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.”
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.
Under the bold and delicious vision of Northwell Health’s VP of System Food Services Corporate Michelin Chef, Bruno Tison, the recipe for hospital food as you once knew it has changed. Michelin Chef Tison, along with other award-winning Michelin chefs like Andrew Cain, is helping Northwell Health redefine the culinary experience for patients, their families, and Northwell employees.
“I want to help cook better food for people who really need it,” says Chef Tison, “Northwell Health is a pioneer for redefining hospital food for 23 hospitals.”
A recipe for culinary success.
A native of northern France, Chef Bruno Tison began his culinary education at Belgium’s prestigious Institut Technique Des Metiers De L’Alimentation, where he graduated with highest honors and was awarded first prize for excellence in culinary achievement. His more than 30 years of experience includes serving as Executive Chef of the legendary Plaza Hotel in New York City. Chef Tison’s nouvelle cuisine has earned critical acclaim. Most recently, his leadership enabled the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa in California to receive the celebrated Michelin Star recognition for three consecutive years.
Chef Andrew Cain started working under an executive chef at the age of 15, received a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Restaurant Management and went to work at the Fairmont with Chef Tison 10 years ago. They’ve made a great team ever since. This relationship is now helping to dramatically elevate Northwell Health’s food experience.
The two believe that crafting delicious meals shouldn’t change by location. “Whether it’s a patient in a bed, or a person in the restaurant,” says Chef Cain, “when it comes to cooking great food, you truly have to care about it.”
Redefining the culinary experience.
Having reached the pinnacle of the culinary profession, Chefs Tison and Cain were looking for a new challenge and the opportunity to bring the highest level of culinary expression not just to people who could “afford it” but to people who truly needed it, people whose lives could be changed by a world-class food experience.
That’s why Chef Tison joined Northwell Health and later brought Chef Cain onboard, with Chef Tison stating, “I came to Northwell because they are very serious about making this shift in the healthcare food industry happen.”
Chef Tison has championed a number of important initiatives for Northwell’s culinary efforts:
Bring outstanding talent from the outside and retrain existing chefs.
Having worked with Chef Tison for 10+ years, Chef Andrew Cain shared his passion for elevating the food experience for people who genuinely need it. With a background in Four- and Five-Star restaurants in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Chef Cain is helping Chef Tison bring a Michelin-inspired sensibility to Northwell Health. Northwell is also partnering with the Culinary Institute of America to attract the next generation of great chefs.
Knowing that Northwell is a place known for the most innovative clinical technology, Chef Tison is bringing this same commitment to modernizing the food service area.
Higher quality food.
This includes fresh, locally-sourced food instead of frozen, replacing instant coffee with fresh coffee, getting rid of candies/sugar and eliminating processed food.
Chef Tison’s ultimate goal is to deliver restaurant-quality food to patients, families and staff. “It’s a new frontier,” says Chef Tison, “and that’s exciting for new and tenured chefs alike.” He even has an eye on applying for inclusion in the Michelin Guide!
Employee Spotlight: Melinda Nasti on wellness and caring for the caregivers
Meet Program Manager for Chaplaincy Operations and Manager of Wellness Melinda Nasti. She’s been with Northwell Health for 10 years and her work has led to wellness becoming an important part of our employees’ daily lives. We talked to her about her journey, her motivation, and the simple steps we can take to improve our own mental health.
Q: Tell us about your role and how Northwell has helped you in your career journey:
Melinda: When I came to Northwell Health to train as a Chaplain, I already had a career in wellness as a Reiki Practitioner. As a Chaplain I realized that if you could support staff wellness you would not only be caring for them, you would also be improving their patients’ care. I began to offer Reiki and Guided Imagery to staff. Now I work with both the Chaplaincy and Wellness teams. As Chaplains we support the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our patients, family and staff.
Q: What should people know about the work you’re doing to improve employee wellness?
Melinda: My wellness sessions include Reiki, Guided Imagery, Aromatherapy and Community Building. Reiki is hands-on natural energy healing. Both Reiki and Guided Imagery bring about a peaceful, deep state of relaxation, stress reduction and symptom relief.
I also do team community building if there’s been a staff death, multiple patient deaths in a short period of time, a conflict within a team, or simply to support staff wellbeing. Components of the retreat may include Reiki, Guided Imagery, Trust Walks, rituals and time for sharing. Teams may reconnect to why they came to work in health care and hear a little bit of each other’s stories in a safe space.
