight.” How have patients reacted? “Some have told me, ‘Wow, this is better than a hotel! I don’t want to leave!’ ” Tammi says with a laugh.
“The best part is the conversation that’s happening,” she says. Sometimes I’ll sit there and talk to patients for hours. “Often they’re alone and don’t have anybody to talk to. So this gives them the opportunity to have that little chat they might need. I ask them about their family, what they did for a living, where they grew up—it reduces the anxiety that can come with a hospital setting.”
Susan Raskin: Relaxation Is Key
Integrative medicine uses therapies that complement conventional care to reduce pain and to comfort patients. “It helps medications work more effectively because it relaxes the person,” says Susan Raskin, a nurse who practices integrative medicine at NWH. “It speeds up the healing process. That is our goal: to manage pain, stress, and anxiety.”
At no charge to patients, Susan offers reflexology, gentle touch massage, reiki, guided imagery, and music therapy. She also treats patients’ family members. “It’s not uncommon for a patient to say, ‘I’m okay but could you work on my wife?’ And we’re happy to do it. Many family members are here 24/7, and they’re getting rundown. The patient relaxes, seeing their loved one getting cared for.”
“I’m the luckiest nurse in the profession that this is what I get to do all day,” Susan says. “I am always in awe. I see patients and families dealing with tremendous stressors, real fears, and concerns. Their courage and grace under pressure never cease to amaze me.”
Angela Watts: “A Home-like Feeling”
Angela Watts, an ICU nurse, created “comfort boxes” to help support patients and families struggling with the last stages of life. The comfort box is a small gift box containing items a family might need at the patient’s bedside, such as hand cream, lip balm, mints, tissues, tea bags, a booklet about the dying process, a small token with a powerful message, and a silk pouch that can be used to keep a lock of their loved one’s hair.
But Angela’s program goes a step further. “We want to create an environment that gives a home-like feeling,” she says. So the patient and family also receive a handmade quilt, a colorful pillow, and a journal to record their thoughts. “The comfort box is not just a tangible item—it’s a mindset,” she continues. “We want that last interaction to be special and home-like.” Once the patient passes, the family is encouraged to take the items home as a remembrance of that last time. “They love it and are very appreciative.”
“I’ve been a critical care nurse for 23 years, and I’m blessed to care for end-of-life-patients,” she says. “Death can be beautiful, and I feel very honored to be there at such a special time. As nurses, we’re fortunate we can share that time and encourage patients and family to look at each other, hold hands, forgive, and say what they need to say.” Nurses can tailor the environment so it’s warmer and more personal. “This program is very close to my heart,” says Angela. “I feel so fortunate that the hospital supports it.”
Giovanna Albanese: Healing Heart Stones
Giovanna Albanese, activity coordinator at the Ambulatory Surgical Center, has always kept two colorful, heart-shaped stones on her desk. During difficult times in her life, she explains, “they’ve provided me comfort in some way.” One day, a woman came in for brain surgery. “She was beautiful, in a wheelchair, in her 20s, very scared, crying,” says Giovanna. “I asked her parents, ‘Do you mind if I give her something special?’ And I handed her one of my stones. The young woman instantly brightened up, and the parents had tears in their eyes.”
At that moment Giovanna realized that her stones could be as special and meaningful to others as they are to her. She started buying more to give away to those who “needed a little something extra during a difficult time,” she says. “I’ve given heart stones to a mother who’d lost her baby, a distraught breast cancer patient, and a trembling 10-year-old boy getting an MRI. She keeps the stones in a velvet pouch, and tells patients, “I call these my healing heart stones. Pick one—don’t look. You’re going to be okay.” Giovanna has been overwhelmed by the response: “A cancer patient who came back for a second surgery told me she put the stone on her nightstand. Another keeps it in her wallet at all times.”
Giovanna has handed out nearly 100 stones over two years. She was recently awarded a $1,600 grant to begin regularly buying them for patients. “I’m so blessed to be in this position,” she says. “Knowing I may touch someone’s life in some small way means the world to me.”
Are you Made for extraordinary patient care? Explore all career opportunities at Northern Westchester Hospital today.
This post is part of a blog series highlighting Northwell Health’s Advanced Clinical Providers (ACP). Each Northwell Health employee was nominated by their manager as an individual that exemplifies a central Northwell Health value. This month, we’re proud to introduce you to Melissa Moscola, PA-C, MA., who is a “Truly Innovative” member of our team. Here’s why:
Melissa is a Truly Innovative PA at Northwell Health. As a practicing PA in various capacities, Melissa was working for a private practice providing critical care coverage. But she felt she could do more for patients and families. When the Follow Your Heart program, a support service for patients and families, was revamped and developed in partnership with CT surgery and Health Solutions, she jumped at the chance to become part of this innovative medical endeavor. As the program approaches its second anniversary, let’s learn how Melissa found the position she’s Made for.
Melissa has spent most of her career working in critical care areas. This experience showed her the importance of support services, “when these patients survive and recover enough to be discharged from the hospital, their needs don’t disappear, they change.” That change means families and patients will need more support than ever. The Follow Your Heart program bridges the gap between the hospital and the patient’s home and helps ease the transition by providing increased access to care, medication optimization, and home visits.
In her position, Melissa is “able to develop relationships with both patients and providers based on trust, which becomes particularly important when dealing with the most vulnerable patients.” And she can build those relationships without sacrificing growing her own. Melissa enjoys the flexibility she’s found in her profession, a flexibility that has enabled her to get her master’s degree, get married and have children.
Throughout her career, Melissa has embraced innovation. The technology available today allows her team to perform virtual visits to patients at acute rehab at Glen Cove. Melissa notes, “the field of medicine is always changing and I am so happy to be an integral part of the change.”
