New York – along with the rest of the world – is about to enter its third year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as it seemed that the public health crisis might finally be easing, the highly contagious omicron variant quickly spread across the globe. This most recent spike in coronavirus cases illustrates how much farther the state has to go when it comes to returning to some semblance of normalcy.
And yet, there has been real progress over the past year or so. A widespread vaccination campaign took effect – along with a push for booster shots toward the end of the year. Government officials, business executives and others began to mandate vaccines to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Health care professionals in New York have been battling valiantly to save patients, develop new treatments and implement public health strategies to keep the state safe.
City & State’s Health Care Power 100, which was researched and written by City & State’s Kay Dervishi and Julia Santiago, highlights the public health officials, hospital executives, labor leaders, activists and other influential figures that have shaped New York’s response to the pandemic – and other pressing health care matters – over the past year.
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Right as Dr. Mary Bassett took the reins as New York’s health commissioner in December, New York began to face yet another major wave of COVID-19 cases. The omicron variant of the coronavirus has fueled a record number of daily cases, presenting a major challenge for Bassett, who will be leading the state’s response with plans for increased testing, greater access to vaccines and boosters and other measures. Bassett had previously served as New York City’s health commissioner, a role in which she battled an Ebola outbreak and focused on social determinants of health.
Dr. Dave Chokshi has shaped New York City’s health care policies amid the turbulent COVID-19 pandemic. The delta variant became increasingly common in the city as he took over as health commissioner in 2020 – and now he is managing the response to yet an even more transmissible variant of the coronavirus. Chokshi will stay on in the position until March to ensure a smooth transition for Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the former president and CEO of the mental health nonprofit Fountain House, to take over as commissioner.
Since 2019, Dr. Ashwin Vasan has been leading Fountain House’s expansion into a national nonprofit delivering mental health care. That experience – along with his extensive work as a physician, academic and public health official – played a major role in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to name him the city’s next health commissioner. Vasan will take over the influential post in March, and in the meantime, he will serve as a senior adviser for public health.
Anne Williams-Isom is returning to New York City government under Mayor Eric Adams, who named her to the critical role of deputy mayor for health and human services. That means all of the city’s health and social services agencies will fall under her purview, including overseeing a wide range of initiatives to help vulnerable New Yorkers through the COVID-19 pandemic. She has previously served as deputy commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone. Most recently, she led research on reforming the child welfare system at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service.
Angela Profeta has served as deputy secretary for health in the Executive Chamber since last year, providing insight on health policy for Gov. Kathy Hochul as the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated. Before Profeta joined the administration, she worked as chief strategy officer for CityMD and Summit Medical Group. In that role, she helped merge the two companies, increased the number of CityMD’s urgent care centers and crafted the combined company’s COVID-19 response.
Michael Dowling helms Northwell Health, the state’s largest health care provider, encompassing 23 hospitals and hundreds of outpatient facilities that have played a major role in connecting New Yorkers to COVID-19 vaccines, testing services and treatment throughout the pandemic. The system was the first one in the country to administer a COVID-19 vaccine dose, to one of its own nurses, Sandra Lindsay. Among Dowling’s new initiatives: a $100 million partnership with the startup Aegis Ventures to identify and close gaps in health care.
The Greater New York Hospital Association remains a powerhouse in Albany, representing the interests of more than 250 hospitals and health systems across New York and several adjacent states. Its efforts are led by Kenneth Raske, who has served as the organization’s president since 1984. Raske has shaped the association’s effective advocacy in securing additional state health funding over the years – and in recent months has offered guidance for hospitals navigating COVID-19 vaccine mandates for staff members.
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried is set to retire at the end of this year after earning the distinction of becoming the longest-serving state lawmaker in New York’s history. And the venerable Manhattan lawmaker’s top priority before his tenure in office ends is getting the New York Health Act passed. He and his counterpart in the upper house, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx, have spent the past several years trying to get traction for the legislation, which would establish a single-payer health system in New York.
Mitchell Katz and José Pagán work together to lead the country’s largest public health care system, made up of 11 hospitals and numerous other medical facilities. With a COVID-19 surge hitting New York, the New York City Health + Hospitals system is striving to provide quality care despite staffing challenges and any potential increase in hospitalizations. The municipal hospital system also played a major role fueling COVID-19 vaccination and testing in the city. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has reportedly asked Katz, who was a trusted ally of former Mayor Bill de Blasio, to stay on in his role.
As head of New York’s largest union – and the largest health care union in the nation – George Gresham wields outsized influence in New York’s health care sector. Many of New York’s top gubernatorial candidates are already courting Gresham’s support. Last fall, Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and state Attorney General Letitia James (who has since opted to seek reelection in her current position) all supported the union’s nursing home workers amid stalled contract negotiations, which ultimately resulted in a successful deal.