I try to transform the workspace into something more tranquil for the workshops – a serenity room. I layer it with aromatherapy, candles and soothing music. Sometimes staffs think they’re coming into a meeting and when they see the space, they immediately begin to relax.
Q: What kinds of opportunities are available at Northwell that you’ve found helpful?
Melinda: Northwell is very passionate about supporting employee wellbeing. Employee Wellness offers so many opportunities including Healthy Choices in the cafeterias, farmers markets, teaching kitchens, online self-help modules, and creating walking trails and workshops including everything from improving sleep to aging gracefully. And of course there is our system-wide walking challenge the “Walk to Dublin!”
Q: Why is wellness important to you?
Melinda: As a Chaplain, I’ve been on the front lines and seen how challenging the work is. By nature, people in health care are caregivers. They take care of everyone else but sometimes the self-care piece is lacking.
I was working with the night shift when a patient on a cancer floor walked by with his IV pole. He asked who I was and I said, “I am Chaplain Melinda.” He said “YOU’RE Melinda? I’d like to thank you. I don’t know what you did with the staff tonight, but whatever it was, I got the benefit.” In all the years I’ve been doing this that was the most rewarding moment I’ve ever had. It was evidence that when we take care of ourselves that care is passed on to our patients.
Q: What advice would you give people to improve their wellness?
Melinda: I’m a really big believer in the small things. There are some very simple breathing techniques: Stop, close your eyes and focus on your breath for a few moments.
If you cannot leave the workplace for lunch, swap desks with someone so that neither of you can reach your phones. Eat intentionally and pay attention to your food. Swap out just one unhealthy food for a healthy one. Lower the lights for a few minutes or shut the computer screen to give your eyes a break. Go outside and feel the sunshine on your face. Take a moment to think about everything you are accomplishing rather than focus on your do to list. Close your eyes and think about something or someone you are grateful for. These are small things that will improve your overall wellness.
CNO Corner: Kerri Scanlon’s Top 10 Tips to Become a Nursing Leader
Kerri Anne Scanlon, RN, is deputy chief nurse executive of Northwell Health & chief nursing officer of North Shore University Hospital. She represents her profession with grace and expertise, constantly elevating her team with her work ethic and skill.
Ms. Scanlon has received several prestigious awards, including the 2009 Nursing Spectrum/Johnson & Johnson regional and national Nursing Excellence award for advancing and leading the profession. Long Island Business News also named her to its 40 Under 40 list in 2009, and she was a participant in the Robert Wood Johnson Transforming Care at the Bedside Project and the original American Nurses Association Time Motion Study. Ms. Scanlon has served as nurse executive for more than a decade, across two of Northwell Health’s largest tertiary and quaternary care facilities.
As chief nursing officer and associate executive director for patient care services, Ms. Scanlon is responsible for creating and facilitating North Shore University Hospital’s strategic plan for nursing and clinical services. She has led the transformation of patient care through the promotion of staff engagement and empowerment and has been instrumental in creating a patient-centered care environment by leveraging technology and environmental redesign to bring nurses closer to the bedside. Her inspirational leadership has led to North Shore University Hospital’s recent achievement of Magnet® designation.
Ms. Scanlon serves as a leader on the Northwell Health Nurse Executive Council, where best practices are established and implemented across Northwell. She recently shared with us her top ten tips for becoming a leader in nursing.
1. Education is the foundation of nursing
I am passionate about education and that’s why I’ve made nursing professional development a priority in my work – I believe that without a strong professional development department within an organization, you can’t have a strong nursing department. Hence, my esteem for our corporate university, the Center for Learning and Innovation and the Northwell Health Institute of Nursing, which offers professional development, leadership development, nursing learning labs, nursing research and academic partnerships to constantly advance our nursing staff. If you want to be successful as a leader in nursing, you must have, and advocate for, cutting-edge nursing education.
2. It starts with passion
You must love this profession if you want to lead it. This is hard work, and in order to remain inspired and to inspire others, you need to love what you do and stay true to your heart.
What is your passion? What’s in your heart? Where do you want to be? Where do you see yourself five years from now? It’s important to ask yourself these tough questions so you continue to pursue your passion.
