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NYC Health + Hospitals and MetroPlusHealth Executives Named to Crain’s 2020 List of “Notable in Health Care”

NYC Health + Hospitals and Metroplus Executives, Elmhurst Emergency Department, and Hotel Isolation Team Named to Crain's 2020 List of 'Notable in Health Care"

Aug 10, 2020

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Nurse Executive and Senior Vice President Natalia Cineas, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Ambulatory Care Chief Andrew Wallach, MD, and NYC Care Executive Director Marielle Kress, MetroPlusHealth Health President and Chief Executive Officer Talya Schwartz, as well as NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst’s Emergency Department team, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care hotel isolation team have been named to Crain’s 2020 “Notable in Health Care” list. This year the publication is recognizing women, men and select teams, as opposed to the previous year’s focus on women. Dr. Cineas is recognized for overseeing the system’s 9,000 nurses, and her efforts to recruit and deploy nearly 5,000 additional nurses throughout the system to help maintain safe patient-to-nurse ratios during the peak of the virus in New York City). Dr. Wallach is recognized for his work in improving quality access to ambulatory care services, and for his leadership in combatting COVID-19, which included nearly tripling testing capacity system-wide and helping to lead the city’s testing and contact tracing efforts. Marielle Kress is recognized for leading efforts to help thousands of uninsured New Yorkers gain quality health care through NYC Care, regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay. Dr. Schwartz is recognized for leading MetroPlusHealth Health for more than 500,000 members and rapidly initiating outreach and support efforts to serve the plan’s membership during the pandemic. Also, on the list is NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst’s Emergency Department team for their heroic response to the COVID-19 peak in Queens, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care COVID-19 Isolation Hotel Program team are recognized for creating clinical hotel space to help low-acuity patients with COVID-19 safely separate during their recovery while receiving on-site care. Crain’s 2020 “Notable in Health Care” list honors healthcare executives, researchers and clinicians who have profoundly impacted New York City through their professional, civic and philanthropic achievements well as health care heroes on the frontline of the pandemic.

“The “Crain’s Notable in Health Care” recognition is a reflection of the amazing health care system I am fortunate enough to be a part of and serve New Yorkers daily,” said Dr. Natalia Cineas, Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Being in the company of Andrew and Marielle highlights the impressive and tireless talent that contribute to the country’s largest health care system.”

“I’m privileged to work with an extraordinary team of colleagues across New York City and it is an honor to be recognized among my close colleagues,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Ambulatory Care Chief Dr. Andrew Wallach. “There’s a remarkable dedication to the health and well-being of our patient population, and together we’ve demonstrated important progress toward developing new models of care to better anticipate and meet our patients’ needs especially as we continue to combat the lasting impacts of a global pandemic in our ambulatory care settings.”

“It is a great honor to be recognized by Crain’s for our work in guaranteeing health care to uninsured New Yorkers, said NYC Care Executive Director Marielle Kress. “Alongside my colleagues at NYC Health + Hospitals, we have made a commitment to pioneering a better, more inclusive approach to combatting health disparities with high-quality preventive care which is even more important now in a global pandemic.”

“It is a great honor to be recognized by Crain’s for my work to continue expanding health coverage to uninsured New Yorkers during the pandemic,” said President and CEO of MetroPlusHealth Health Plan Talya Schwartz, MD. “To be recognized along such exceptionally accomplished health advocates – including my colleagues from NYC Health + Hospitals – only adds to my gratitude of being named to this list.”

At the peak of the pandemic, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst’s ED team worked relentlessly at the facility in the heart of a community devastated by the virus. Elmhurst’s ED team quickly ramped up operations to treat surges of critically ill patients. In response, the remarkable staff signed up for extra shifts, stayed for longer hours, and worked tirelessly to care for the patients who needed them most. Those redeployed from other areas of the hospital into the ED also played a critical role in the hospital’s response to the pandemic. The team is recognized for displaying extraordinary resilience in its response to deliver care despite the difficult and harrowing circumstances during the surge.

“The Emergency Department at Elmhurst Hospital served their community heroically during the peak of Queens’ COVID-19 crisis. By signing up for extra shifts and working long, late hours, the staff showed a selfless commitment to helping their neighbors in need, said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “In doing so, they saved countless lives. We are not done fighting this pandemic, but our community is in a much better place than we were just a few months ago, and we owe a great deal of gratitude to the Elmhurst Hospital ED for helping us weather the brunt of the storm.”