The Follow Your Heart Program was a finalist for this year’s President’s Award where the program and team were recognized for their Truly Innovative work. Melissa recognizes how teamwork got her here, “we are a truly cohesive team that works well together for the good of the patients.”
Are you Made for working with exceptional Advanced Clinical Providers like Melissa?
Veteran Rose Powers’ Revenue Cycle Career of Duty at Northwell Health
For the fifth year in a row, Northwell Health has earned a Military Friendly® Employer designation! We’re celebrating by speaking to veterans like Rose Powers, RN to get their perspectives on working with us and the opportunities for veterans and reservists at Northwell Health.
To Rose, her job is her duty. It’s been that way since she left active duty as an Army Specialist. In the following days and years, Rose noticed an evolving concept of duty, an Army core value, and it was leading her to a strong need to do more to help people. So, Rose left her marketing career to go to nursing school and become an emergency room nurse. But her sense of duty was still calling. She wanted to look at the bigger picture. That’s when she took a role as a consultant, assisting hospitals who were in dire straits financially. Rose remembers, “I thought, sure, I could help people in the ER but I could also help communities by working to get healthcare organizations financially stable enough so they could focus on providing quality care with all of the necessary tools.”
That’s how Rose came to the Revenue Cycle Team. She’s now the director of Revenue Cycle Management, a position that impacts both the patient population and employees of Northwell Health. The revenue cycle starts when patients first schedule an appointment or walk into a facility. For staff, a highly functioning revenue cycle protects the financial health of the organization so we can all continue to grow, both geographically and clinically. Rose says, “revenue cycle allows for us to staff the hospitals appropriately, upgrade equipment, implement new technologies, and continue our mission to bring state-of-the-art treatment options to the people within our community and beyond.”
Now, Rose’s sense of duty is expanding beyond our system. Northwell Health is partnering with other hospitals in our community to provide them with best in class revenue cycle practices so they can continue to strive for financial success. And Rose will be leading the charge. “My role here is to work with our alliance partners in all boroughs in the NYC metro area, providing them with advice and assistance to optimize areas of their revenue cycle. This not only provides Northwell with additional revenue but also contributes to the organizations and level of care provided to people within our community.”
Rose is excited for the future of her Truly Innovative department. One of her favorite trends in Revenue Cycle is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms to increase efficiencies. She explains, “the use of AI often worries people within an organization, with the thought that it will replace staff, but it couldn’t be more the opposite. Instead, the AI functionality will allow our staff to focus on the tasks that require a human element, moving away from menial tasks and shifting to assignments that will continue to help the organization focus on the ever-changing healthcare revenue cycle environment.”
Rose’s team shares her sense of duty and her drive at work. She’s grateful that “after working with more than a dozen hospitals in my career, the people within the ranks of the Revenue Cycle here at Northwell Health are by far the most intelligent, driven, and innovative that I have encountered. Working for and with such a great group of people in an area that truly impacts the entire organization makes me feel as though I am making a difference in our community.”
Here, Rose feels the support she needs to follow her calling. “Northwell provides its employees with the ability to fulfill our sense of duty through the endless opportunities and services, everything from clinical research, marketing, food services, and finance. I believe this truly is an organization that will foster its employees’ need to evolve, both professionally and personally.” Rose feels this especially applies to veterans. “Northwell’s commitment to veterans is nothing short of exceptional. Everything from job fairs, webinars, workshops, and an active community fosters an environment that not only welcomes veterans but provides a platform to thrive in the civilian world.”
Meet Maureen Munson, RN: a Patient Care Manager that’s Made for Emergency Medicine
As the daughter of a nurse, patient care manager Maureen Munson, RN, CEN heard nursing stories around her family dinner table. But it wasn’t until she started her career in 2001 at Phelps Hospital as a health unit clerk that she knew she wanted to become a nurse herself.
During nursing school, Maureen continued to work at Phelps Hospital as a monitor tech on the Telemetry floor and after graduation, she transitioned into a registered nurse position on the same unit. But her heart was always set on working in the emergency department. “When I was 18, I joined the fire department and also volunteered as an EMT. I have always loved the rapid cycle of emergency care. You figure out what is going on and then pass the started puzzle off the next person,” said Maureen. “In my life, I like schedules and routine, but not at work. The ED forces you out of routine and makes you use critical thinking throughout your entire shift.”
So, when Maureen heard of a fellowship position at Northern Westchester Hospital, she jumped at the opportunity! “I believe fellowships are a great way to enter emergency nursing. It was a scary transition leaving a hospital that I knew so well and diving into a whole new environment.” Maureen quickly learned she had nothing to worry about when she received the Up and Coming Nurse Award for 2012!
Maureen completed the fellowship at Northern Westchester Hospital and later went on to become certified in emergency nursing. She started looking for a bigger leadership opportunity, eventually taking a position as an assistant nurse manager in the Short Stay Pediatric Unit which evolved into a manager role. “What I love most about working at Northern Westchester Hospital is the people. I am fortunate to work alongside smart, talented and personable individuals,” Maureen said. “It is the culture here to push people to their potential and then set their sights higher. This has been done for me so many times, and I find ways to do the same with my staff.”
Despite enjoying her new opportunity, Maureen missed the ED. So, when an ED manager position became available, she mulled over her decision and with the support of her director, applied. Her hard work was recognized and she took the position in 2016. It’s the same role she has today!
Over her tenure, Maureen has seen the ED through both ups and downs. With a collaborative team, she has designed and successfully relocated the entire ED for two shutdowns, getting patients seen and treated in an alternate location in the hospital. She’s also learned that “honesty and transparency carry a lot of weight in this role. I have gained the respect of others by showing them support and respect.”
And that support and respect are felt in her department. Her ED reached Tier 1 for staff engagement after she collaborated with nurses, techs, and her leadership team on an action plan to improve employee engagement. She’s also helped to facilitate a workgroup that has changed the way the Emergency Department reports on admitted patients and improve communication between other floors and the ED.
