Photo: Mary Curran meets with Dora Kakurieva (patient care associate), Gerty Lahens (clerical support associate) and Nadine Simmons-Ziegler, RN, (director of Patient Care Services) at LIJFH (left to right).
CNO Corner – A conversation with Mary Curran
Mary Curran, EdD, MSN, RN-BC decided to join Northwell Health while taking classes for her master’s degree where she was inspired by her professor, Maureen White, executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Northwell.
“The class was amazing,” says Mary. “I was so inspired by her leadership, passion for the profession of nursing, and the brand of Northwell, that I made the decision to work for this amazing leader and this progressive health system.”
Since starting at Northwell as a nurse educator at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) in 2011, Mary has built a career that is inspiring nurses with her passion and leadership the same way Maureen inspired her. She grew her career from assistant director of Nursing Education to Magnet program director and director of Patient Care Services at LIJMC. In 2015 she was ready for the next step in her career and transitioned to become chief nursing officer at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills (LIJFH) where she continues to lead her nurses and inspire growth, passion and development.
Read more in this CNO Corner interview with Mary.
How have the nurses at LIJFH delivered exceptional and compassionate care during the COVID-19 outbreak?
LIJFH was at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and our team embraced this challenge to care for our community in its darkest time of need. Moreover, 2020 was also the Year of the Nurse – a year that became truly defined by the bravery, courage, and empathy of our teams, with the nurses and teams of LIJFH on the front line. Our nurses and teams truly transformed to become superheroes who provided exceptional, compassionate care for the mind, body, and souls of our community through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Utilizing science, teamwork, best practices and empathy, they care for our patients from the beginning of life, through the continuum of life, and assure dignity and respect at the end of life. I am extraordinarily proud and humbled to work beside this team of extraordinary nurses.
What are some of the ways LIJFH has been supporting their nurses and other team members throughout the COVID-19 recovery?
The support our team was provided during COVID and COVID recovery was multifaceted. To begin, our teams were assured proper PPE and resources to keep them safe, their patients safe, and subsequently our community safe. Partnering with the Institute for Nursing and FlexStaff, we brought in traveler and per diem nurses to assist with the care needed for the influx of patients. Next, via our partnership with Human Resources and Employee Health Services, team members were afforded mental health resources onsite, during and after the peak of the pandemic. In addition, we employed leadership rounding to thank our teams, accepted food donations for our teams from our community, were inspired by 7 p.m. daily clap outs from the neighborhood, and participated in team wellness activities, such as rock painting and therapeutic cafés.
How does LIJFH support their team in growth and development?
LIJFH continually supports the growth and development and lifelong learning of our nurses. Professional development is supported and encouraged through certification preparation courses and monetary compensation for certification, tuition reimbursement, nurse residency programs, flexible scheduling to accommodate higher learning, continuing education opportunities and comprehensive orientation programs.
What exciting nursing initiatives are in the works at LIJFH?
We are in the process of our Pathway to Excellence Journey which began several years ago. Pathway to Excellence is the American Nurses Credentialing Center accreditation that globally recognizes positive practice environments that are committed to nursing workplace excellence. Our submission for this accreditation will be April 2021. We are incredibly proud of the clinical outcomes, shared governance structure and professional practices of our nursing teams and are looking forward to gaining this accreditation.
We’re also proud to announce that we have successfully achieved the GOLD-level American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Beacon Award for Excellence. A Gold-Level Designation is the top honor of its kind nationally and recognizes the culture and accomplishments of the entire inter-professional team (including the critical care unit’s registered nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, PCAs, clerks, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, social workers, case managers, nutritionists and environmental services aides). Our GOLD-Level achievement is a phenomenal testament to the culture and outcomes of the ICU team and only 18 other hospitals in New York State have earned this designation.
What makes Northwell a great place to work?
Two top thoughts come to mind: growth opportunities and employee engagement via shared governance. The growth opportunities that Northwell offers are endless. Many nursing team members here will tell you that their leaders and mentors facilitated their growth, spirit of inquiry, and passion for the profession of nursing. Growth and mentorship are foundational to Northwell and many career pathways demonstrate that. In addition, employee engagement is facilitated via shared governance councils and structures. Here, team members at all levels of the organization have a voice in hospital decision making. Fundamentally, the teams are able to create and drive processes at the front line, for the front line. Northwell Health truly is a great place to work!
Interested in joining the nursing team at LIJFH? Apply today!
A unique start to Emergency Nursing at Northwell Health
Meet Patrick Barnes, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department (ED) Nurse Fellowship at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). Beginning his nursing career in October just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial months of his fellowship provided Patrick with the essential emergency nursing skills to work in a high-acuity, fast-paced emergency department- a unique start to his career.
The ED Nurse Fellowship helps new graduate and registered nurses who may be entering a new specialty gain invaluable skills before working on their own in the ED. As a fellow, Patrick spent the first 10-weeks of his career at Northwell’s Institute for Nursing with classroom education and simulation trainings to teach him the basics of working in the ED and prepare him to start working 12-hour shifts in December.
Working as a new nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic
As our emergency rooms saw a temporary increase in patient volume as the pandemic peaked in March, Patrick found strength from the experienced team around him in the ED. “Our preceptors and the other nurses in our unit have helped the nurse fellows and other new hires prepare for increased patient flow during COVID-19,” says Patrick. “Though demands in our ED would change daily, myself and the fellows I started with were able to adapt tremendously thanks to their support. We would have daily briefs and education to reinforce skills that would keep us and our patients safe.”
While his fellowship continues, the format has changed to keep our team members safe while complying with COVID-19 restrictions. Trainings and certifications are now taught through virtual platforms or while practicing social distancing in small classroom settings. Throughout the unprecedented circumstances, Patrick has never felt the guidance from Northwell and his leadership waver.
Building a future in emergency nursing at Northwell
With his fellowship now nearly over, Patrick feels prepared to start the next stages of his RN career at Northwell. “Within my first year as a nurse, Northwell has given me opportunities and training that I feel I may not have been offered elsewhere,” says Patrick. “It feels like a family once you begin to work with the team in the ED.”
Patrick’s passion for emergency nursing is the foundation for growing his career at Northwell. Working in the ED, he’s seen firsthand how our nurses have moved onto educator and management roles within the system. “It is exciting to see many of our team members move on to earn their MSN and have the support of the ED behind them,” says Patrick. “I am excited to see what the future holds at Northwell.”
Rebecca’s experience during COVID-19 in Northwell’s Reassignment Reserve
As COVID-19 peaked throughout New York, Northwell Health took the initiative to create a Reassignment Reserve team. This team was comprised of healthcare heroes from a variety of clinical and non-clinical backgrounds who were temporarily reassigned to other facilities that needed extra assistance.
Meet Rebecca Reinold, a practice registered nurse at Family Medicine of Lindenhurst, Long Island, who was redeployed as a nurse practicing bedside patient care for six weeks at Plainview Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a change from her day-to-day activities as a practice nurse but a role she embraced. “I felt an obligation to help as many people as I could—staff and patients alike,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca’s career journey before COVID-19
Rebecca started her career at Northwell as a practice office associate at General Pediatrics of Garden City in 2014. After graduating college as a registered nurse, she started working at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Orthopedic Unit. She then transferred to North Shore University Hospital to the Orthopedic Trauma Unit and has since left bedside nursing to be a practice nurse at one of our many physician practices. She is also currently pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, at the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies with the assistance of Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program.