These first-term New York City Council members have a diverse range of health expertise. Health care was a major theme of Queens Council Member Lynn Schulman’s campaign, as an AIDS activist and breast cancer survivor. Now as chair of the council’s Health Committee, Schulman has indicated increasing hospital capacity would be a priority for her. Meanwhile, Brooklyn City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse will lead the Hospitals Committee after spending over 30 years as a registered nurse. One of her goals would be expanding community health centers to all of the city’s public housing developments. City Council Member Linda Lee’s experience leading a major social services nonprofit makes her suited to leading the Mental Health, Disabilities and Addictions Committee.
Since June, Brett R. Friedman has managed the state’s Medicaid program, which provides health care coverage to more than 7.2 million low-income New Yorkers. He possesses extensive experience on issues surrounding Medicaid. Before taking on his current position, he served as director of strategic initiatives and special counsel in the state Department of Health, working on legal, regulatory and policy issues affecting Medicaid. Friedman has also been a partner in the health care group at Ropes & Gray LLP.
Danielle Holahan has overseen the state’s official health plan marketplace since October, when Donna Frescatore retired. As a veteran health official, Holahan brings with her more than 25 years of experience working on the state and federal level and has played a key role developing and shaping New York State of Health since 2011. Holahan is responsible for a network that connects more than 6 million New Yorkers – and counting – to health coverage and ensuring enrollment grows.
Over the past year, Assembly Member Aileen Gunther and state Sen. Samra Brouk have successfully teamed up on legislation promoting mental health care. Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed their legislation to create a new three-digit emergency line for people experiencing mental health crises and to mandate training for staff managing the hotline. Brouk has also been focused on pushing forward legislation to reduce police involvement in crisis response by creating mental health response teams across the state.
Westchester-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has played a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with its antibody cocktail, which was taken by then-President Donald Trump – and has seen demand continue to grow in the past year. But as the current cocktail is turning out to be less effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus, Regeneron’s Dr. Leonard Schleifer has said the company is hard at work on the next generation of treatment.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has delivered vital care to New Yorkers since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic across its 10 hospitals and hundreds of other locations in the New York City metropolitan area. At this stage of the pandemic, NewYork-Presbyterian President and CEO Dr. Steven Corwin is focused on tackling nurse shortages and the latest spike in COVID-19 cases. Corwin has also been focused on reducing inequities in health care through the Dalio Center for Health Justice, which was established in late 2020.
More than 700,000 New Yorkers get connected to critical mental health services through the state Office of Mental Health, which is helmed by Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan. Sullivan is responsible for regulating thousands of government and nonprofit-run programs across the state and leading New York’s initiatives to increase access to mental health care. That mental health support works alongside the range of addiction services provided through the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports. Dr. Chinazo Cunningham was appointed commissioner of the agency in November, after serving as executive deputy commissioner of mental hygiene at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Hospitals and health care facilities across New York are struggling with major staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bea Grause, who leads the Healthcare Association of New York State, has spotlighted those challenges and pushed the state’s leaders to find short- and long-term solutions for the sector’s issues. She has urged state lawmakers to allot more funding to nursing residency programs and called on New York’s congressional delegation to support legislation to strengthen the sector’s workforce.
Dr. Robert Grossman has led one of New York’s top academic medical centers since 2007, overseeing more than 40,000 faculty and staff across six hospitals and more than 350 other locations. The institution has grown under his leadership: In 2019, NYU Langone Health finalized a merger with Winthrop-University Hospital, which is now named NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island. Grossman also serves as dean of the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, which was renamed after him in 2019.
Dr. Kenneth Davis and Margaret Pastuszko work together to guide the trajectory of Mount Sinai Health System, which encompasses eight hospitals, more than 400 ambulatory practices and the Icahn School of Medicine. Pastuszko became president of Mount Sinai this year, taking over the role from Davis, who will continue to serve as the health system’s CEO through 2024. In her new position, Pastuszko remains focused on reducing inefficiencies at Mount Sinai and dedicating more resources to quality care.
One Brooklyn Health System plays a vital role in delivering health care to Brooklyn residents, and CEO LaRay Brown is leading the way. The longtime veteran of the health care industry oversees operations across three hospitals – Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center – and other sites, such as ambulatory care centers and nursing homes. She has served as the health system’s CEO since 2017, after previously holding leadership positions at New York City Health + Hospitals.