“It takes a special person to be an ED nurse,” Maureen said. “It’s not about being able to stomach it, it’s about being able to prioritize care, recognizing small changes early, talking with patients and families when they are at their worst, and it’s supporting your co-workers. An ED is a team, a second family.” Do you have a passion for caring for and protecting our patients and communities?
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.
How one day changed everything for career transitioning veteran Nancy Banks
It took one event, one meeting and one conversation to convince Nancy Banks that Northwell Health was the right place for her.
A while back, Nancy attended a veterans career fair. Though there were many employers present, she didn’t connect with any of them. That is, until she happened to pass the Northwell Health booth on her way out. There she met Lyndon Chichester, Northwell Health Veteran Program Specialist and fellow U.S. Air Force veteran. Nancy recalls, “We talked about Northwell and the benefits of working for an organization that cares deeply for their patients and their employees. He told me to go online, find three jobs that matched my qualifications and send him the information. I did and within a week I had an interview.”
Today Nancy is an Administrative Manager at Northwell Health ambulatory facility, Lenox Hill OBGYN. The job is varied, challenging and highly rewarding. “I feel like I am making a difference in the lives of our patients and those that work in the office with me,” says Nancy. “I work with an exceptional group of people that love what they do.”
Nancy’s military experience uniquely prepared her for her role with Northwell Health. “The Air Force taught me leadership, commitment, compassion and honor,” says Nancy. “I use each of these, every single day at Northwell.”
Nancy has no regrets about her decision to join Northwell Health. “Transitioning to a new position is one of the most unnerving things I have done, so I wanted to make sure that I picked the right company,” Nancy says. “After working with Lyndon, I knew Northwell would be an exceptional organization, because he was exceptional.” Nancy is living proof of the benefits of Northwell Health being a Military Friendly® Employer for five years in a row.
If you’d like to be part of an organization with an unyielding commitment to supporting veterans, take the first step at the Northwell Health Veteran Interview Day on November 9. Network and interview with hiring managers and executives, hear from keynote speaker Mark Solazzo, Northwell Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and much more.
Nancy would like to remind all those attending the Interview Day that, “the career opportunities at Northwell are endless. You are only limited by your determination and drive.”
Meet the Sherlock Holmes of solving claim errors: Northwell Health’s Anthony McCallum
Give him a mystery.
Northwell Health’s own Anthony McCallum, CPC-I, CIRCC, CPC, CCS received the 2018 Omar Brito Life Achievement Award from the Roxbury Institute for Medical Management in recognition of his extraordinary personal and professional achievements. Here’s how he got here.
Anthony pursued coding over twenty years ago, starting with the CPC credential. He worked as a coder and coding consultant and then joined the Revenue Integrity Operations (RIO) team with Northwell Health in 2005 as an Outpatient Revenue Coding Specialist. “After a few years into my coding career and having worked for many years as a patient access representative, I was looking to return to a part-time position at Northwell,” Anthony said. “During the application process, the hiring manager picked up on my revenue cycle experience and felt I would be a good fit for RIO. From there I was interviewed, tested and ultimately offered the greatest opportunity of my life.”
While in RIO, he received three additional prestigious coding certifications, a B.S. degree in Health Care Management and an M.B.A. in Health Administration. “Northwell has provided a platform in which I have been able to advance. There is so much growth in this field and Northwell has provided an environment which encourages that growth. This has had a direct and positive impact on my career and job satisfaction.”
So what is the revenue cycle? According to Anthony, Revenue Cycle includes clinical and administrative functions which contribute to the capture, management, and collection of patient service revenue. RIO has the rare opportunity and skill of analyzing claims in their entirety and assuring that the medical record documentation supports every line item on that claim appropriately. The comprehensive analysis of claims and medical record documentation in conjunction with knowledge of charge capture processes allows RIO to identify the root causes of claim errors. Claim errors can be due to an array of issues; coding, charging, documentation, registration, and software application failures to name a few. RIO directs claims correction and works with the appropriate departments in an effort to mitigate future errors. Anthony feels like “in a sense, we are the Sherlock Holmes of solving claim error mysteries.”
Anthony is dedicated to providing continuous coding education with integrity and intelligence, and his contributions have also been recognized by the health information management community. “I was approached by Frank Chisena, the president of the Roxbury Institute for Medical Management; he explained that the award was given to prior students deemed to have excelled in the profession and he wanted to present me with the 2018 award due to my advancement in healthcare revenue cycle.”
Anthony’s greatest award is a rewarding career. “RIO is constantly seeking innovative ways to improve the organization’s bottom line is the most rewarding aspect of my job,” Anthony said. “It is particularly rewarding when RIO has identified additional revenue opportunities while mitigating claim errors and compliance concerns. It is gratifying to know that our work directly impacts the financial health of the organization, enabling Northwell to fulfill its mission.”
Written by: Laura Wood, MSN, RN, AGNP-C, Palliative Care, Southside Hospital
While all the other girls in my high school were stressed preparing for their sweet 16, I was handling the stress of preparing for an admission to the hospital. To say living with chronic illness isn’t a struggle would be a lie, but you learn how to adapt when you have no other choice. It was around Thanksgiving in 2005 when I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE) and Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP). Multiple admissions to and from Cohen Children’s Medical Center along with weekly home infusions would cause any 16-year-old to feel angry and hopeless.
The details of my hospital stay are hard to recall but until this day I have never forgotten how the nurses made me feel. The feeling of vulnerability as a patient is difficult to explain until you have personally experienced it. Lonesome, angry, and hopeless; all words to describe the vulnerability overwhelming my emotions.
During my time of despair, I had encountered a nurse who I will never forget. This nurse didn’t know it, but she had changed my life forever. Maybe it was the way she listened to me, made me feel like I wasn’t alone, gave me support, and hope. She made me laugh, made me forget I was sick, and made me remember that despite my situation, I was still a 16-year-old girl who deserved to have fun and celebrate my sweet 16 like every other girl at school.