Career development during a critical time
During a pandemic, learning opportunities and professional skills development is not top of mind, yet Rebecca’s growth came in many ways at this critical time. Before going back to bedside care, Rebecca attended a refresher course that Northwell provided for those who wanted to brush up on their in-patient skills. Rebecca says, “My fellow nurses were very supportive if I had any questions regarding current protocols and practices.”
To ensure our team members and patients were safely cared for, all team members were fit tested and Northwell had ample personal protection equipment (PPE) available. Because of this, Rebecca stated that she never felt that her safety was compromised whenever she was at work. This created a safe work environment that allowed team members to feel comfortable.
During her reassignment, Rebecca held many duties but one stood out in particular. “One of the most significant roles that I held during my reassignment at Plainview Hospital was being able to help patients communicate with their families through video on an iPad,” says Rebecca. She felt a strong connection to her patients in this role because she also had a family member hospitalized at Northwell due to COVID. Rebecca was extremely grateful knowing her family member was provided the utmost care and that she was able to connect with them in the same way she connected her patients to their families to ensure they were not alone.
Once her reassignment at Plainview Hospital ended, Rebecca was temporarily reassigned to another internal medicine office in Woodbury, Long Island. Once again she had to adapt to a new location and policies due to the pandemic. She was grateful to be supported by leadership and her new team was very welcoming. Her role resumed as a practice registered nurse where she worked alongside the lead nurse and together they completed daily tasks such as medication refills, hospital follow-up calls, immunizations and assisting patients in the practice and by phone.
On the last day of her reassignment, Rebecca was surprised with balloons and treats for a sweet goodbye. “During my last day at Woodbury, the staff thanked me with a beautiful card and balloons.” This was an experience that Rebecca will never forget. “I would highly recommend joining the Reassignment Reserve team. It is a great way for healthcare providers to show how dynamic and versatile they are.”
Northwell is an organization that offers endless opportunities to its employees for pursing personal and professional development. Rebecca says, “I cannot say enough about how this organization has given me every opportunity to be the best version of myself.”
Former homeless veteran turned nursing hero is giving back to our communities during COVID-19
Overcoming his own adversities, veteran and registered nurse Andy is now giving back and caring for those who need it most.
Antranik “Andy” Garabedian, RN, BSN, is a registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital (LIJVS) who uses his compassion to not only deliver care to our patients, but to our communities.
Prior to becoming a registered nurse, Andy first served in the U.S. Marines as a Private. “I think that people often forget that military missions are usually based off humanitarian issues first and that is why many military members join healthcare teams,” says Andy. “It’s a common thread, that leads to a common goal and the delivery method is embedded as a team. Northwell has been great to everyone I know who is a veteran across many different facilities because of the inclusivity. It is a feeling of belonging and that you matter at Northwell.”
After receiving a medical discharge from the Marines in the early 2000s, Andy later decided to find a new way to serve people as a nurse. “Nursing is a passion of mine because of my grandmother,” says Andy. “My grandmother became ill in 2004 and passed away. I took care of her for the last few weeks of her life and every patient interaction reminds me of her and why I am here. I came into nursing with her in my heart, the drive of a warrior and the passion for being there for those who need us.”
Today Andy still uses the vital experience he gained in the Marines while working as a nurse. “In the Marines I learned the ability to adapt to almost any situation and to press ahead and complete the tasks ahead – skills that have been invaluable to me as a nurse. What makes me a better team member is that I will jump in and help anyone who is struggling or needs that extra hand.”
Giving back beyond the bedside
On top of working at LIJVS as a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, Andy was inspired in another way to help those struggling in our communities. “One random April day, I went into Manhattan to see how empty the city was at the height of the pandemic. Nobody was there except the homeless and hungry. I was homeless myself in my early twenties for about three years and I know how tough it is on a regular day, but add in a pandemic and the homeless people I encountered were really struggling.”
Doing what he could that day, Andy purchased meals, water bottles, drinks, socks and more, for the individuals he encountered but he knew there was more that could be done to help take care of our communities. Within 24 hours, Aggregate Hearts was born – a charity created to focus on supporting the sick, hungry and homeless during the pandemic.
Andy co-founded Aggregate Hearts with Dawna Scheich, a registered nurse with FlexStaff, and since their start they’ve felt support at Northwell. “Leadership has really been great,” says Andy. “In addition to helping me raise money, donating clothing and items, several members of the management team have physically joined us and came to deliver food and items with me. The overwhelming support of my colleagues and coworkers has been tremendous, from ideas of how to serve these individuals, to raising money.”
In addition to helping those in need, Andy and Aggregate Hearts have been sourcing food from several local businesses regularly to help support local and small businesses in our communities as well.
Shanell Blanchard MPH, RN-OCN, started her nursing career in 2014 at Huntington Hospital as an oncology registered nurse. Throughout her career at Northwell she has achieved many accomplishments that have helped her to grow personally and professionally including winning the 2020 Nurse Excellence Award at her hospital. Get to know Shanell, why she achieved this prestigious award and how she is a Truly Ambitious Northwell team member.
Going above and beyond
In her role as an oncology nurse, Shanell embraces the connection she makes with her patients. “I get to go on a journey with them, and however happy or sad it may be, I would not want to do anything else,” she says. Shanell is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure they are well taken care of on that journey. Her role as an oncology nurse also allows her to be a preceptor and lecturer for nursing students in the Oncology Nursing Fellowship. In this capacity, she acts as a role model to new nurse graduates to help them achieve their career and clinical education goals.
Whether teaching or giving back in other ways, she is willing to help anyone in need and get involved with communities near and far. Shanell was offered the opportunity to travel to Texas after Hurricane Harvey with fellow Northwell team members to aid in their clinical efforts. She has also presented at the American Nursing Association conference in Orlando and she is a member of the Huntington Hospital’s Human Trafficking Task Force. “This experience really showed me how much teamwork, community and support means to Northwell,” she says.
While working at Northwell Shanell was motivated to pursue her dreams and obtain a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. With the help and encouragement of her managers she partnered with them to have a flexible work schedule so she could complete her studies successfully. Shanell has now taken her dedication to education a step further. She is currently enrolled in law school and looking toward continued growth within her career at Northwell. “I would like to work in leadership and hopefully work for corporate once I have my law degree,” she says.
Her Career Pinnacle
Shanell’s career journey and who she is as a nurse, leader and individual is best exemplified with the Nurse Excellence Award that she received this year.
The award, which is peer and leadership-nominated, recognizes a nurse who inspires other nurses to provide the highest level of quality care and supports them in their development. Other areas considered for this prestigious achievement include, exemplary patient care, a positive image, community involvement, and committee contributions.
Shanell goes above and beyond for her unit and patients, as well as her community, and we are proud to call her a Northwell nurse hero. At Northwell we’re dedicated to patient care, teamwork and we are committed to our employees’ future by providing them with the resources to help them excel like Shanell.
Meet the Truly Innovative Perioperative Fellowship team
Kezia Varughese, a registered nurse, was thrilled to get the call that she was accepted into the Perioperative Nurse Fellowship Program at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH), especially given her interest in learning more about working in an operating room.
Kezia felt a strong connection with the OR when she had the opportunity to shadow a nurse during surgery at nursing school. The patient expressed to Kezia that she was anxious about the procedure, even though her surgery was low risk. She tried to comfort the patient by talking about good memories and laughing about stories of her children. “She told me how she hadn’t laughed like this in a very long time, and how grateful she was that I was there for her during this vulnerable time,” says Kezia.