3. …But sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk
The greatest career opportunities may be the ones you weren’t planning on or expecting. Some career moves are a zig-zag, mine has had a few, and that’s okay! Pursue a degree that’s going to support what you want to do. Shadow leaders in your area of interest and utilize their mentorship. These experiences will help you when you are ready to change your career path or may connect you with individuals who recognize a potential path for you that you didn’t anticipate.
4. How do you create the right culture as a leader? It’s all about the team.
Having worked in high-functioning teams and then in those who didn’t perform as well, you realize you’re only as a good as the team you’re working with. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been a part of a lot of great teams, but as a leader, it is your responsibility to create that team – not by yourself and not by hiring people that are exactly like you. Build the team with the people who have strengths you don’t have – diversify – and you will all be better for it.
Some of the best early leadership experience I had was in sports acting as a team captain. In order to make a real impact, you have to have a strong team that’s inspired to follow you in your mission – and you’re only as strong as the people that are on the bench. Becoming a leader in nursing is no different. It’s not about a few golden stars who score the basket – it’s about building a team that’s strong and committed to your vision from the starting line-up to the bench.
5. From day one, build a succession plan
If you don’t have a succession plan for your role from the beginning, you’re not doing your job as a leader. It is your responsibility to develop the next generation, by identifying and cultivating leadership skills in others. One of my greatest strengths as a leader has been my ability to recognize that potential in someone, and place them in a role where they can maximize the impact of their unique skills and abilities with the proper support and guidance. You can’t mentor everyone yourself, but it is your job to match them with the right person who can develop them as a leader.
6. Embrace the challenge
Never take a job where everything is stellar, it’s better to join an area that needs work. Find a job that inspires you to create change and improve the environment. Your passion for change will guide your leadership. Once you’re there, listen to the team and develop a strategy to achieve your goals together. Trust me, 9 out of 10 times, you are going to be successful and far surpass our expectations.
7. Courage and adaptability – you must be willing to make mistakes.
The biggest failure in leadership is not making a decision for fear of making the wrong one. Listen, listen, listen – if you truly listen, taking into consideration the perspective and insight of others, then you can make a decision, stick with it, and not look back. Mistakes will happen, and when they do, take ownership, accountability, and be transparent. Open your mind and yourself to others and what they are saying and you’ll be a better leader for it.
To thrive as a leader, you must be agile. Never accept the status quo, even if it makes you uncomfortable – you must be committed to continuous improvement and innovation, in order to showcase the valuable contributions of nursing. By keeping true to your vision and your goals, working on establishing your team, learning from failures and building on your success, you can become a leader that can create real change.
8. Integrity, integrity, integrity!
Your integrity as a leader is everything. Despite what decision may come your way as leader, you must always keep this in mind. Others will look to you to remain consistent and fair, and you will never go wrong keeping these values at the heart of your decisions.
9. You can’t just ask for respect, you have to demonstrate you deserve it
Throughout my career, I’ve made it a point to assert myself and become an integral voice for nursing at Northwell by advocating to drive our profession forward. As a nurse leader, the perspective and insight that you bring to strategic planning activities is invaluable – don’t be afraid to share your expertise. The key to earning respect is to show respect to others in all your interactions: actively listen to your team, involve them in your decisions, and integrate their feedback.
10. Our nurses innovate at the bedside every day across our health system. As a leader, you have to cultivate those examples and capitalize on them
Nurses at the bedside with patients have the opportunity to see needs that we do not. We’re doing innovative work at the bedside every day and that learning is valuable and needs to be shared. We need to be the innovators of the organization – constantly looking to see where we can add value for the future. We don’t want to get stuck doing the same thing over and over expecting success. Innovation developed at the bedside has become ingrained within the culture of Northwell’s Institute of Nursing. There’s no better place to be if you want to implement large-scale change and innovation. Our nursing leadership makes us a cutting-edge organization that outpaces our competitors.
I believe that nursing is the foundation of healthcare. As a nurse leader, it is most important to never lose sight of why you went into this profession – to care for others and benefit the greater good. We can look to other industries for best practices in improving efficiency and processes, but ultimately we must retain our focus on our profession’s values and traditions – and the best leaders remember to always balance the art and science of nursing.
What’s one way to shatter the glass ceiling? Ask Susan Browning.
Executive Director of Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Forest Hills, Susan Browning, hasn’t just cracked a glass ceiling in the healthcare industry, she’s shattered it. And she has the award to prove it: Susan was among eight leaders to receive the Glass Ceiling Award, which honors women who rose through the ranks in their respective industries. Though there are still plenty of glass ceilings that need breaking, these women have paved the way for many others! We talked to Susan about mentorship, one of her biggest career decisions, and what’s next for her at Northwell Health:
Tell us about your career journey at Northwell Health!