The state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities connects New Yorkers who have developmental and intellectual disabilities to services, both directly and through a network of over 500 nonprofits across the state. Its work is being directed for the time being by Kerri Neifeld, who took over as acting commissioner of the agency last year. Under her leadership, the agency is taking on more initiatives to hire and retain direct support professionals in New York.
Nearly 30 insurers across New York rely on Eric Linzer and Leslie Moran at the New York Health Plan Association to advocate for their needs. The two have monitored ever-changing rules and health policies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and their effect on the state’s health plans. Their organization has been critical of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive order suspending pre-authorization requirements and has opposed increased taxes on health insurance. It’s also adamantly opposed to an effort by a growing number of state lawmakers to pass single-payer legislation.
Recent legal challenges to abortion access have drawn attention to New York’s existing protections for abortion and reproductive rights, as well as the work of local institutions such as Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. Joy Calloway helms the organization’s operations, which span 30 locations covering much of New York state. She brings with her nearly three decades of experience holding leadership roles in health care and in the nonprofit sector.
My Chi To holds a key post in the state Department of Financial Services, where she manages regulations for more than 1,400 insurance companies across New York. As executive deputy superintendent of insurance, she has played a major role in revising guidance and rules for insurers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, DFS has proposed new regulations protecting patients when health insurers incorrectly list out-of-network doctors and hospitals on their directories.
As head of Montefiore Medicine, Dr. Philip Ozuah helms both Montefiore Health System, comprising 10 hospitals and more than 200 other sites spanning across the lower Hudson Valley and the Bronx, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has supported recent improvements and expansions at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital and White Plains Hospital. Before heading Montefiore, Ozuah served as president of Montefiore Health System and as physician-in-chief of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore.
Since joining Healthfirst in 2008, Pat Wang has guided the company into becoming the largest nonprofit health insurer in the state, serving more than 1.7 million members. During her tenure, Wang has focused on closing gaps in health outcomes while overseeing research initiatives aimed at identifying strategies to improve health equity. She also co-leads the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force and serves as a commissioner on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress on Medicare policy.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Talya Schwartz has put a priority on expanding access to mental health care. MetroPlusHealth, a subsidiary of the vast New York City Health + Hospitals public hospital system, has brought its behavioral health services in-house as of December to help its 625,000 members, who have increasingly sought virtual appointments over the past year amid a pandemic-related rise in mental health needs. Under Schwartz’s leadership, MetroPlusHealth has seen growing membership and taken a more active interest in telehealth support.
The New York State Nurses Association has warned about how the shortage of nurses at hospitals across the state is threatening the quality of care for patients. Union leaders Pat Kane and Nancy Hagans have been at the forefront of calls for hospitals and health systems to devote more attention and resources to recruiting and retaining staff. The union has organized a number of rallies to spotlight the low levels of staffing for nurses in New York’s hospitals.
Throughout her tenure as president and CEO of EmblemHealth, one of the country’s largest health insurers, Karen Ignagni has made it a priority to partner with hospitals and physicians who focus on quality of care. She has led the company, which provides health insurance coverage to 3 million people in New York City and the tri-state area, since 2015. Before joining EmblemHealth, she headed America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national insurance industry association.
LeadingAge New York is one of the top associations in New York advocating on behalf of nonprofit long-term care providers, with more than 600 nursing homes, senior housing organizations, assisted living providers and other institutions serving as members. In advance of this year’s budget negotiations, association President James Clyne Jr. plans to make increased funding for long-term care his top priority when dealing with state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Dr. Christopher Hillyer achieved a rare victory when the New York Blood Center ultimately won the backing of the New York City Council for a contentious rezoning despite opposition from the district’s local council member. The approval of the center’s proposal to replace its headquarters on the Upper East Side with a modern research facility came despite protests from a number of local elected officials and neighborhood groups, while proponents highlighted the center’s work in combating the coronavirus and other diseases.
In New York and beyond, CVS Health has played a vital role connecting people to COVID-19 tests, vaccines and booster shots in the past year. That large-scale endeavor has been driven by Karen Lynch, who became the company’s president and CEO last February. Lynch has overseen rising revenue during her tenure and led a push for CVS to further expand its health care services, including potentially offering primary care.
Darsana Srinivasan and James Sheehan play a major role managing oversight of hospitals and health systems across New York through their roles as bureau chiefs under state Attorney General Letitia James. Since last August, Srinivasan has helmed the attorney general’s Health Care Bureau, handling litigation and other responsibilities focused on the sector. And as head of the office’s Charities Bureau, Sheehan often works on cases related to New York’s nonprofit hospitals.
Michael McGuire has been with UnitedHealthcare for more than 30 years, rising through the ranks to lead the health insurer’s operations in New York. Over the course of the past year, he has championed more widespread use of telehealth and encouraged members to access primary care. He also played a key role in reaching an agreement with Montefiore Health System last year after the companies severed their relationship in a dispute over reimbursement costs the previous year.