That was the moment Kezia realized how it takes a special kind of person and team to be with those who are admitted for surgery. She knew this was a great opportunity to expand her knowledge and nursing skills into the operating room.
The Perioperative Nursing Fellowship
Kezia began the fellowship program during the COVID pandemic. She was told by the educators how the fellowship was conducted before COVID which typically included lectures one day and the following day would be a “skills” day in the hospital. The skills day is where fellows simulate what they learned the previous day during their lectures.
Then due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an entirely different approach to the program had to be taken—an approach that required a setting outside of the hospital. This took some creative thinking and teamwork to simulate real-life patient care scenarios using a makeshift operating room.
“Despite all the stress and hardships COVID-19 created, our educators exemplified the true meaning of dedication, resilience, and perseverance,” says Kezia. “The constant desire to serve as a resource and attend to everyone’s needs, especially in such a troubling time, is one of the main factors that helped me feel comfortable in a not-so comfortable time.”
Support from Leadership
The support and collaboration among the leadership team and other team members during the program was extraordinary. Not only were the nurse educators welcoming, but they encouraged the team to communicate freely and offer feedback when needed. Most of Kezia’s trainings was conducted with Microsoft Teams and various in-person simulation days that included socially distanced groups of four who collaborated in a makeshift operating room. Despite the non-traditional approach, Kezia explained that the COVID pandemic did not affect their ability to be well prepared.
In fact, Kezia gained insight as to what it’s like to work in a fast-paced environment, develop critical thinking skills, organizational and interpersonal skills, and how to work with a team to deliver exceptional patient care. The most important concept Kezia learned was how to fully understand and provide the upmost quality of care for her patient, while ensuring the patient’s safety. “The compassion and advocacy my educators demonstrated for us illustrated the care that their patients receive. This was the most eye-opening and inspiring aspect of the Perioperative Fellowship,” Kezia says.
“An OR nursing career is one of the most rewarding careers,” says Kezia. She encourages new graduates and nurses to participate in the fellowship. “It allows one to develop the professional nursing skills that textbooks and nursing school could never teach.”
No matter what our team members are facing, their priority is to deliver compassionate care for our patients. Kezia and her team at NSUH exemplify Northwell’s value of Truly Innovative!
Are you Made for an opportunity like this?
The next step in your career is up to you! To learn more about being a part of our fellowship programs, click here.
A team’s commitment to compassion strengthened through adversity
As COVID-19 restricted hospital visitations across the world, healthcare professionals at Northwell Health worked tirelessly to ensure patients knew they were never alone. With compassion as their motivation, our Northwell heroes on the frontlines quickly developed new ways to help keep patients connected with their families.
Nicole Ciccione, a nurse manager in the Pediatric Emergency Department at Cohen’s Children Medical Center, was moved by one of her colleague’s emails about the work being done at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Inspired to act, Nicole and her team brainstormed different ways that they could help their fellow Northwell team members while improving the patient experience. “I reached out to my surrounding community to ask for toiletries to help our patients look, feel and smell fresh, and for different devices to assist with making virtual connections,” she says. The overwhelming response of donations was a refreshing reminder to her of the impact Northwell has made on the community it serves. With the donation of toiletries, iPads and other electronic devices, team members volunteered to not only connect patients with their families, but to spend time connecting with the patients themselves.
“There have been difficult times, sitting with a patient and their family on FaceTime, while the patient takes their last breath, to happier moments of connecting a patient with their family soon after extubation. For team members, it has been very humbling and rewarding to be able to help out not only patients, but also our LIJ colleagues. It’s connected our teams,” Nicole says, “I am proud to be the nurse manager of an extraordinary team that is willing and ready to help when called on.”
Debra Clifford, director of patient care services at Plainview Hospital, worked remotely during COVID where she found new ways to support her nursing staff and connect with patient families. She says, “The COVID-19 pandemic offered me the opportunity to get back at the bedside and help patients and their families in a different way than my current role. Working from home, I started to make calls to families to alleviate the frontline staff of the overwhelming calls that they were receiving from families. I gave daily updates, connected them with other disciplines in an attempt to stay connected to their loved one in light of a unique situation that echoed ‘no visitors.’” It was these moments on the phone delivering comfort to patients’ families that helped her feel connected even as she herself was away from the hospital. “My inspiration for working remotely soon came from the families that I had the pleasure of talking to each day.”
Marcy Hohorst, a family liaison at Plainview Hospital, also found new ways to deliver care as her Perioperative Unit was temporarily converted into an Intensive Care Unit. Having had experience working as a registered nurse in past mission trips, Marcy was uniquely prepared to deliver comfort and compassion as she helped patients connect to their families virtually. “It was and always will be my honor to have been able to connect families with their loved ones during their brightest moments or their darkest hours. This position was simultaneously meaningful, rewarding and heartbreaking. Someday, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, I will be proud to say, ‘I was the nurse with the iPad.’”
A commitment to health never stops and these individuals, as well as other team members across our organization, have demonstrated that nothing can stop them from providing the care patients and their families need and deserve.
When Margaret Duffy, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, started her Northwell Health career, it was as the senior administrative director for Nursing Education of Professional Development and Research at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). It was there where her skills and responsibilities grew as she also served as senior leadership for obstetrics and perinatal services.
In 2019, she was selected as the Chief Nursing Officer and Associate Executive Director of Patient Care Services at Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC). Margaret leads her team with the same compassion that they deliver to Northwell’s smallest patients at CCMC.
Read more in this CNO Corner interview with Margaret.
What makes working as a nurse in a pediatric hospital unique?
The nursing team at Cohen’s has the opportunity to practice in a setting that is dedicated to solely meeting the needs of children and their families. Outstanding care is delivered with compassion and innovation. The entire interdisciplinary team is focused on the child and their loved ones while providing care in a technologically advanced environment.
How have the CCMC nurses delivered exceptional and compassionate care during the COVID-19 outbreak?
I am so proud of the dedication and professionalism exhibited by the CCMC nurses throughout this ongoing pandemic. In response to the pandemic, several units within Cohen’s were converted to the care of adult patients. While caring for our own pediatric COVID population, many of our nurses supported their LIJ Medical Center (LIJMC) colleagues in the care of adult patients either here at Cohen’s or by taking assignments at LIJMC, LIJ Valley Stream Hospital and LIJ Forest Hills Hospital. In fact, some nurses volunteered to be completely redeployed at the height of the surge, working outside of their comfort zone and selflessly meeting the need for nursing care that they observed firsthand in these adult critical care units.
What exciting nursing initiatives are planned for 2020/2021 at CCMC?
Since 2016, CCMC has been a Magnet recognized facility and we are currently on our journey to redesignation. We are proud to share that our written document scored in the excellence category and we are going straight to a “virtual” site visit! We hope to be celebrating our Magnet redesignation by the end of the year.
How will the opening of the pediatric operating rooms impact the hospital and future career opportunities for CCMC nurses?
In early 2021, CCMC will be entering a new era with the opening of eight brand new operating rooms and a 27 bay pre-op and post-op combined recovery unit. As a Level 1 pediatric trauma center verified by the American College of Surgeons and ranking nine out of 10 specialties nationally by U.S. News & World Report, this expansion will give Cohen’s the opportunity to focus on the perioperative needs of children within the footprint of the children’s hospital. With this expansion, we have career opportunities in all areas of perioperative services for nurses interested in joining our pediatric surgical team. Operating Room fellowships are planned throughout the year for those interested candidates without perioperative experience.