There was one thing I knew for sure leaving that hospital: I wanted to make others feel how this nurse made me feel during the hardest time in my life. I wanted to be just like her; it was in this moment that I realized my calling: I’m a Nurse and nothing will hold me back.
Fast forward to 2 years later I started my first position at Northwell’s Plainview Hospital as a patient representative in the admitting and discharge office. I spent 4 years in this position while enrolled at Molloy College for my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. After graduation I continued to work at Plainview as a Registered Nurse for 7 years while simultaneously achieving my Masters Degree as an Adult and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner from Molloy College.
Today as I look back I’m proud to say I have come a long way since I was in that dark, anger filled, hopeless place from 14 years ago. My current role as a Nurse Practitioner is in Palliative Care and I have never felt so much fulfillment in my life.
Being diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses, most of which are considered invisible disease, has forced me to push and work harder in order to achieve the same accomplishments as a healthy individual. I always remember back to when I was 16 and how vulnerable I felt – if I have the power to make just one person feel less vulnerable, advocate for them, decrease their pain, and increase their comfort then I have no other option but to continue my calling. Palliative Care is exactly where I belong because I am able to help those who are like myself. In each and every patient I see a reflection of my 16-year-old self staring back at me.
At the end of the day before I lay my head down to sleep I can say with full confidence that what I do with my life isn’t a job, but a calling. Jobs are made with tasks for people to complete, but callings are for people whose task is never complete. The experience of the care is ongoing and is carried with both the nurses and patient for the rest of their lives. Nursing is my calling. I was Made for this.
Northwell’s Kyle Nevins is a Top Five Finalist of ASCP’s 40 Under Forty. Here’s Why.
We’re proud to announce that Northwell Health’s very own Kyle Nevins was selected as a 40 Under Forty Top Five through a combination of public voting and committee selection by American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). This program recognizes members under the age of 40 for their achievements and leadership qualities that are making an impact on pathology and laboratory medicine. We have no doubt Kyle was acknowledged for her Truly Ambitious work!
Kyle’s ambition began at a young age. “As a child, I have always loved and excelled in math and science,” she stated, “After winning the school science fair in 4th grade and getting the opportunity to visit the Brookhaven National Laboratory, I was hooked and knew a path in science was for me.”
Prior to joining Northwell Health, Kyle worked as a per diem Medical Technologist with a Northwell employee, who encouraged Kyle to apply to Northwell. “I have been fortunate in my career at Northwell and have had the opportunity to work among extremely insightful and knowledgeable mentors.”
Following that advice, she joined Northwell Health in January 2016 as a QA/QC Specialist in the New Patient Testing (Point of Care) department at Core Laboratory. There, her team of 5 specialists managed the laboratory oversight for 150+ physician office labs, imaging centers, patient service centers and urgent care labs. During this time, Kyle grew in her position. She advises anyone starting off their career to, “be a sponge, take in as much insight and advice that others are willing to give to you. Everyone has something to share and teach, provided you are willing to learn and listen.”
In December 2016, Kyle’s ambitions grew stronger as she advanced to the Laboratory Supervisor position in the new Management Services Organization (MSO) group. The MSO group’s primary responsibilities relate to performing laboratory audits at the 20+ Northwell Health laboratories where they help ensure readiness for all upcoming regulatory inspections and provide laboratory management oversight and consulting services for contracted non-Northwell facilities.
Kyle has found success and growth inside of Northwell Health labs. “From creating posters for presentation at conferences such as AACC and ASCP, to helping validate and open a new Ebola testing laboratory, and participating in nationwide CAP inspections, the opportunities for growth are endless.” We are proud of Kyle’s recognition as a 40 Under Forty Top Five, and look forward to seeing how she continues to push the limits of the labs at Northwell Health.
Find your place inside Northwell Health’s labs here.
How veteran Floyd Harris transitioned into a civilian career at Northwell Health
For the fifth year in a row, Northwell Health has earned a Military Friendly® Employer designation! We’re celebrating by speaking to veterans like Floyd Harris to get their perspectives on working with us and the opportunities for veterans and reservists at Northwell Health.
Floyd is a Route Service Representative, a position where he plays an important part in providing customers with excellent service — and he knows that his work helps to make Northwell Health successful. His favorite part of this work is “providing our customers with the service they desire and the ability to build a rapport with everyone that I meet daily.” So, how did Floyd get this job he loves?
Floyd believes all the credit for his civilian career transition goes to his wife, Keri, of 16 years. A few months into her new job at Northwell Health, she would come home and share her love of her workplace culture. She thought Floyd could find a post-military career here that he’s Made for. So, she reached out to the Northwell Veteran Inclusion Specialist to see how they could help in the hiring process.
Floyd’s wife brought him to the right place. Floyd says, “After retiring from serving our country for 20 years in the Marine Corps, Northwell Health has definitely helped with my transition into civilian life. Thus far it has been a great place to work and it enables me to have a work-life balance.” He also credits his managers, supervisors, and trainers that have assisted him in efficiently getting his job done.
Floyd’s work at Northwell Health will only continue to grow. He emphasizes that “with the unlimited number of opportunities here at Northwell Health, I truly believe that I will have the opportunity to advance at a fast pace.” And he wants other veterans to find a civilian career where they can be Truly Ambitious outside of the military. Take it from Floyd, “Veterans should know that a career at Northwell Health will provide them with a multitude of opportunities. Their support for veterans shows each and every day with the number of military services they provide. There are veteran recruitment events held on a regular basis, as well as job fairs and other webinars that they provide for veterans to ensure that they make a smooth transition into a remarkable civilian career.”