The New York State Health Foundation has been actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, administering grants to expand telehealth services and to support COVID-19 vaccination outreach. David Sandman leads the organization’s wide range of philanthropic initiatives to boost health outcomes across New York, with funding set aside to fight hunger, improve health care for veterans and respond to other needs. Over the past 15 years, the foundation has awarded more than $166 million toward that mission.
Rose Duhan leads the Community Health Care Association of New York State, which represents more than 70 community health centers delivering care to underserved patients across the state. Over the course of the past year, the organization has advocated for New York’s congressional delegation to bolster the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program, supported repealing the Medicaid global spending cap in the state and called for more state lawmakers to protect safety-net providers.
Maimonides Medical Center has made major strides this past year under Kenneth Gibbs’ leadership. The hospital, which is the largest in Brooklyn, announced a new affiliation with New York Community Hospital. The Maimonides Medical Center also broke ground on a project that will establish a new emergency department site in Bay Ridge and opened a $110 million pavilion to provide care across 35 specialties.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has earned a reputation for being one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious institutions focused on treating and researching cancer. Dr. Craig Thompson has served for over a decade as president and CEO of the center, which in recent years has developed its own coronavirus test, expanded telemedicine and remote work capabilities and researched how COVID-19 interacts with cancer patients. Thompson also oversees a laboratory dedicated to studying cell biology and immunology.
As head of Urban Health Plan, Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez oversees a major network of community health centers and clinics in the South Bronx, Central Harlem and parts of Queens. Urban Health Plan – which was founded by her father, Richard Izquierdo – is one of the state’s largest community health centers. Izquierdo-Hernandez, who is dedicated to fighting health disparities in the Bronx, has been committed to ensuring the network delivers quality care to underserved communities in New York City.
As head of the New York State Health Facilities Association / New York State Center for Assisted Living, Stephen Hanse represents hundreds of nursing providers and assisted living communities across the state. Hanse is advocating on behalf of those providers during a time when staffing shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic have made their work all the more difficult. He has also been outspoken in his calls for the state to reverse funding cuts for long-term care providers.
Dr. Frank Proscia has spent seven years leading the country’s largest union for doctors, where he represents a wide range of physicians in New York. As the head of Doctors Council SEIU, Proscia, who works as a psychiatrist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has called on the city to improve safety conditions for medical staff and patients on Rikers Island and has also advocated for the state to protect funding for public services.
Before coming to Albany Med more than two decades ago, Dr. Dennis McKenna served five years as an active duty medical officer for the U.S. Navy. He now leads the largest hospital system and the only academic medical center in the northeastern New York region, overseeing an institution that has conducted innovative research on COVID-19 severity, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease. McKenna became Albany Med’s president and CEO in April 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York.
Home and community-based care providers across New York rely on Kathy Febraio to bring attention to their policy priorities. Since becoming the association’s president in 2019, Febraio has been an active voice in Albany, where she has spent the past year pushing state lawmakers to funnel federal funding to home care agencies to hire more staff. At the federal level, she has lauded legislation to increase pay for direct care workers.
Alan Murray is steering Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield in a new direction. Under his leadership, the New York-based health insurer is simplifying and streamlining its offerings so employers can access all of its networks and is focusing on improving its technology over time. Murray also helped Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield come to a new agreement with Montefiore Health System last year that aims to improve community health through new initiatives such as health events and a mobile health unit.
Dr. Anthony Shih heads the United Hospital Fund, which develops important guidance on health policy and health care delivery in New York. The organization has released a number of reports this year on topics like infant nutrition and health, the American Rescue Plan Act’s impact on health coverage and New York City mayoral candidates’ health policy positions. Before joining the United Hospital Fund, Shih served as the executive vice president of the New York Academy of Medicine.
Headed by Michael Israel, the Westchester Medical Center Health Network’s hospitals and academic facilities span over 6,000 square miles in the Hudson Valley. The health care system is also home to the area’s only acute care children’s hospital and one of the largest mental health care systems in the state. Over the past few years, Israel has overseen continued expansion of the health network. Its Valhalla campus got a new ambulatory care pavilion in 2019 and its redeveloped HealthAlliance Hospital will finish construction this year.
Dr. Patrick O’Shaughnessy became Catholic Health’s president last year, after more than a decade serving in leadership roles at the faith-based health care system on Long Island. He currently oversees six hospitals, three nursing homes and a number of health programs. During his time leading the organization, Catholic Health’s Mercy Hospital broke ground on a new family and ambulatory care center and the Healthcare Association of New York State honored Catholic Health for its quality improvement and patient safety initiatives.
The Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has delivered expert cancer care and research for 124 years, serving as the only such facility in upstate New York designated by the National Cancer Institute. The center’s president and CEO, Candace Johnson, has been at the helm since 2015. Over the past year, the center has come out with research on the effect chronic stress has on tumor growth and has affiliated with Samaritan Medical Center to expand oncology services in the North Country.
Kassandra Frederique has been an influential advocate in New York and nationally as she continues pushing for policies that decriminalize drugs and invest more in health services. She played a key role in the successful legalization of recreational marijuana in New York. As head of the Drug Policy Alliance, she has also been active in supporting various proposals to prevent overdose deaths. Frederique backed New York City’s new supervised injection sites and legislation signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last year that expands access to safe syringes.
The Primary Care Development Corp. is dedicated to bolstering primary care across the country, offering capital and technical assistance to providers. Louise Cohen heads the community development financial institution’s operations and also supports its broader advocacy for local, state and federal legislation to support primary care. Throughout the last year, her organization has supported a state-level bill to study primary care spending and has opposed changes that hurt safety-net providers that participate in the federal 340B program.
Greenberg Traurig has a reputation for being a lobbying powerhouse in Albany – and Harold Iselin, who serves as managing shareholder of the firm's Albany office, helps bolster that reputation. Iselin boasts a wide range of clients across the health care sector, and he advocates for their priorities before state lawmakers. Before joining Greenberg Traurig, Iselin was a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice and assistant counsel in the New York governor’s office.
Public Health Solutions aims to fight racial and socioeconomic disparities in health care by providing direct support to underserved communities and working with partners across New York City to improve community health. Lisa David leads the nonprofit’s efforts to connect New Yorkers to food assistance and health insurance and to coordinate care with more than 200 organizations across the city. Since Gov. Kathy Hochul took office, David has consistently called on her to prioritize improving public health infrastructure.
Elisabeth Benjamin manages health advocacy at the Community Service Society and oversees the nonprofit’s health assistance programs connecting New Yorkers to health insurance and other support. Throughout the past year, she has put a spotlight on medical debt. She has led numerous reports examining questionable debt collection practices at health systems across the state, pushed hospital executives to change those practices and advocated for legislation protecting New Yorkers from medical debt collectors.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot made history as the first Latina to serve as New York City’s health commissioner and guided the city’s strategies during the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, she resigned after clashing with the de Blasio administration over its approach to the health crisis. She has since joined The JPB Foundation as a senior fellow for public health and social justice and also serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
Dr. Judith Salerno guides the New York Academy of Medicine’s work to advance health equity through research, partnerships and other initiatives. Under her leadership, the organization launched a new coalition with the Yale School of Nursing to improve infection prevention in long-term care facilities. The New York Academy of Medicine has also responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by coordinating with other institutions to develop guidelines for equitably distributing COVID-19 vaccines in New York.
The Medical Society of the State of New York is a leading professional organization for New York’s physicians, residents and medical students. With Dr. Joseph Sellers now at the helm, the organization has pushed for legislative proposals that improve patient care, such as expanded telehealth coverage and smooth COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Sellers, who works as a physician executive for Bassett Medical Group, has served as the society’s president since last year.
Charles King is fighting homelessness and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York through his leadership of Housing Works, which provides housing, health care, drug treatment and legal services. The nonprofit has played a vital role amid the pandemic, operating shelters for homeless New Yorkers suffering from COVID-19 and doling out coronavirus vaccine doses. King has also led the organization’s advocacy on issues such as opening up supervised injection sites in New York City.
Tom Connolly has played a key role in shaping New York state laws regarding the health care sector. While serving as a top health expert for the Assembly speaker, he worked on legislation such as the annual Medicaid budget and legislation determining the state’s methodology for reimbursing hospitals. Connolly brings that expertise in health care and government to his work with Bolton-St. Johns’ clients in Albany.
Guillermo Chacón is focused on preventing HIV among Latinos and delivering vital HIV/AIDS services. He has led the Latino Commission on AIDS since 2009 and has been an outspoken advocate fighting health disparities, particularly among LGBTQ Latinos. His expertise has been vital both in New York and nationally, as evidenced by his joining the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS last year to advise the secretary of health and human services on effective HIV prevention and treatment.
The push to enact a single-payer health care system in New York has faced an uphill battle. But 2021 marked a notable milestone for the movement: The New York Health Act has obtained enough Democratic co-sponsors to pass in both the state Senate and Assembly. Campaign for New York Health Co-Directors Ursula Rozum and YuLing Koh Hsu have been staunch advocates for the bill, rallying support through their efforts in concert with other organizations across the state.