How does CCMC support team growth and development?
Here at Cohen’s we are committed to creating an environment where our nurses can thrive professionally. Our master’s-prepared pediatric/neonatal educators are dedicated to providing frontline nurses with the education they need to excel in their roles. Professional development is encouraged and supported through programs that include a Clinical Ladder program, which recognizes nurses for professional growth, on-site academic progression programs, certification preparation, a nurse residency program for new graduate nurses, and nursing mentorships.
What makes Northwell a great place to work?
For me that’s simple – it’s the people! Northwell excels at identifying the best and the brightest to join our teams. The strength of Northwell as a health system was never more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The depth and breadth of the support for the healthcare team at every level was awe inspiring. On my daily rounds, many team members routinely expressed gratitude for having what they needed during this very challenging time. It was no surprise that Northwell was named as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
Vicki is still helping patients and learning new skills after three decades in nursing at Northwell
During COVID-19 there were many changes at each hospital to accommodate the increasing needs for patients. Many healthcare workers also went above and beyond to treat patients by leveraging their skills in different ways.
Vicki Weyhreter, a Northwell nurse for 27 years, and her team members at Huntington Hospital began to see changes on their PACU floor. Typically, the PACU floor is where the patients go to recover temporarily from anesthesia after surgery. With the pandemic and temporary suspension of many surgeries, the PACU floor was transformed into a COVID critical care unit and Vicki and her team members were there to help in new ways.
Embracing new opportunities for patient care
As a seasoned healthcare professional, Vicki has impacted many lives during her career at Northwell and began her career as a Registered Nurse at Huntington Hospital in 1993. Throughout her career, she spent 13 years in the Intensive Care unit, eight years in the Recovery unit, and recently spent time in the Interventional Radiology unit. She has been fortunate to have many opportunities during her career to learn new skills and develop professionally. Vicki looked at her newest assignment during COVID as another opportunity to grow and help care for the patients in the community.
This assignment could not be accomplished alone—it required a team effort. Vicki and other PACU nurses were joined by anesthesia and trauma surgeons and physician assistants. Everyone worked collaboratively to optimize their skills, learn new tactics, and go above and beyond for their patients. Their strength came from the compassion they felt for their patients, which is what kept them going during this difficult time.
Vicki described seeing their patients giving a thumbs up or sitting in a chair as “the best feeling of our day.” When a patient is discharged from their unit, the team comes together to cheer and clap as they transition out of critical care.
Although the PACU unit will never be the same to most of the team members at Huntington Hospital, saving lives and embracing teamwork to provide the greatest care for the patient remains the same.
Vicki and her team members are truly Made for This, exemplifying the importance of their role in helping others fight the virus, and giving hope to their patients. Are you Made for a nursing career at Northwell? Learn more about nursing at Northwell Health.
Beyond the PPE: Two nurses help patients and staff connect during COVID
Lulette Infante and Antonella Farrell, registered nurses at Northwell Health and lifelong friends, came together during the COVID pandemic to identify a solution for our clinical team members so they could maintain that personal connection during patient care. These two incredible nurses wanted to ensure that our patients would still be able to see the identities of our healthcare heroes, whose faces were covered by their personal protection equipment (PPE), so they created photo badges for our clinical staff to wear over their PPE.
The idea was prompted after reading a New York Times article featuring Cohen Children’s Medical Center’s Senior Vice President Dr. Schlein who acknowledged his gratitude to the frontline workers who saved his life from COVID, but he had no idea who they were because of their PPE. Thus, Project Unseen Heroes was formed so patients would be able to see the smiling, caring faces of our frontline workers.
A career journey that surpasses two decades
Both Lulette Infante, MSN, RN, CPON, and Antonella Farrell, BSN, RN, began their careers more than two decades ago as a student nurse intern from Adelphi University at CCMC in 1996. They advanced their careers at Northwell throughout their journey, holding a variety of roles and responsibilities along the way. Today, Lulette is an ambulatory nurse specialist and ambulatory administrator at Northwell where she focuses on quality and optimization for pediatric practices, and Antonella Farrellis is a pediatric Hematology/Oncology, pediatric sickle cell nurse coordinator at CCMC.
One small idea leads to big results
Lulette and Antonella first introduced the large photo badges at CCMC and Long Island Jewish Medical Center, receiving numerous positive responses from leadership, staff and patients. Lulette notes patients even commented, “so that’s what you look like!” Eventually they were able to guide other hospitals, including Northern Westchester, Lenox Hill, Huntington Hospital and even external hospitals such as Elmhurst Hospital, to develop photo badges for their team members.
“The staff is reporting back that they felt it is truly helping their patients now that they can see the smile behind the mask,” Antonella says. The staff has been sending Lulette and Antonella pictures of themselves in the PPE with their badges. Having the large picture badges enabled our frontline workers to maintain that personal connection while caring for their patients while being fully secured under their PPE at the same time.
“We could not even start without the incredible support we have received from our leadership and their commitment to continually enhance patient experience and promote compassionate care,” Lulette says.
Project Unseen Heroes was a success due to Lulette and Antonella’s teamwork. Patients feel more comfortable in the hospital seeing the badges on the nurses and doctors, knowing who is taking care of them.
Lulette and Antonella are true examples of Northwell Heroes. Are you ready to become a Northwell Hero? Join our team.
How a new team delivers hope to COVID-19 patients at Northwell Health
Northwell Health has taken action to find ways that help deliver exceptional care to its patients affected by COVID-19. As many healthcare organizations search for ways to improve patient outcomes during this difficult time, Northwell has trained and equipped its teams to do that and more. One example of this is the formation of its Prone Teams.
Proning is a technique used to help patients breathe easier by changing their body position. As most patients rest on their backs while in the care of nursing staff, the Prone Team carefully places COVID-19 patients on their stomachs, allowing more air into the body and increasing oxygen levels into the lungs. As this technique is used in the operating room on a daily basis for certain surgical procedures, our Perioperative teams were chosen to help spearhead Prone Teams across the organization.
Comprised of perioperative RNs, surgical technologists, perioperative assistants, and physical therapists, our Prone Teams worked to safely turn and position patients into both the prone and supine positions and trained other team members on proper positioning. Implementing this new team during the COVID-19 crisis has proven how Northwell can meet even the biggest challenges with innovative thinking and utilize all team members’ skills to provide care.
Meet some of the team members from the Prone Team making a difference every day.
At Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC), the Prone Team features Christina Raccasi, an RN who joined Northwell as a graduate in 2018 and is currently a perioperative registered nurse. While new experiences always have initial challenges, Christina quickly overcame it due to the support and environment she works in. She states, “Caring for patients in a way that was outside of my comfort zone and training was a scary thought at first, but since many of the Prone Team members are from the operating room, we felt confident in our established teamwork as we work together so regularly.” Beyond just positioning, the Prone Team members deliver care in other ways outside of their usual scope in the OR, helping to protect patients with padding for bony prominences, lip moisturizer, and skin barrier cream.