Northwell Health is Made for giving our employees a place where we can all be Truly Ourselves. For veterans, that means giving them the support they need to use the skills and drive they gained in the military in a civilian career through various initiatives and programs. This emphasis on continually helping veterans has earned us a Top 10 ranking for Military Friendly Employers in Health & Pharmaceutical Services.
The circle of service: How Northwell Health benefits veteran and reservist employees at home and on duty
When a member of our team goes on active duty, they shouldn’t take a pay cut. That’s why Northwell Health offers our military team members pay differential that makes up the difference between their military salary and their Northwell salary. It’s this kind of dedication to the military that has earned us a Military Friendly® Employer designation for the fifth year in a row. We spoke to former U.S. Navy hospital corpsman Davon Gass for an inside peek at what it’s like to be a veteran or reservist working at Northwell Health.
Davon is a Patient Care Activist (PCA) at Lenox Hill Hospital, a position that has the most direct contact with a patient during their stay and assists nurses, monitors vitals, and reinforces safety precautions among other things. It’s a position that Davon describes as “allowing you to practice empathy in a practical setting.” Empathy isn’t just Davon’s job to give to patients, it’s our job to extend empathy to Davon and his family.
In 2017, Davon was on active duty and was deployed. But he didn’t have to worry about losing his job at Northwell Health because of the benefits Northwell offers its eligible active and reservist Military team members. Since 2008, 37 employees have received more than $1.6 million through the health system’s supplemental pay benefit. Davon wants veterans to know that he “never had to worry about coming home jobless, I transitioned back into things and soon it was as if I never left.”
Northwell Health recognizes the sacrifices veterans and their families make and helps returning veterans reintegrate to civilian life. The benefits for veterans at Northwell Health are, in the words of Davon, extensive. “Northwell Health honors our military, and as a reservist they understand we have to leave for two weeks a year and one weekend a month. They are flexible and they work with you. This really helps out a lot, and there are benefits for education. It’s been great here and I have no regrets. You can, overall, expect a lot of support for veterans [at Northwell Health].”
We’re Made for giving our employees a place where we can be Truly Ourselves. We’re thankful for their service, and work hard to support them while they’re in active duty and after. Veterans and reservists: we can do incredible things when we work Truly Together.
Learn more about our programs for veterans and reservists here.
Vivian Buccino, BSN, Charge Nurse, South Oaks Hospital
Vivian is committed to taking care of patients on the behavioral health unit at South Oaks Hospital, caring for the female adolescent population. She begins each shift rounding, ensuring her patients are treated with respect, regardless of their illness. While she provides clinical care, she also builds trust with her patients and demonstrates that she personally cares. Sometimes when patients have no visitors for lengths at a time Vivian will come in on her day off with cupcakes.
Vivian’s caring demeanor manifests itself in every interaction with patients and their families – exceeding what is expected to ensure everyone feels safe and secure. She is a role model for the girls on her unit, as well as her peers. Vivian always says that South Oaks Hospital is where she needs to be because her patients need her. It’s as simple as that.
Many moments in Melonie’s life led her to her career in healthcare. From witnessing the tragic events of 9/11 to her service in the U.S. Army working in a Combat Action Support Hospital, Melonie knew helping others was her calling.
While serving our country Melonie was assisting a critically-injured soldier who had been hit by a bomb. She soothed the soldier during his last moments of life by holding his hand and talking. Devastated by the loss, she found a letter to his family in the pocket of his uniform, and made it her mission to personally ensure the soldier’s family received this letter.
During her nine-year military tenure and leadership experience, Melonie has served as a role model for her staff, developing a strong sense of admiration amongst her team members. Overseeing radiology and cardiology for Plainview and Syosset hospitals, her list of achievements is vast, and because of this, she directly contributes to the success of Northwell as a thriving environment. Her colleague shares, “From her time as a soldier stationed in Iraq to now, her spirit has remained constant, influential and inspiring. We are lucky to have her.”
Watch Melonie’s Made for this story.
Teamwork- Project Search, Southwest Region
Team lead: Anne Marie McDonough
Team members: Joy Barone, Jai Sada, Anthony Mantuano, Antoniette Arcamone, Laura Longo, Dir, Rory Bradley, Nora Goldberg, Ralph Grimaldi, Joann Compitello
Launched at Staten Island University Hospital, Project Search is an innovative national program used to diversify a hospital’s workforce while minimizing high turnover in entry level jobs. The transition training program is for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who have completed academic requirements and would benefit from internships and employability skills education. The program’s steering committee identified entry level positions, performed job task analysis and created a recognizable presence for program participants. Ten applicants were selected, and classes began at Staten Island in September 2017. Led by special educators and a job coach, students attended daily classroom academic sessions and spent the remainder of their day with their mentor in their internship.
By the end of the year, students rotated through three non-paid internships that provided real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills. Staff became role models for the students, and the transition program has had far-reaching positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilities and the range of jobs in which they can be successful. There is significant potential for rolling this program out within the entire organization.
Watch Project Search’s Made for this story!
Exceptional Patient Customer Experience
Urszula Monaco, Lobby Service Representative, Center for Advanced Medicine
Fighting cancer is frightening, stressful and challenging. Fortunately, patients at the Center for Advanced Medicine Department of Radiation Medicine have someone like Urszula on their side. As the department’s lobby service representative, Urszula is the first face patients see when they come to the department where they are welcomed with her warm greeting and smile. Seamlessly, Urszula maintains the patient flow, helping to keep patients informed and reassured if there are any delays. This is no easy task when you consider that she sees over 120 patients and their families daily.
Urszula literally wears out the tread of her shoes moving from waiting room to waiting room, all while attending to the needs of patients. In 2017, Urszula walked approximately 3,276,000 steps which translates to more than 1,400 miles. While that seems like a tremendous distance to travel, Urszula would gladly go twice as far it if meant that she could comfort another patient. If you ask her if she gets tired of walking so much, her response would be, “Not at all. I just need a new pair of shoes.”