Louis Shapiro has spent 15 years at the helm of the Hospital for Special Surgery, one of the country’s top medical centers dedicated to musculoskeletal health. Throughout his tenure as president and CEO, Shapiro has worked to grow the hospital and expand its facilities. That work continued throughout last year, as he unveiled a new facility in midtown Manhattan offering a wide range of services for pain management, spine health and other orthopedic care.
Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes’ expertise in pediatrics and public health informs his work as dean of CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, El-Mohandes has led a survey tracking its effects on New York City residents. He is also participating in efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy worldwide through partnerships with international experts and policymakers.
Healthix aggregates key patient data from thousands of hospitals, ambulatory care facilities and other health care organizations across New York state and analyzes it to improve care and population health. Todd Rogow has spent seven years with the company, which is one of the largest health information exchanges in the country, with records on more than 20 million people. And as president and CEO, he has expanded Healthix’s footprint through a major merger with New York Care Information Gateway in 2020.
Westmed Medical Group provides health care services to 350,000 patients in Westchester County in New York and Connecticut. Over the course of the past two years, Anthony Viceroy has taken on numerous measures at Westmed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes spearheading a rapid rollout of personal protective equipment across its in-person facilities, establishing telehealth appointments for at-home patients and creating mental health initiatives to help staff combat anxiety throughout the health crisis.
As an expert in health disparities among people of color, Dr. Kitaw Demissie is bringing inclusion to the forefront of the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. The Brooklyn-based school offers a range of academic programs that focus on urban and immigrant health, in addition to other public health topics. This year, Demissie co-authored a study on the disparities Black women face while receiving breast cancer treatment and called for New York City to ramp up COVID-19 testing in public schools.
Medicaid’s consumer-directed personal assistance program gives tens of thousands of older adults and people with disabilities the ability to get care services that enable them to live safely at home. The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State’s Bryan O’Malley fights to protect that program and the people who rely on it. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he has called on the state’s leaders to provide alternatives to nursing homes and other congregate facilities. O’Malley has also highlighted the need for home care workers to receive better pay.
After finishing her tenure as Manhattan borough president in 2005, C. Virginia Fields founded the National Black Leadership Commission on Health to fight racial disparities in health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted the importance of that work. In response, Fields has led initiatives to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and launched new COVID-19 education programs with community partners in New York City. She has also been a leader in various initiatives to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in Black communities.
William Guarinello has dedicated more than 50 years to working with HeartShare Human Services of New York, which serves youths and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Under his leadership, the nonprofit has grown into a $150 million-plus organization helping New Yorkers across more than 100 locations. HeartShare reaches about 35,000 people each year through its residential, educational, health care and other programs.
For more than a decade, Dr. John Brumstead has been fostering The University of Vermont Health Network’s expansion into the largest health care system operating in the North Country. The organization serves New Yorkers at its Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, Alice Hyde Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital, in addition to its locations in nearby Vermont. With hospitals in northern New York facing an influx of patients recently, Brumsted has taken measures to increase hospital capacity and retain needed staff.
Dan Savitt has spent one year as the head of one of the country’s largest nonprofits providing home health care services. Visiting Nurse Service of New York and its more than 10,000 employees serve patients in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties as well as portions of upstate New York. Throughout the past year, Savitt has shepherded new partnerships with companies such as Healthify to identify social needs among the organization’s patients and to support training and certification for its staff.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has chapters in New York City and New York state that provide vital mental health support and advocacy. Matt Kudish leads the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, which has served about 30,000 New Yorkers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Under his leadership, the nonprofit aims to double the number of people it reaches. Wendy Burch has spent more than seven years as the head of NAMI New York State and is driving efforts to expand access to mental health care.
Al Cardillo has sounded the alarm on the challenges the home care industry in New York is facing. The head of the Home Care Association of New York State has been concerned that COVID-19 vaccine mandates for home care workers would make preexisting staffing shortages at some organizations even worse. The association’s top advocacy priorities on the state and federal level for 2022 include strengthening the home care workforce, investing in home care organizations and improving patient care.
Glenn Liebman and Melissa Ramirez are prominent advocates for mental health support, pushing for increased funding to behavioral health providers and other measures expanding access to care. The Mental Health Association in New York State has been active in pushing for legislative changes in Albany. Over the past year, the organization has pushed for a law ensuring that settlement money from opioid lawsuits be set aside for addiction services and a bill that would merge the state Office of Mental Health and state Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
Eleonora Tornatore-Mikesh of CaringKind is dedicated to helping support both people suffering from dementia and their caregivers. Her nonprofit provides social work services, education programs, support groups and other forms of assistance to New York City residents affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Before leading the organization, Tornatore-Mikesh served as CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut chapter and spent 14 years directing an assisted living community.