Joined with Christina in the fight against COVID-19 is Dolores Reisert, Senior Administrative Director II of Perioperative Services, who helped form LIJMC’s Prone Team and shares the same sentiment. She states, “The teamwork among the perioperative and the ICU units is so inspiring and I am so proud of how this team was developed and trained so quickly. The Prone Team has been an asset in this important endeavor in trying to help our patients fight this terrible virus to aid them in the road for recovery.” Dolores joined LIJMC in 2015 with over 32 years of Perioperative experience, and even still, she is able to find more ways to advance her career and develop as a leader within her practice at Northwell. Today, she presently oversees six areas at LIJMC, the Operating Room, ASU, PACU, Endoscopy, Surgical Annex, and Central Sterile and has proven to be an incredible asset to the teams under her leadership.
Over at Huntington Hospital, OR Supervisor Jose Gonzalez’s leadership has proven itself to be equally as valuable to the Prone Team he oversees. While Jose’s usual day-to-day means ensuring the operating room runs smoothly, he stepped up to help lead Huntington’s Prone Team and trained additional team members to support the team and ensure it was running Monday through Sunday. His know-how made him a perfect leader for the team, and much like Dolores and Christina, the experience he brings to the room is what gives Northwell so much confidence in its ability to come out on top of this pandemic. “It’s a surreal feeling walking into these units and being thanked by the ICU team members who work tirelessly around the clock with critical COVID positive patients,” he says. He adds, “My team and I have been honored to be able to help our patients. Even though our patients are vented and may never get to know who we are, they have become our family.”
Each of these members play a role that, at the top of the year, they had no idea they’d be playing. Yet, because of their commitment to care, they have adapted and discovered new skills within their fields that will help heal our communities and bring new hope to the patients that entrust Northwell Health with their lives.
Five reasons why you should choose a Perioperative career at Northwell Health
Perioperative services at Northwell Health are growing fast, and with growth comes a wide range of career opportunities. For qualified nurses looking to enter the field, perioperative careers offer a unique chance to be hands-on and collaborate with other dedicated health care professionals working together to have a direct impact on the lives of their patients. While there are many reasons for joining Northwell in a perioperative career, we’ve provided five reasons why this path is a great decision for anyone looking to make an impact in nursing.
You’ll learn new skills with the most innovative technologies.
As new technologies emerge and the need for more advanced care grows, Northwell provides many opportunities to learn new skills, utilizing state-of-art-technology so perioperative nurses can ensure the highest quality of care for their patients. The latest technology can improve outcomes with greater precision and less invasive procedures, and therefore, increase recovery times, especially in robotic surgery, which has become a trusted method for many of our surgical procedures including cardiac, GYN, ENT, thoracic, neurosurgery, heart and liver transplants, and many more.
Your skills and knowledge will grow along with your career opportunities.
At Northwell Health, perioperative nurses have access to unlimited clinical resources and educational opportunities designed to help them advance their careers. Nurses can engage in peer learning, career progression and certification programs that encourage their growth and provide support at every level in their journey. Just ask Karen Rowan, MSN, NPD-BC, CNOR, director of System Perioperative Education at Northwell. As an RN in the operating room, she was happy in her career, but she felt there was more she could do. She wanted to use her skills to teach so when the opportunity presented itself to be a clinical nurse educator, she took it.
Making a move into an educator position presented her with opportunities that would prove to be a catalyst in her success. “This position allowed me to participate in leading the OR fellowship, orientation program and simulations,” she says. Northwell also gave her the opportunity to present two podium presentations at two national conferences. “I have the opportunity to share my passion of perioperative nursing with nursing students,” she says. It’s not only the students who benefit from Karen’s passion, the OR Fellowship is a great opportunity for both new grad nurses and floor nurses looking to get into perioperative careers. And the patients do as well, making her career journey even that much more rewarding. Karen and her Corporate Perioperative Education team continue to build unique educational opportunities and experiences for new and existing perioperative nurses
You’re Made for delivering award-winning care.
Year after year, Northwell Health is recognized for the care our team delivers to patients. Northwell was the first in the nation to receive the Network of Excellence in Robotic Surgery designation from Surgical Review Corporation. Our cardiac surgery programs have been ranked by the Department of Health (DOH) among the best in New York State with cardiology programs being recognized by Healthgrades as America’s 100 best heart programs. And beyond the award-wining care for our patients is the award-winning care for our team members! This year, Northwell ranked as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®,” the only health care provider in New York State to do so in 2020.
You’ll have strength in numbers. Teamwork is what we’re all about.
No matter the discipline, each role within Northwell’s organization works together to accomplish the same goal, to redefine health care. You’ll gain support across a collaborative network of team members, from surgical technologists and registered nurses to physicians, physician assistants, anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and even central sterile processing technicians. The dedicated team’s combined experience means the delivery of groundbreaking outcomes for each patient that comes through the doors, and you’ll play a vital role.
Your career will be guided and supported by leaders who inspire your success.
As Kelly Cifu, MSN, RN, and Vice President of System Perioperative Services, explains, “The perioperative leaders at Northwell are committed to continual improvement, teamwork, achievement, and obtaining the best results possible for our patients.” The result of that is double fold as it also impacts the careers of those delivering care. Take Kelly for example. She started her career 15 years ago in the operating room and today she oversees 18 perioperative sites within our network. During her career journey, she gained critical support and mentorship from her leaders who created a trusting, collaborative environment that positioned her for success.
Emergency room nurse helps patients recovering from COVID-19 feel right at home
When you think of excellent patient care, endless opportunities, and extraordinary teamwork, Northwell comes to mind. Ashley Sells, a registered nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital in the Emergency Room, exemplifies all of these qualities. She continually practices outstanding patient care and teamwork and especially during the critical times of COVID-19. It is during this time where Ashley went above and beyond for our recovering patients to help them feel at home by starting a “Pick-Me-Up-Pillow” fundraiser.
Ashley’s career journey
Ashley started her nursing career with Northwell eight years ago at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) as a medical surgical nurse, where she served for one year before transferring into the Emergency Room fellowship. Ashley spent two years at LIJMC there before transferring to Lenox Hill. “It was always a dream of mine to live in New York City and work in an ER and Lenox Hill was my ultimate goal,” she says.
Throughout her years at Northwell, Ashley has made a positive impact on leaders and team members as her career has developed. “I am proud to work for an organization that promotes self-growth. Personal input and ideas are always welcome, and leadership continues to assist on any way that they can,” she says. Ashley’s favorite thing about working in emergency medicine is that there always is the ‘unknown’ factor and an element of surprise. She states that, “Every day is a new day, a new learning opportunity. As a nurse, I am challenged each day that I step into work.”
Putting patients first always
During COIVD-19, Ashley took the initiative to raise money selling pillows to help patients feel as comfortable as possible while on the road to recovery. She was inspired by an unfortunate situation when her colleague was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was then admitted into the hospital. She wanted her colleague to feel as much like home as possible while recovering, even down to the pillow she was using. That prompted Ashley to bring her two of her own pillows.
“A simple pillow made her day!” Ashley says. After her colleague was discharged, she donated the two pillows to another patient who was in need. “After recognizing that a pillow could put a smile on a patient’s face, I developed the “Pick-Me-Up-Pillow” fundraiser in hopes that every patient could have the same opportunity to have a comfortable pillow while fighting COVID-19,” she says.
“We often say that the little things make the biggest difference,” Ashley says. Ashley’s fundraiser has raised $5,000, enabling her to purchase 1,200+ pillows that were delivered to Lenox Hill Hospital patients. “This initiative has made me feel proud. This is something that I was personally able to accomplish because of the generosity of others,” Ashley says.
Ashley’s work embodies the Truly Compassionate care that Northwell values. “The outpouring of support our community has shown during this time has been so valued by the Northwell staff. The endless food donations, the letters of encouragement, the 7 PM clap has truly helped to motivate and inspire our team,” says Ashley.