In addition to supporting patients, Urszula helps the department by spearheading creative ideas for improvement. She was heavily involved in rolling out the “Gong Ceremony” to help patients celebrate the important milestone of finishing treatment. Urszula wants to make sure no patient no patient goes through their diagnosis alone.
Watch Urzula’s Made for this story!
Physician of the Year
Tarek Zetoune MD, Hospice Physician, Hospice Care Network
Dr. Zetoune holds a unique understanding of the true meaning of comprehensive care and is committed to delivering quality end of life care to both adult and pediatric patients. Driven by the belief that every day matters, he demonstrates his pledge to connectedness, awareness, respect and empathy to his patients, their families and his coworkers. His decision to work in end of life care was in part motivated by his belief that it is a facet of medicine that, as a society, we often choose to ignore. In his words, “When there is no longer an option for cure, there is even more work to be done.”
“Born in Syria, Dr. Zetoune is committed to working with refugees, as well as hospice patients. Following the end of his fellowship program, he traveled to Greece as a pediatric volunteer to help displaced refugees. “If you are in the presence of a man or woman who is talking about his or her loss, whether in a hospice setting or in a refugee camp, you don’t have to say anything. Just listen. Our presence with that patient is what is most important, not our words,” says Dr. Zetoune.”
Director Cindy Ryan and Project C.A.R.E. Bring Wellness to New Heights!
Director Cindy Ryan started at South Oaks Hospital 25 years ago, and says there has always been a focus and emphasis on wellness for its staff and the surrounding community. Now as part of Northwell Health, Cindy has found amazing opportunities for her team at South Oaks to bring Northwell Health’s dedication to wellness to the great outdoors through Project C.A.R.E. (Cooperative Activities Ropes Experience) and to South Oaks employees as a Wellness Liaison.
Since 1994, Project C.A.R.E. has been offering adventure-based workshops, facilitating groups to work, think, and learn together! These programs involve a variety of activities including group cooperative challenge problems, outdoor adventure low and high ropes course elements, and other physical elements. The level of participation is, at all times, up to the individual. “We refer to this as Challenge by Choice,’” Cindy explains. “Project C.A.R.E. offers a non-traditional experiential opportunity for participants to problem solve, learn to trust themselves and each other, understand strengths and weaknesses they possess within a group and how to succeed by working as a team.”
So how does Project C.A.R.E. do it? Let’s say a Northwell Health team is struggling with effective leadership or communication and is looking to schedule a program day at Project C.A.R.E. A Project C.A.R.E. team member begins the process by completing an assessment of their needs. Some questions we ask include – What is the familiarity amongst the participants with each other? Do they work directly together? What are the goals the client hopes to achieve? What are the strengths of the team? What are the opportunities for growth and development? The information we get from this assessment allows our C.A.R.E. team to create a customized experience. This experience includes selected initiatives/activities that foster opportunities for tools and strategies of effective teamwork to present themselves. The learning occurs through group briefings, metaphors and evaluative reflection to make concrete connections between the participants’ experience and the application to other aspects of their lives. “Aha” moments can present themselves for the individuals and the team as a whole.
The wellness initiatives don’t stop with Northwell Health employees. Project C.A.R.E. extends its outreach to other corporations, non-profit organizations, schools, youth programs, church groups, and camps. “Northwell Health’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of the individuals within the communities we serve,” Cindy added. Northwell Health has made wellness a priority for the entire health system, and that emphasis starts at the top. “Whether it be the Virgin Pulse platform that we’re using to help staff establish a level of sustainability for wellness goals, to the connection and support from corporate wellness,” Cindy said. “I really do feel, especially recently, our current internal infrastructure has been very proactive and supportive of promoting opportunity for employees to work on their personal wellness. They are 100 percent behind those initiatives. I feel I have a significant amount of support from executive leadership.”
Though there’s tremendous institutional support, Cindy believes that it’s up to individuals to utilize the resources at their fingertips and contact their onsite liaison — each Northwell Health site has one — with their wellness needs. “There is great opportunity for someone coming into the system from a wellness perspective. The Northwell Health system makes a number of resources available whether you need to focus on wellness in spirituality, fitness, nutrition, and even finance. Northwell Health has afforded its employees many opportunities and resources to make effective change.”
How Assistant Director Jim Wescott is Bringing Northwell Health’s ED to Innovative Heights
Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine Service Line Jim Wescott has built his career in the ED and now he’s bringing his lively, passionate, and innovative leadership to the entire Emergency Service Line at Northwell Health. We sat down with Jim to see the ED through his eyes:
How did you get your start at Northwell Health?
I started at Southside Hospital ED in 2004 as a Staff Nurse where I stayed for 14 years. Shortly after that, Southside Hospital became a part of Northwell Health. From there, I progressed with the health system from Staff Nurse, to Charge Nurse, to Preceptor, and in 2012, I became an Assistant Nurse Manager. In 2015, I became a Nurse Manager and was integral in the expansion of the emergency department. Under my leadership, the ED progressed from an 11,000 capacity ED to 30,000. After construction, that number reached 60,000! Now, I’m Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine Service Line.
How did you know that coming to Northwell Health was the right career move for you?
I knew immediately that Southside ED was for me on my first walk through in 2004. There was a buzz and energy that was occurring in this small ED. I hadn’t even had an official interview and I was ready to jump in and start working! When Southside Hospital integrated with Northwell Health, the system did an amazing job of committing to projects and improving processes. It’s such an innovative health system! There’s just this incredible commitment to moving forward at Northwell Health and I believe it’s because the senior executive level has a passionate vision that they’ve implemented in the mid-level leadership team and disseminated throughout the entire system.