I joined Northwell Health eight months after the merge of what was then North Shore Health System and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. When I was recruited, I initially had responsibility for ambulatory care operations. However, due to the evolution of the health system, I moved into a role within system operations about a year and a half after joining. From that role, I transitioned back into hospital leadership positions, first at LIJ Forest Hills and then at Staten Island University Hospital. Subsequently, I provided administrative leadership within four of our clinical service lines. And, about three years ago, I was asked to return to LIJ Forest Hills as executive director.
What was it like to make the decision about healthcare administration vs. practicing medicine?
I always knew that I wanted a career in health care, and early on I thought that would be as a physician. However, during my undergraduate studies, I met several healthcare executives through various professional experiences. It was through those experiences that I reoriented my interests towards administration, where I was focused on the health of the community and development of services to meet community needs.
What does it take to earn a Glass Ceiling Award?
I view this award as a great recognition of Northwell Health’s focus on building services in the Queens community, which meet the needs of the community. This is an award that is reserved for individuals that have achieved professional recognition, but most importantly, community recognition for their leadership within the community.
Have you had any mentors along the way who made a big difference in your career?
Absolutely. The mentors that I have had (and continue to have), provide extraordinary support, guidance, and objective insights as my career has developed. Having strong, trusted mentors is one of the most important positive factors in one’s career development.
What should women know about working at Northwell Health?
Northwell Health is an extremely innovative health system, with visionary leadership. There is a focus on building diverse talent across the organization, as having diverse voices contribute to organizational decision-making enhances the sophistication of those decisions. The culture is very supportive.
What’s next for you in shaping careers for women in STEM?
I prefer to focus on shaping careers of any young professional interested in STEM, not solely women. There is a great opportunity for talented leaders, and it is up to my generation to mentor these leaders and prepare them for the evolving industry and opportunities that will present.
Redefining the future of health care is a Truly Ambitious endeavor. It requires leadership that is also Truly Innovative and Truly Compassionate.
Katrina Aronoff embodies all of these attributes. As a Chief Radiation Therapist at Phelps Hospital as well as a United States Coast Guard Reservist, Katrina lives out Northwell Health values in all areas of her life.
Katrina recently received the Coast Guard Commendation Medal for Outstanding Achievement. The award recognizes meritorious and heroic service to others. She received this prestigious commendation for actions on two separate occasions within a two-week period, while serving with the Coast Guard in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria.
Coming off duty on October 28th and returning to her hotel, Katrina noticed a man lying unconscious on the ground. She quickly assessed the situation and had a civilian call 911. Checking the man’s vital signs, felt a pulse and confirmed respirations. She then requested assistance from the USNS Comfort – one of the largest hospital ships in the world – and helped Navy personnel insert an intravenous line and perform an EKG.
On Nov 12th, as she left her hotel, she witnessed civilians lowering an unconscious female to the ground. She asked one of her shipmates to call 911 while she checked for vital signs. The woman was not breathing and had no pulse. She performed CPR and was able to bring the victim back. As she waited for EMS to arrive, the victim lost consciousness four times and her heart stopped beating. Katrina would not give up on her. Two days later, it was confirmed that thanks to Katrina’s intervention, the victim was alive and well.
Whether in her role with the Coast Guard or as a key member of the Phelps Hospital Radiation Medicine team, Katrina Aronoff is a natural leader. She is always ready to take the initiative and do whatever the situation requires to help others and save lives. She is an invaluable asset to Northwell Health.
If you’d like to learn more about Northwell Health’s exceptional women in leadership and the values that inspire them, we’ll be sharing stories from our Employee Lunch and Learn and providing an inside peek at how women in key leadership roles are making a dramatic impact and driving important change!
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.
In our complex and demanding environment of healthcare, it is incredibly important that we care for ourselves – so that we can in turn care for others. Healthcare professionals can be exceptional at providing empathetic quality care, however, we are also human – we grieve, mourn, hurt and feel very deeply – especially during the many challenging situations often faced when caring for complex patients and families.
At Northwell Health, we foster an environment that promotes wellness, self-care, self-reflection and emotional support for our dedicated caregivers.