Ashley is a healthcare hero, showcasing her willingness to go above and beyond for our patients. Are you Made for nursing careers? Join our team of heroes.
Marianna Vasquez, MSN, RN, NE-BCI, began her Northwell Health career at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) as a medical/surgical registered nurse. From there she grew her skills, both clinically by working as an ICU/CCU nurse, and as a leader. At LIJMC, Marianna felt empowered as a nurse to embrace her leadership skills and encouraged to develop as she progressed from assistant nurse manager to nurse manager and into director roles.
Through the years, she oversaw multiple areas of specialty, which gave her the confidence and knowledge to be ready for the next opportunity. She became Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Plainview Hospital in 1998, and added the title ofCNO of Syosset Hospital in 2003. As CNO of both hospitals, Marianna continues the Northwell spirit of empowering her nurses, “To this day, I learn something new daily and am always inspired by our staff.”
Read more from our CNO Corner interview with Marianna.
1. What makes working in a community hospital unique?
Having many years of experience in a tertiary hospital, I thought the community hospital might present different opportunities and challenges. Both were true! Our connection to the community and each other is tangible. Many of the staff feel like family, and in a smaller community setting everyone knows your name. Many of our team members are also members of our community, so Plainview or Syosset Hospital is their family’s hospital.
2. What exciting initiatives are planned for Plainview and Syosset Hospitals in 2020 and beyond?
Plainview and Syosset Hospitals are currently on the Magnet® journey. Creating a healthy work environment where staff can be empowered to achieve their professional goals is part of the Patient Care Services strategic plan. Through frontline leadership at the bedside initiating and driving practice change, our nurses as well as our patients and their families benefit.
In 2021, we are also anticipating the opening of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Plainview Hospital. Construction and planning is underway currently and positions have been posted internally for ED and Critical Care nurses to apply. As part of their transition, these nurses will undergo 16 weeks of education to prepare for our first cases. This is an example of how staff have career mobility while remaining at a community hospital. The entire hospital is energized by the Cath Lab opening, and the ICU, ED and eventually telemetry services will be impacted by the new program.
Syosset Hospital continues to provide world class orthopedic care and they are Joint Commission certified in knee, hip and spine surgery. These achievements exemplify the high level of excellent care provided at Syosset Hospital.
3. What are some ways nurses at Plainview and Syosset Hospitals have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Plainview and Syosset Hospital nurses are “Made for this” and the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has only shined a spotlight on essential workers. We’ve seen our nurses demonstrate their caring, compassionate and competent care like never before. Regardless of how weary they might be, they still rally for their colleagues and patients. Some nurses have also taken the time to connect patients and families via FaceTime, which is an especially vital form of communication with visitors currently not allowed at the hospitals.
4. How do Plainview and Syosset Hospitals support their team in growth and development?
Northwell Health has two great resources: The Institute for Nursing and the Center for Learning and Innovation. These institutions offer orientation and new programs on getting education for self-development. In addition, team members receive continuing education days to utilize for conferences and online learning. Plainview and Syosset Hospitals also have access to our own on-site SIM lab which we use for nursing education and in collaboration with the Medical residency staff. All of these opportunities are sought after and encourages our nurses to participate.
5. What makes Northwell Health a great place to work?
At Northwell Health, excellence has no finish line, and as a result we attract professionals who are committed to innovation and execution of best practices. Elevation of one’s practice to improve the life of those we serve is valued.
Written by: Cassidy Toben, Assistant Nurse Manager, Emergency Department, Lenox Hill Hospital
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.
Cassidy Toben, RN, finds a new niche as COVID-19 forces health care workers to shift roles
As an assistant nurse manager, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to inspire and motivate our nurses and staff, really coach them through their nursing journey. And during theCOVID-19 crisis, my role has shifted, transitioning into even more administrative responsibilities.
I’m not always in the rooms with COVID patients, and there’s a sense of guilt that comes with that. Togetherness and camaraderie are built within nurses. It’s our calling — caring for another as if we are the patients we are restoring to health. Leading my team is also a calling, one that I’ve relished during this situation.
Since COVID-19 reached our doors atLenox Hill Hospital, we’ve bundled care, limiting the number of people and trips in and out of patient rooms. What you might do in a few trips, you do all at once now.
On tough days, and there have been many, one of my nurses will need me to serve as a sounding board to vent about harrowing experiences, or to cry with them about a lost patient. Being this support system is critical to their well-being. We all share the burden and have a stake in this.
I went into nursing to save lives and to help people. But, you realize quickly that you can’t save everybody. That’s really humbling.
The scariest day during this experience came at the end of March.New York was just hitting its peakand COVID-19 patients arrived at alarming rates. One patient was talking to us and seemed pretty stable. About an hour later he coded. Everybody ran to his bedside. Then about 10 minutes after that, a patient on the other side of the emergency department coded — everyone ran to that bedside.
Then a third patient needed resuscitation.
I took a step back and, while watching every one race to the bedside, thought to myself, “Wow, the teamwork here is really inspirational.” The compassion that they showed to the patients, to each other, it eased my fears that day. We have each other’s backs and we support each other. We take care of our patients and we go home. Most of us go home alone. We don’t get to hug our parents. We don’t get to see our families. So, we’re really in this together.
But worry does come over the staff. Patients begin to remind you of your family — many times you’re acting as their family, with visitation suspended in hospitals. And then you worry about your own family, and then yourself.
My first symptoms started on March 26, a curious cough that would lead into fatigue and shortness of breath. My husband and I decided it would be safer to stay together than risk exposing anybody else in my family. Still, the thought of getting him sick caused so much anxiety that I started having nightmares. I dreamt that I got him sick and he was dying, because that’s what we were seeing each day. And any health care worker can tell you that they have that exact same fear. It’s not about me. I can handle me. But I don’t want to hurt the people I love.
After two weeks of being ill, I returned to work. I still struggle to sleep, but now it’s our patients that I worry about. It’s also really rewarding to see that our staff has risen above a lot of the challenges, remaining positive at every corner. So, even on days when I’m operating on little sleep, I come into work feeling like we can succeed. We are together and we’re going to get through it.
Luckily, the situation has improved — the volume in the emergency department has slowed. People are staying home, and we’re now on the right part of the curve. Devastation has turned into hope. We’ve lost a tremendous amount, people we know, grandparents, friends. So, we must remember those who are lost and work through each day with positivity.
In a time where it’s hard not to think about yourself and your family and worry about getting sick, people are still thinking about each other here. That is just absolutely incredible. It makes it all worthwhile, providing purpose and an unrelenting desire to help another.
That’s what nursing is truly about.
Cassidy Toben, RN, is an assistant nurse manager in Lenox Hill Hospital’s emergency department.
Written by: Colleen Conaty BSN, RN-BC, Float Team, North Shore University Hospital
Behind the Mask: Working as a Float RN during the COVID-19 pandemic
Being clinical professionals, we were excited and honored to be a part of history by saving lives – but we could not have anticipated what the next weeks would bring. Though it was unlike anything we could have imagined, my team managed our small unit like champions. As the first designated unit, we were also the first to use personal protective equipment (PPE). We then used our experience to start the education process to teach others how to don and doff PPE properly. From respiratory therapists and environmental service workers to doctors and advanced clinical providers the float team was there to educate them all. We wanted to make sure each member of our North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) team would be able to fight this battle safely.