Tell us about your current role:
The Emergency Medicine service line works collaboratively with hospital executive leadership to oversee clinical operations, quality, patient experience, finance, employee investment, community benefit, teaching and research, and market growth in the system’s emergency departments. The service line drives the sharing of best practices, standardized measurement and analysis of efficiency and quality metrics, and streamlined administrative practices by partnering with site ED leadership. Additionally, the EMSL assists our sites with redesign ED workflows, coordinates with system emergency preparedness departments, and is growing the Northwell footprint through a joint venture with GoHealth Urgent Care.
We also work with sites on career development and the (this is a mouthful, sorry!) ED Service Line Clinical Leadership Development Program. It’s a terrific opportunity for our ED clinicians, ACPs, and RNs! Created in conjunction with other leaders at the service line level, program participants attend an expert-led class every month. One month might focus on emotional intelligence, another on finance, and another on business strategies. This is a unique program that’s geared toward Emergency Medicine and it’s an exciting program because you don’t traditionally get these courses in healthcare work. Our SVP and executive director, Dr. John Deangelo recognized the enormous benefit of this investment in our clinical leadership teams along the service line and through his trailblazing vision, brought it to life. The program will be kicking off its fourth class this July. As a proud alumnus of this program, I can share with you firsthand how the content of this program augmented my own career development.
How does Northwell Health encourage employees to move around within the organization?
Moving within the organization is very well received and encouraged. I was at Southside Hospital for a long time and had successful upward career mobility. There are definitely pros to progressing and growing at one site. You know the culture, you know the players, you know what to expect day-to-day- even in an ED where the landscape is unpredictable! There are also cons to staying at one site. When you take on a new role, there’s a lot to learn and I think it’s beneficial to start that new role at a different location. Each culture is different. You’ll augment your own growth by being exposed to different processes and different patterns of thinking with new leaders. Northwell Health does a great job of offering these opportunities for upward mobility throughout the system.
Have you had a great mentor at Northwell Health? What did you learn from them?
Narrowing down my mentors at Northwell Health is difficult! Senior Director of Emergency Medicine Service Line Kate O’Neill is a dynamic person. When I was a Nurse Manager, I was expanding the department to three times its size. It was a very stressful time, I could share my experiences and challenges with Kate and she was the reassuring voice I needed. Even if I knew what to do, receiving validation from her level was integral to my growth. She always had a calming presence to her and you knew she was really listening, a trait that’s a hallmark of any great leader.
There’s also Paula Fessler who has championed my career and been a mentor for years. When you look at someone like Paula, her personality and the presence she has- it’s very inspiring. She reminds you of how inclusive Northwell Health is as an organization and how they build a real culture of care from top to bottom.
Finally, there’s Jason Philip, the Administrative Director of the emergency department at Southside Hospital. I’m very passionate about leadership, coaching and mentoring. I want to teach others the lessons that I’ve learned, especially emotional intelligence- a skill that’s vital for innovative leadership. I can’t think of anyone that I’ve ever worked with who has a stronger emotional intelligence than Jason. He is ridiculously engaged in all of the many moving parts of the emergency department. You wouldn’t expect someone who’s on the MBA executive route to really get down into the weeds of clinical operations. But from his first day, Jason has fully integrated himself. He’s also the Administrative Director of the ED at Peconic Bay Hospital and he does the same thing there! I’m just amazed by his ability to listen- that’s an art that I’ve tried to perfect in my career.
What advice do you have for people just starting out in their careers?
Don’t be afraid to fail! I’ve learned so much more from trying and failing than anything I have succeeded at immediately. So to all of you starting your careers, I say this: Northwell Health is the greatest health system in the world to work for and I would go toe-to-toe with anyone who would challenge that. Shoot for the moon and don’t worry about failing while trying. In a just culture like Northwell Health, if your intentions are good and you tried your best, you won’t be berated or beaten down for it. You’ll learn from it!
Any innovative changes or growth happening in the future we should know about?
One of the numerous innovative projects our team has developed and continues to augment are real-time dashboards. Historically in health care, measuring your performance was a manual, rigorous, work exhaustive endeavor. If you were able to obtain any information it was seldom actionable as it was always a retrospective review of things you could have done better, say a few weeks, months, or even a year ago, and rarely could you benchmark these results to others. Today, our service line team utilizes real-time data with a laser focus on throughput efficacy, quality metrics, and patient experience to name a few.
By leveraging this technology our clinical leadership teams along the service line can drill down to the granular level on such things as length of stay in the ED by the hour, day, mode (walk-in or ambulance) of arrival, and truly drive sustained performance improvement by understanding the challenges and opportunities this powerful information provides our teams.
Jim Wescott is just one great example of the innovation, passion and creative thinking that is making our emergency department a trailblazer in health care. Interested in joining our incredible team in Northwell Health’s ED? RSVP here for our hiring event on August 7th!
A passionate commitment to her patients and team has followed registered nurse and Reservist Kelly Mahaffy throughout her career at Northwell Health that spans 30 years. It’s this passion for service that helped Kelly flourish in the OR, whether it be in a Northwell hospital or during her active duty.
Kelly’s career started in Manhasset Hospital as an OR nurse in 1988, following a successful clinical there in nursing school. Here she worked for 17 years on the evening shift, enjoying the diversity the evening shift brought and focusing primarily in neurology. Her desire for travel led her to California in 2005, where she later joined the Army Reserves.
When it came time to come home, Kelly returned to Northwell, accepting a position at Glen Cove Hospital in 2009. “At Glen Cove, we’re very proud of our hospital,” says Kelly, who is still an OR nurse there today, “We know when new surgeons come in, we have one chance to get it right and we do.” We’re proud to be able to have helped Kelly grow in her career with us while she continues to serve in the reserves.
From 2017 to 2018, Kelly worked with other reservists at Womack Army Medical Center in North Carolina. Here she was part of the active duty service, taking care of active duty soldiers. During her shifts, Kelly saw firsthand the sacrifices of those in the military and their families. Working with these soldiers continually inspired Kelly. “It reminds you to be grateful for the freedoms we enjoy daily,” she shares.