Brown & Weinraub, the highest-grossing lobbying firm in Albany, relies on Lauren Tobias and Neil Benjamin to advise and advocate for clients in the health care sector. Both have experience in top positions in the state Department of Health. Tobias has served as the director of the Division of Family Health at the state agency and as the state’s Title V director. Benjamin has spent more than 30 years at the state Department of Health, where he most recently was director of the Division of Health Facility Planning.
New York City and state leaders have tapped Somos Community Care to lead COVID-19 vaccination drives, especially in low-income communities in the five boroughs. Its work throughout the pandemic has been overseen by Dr. Ramon Tallaj, the organization’s board chair and founder, and President Dr. Henry Chen. More than 650,000 patients in the city rely on care delivered by Somos’ network of approximately 3,500 health care providers.
Thomas Quatroche Jr. co-led COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Western New York alongside other health care leaders over the past year. Now, he’s guiding Erie County Medical Center through a particularly acute local uptick in COVID-19 cases. He has worked for the Erie County Medical Center for 15 years, managing more than 3,700 employees at the hospital, its long-term care facility and other outpatient sites. He has also known Gov. Kathy Hochul since their days serving on the Hamburg Town Board.
Local health departments across New York have played a vital role in distributing COVID-19 vaccines and responding to the pandemic. As head of the New York State Association of County Health Officials, Sarah Ravenhall strives to make sure these officials get sufficient funding and support. Throughout the past year, she’s led the association’s calls for legislators to fund public health initiatives to prevent childhood lead poisoning and strengthen public health infrastructure.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political downfall was in part fueled by his administration’s decision to obfuscate the number of COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes. An expert on health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy and a former newspaper columnist, Bill Hammond played a key role in shedding light on the issue. The Empire Center filed the lawsuit that required New York state officials to release additional data on nursing home deaths. It’s just one of many health care policies that Hammond has scrutinized throughout the course of the pandemic.
Doug Wirth is a leading voice on HIV/AIDS prevention and care in New York. He leads a community health plan that specializes in providing care to Medicaid recipients with chronic conditions, including HIV/AIDS, with about 8,000 members in New York City. Amida Care has pushed for more PrEP, or preexposure prophylaxis, usage, which dramatically reduces the risk for HIV transmission and also provides access to behavioral health services, gender confirmation surgeries and other care.
Since first joining Vibrant Emotional Health as an intern in 2003, Kimberly Williams has come to lead its work providing mental health support that reaches more than 2.5 million people annually. As president and CEO, Williams oversees major programs including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and NYC Well, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s mental health hotline. She also lends her expertise to various advisory bodies such as the New York State Health Foundation’s Community Advisory Committee and the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging.
Independent pharmacists spent much of the past year pushing for a set of bills dubbed the Pharmacy Rescue Package to get signed into law. Though Gov. Kathy Hochul signed two of the bills into law, she vetoed one major portion of the package that supporters say will help keep community pharmacies afloat. For Karl Williams and the staff of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, ensuring that the bill’s provisions on pharmacy reimbursement are enacted will be a priority in this year’s budget negotiations.
John Coppola represents organizations throughout New York that provide alcoholism and substance misuse treatment and prevention. He joined other advocates in successfully pushing New York state’s elected leaders to guarantee that money from legal settlements with opioid manufacturers go toward overdose prevention and addiction services. The New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers has also lobbied state lawmakers to invest more in those programs.
Rosa Gil founded Comunilife in 1989 with the goal of helping New York City’s most vulnerable and underserved residents receive the health care that they deserve. Communilife now helps people experiencing homelessness, people living with HIV/AIDS and New Yorkers dealing with mental health struggles. Gil also pioneered the Life is Precious program to prevent suicide among Latina teenagers. In addition to leading Comunilife, Gil has served on various governmental commissions including the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force.
James Krellenstein rallies health professionals, lawyers, academics and advocates together to push for policy changes that increase access to HIV medication. He co-founded PrEP4All in 2018 to fulfill that goal, pushing for the creation of a National HIV Prevention Program and measures to reduce the cost of PrEP, a preexposure prophylaxis that prevents HIV. The organization, which expanded its focus in 2020 to encompass COVID-19, has also called for the United States to support global COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
New York City made national news when it allowed its first two supervised injection sites to open in Manhattan last year, making it the first city in the nation to do so. As executive director of OnPoint NYC, Sam Rivera oversees operations of those two sites, which help drug users avoid overdoses and access counseling, education and other services. The staff at the sites, which are located in Washington Heights and East Harlem, reversed two overdoses in their first day of operation.