As the need for more COVID units arose, we opened our unit happily to the ICU nurses who expanded their services to care for patients. We showed them where our supplies were kept and oriented them to our unit so they could take care of the sickest patients. The float team’s challenge was then opening two brand-new units and our nurses, PCAs and CSAs, proudly came in on days off to help support our patients. Every time a manager would ask for more staff many volunteers would offer each time – all to make sure our team members weren’t going to be overwhelmed.
We are still fighting, but the most amazing thing I’ve noticed over the past weeks isn’t just the amount of lives we’ve saved, but that everyone is still smiling. My team carries on with the same smiles and laughs they’ve always had, sending each other heartfelt messages throughout the day. Come to one of our units at any time and I guarantee you’ll hear uplifting music playing from our nursing stations. You’ll find a busy nurse still making time to go room to room with an iPad, helping our patients to FaceTime their family. A few happy tears are shed when we learn a patient has been discharged or when we hear “Here Comes the Sun” play overhead, and celebrating that a patient gets to live because they won the battle – that we won the battle together.
I have never seen strength like this in my lifetime. Though these times are dark, this team has brought light into this world and shown me what it means to truly be a hero. Working aside these people has been the privilege and the honor of a lifetime. Float team, you are saving lives every single day and going through one of the hardest times, arguably of our lifetime, and you’re facing it with positivity. I am so proud of you all and so proud to call you my float family.
Born to lead, empowered to make a difference. Meet Christina, Assistant Nurse Manager in the Emergency Department
Not everyone can say they were born to do what they do, except Christina Markesinis. From the beginning, she has always felt Northwell Health was the place for her, and her career path has proved that to be true. Today, Christina is an assistant nurse manager in the Emergency Department at Glen Cove Hospital.
Her career journey at Northwell began during the summer of 2007 while still in nursing school. That’s when she participated in our Nurse Externship program in the Emergency Department at Lenox Hill Hospital. Soon after graduating, she was employed at Northwell as a new graduate nurse, participating in our Emergency Department Nurse Fellowship program at Plainview Hospital.
From 2008 to 2018, she garnered a range of experience that would not only prove to be essential to her growth as a nursing professional, but would also help define the course of her rewarding career. She gained experience working at Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s Emergency Department and at Cohen’s Children’s Center in our FlexStaff Moonlighting program. When Christina wanted to expand her nursing skills, she was encouraged to spend a year working as a registered nurse at the newly opened Lenox Health Greenwich Village’s emergency room.
“Being part of the first freestanding emergency department in New York City was truly an innovative experience,” says Christina. “Each new day was a new opportunity to continue to improve successfully, while thinking strategically. Working with such a phenomenal team taught me that success is truly a collaborative effort.”
As a result of her knowledge and experience, Christina was able to see exactly where she belonged and used it as an opportunity to empower others following a similar career path. “In all three of my bedside nursing roles, I had the pleasure of orienting new staff and new graduate nurses that have participated in the same Emergency Department Nursing Fellowship program that I did. I look at it as my way of paying it forward for the exceptional experience I was once given,” she says. With an attitude like that, she was destined to emerge as a leader.
Christina’s thankful for the opportunity that Northwell provided her, both through development programs and tuition reimbursement. In 2016, she received her Master’s in Nursing Education and soon after, in 2017, she achieved her Certification in Emergency Nursing. Christina has also been a Clinical Ladder Program recipient – a program designed to empower Northwell Health employees through self-development. “Northwell strives to encourage professional growth and achievement, providing me with learning opportunities that helped me evolve my nursing career.”
Today, as an assistant nurse manager, she is able to use what she’s learned by developing her skills through the years. “I hope to make an impact on my team by leveraging my experiences, time and passion to help them become more successful and by providing support, resources, feedback and effective leadership.”
We are fortunate to have Christina as a part of our team. “If you’re interested in how you can lead a life-long journey as an Emergency Nursing professional at Northwell Health, join Christina and other talented healthcare leaders by applying today.
Connecting with coronavirus patients, and their families
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.
Nicole Fishman, RN, isn’t just caring for COVID-19 patients at Huntington Hospital, she’s helping them communicate with their families too. Hear her story.
During theCOVID-19 crisis, there’s been an even greater focus on caring for our patients as whole people in light of very limited visitation policies. They sometimes get scared having minimal contact with their friends and families. But my staff and I have been proactively calling family members and giving them updates on their loved one throughout the day. We are also using iPads and tablets to Facetime and Skype with families, so they can share their love with our patients.
When we are communicating with families through tablets, I think about my own parents and how I would want them to be treated if they were in this situation.
It’s been amazing getting so much support from throughout our hospital. All of the people are are caring for are either suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. So everyone is isolated and requires a higher level of care. We are managing this by working as a team, staying strong and supporting each other in any way that we can. As expected, we’re taking everything day by day.
Wearing all of this additional gear can make it harder to breathe, which is why we need more frequent breaks. I try to take advantage of any time away, going outside for fresh air and to clear my head.
All ofHuntington Hospital’semployees have been so appreciative of the meals that we’ve received from community donations. It’s been very helpful to not have to worry about cooking or preparing food. We can focus on what matters most — our patients.
One thing I’ve been surprised about is that younger patients — people in their 40s, 50s and 60s — are deteriorating faster than I would have anticipated. Some don’t have a past medical history of pre-existing conditions.
I’m fortunate to have a very supportive boyfriend who’s at home cooking and taking care of things while I’m out fighting COVID-19. Many of the other nurses on my unit have supportive significant others who have been writing encouraging letters and packing food for us.
When I leave work, I take several precautions in an attempt to protect my boyfriend from this dangerous virus. I change my shoes before I get into the car and shower immediately when I get home. I take all of my clothes off right by the door and throw them straight into the washing machine on a hot water setting. I feel safer being on my unit versus out in the community because we’re all wearing the proper protective gear and the unit is constantly being cleaned.
As advice from someone who has witnessed the devastation COVID-19 causes, please listen to what everyone’s saying. Stay home. Only then can people hopefully stay out of the hospital. If you don’t have to go out, please don’t.
Even though the world seems on hold right now, for health care workers it’s more like business as usual. Caring for our patients in all circumstances is what we’re made for.
Nicole Fishman, RN, is a nurse manager at Huntington Hospital.
Beyond the call of duty: answering the call to deliver care
When it comes to veterans finding careers at Northwell Health, during or after their service, the opportunities are limitless. Take Stephanie Leibman, a registered nurse at Northwell and a member of the Army Reserves. She began her journey here in 2016 and quickly discovered this was the place she was meant to be.
Starting as a patient care associate (PCA) at Glen Cove Hospital while in nursing school, Stephanie experienced an accommodating and supportive environment that encouraged her professional growth and helped her discover a different mission that she was more than ready to accept.
“My nurse manager was always very accommodating with my school schedule, and all of the nurses that I worked with were always willing to teach me what they knew,” she says. “Northwell was constantly holding career-related events which eventually helped me move from PCA to nurse.”
What she details is just an example of the programs we have available to help develop our talent. Following her transition from a PCA to a registered nurse, Stephanie first gained experience in pain management before accepting an RN position at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in the Labor and Delivery department.
Although still new to the labor and delivery team, she’s quickly made herself at home within a department she’s dreamed of since her first day of nursing school. “Even though I’ve just started in labor and delivery, I love it,” she says. “I love the friendly and helpful environment, and how there is constant learning opportunities. I love being a part of such an amazing process and assisting women and their families through it.”