While at Womack Army Medical Center, Kelly noticed the inherent loyalty and teamwork of the soldiers with pride. “You have to look out for your soldiers,” says Kelly, “you have to look out for the people you serve with.” And she’s proud to see this value reflected in Northwell’s Truly Together employees as well, “The team really pulled together and took care of my job when I went away for a whole year. I knew when I came back, they’ll have kept things running smoothly.”
Veterans like Kelly and the soldiers they serviced have sacrificed so much to serve our country. At Northwell, we’re proud that Kelly chooses to continue this spirit of service with us as a nurse. “I’m proud to serve at Northwell,” says Kelly, “I am proud to have served in North Carolina, and I am proud to still be in the Army Reserves.”
And we’re proud to have been named a Military Friendly® Employer for three years in a row, supporting veterans like Kelly and providing veteran services throughout their time with us, such as pay differentials and flexible scheduling for reservists. We’re committed to our veterans, their career transition, and their growth.
Administrative Manager and Wellness Liaison Janet Schaetzle has been with Northwell Health for 12 years managing Northwell Health Physician Partners, Neurosurgery and Spine at Great Neck and Lynbrook. But don’t think she’s managing from afar as Janet’s on the floor with her staff and she doesn’t want to leave. In order to keep her staff in top shape, wellness is a major focus. For Janet, Northwell’s culture and wellness is connected to many aspects of her life — inside her office and outside in her community.
Inside the office, Janet’s staff members focus on wellness through healthy lunches and Zumba. Janet’s staff also participated in the Walk To Dublin. They embraced their love of competition and formed a team. “We monitored each other and we still do weekly step-offs and weekend rumbles. I’ve met people and made friends in other departments through the wellness challenges,” says Janet.
That emphasis on wellness and the impact of Northwell’s culture extends from her office doors out into her community. Janet is a part of the Northwell Life Facebook group that connects employees throughout Northwell Health. From Suffolk County, to Westchester, to New York City, employees are using social media to work together on community service projects in their spare time. For example, Janet’s office donates to Meals on Wheels with four other departments. In addition, the staff will take time on a weekend to serve families at the Ronald McDonald house and share a day creating a dinner for over 80 people every year for the past 3 years. “Northwell does so much with communities to raise money for brain aneurysms, breast cancer, and more problems that affect my patients. There’s a sense that you belong to an organization that really does care,” she adds.
Janet has personally benefited from Northwell Health’s focus on employee wellness. And that begins with leadership. “Northwell brings people in from the wellness department and the EAP works with us in dealing with stress, sleep, and staying energized,” says Janet. “The staff is so into it and I’ve joined a gym since this wellness program started.” That dedication to wellness includes providing resources to help employees grow professionally. “We have so many opportunities to advance. Through the Center for Learning Innovations (CLI), we can take classes, and Northwell Health will help pay for you to continue your education.” From Dealing with Stress Management to Emotional Intelligence for Leaders to Business Writing and Computer courses, Northwell Health provides employees with classes that help them advance and nurture their professional careers.
The emphasis of community has allowed Janet to see her staff at Northwell Health as family. Many of them have been working with her for 5-10 years, with one staff member who has been with her for 23! Now, Janet’s actual family has joined her Northwell Health family. Janet’s son Josef works for LIJ Hospital. “I am so proud of his contributions that he has given in only his first year with Northwell. At Northwell Health, you’re recognized for doing great things. There really is a culture of care here and shows that we are all Made for This.”
Bringing families together through the power of compassion
Sometimes, the most heartbreaking situations grant the greatest opportunity for us to provide genuine compassionate care. This was the case recently at North Shore University Hospital where care providers across several units and two hospitals worked together to help a father and daughter reunite as a family for one last time.
A fifteen-year-old girl came into the Emergency Department at North Shore with asthma exacerbation. Due to the circumstances that surrounded her condition, she needed to be transferred to Cohen Children’s Medical Center. However, while she was still in the ED, her care providers learned that her father was a patient at that same hospital with a terminal condition.
Not knowing how much time he had left, the patient wanted to be able to visit her father before her transfer. It took teamwork from staff at both hospitals to act quickly in order to make one girl’s wish a reality.
At Northwell Health, being Truly Compassionate is more than just a figure of speech or a slogan on a wall. It is an everyday commitment. The ED Attending, RN staff and leaders at North Shore and an RN from Cohen Children’s work together to escort the girl – with telemetry monitoring and oxygen in place – to her father’s room. There the staff remained with them to maintain her care so the patient could visit her father for two hours.
Nurses proved Northwell’s values with their dedicated care, going above and beyond by remaining well past the end of their shifts to ensure a daughter shared precious time with her father. The hospital teams worked as one to bring their patients comfort and assurance during life’s most difficult times.
It was an emotional scene, and one that reminded care providers why they went into their fields in the first place. “This is an event that will stick with many of us for a long time to come,” said Marissa E. Tang, BSN, RN at North Shore University Hospital, “I personally know I will be remembering and speaking of this event myself.”
Following her time with her father, the patient was transferred to Cohen Children’s to receive the care she needed. The patient and her family showed immense gratitude that thanks to the teamwork and compassion from both staffs, a girl was able to spend time with her father who passed away the next day.
Her nurses consider it a privilege to have been able to contribute to their important final visit. Jessica Jardin, RN, BSN, CEN, and Assistant Nurse Manager at the Department of Emergency Medicine, North Shore University Hospital will never forget that day, “I know this situation resonated with my colleagues and myself, and in such a case there is no way we would have denied these two the opportunity to have such precious little time together. The collaborative team effort worked because we all wanted to see the best possible outcome of a painful situation for our patient and her family.”