Emma DeVito has spent more than a decade leading VillageCare, a nonprofit delivering health care services to New Yorkers through managed care and community-based programs. She also oversees VillageCareMAX managed care plans, which served about 16,000 members as of 2020. In addition to her work at VillageCare, DeVito serves on the boards of directors for the Greater New York Hospital Association and Amida Care.
Anne Nolon has spent four decades leading what’s now Sun River Health, developing the community health center system into a major provider spanning the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. About 245,000 patients rely on the care Sun River Health delivers across its 40-plus locations. The expansion has continued in recent years, as Nolon oversaw the major merger of Hudson River HealthCare and Brightpoint Health that resulted in a rebranding of the combined entity as Sun River Health in 2020.
For almost seven years, Brian McIndoe has been the president and CEO of Ryan Health, a community health center committed to providing affordable and quality health care to Manhattan’s disadvantaged populations. Most recently, Ryan Health has been expanding its vaccination effort to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in Harlem and operating an online platform that connects New Yorkers to resources such as food and clothing.
One of Jo Wiederhorn’s top priorities as head of the Associated Medical Schools of New York has been improving diversity among the state’s physicians. The organization, which brings together 17 medical schools in New York, has advocated for continued funding for government programs that increase diversity in the medical field and help medical students pay for their education. Wiederhorn has also overseen efforts to get New York state to reinvest in its program to conduct research into stem cells.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled critical changes at MVP Health Care. Under Christopher Del Vecchio’s leadership, the regional health plan has expanded its telemedicine services and launched more efforts to support its most vulnerable members. The Schenectady-based health insurer has also coordinated with local government officials on COVID-19 vaccine distribution over the past year. Del Vecchio has headed MVP Health Care since 2019, after spending five years in various leadership roles with the organization.
More than half a million members get their health insurance coverage from Oscar Health. Mario Schlosser co-founded the company in 2012, with the goal of using a full-stack technology platform to deliver better results for customers. Going into 2022, the New York-based insurer aims to expand its work to three more states, offer improved access to culturally competent providers and launch a new plan for diabetic members.
Manatt Health delivers legal and consulting services for clients across the health care sector. Bill Bernstein serves as leader of Manatt Health and is a key source of business and legal advice for health care providers, managed care companies and other organizations. Last year, the company brought on Eboné Carrington to serve as managing director. She previously served as CEO of New York City Health + Hospitals/Harlem and advised New York City Mayor Eric Adams on health issues as part of his transition team.
Elizabeth Misa and Jessica Morelli both bring extensive expertise in the health care industry to Ostroff Associates, a top government relations firm based in Albany. Misa previously served as the deputy director of Medicaid in the state Department of Health, where she worked on the Medicaid budget and Medicaid redesign in addition to other health care initiatives. Before joining Ostroff this fall, Morelli served as vice president at the Iroquois Healthcare Association advocating on behalf of more than 50 hospitals and health systems in upstate New York.
As a partner at Farrell Fritz, Mark Ustin helps clients in the health care sector navigate complex regulatory and legal issues. Academic medical centers, nursing homes, developmental disability service providers and hospitals number among the institutions that have turned to Ustin for guidance and representation. Over the past two years, Ustin has kept a close eye on legislative and regulatory developments in Albany such as expanded telehealth services and nursing home reforms.
Seongeun Chun and Becca Telzak are leaders of Coverage 4 All, a campaign pushing for the creation of a statewide insurance program for New Yorkers who are turned away from coverage because of their immigration status. The New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York have led the campaign, which has garnered support among other community groups, health care providers and legal professionals. Chun is also the director of health policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, while Telzak serves as deputy director at Make the Road New York.
Dr. Uché Blackstock’s focus is on tackling discrimination and racism in health care institutions, most notably through the launch of Advancing Health Equity in 2019 to help health care organizations fight inequities in care. Blackstock regularly appears on MSNBC and other national media outlets to discuss health equity, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, she served as an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine.
With more than three decades of experience in health and disability care, Regina Martinez-Estela serves as the head of Independence Care System. The organization helps people with chronic conditions and disabilities access quality care and resources to allow them to live independently. Her advocacy for people with disabilities also informs her work as a commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Under her leadership, Independence Care System has been recognized as a leading disability employer by the National Organization on Disability.
More than 2.4 million New Yorkers across the state rely on health coverage provided by Fidelis Care. With regional offices located in New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, the insurer makes it a priority to collaborate with local partners to connect residents to health care and other resources. As the company’s president and chief executive officer, Tom Halloran plays a major role driving forward that work.
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