Many called them heroes at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. But for anyone who has ever paid attention at a hospital or any medical facility, they’ve always been super.
Honoring them is long overdue, but more than 400 people gathered to do just that at The Heritage Club in Bethpage last week for the Herald’s premiere Long Island Excellence in Healthcare Awards.
Hosted by RichnerLive and Herald Community Newspapers with presenting sponsor FirstNet, Built with AT&T, some 40 of health care’s best from across Nassau County — and from Suffolk County as well — were honored June 15.
Dr. Adhi Sharma, president of Mount Sinai South Nassau, was among those honored. And what’s happening at the Oceanside facility has the executive more excited than ever.
“Right now, Mount Sinai South Nassau is undergoing a transformation,” he said. “We will be adding a number of advanced programs — including open-heart surgery, advanced neurosurgical techniques, and advanced stroke rescue techniques.”
In his acceptance speech for being named one of Long Island’s outstanding hospital leaders, Sharma reflected not only on work already done, but also what’s planned for the future.
“We look forward to this era beyond the pandemic,” he said, while “going back to typical care for our patients and working with the technology advancements we’ve gotten as a result of the pandemic.”
Maureen White, executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Northwell Health, called the past two years or so “uncharted water.”
“To see how we’ve come together in health care to navigate these uncharted and turbulent waters on behalf of our patients, it’s been very inspiring,” she added.
The keynote was delivered by White’s boss, Northwell’s president and chief executive Michael Dowling. He couldn’t attend the ceremony itself — where he was honored for his lifetime achievement — because he’s traveling overseas, but he did sit down with Herald executive editor Michael Hinman on video to share what health care is like in a post-Covid world.
“I never look at the world through the lens of challenges,” Dowling said. “I look at the world through the lens of opportunity. So to me, it’s the opportunity to continue to provide better care. To deal with prevention, wellness, the social determinants issues, dealing with food insecurity, dealing with lifestyle behaviors, and focusing more on those communities across the region in dire need.”
So much focus has been given to Covid-19 in recent years — and rightfully so — but that isn’t the only health issue facing many people. Work must continue in other fields as well, like what Bruce Stillman is doing at of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Oyster Bay’s Laurel Hollow.
“Our most recent project was for spinal muscular atrophy, which is the most lethal genetic disease in children, that now keeps those kids alive,” the laboratory’s president and chief executive said. But still, even his facility — which has weathered through a number of pandemics and health crises over its more than 130 years — couldn’t avoid the coronavirus.
“When the pandemic started, we started working on Covid and Covid-related symptoms such as lung fibrosis,” Stillman said. “We never shut down. We kept doing research. And we’re back to normal now — or almost normal.”
Honorees were not limited to the lab or hospital but also included first responders — often the first point of medical assistance in emergencies.
“Law enforcement and the medical field are always together,” said Patrick Ryder, Nassau County’s police commissioner. “Whether it’s bringing patients to hospitals, our own members getting sick and needing help, 9/11 services, PTSD services — we’re always tied at the hip with the health services.“
Michael Uttaro, the county’s chief fire marshal, helps bring together emergency services in a broad community that includes more than 70 volunteer fire departments and six volunteer ambulance corps.
“I assist with coordinating those units, which incorporate ambulances and EMS,” Uttaro said. “We regularly interact with hospitals, urgent care and everything in between. It’s a nice honor to be recognized for what you do.”
Many of those first responders depend on FirstNet, a technology network managed by AT&T, that was first developed after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“FirstNet has been in the first responder and public safety space for well over 100 years,” said Anthony Postiglione, a public safety solutions sales executive for FirstNet, Built with AT&T. “We work with law enforcement, fire, EMS, health care, and even secondary responders that assist them. It really means a lot to us to be able to honor our health care heroes here tonight. It’s something we like to do to give back to the first responder community.”
But it has become more than just a system for 9/11 heroes, Long Island AT&T regional manager Magdalonie Paris-Campbell said. It’s something that has been built for all of them.
“It was an honor for FirstNet, Built with AT&T, to support and attend this remarkable event, and celebrate our health care and law enforcement heroes for all they have done for our community, the region, and the state of New York during the pandemic,” she said. “As they say, not all superheroes wear capes. In fact, many wear scrubs, paramedic uniforms, stethoscopes, dispatch headsets and badges. We saw this during the pandemic as first responders braved the risk of Covid infection to protect our neighbors during one of the most challenging periods of our lives.”
But on this particular night, at the Herald Long Island Excellence in Healthcare Awards, it was all about celebration.
“This was an amazing program, amazing turnout,” said Herrick Lipton, the chief executive of New Horizon Counseling Center. “We’re very proud to raise awareness, and the Herald has done such an amazing job to represent people making a difference in our communities.”
Presenting sponsor was FirstNet, Built with AT&T, while Mount Sinai South Nassau and New Horizon Counseling Center were platinum sponsors. Gold sponsors included Northwell Health, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, NAPA North American Partners in Anesthesia, LifeVac, Long Island Speech & Myofunctional Therapy Centers, and Alliance Homecare.
Silver sponsors were The Stroke & Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island, EHS Episcopal Health Services, Zwanger Pesiri Radiology, Lenox Hill Radiology, Bleu Glove Concierge, Precision LTC Pharmacy, American Family Care Urgent Care, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Family & Children’s Association, and Rising Above & Beyond Home Care.