Her time serving the country, functioning as a healthcare specialist, provided her with a unique skill set that easily transferred to the work we do every day at Northwell. “In the Army Reserves, I’ve received a great deal of fast-paced trauma training which I find useful every day of my career. It really helped teach me how to function in high-stress situations,” she says.
Everyone who joins our team with a passion for redefining healthcare will find many opportunities for development and career growth. Northwell’s culture has tremendous revere and admiration for our veterans and reservists who have sacrificed so much to protect and keep our country safe. As Stephanie knows, there is always a place on our team. “I’d definitely recommend other veterans and military members to work for Northwell. The organization appreciates the work we do, and is flexible to reserve/army schedules.”
My name is Melissa Black and I have worked in Oncology since I started working at Northwell’s Huntington Hospital in 2008.
When I was 15 years old, my mother lost her battle with lung cancer. Since then, becoming a nurse had always been my mission. I was truly touched by how much my mom loved and cherished her nurses – nurses who cared for her when she was a patient on the same Oncology unit where I now work all these years later. It’s like my life came full circle and I ended up exactly where I was meant to be.
My career journey with Northwell started when I was hired as a CNA. I became a unit secretary in 2010, a position I held for seven years up until I became an Oncology RN in March 2018. I consider myself so lucky to have been able to spend all 12 years growing my skills on the same unit at Huntington Hospital. Being surrounded by the Oncology teammates and managers who have been with me from the start has made my career transitions that much easier. Northwell’s tuition reimbursement program helped to lighten the financial burden as I obtained my nursing degree. The support of my colleagues and leaders throughout school was a tremendous part of my success.
I feel my experiences give me insight when I’m caring for our cancer patients since I can relate to what they are going through. By helping my patients and their families heal and cope with how cancer has affected their lives, I’ve been simultaneously helping heal myself as well.
I became a nurse because I wanted to be that sunshine in a patient’s life while they are in the hospital dealing with some of their darkest days. I wanted to be that someone the patient looked forward to seeing walk through their door, because they know I will try my best to support them through their pain, their sadness, and their fears. This has to be one of my favorite things about my job, knowing that sometimes just my mere presence plays a part in a patient’s healing. I feel lucky to be a part of a patient’s journey.
Becoming a nurse and caring for patients with cancer has made me better able to appreciate how beautiful and fragile life is. It’s a career I chose because I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of my patients, but it’s the impact they make on MY LIFE that truly reinforces that I am exactly who I am meant to be – a nurse!
Nursing Students get a Golden Ticket to Northwell’s Nursing Showcase
The future of nursing is golden at the Northwell’s Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase! This year, more than 630 junior and senior nursing students from 50+ colleges attended to learn about Northwell’s nursing careers and culture. Our invitation-only event at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY is an important way to identify and engage with nursing students for New York State’s largest health system.
At the Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase, students attended presentations from Northwell’s nursing leadership to hear about our careers including our externships and fellowships, advanced careers such as becoming a nurse practitioner and the future of nursing at Northwell . Panel sessions were also held featuring previous nurse externs and current team members to allow students to ask questions and hear about their experiences.
In addition to the panels and presentations, students explored the Nursing Careers Expo and Culture Center where they could meet and interact with our registered nurses and nursing leaders and learn what makes Northwell’s culture and careers so unique. Here students also had the chance to learn about more than 23 specialties in nursing such as PeriOperative, Emergency, Critical Care, Pediatrics, Home Care, Case Management, TeleHealth, Mother/Baby and many more.
Don’t miss this inside look at what it’s like to attend the Northwell Golden Ticket Nursing Showcase in our video recap:
Combining clinical and business skills as an RN case manager
Comprehensive. Complex. Holistic. Empathetic. These are some of the words that best capture how RN case managers approach their roles as care providers at Northwell Health. As an RN case manager your responsibility is to understand and create a care plan for patients from admission through discharge that best accounts for their clinical and psychological needs.
Get to know the thoughts and experiences of two of our case managers who exemplify the kinds of career journey our clinicians can pursue here at Northwell Health. Jennifer Taglich, RN MSN MPH CPN, is an RN Case Manager at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. Initially hired as a bedside nurse, Jennifer was attracted to her current role for its diversity and cross discipline impact.
Heather Gordon, RN BSN CCM, serves as the Director of the Case Management Department at Staten Island University Hospital. Her career here began at North Shore University Hospital as a neonatal ICU nurse and, then she went on to work in pediatric oncology. When she was offered the position as a pediatric home care discharge planner, she embraced it for the autonomy it provided her in coordinating complex discharge activities for the pediatric specialty population.
Both Jennifer and Heather place a high value on the way that their roles helped them broaden and develop their knowledge by introducing them to new business planning, communications and patient management responsibilities.
Heather says, “I chose to work in case management because it required nursing skills along with incorporating business process into discharge planning. I had to develop business management skills and learn to strategize plans for my unique case load.”
The same was true for Jennifer who told us, “I compare it to learning a new language. While the patients remained the same, my role was completely different. It’s given me the opportunity to learn about more aspects of nursing and grow as a nurse, as well as work with intelligent and passionate nurses who I view as role models.”
Both feel that the ability to communicate and lead a team effort is essential as they collaborate care with other disciplines, remove unpredictable barriers and help the patient be ready for discharge once they receive medical clearance. Heather says “In my role I am responsible for creating plans that involve an interdisciplinary team to support our pediatric patients. It gave me the incentive to expand my knowledge, take on more challenges and complexities, and also work with a great team.”
“This role has given me the opportunity to improve my communication and teamwork skills,” says Jennifer. “You see the big picture, including how every member of the healthcare team plays a role in helping the patients feel better so that they can go home.”
From delivering care in the US Army to Zucker Hillside Hospital
Before Laren Lamonaca delivered care as an assistant nurse manager at Zucker Hillside Hospital (ZHH), he delivered care in the U.S. Army.
In the U.S. Army, Laren served as a combat medic with an LPN identifier from 2005 until 2011. It was there where his medical skills grew, exposing him to experience in the ICU/CCU. As part of the 1 First Surgical Team, Laren worked under the leadership of two doctors who work at Northwell Health.
But his time in the Army provided Laren with much more than just technical skills. “The Army taught me leadership and the importance of duty to my country, my unit and my peers,” says Laren. “It taught me that giving respect is as important as getting respect.”
After he returned from deployment, Laren went back to school to become a registered nurse to further his healthcare career. Upon graduation, he accepted a nursing position that was a mixture of emergency and behavioral health nursing.
“Behavioral health nursing found me,” says Laren. “I fell in love with the behavioral health portion of my job and was then offered a job at Zucker Hillside Hospital. The rest is history.”
Laren started his ZHH career as a staff nurse in the acute geriatric psych unit and it’s a population he still loves working with today. “The stories they share of their lives are amazing. It’s very rewarding work,” he says. “Seeing a patient go from depression back to themselves after treatment is very heart warming.”
It was while he was working as a registered nurse at ZHH that Laren’s leadership saw his potential. He was promoted to an assistant nurse manager position where he continues to deliver compassionate care while helping lead his unit, a position he’s comfortable in after being in charge of new recruits in the army.
“I would highly recommend other veterans look for positions at Northwell,” says Laren. “I love working here, the environment is great. My coworkers really care for the patients we see on a day-to-day basis and the administration team is very supportive and engaging. I cannot say enough great things about working for Northwell.”
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.”