Truly Compassionate: One of our unique programs, Team Lavender, provides staff an opportunity for timely emotional, spiritual and physical support, discuss feelings, explore coping mechanisms and extend additional resources for mental well-being if needed.
Truly Together: Team Lavender is comprised of interdisciplinary members, with disciplines and skill sets that complement one another when providing a holistic approach to emotional support for our dedicated staff. Members of Team Lavender may include social workers, physicians, nurses, chaplains, patient and family relations members, holistic and integrative therapy practitioners and employee assistance program team members.
Ultimately, we are dedicated to making sure our 66,000 Northwell caregivers feel supported and valued so that they can be better equipped to provide our patients, families, and customers with the exceptional experience they deserve. This is how we make every moment matter.
Photo: Mary Comerford-Hewitt, pictured right, with colleagues.
An Appointment With: Mary Comerford-Hewitt, VP, Human Capital Business and Program Development
Written by: Amelia Zito
At Northwell Health, we’re proud of the vast knowledge, skills and insight our people bring to our team. People like Mary Comerford-Hewitt. As our Vice President for Human Capital Business and Program Development, Mary is just one of our innovative people driving our change and success!
Throughout her career, Mary has never been satisfied with the status quo. She has consistently been a pioneer in the healthcare field, always seeking new opportunities and bringing new approaches to improving the health of the community – one person at a time. Mary is an amazing example of how careers at Northwell Health have endless roadmaps, and all along the way, she has helped those around her learn, grow and advance in their careers as well. Meet Mary and gain valuable insight you can use in your career!
Why did you come to Northwell Health and what is your role today?
When I first heard of Northwell Health in 2011, I had no idea of the size and scope of the health system. Once I investigated the opportunity, I saw all the good work being done as well as how innovation was part of its core. These both spoke to who I am as a nurse and an entrepreneur. That was five years ago. Where has the time gone!
Today, I am the VP of Human Capital Programs and Business Development. When I first came here, I led the Talent Acquisition team. I helped re-engineer this very busy department, responsible for over 10,000 hires per year, and helped create the Workforce Readiness Department. I also pioneered the creation of FlexStaff. Today, my role is focused on creating pipelines, internships, career ladders, school programs, diversity with our Workforce Readiness team and the development of new programs and businesses that will benefit both the community and the health system.
What is FlexStaff all about?
FlexStaff, which just celebrated its 3rd birthday, was created to help meet the temporary staffing needs of health systems. As a stand-alone company, FlexStaff has partnered with Northwell to help meet their contingent staffing needs. Additionally, we deliver our contingent staff to other healthcare organizations. As millennials enter the workforce and baby boomers work less, a flexible working arrangement becomes vital to an organization. FlexStaff is the connection they need to make that happen, and we’re looking forward to sharing their brand new website in the coming weeks!
How are you leading change in health care?
One area that I am focused on is neurodiversity. We created the first ever Bridges internship in partnership with Adelphi and helped give five students on the spectrum an internship last summer. I am happy to report we hired two of those interns! Another area that we are focused on is creating career ladders for students who are looking to enter the health system in an entry-level position, but are focused on career growth. For example, we may hire an individual as a medical assistant and they can have a career path to RN or NP through Northwell Health’s opportunity for tuition reimbursement and commitment to continuing education.
Another area that we are leading the way in is as co stewards of the Long Island STEM Hub. We are partnering with schools and industry and challenging them to look at talent differently. Because of our STEM partnerships and awareness efforts, Northwell is an approved STEMJOBS employer.
What makes someone Made for this™ at Northwell Health?
They must realize that Northwell isn’t a normal 9-5 and they must be flexible. They should also live by our new refreshed values – Truly Compassionate, Truly Ambitious, Truly Together, Truly Ourselves and Truly Innovative. Michael Dowling, Northwell’s President and CEO, has told us that we are transitioning health care – it’s up to us to define the future. If you’re someone who wants to help us do that – you’re Made for this!
What makes a great Northwell Health leader?
Someone who is engaged, passionate, loves to learn and can see the big picture. Health care is moving fast. You need to embrace change, be a good communicator, be humble and kind. You need to invest time in learning about the company – and this is a big company. I’ve been here nearly five years and I still learn something new every week. The ability to create followership is key. It enables everyone to blaze new trails together.
If you’d like to make an impact on the future of health care as Mary has, you’re Made for a career at Northwell Health.
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.