During his keynote address at WCA’s “Toasting to a Healthy Westchester,” Michael J. Dowling, CEO, Northwell Health, appealed to 250 key leaders in health care and business attending this annual dinner to try to solve what he called the social determinants of health, such as gun violence, poverty, obesity and drugs and alcohol abuse. “If we don’t solve these issues, we will never improve the health status of Americans,” he said, citing the pressures facing the industry today.
Held at Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill on Sept. 20, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, chair of the state Assembly health committee, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins and Westchester County Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler were in attendance and saluted two health-care champions who were honored: Rita Mabli, president and CEO of United Hebrew of New Rochelle, and Judith Watson, CEO, Westchester Community Health Center.
Dowling, introduced by Joe Simone, president of Simone Development Companies, reflected on the extraordinary successes achieved in the industry while acknowledging the increasing complexities of the health-care business – spanning the expansion of health-care delivery in communities, artificial intelligence applications, workforce training and financial pressures. He outlined the challenges today’s health-care leaders face and urged leaders in the room to take action to meet them. “We have to be very comfortable with ambiguity. We have to be looking long term. There are a lot of issues here, but we do great work and should be very proud of what we do. Every challenge is an opportunity.”
Amy Allen, WCA vice president, provided an update on the WCA’s health-care initiatives, including the work of the WCA’s Healthcare Consortium and the organization’s partners to build a sustainable regional talent pipeline. Addressing the success of the county- and state-funded grant programs, Allen noted that “to date, our programs have trained 180 potential health-care workers with another 50 in training this fall. Health-care employers have already hired 90 highly qualified graduates, with the salaries of placed participants at nearly $3.2 million — an ROI of 10:1. That’s what I would call a good investment.”
A nationally recognized leader in senior care, Mabli has transformed United Hebrew in New Rochelle over the past 40+ years from a nursing home into a campus of comprehensive eldercare where seniors can thrive. “It’s rewarding to be in the company of so many dynamic, powerful, diverse and inspiring people who share similar goals to improve the quality of life for others. But no success happens because of any one person. I am here as a direct result of the support of our incredibly hardworking and compassionate team, a visionary board of directors, and many others with me here tonight. I share this award with them,” said Mabli.
Keynote speaker Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO, Northwell Health.
Under Watson’s leadership, the organization formerly known as Mount Vernon Health Center has rebranded itself as the Westchester Community Health Center (WCHC) and is currently undergoing a $12 million upgrade to its facilities. Now serving 42 thousand patients annually, WCHC is improving access to high-quality health care in primarily underserved areas. Watson acknowledged her team and said, “I may be the face of the health center, but there are 300 folks on the ground doing all of the work. The true measure of a society is how we care for our most vulnerable. That’s what we have done at Westchester Community Health Center for the past 50 years and will for years to come.”
Susan Fox, WCA Board chair and CEO and president, White Plains Hospital, thanked the membership for ongoing support and extended her congratulations to the evening’s honorees. “I am proud and grateful to call these two women colleagues and friends, each a force in ensuring their communities get only the best care. Both Rita and the Westchester Community Health Center under Judith’s leadership have immeasurable impact on the health of Westchester residents. A well-deserved congratulations to you both.”
The Westchester County Association mission is to drive Westchester’s economic vitality, stimulate new business development and job creation and provide its members with the resources and talent they need to grow.