“Congratulations to NYC Health + Hospitals and the entire Elmhurst Hospital team on this well-deserved recognition,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights). “These first responders and essential workers are our heroes. They have worked night and day under extremely challenging conditions to protect our City throughout the pandemic. I salute them for their lifesaving work and am thrilled that they are receiving these accolades from Crain’s. We will never forget the sacrifices they made and continue to make to keep us healthy and safe.”

NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care COVID-19 Isolation Hotel Program team is also recognized for transforming 1,096 hotel rooms throughout the city into safe isolation spaces for New Yorkers with suspected or confirmed exposure to COVID-19 who couldn’t safely isolate or quarantine at home and creating a place for patients discharged from inpatient and emergency settings They also housed people referred from the Department for Homeless Services; NYC Emergency Management; the COVID-19 Hotline run by Health + Hospitals; COVID-19 testing sites; and community-based organizations and health care providers. At the peak of the COVID-19 surge, within two weeks this team stood up two isolation hotels with more than 500 beds combined to provide both clinical and social support to New Yorkers. This hotel program also serves as the flagship isolation hotel program for the city’s Test & Trace Corps.

“We are very grateful for this Crain’s recognition and feel equally privileged to have served in this way throughout the pandemic, said NYC Health + Hospitals/Community Care Executive Director and CEO, Nicole Jordan-Martin. “This incredibly talented team created a refuge for New Yorkers to recover from COVID-19, which speaks to our health system’s ongoing commitment to evolving our services to address current and emerging needs of New Yorkers.”

As Chief Nurse Executive, Dr. Natalia Cineas is the leader of the more than 8,000 nurses at NYC Health + Hospitals since taking her post in March 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Cineas helped redeploy nurses to the hardest hit hospitals, and recruit and deploy nearly 5,000 additional nurses throughout the system to help maintain safe patient-to-nurse ratios during the peak of the virus in New York City. As part of the onboarding process, Dr. Cineas worked with others to streamline orientation and on-the-ground training, safely expediting the existing process for those nurses recruited through DOHMH, DOD, volunteers, and other sources.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Cineas helped redeploy nurses to the hardest hit hospitals, and recruit and deploy nearly 5,000 additional nurses to the system to help maintain safe patient-to-nurse ratios during the peak of the virus in New York City. Additional nurses were sourced through a number of staffing streams, including NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Defense, and volunteers. As part of the onboarding process, Dr. Cineas worked with others to streamline orientation and on-the-ground training, safely expediting the existing process.

Dr. Cineas is a board-certified Nurse Leader with more than 15 years in health care administration. She was appointed as NYC Health + Hospitals’ Chief Nursing Officer in 2019. Since her appointment, Dr. Cineas has recruited and retained thousands of nurses to the system and has successfully reached a new contract with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) that included wage increases and new nurse-to-patient ratios.

As Ambulatory Care Chief Medical Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, Dr. Andrew Wallach leads the Ambulatory Care Service Line and works directly with the Clinic Chiefs across the healthcare system to improve access, quality and patient satisfaction throughout Ambulatory Care. He assumed the role in early 2020 prior to the pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Wallach spearheaded efforts to erect mobile testing tents across the City during the initial peak of the pandemic, helped to increase daily testing capacity to 50,000, and also helped to re-design in-person clinic care spaces to ensure New Yorkers could receive care safely. Under his leadership, the health system reduced primary care wait times for appointments from more than 60 to less than 14 days. As a result, he was appointed to leadership overseeing clinical activity within the NYC Test & Trace Corps to build on efforts to increase laboratory partnerships to decrease testing turnaround results and to establish community and private partnerships to significantly minimize the burden on the healthcare system.

Dr. Wallach has been with NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue for more than 25 years. He has served in key leadership roles including Clinical Director of Ambulatory Care, Co-Chair of the Ambulatory Care Leadership Council, member of the HHC Access Initiative Steering Committee, and member of the HHC Soarian Governance Committee. In 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2020, Dr. Wallach led the team which successfully achieved NCQA Level 3 Recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home for Bellevue’s Primary Care Services. He also provides patients with high quality care at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

As Executive Director of NYC Care, Marielle Kress was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to lead the $100 million health care access program guaranteeing high-quality care to uninsured New Yorkers in 2019. More than 25,000 New Yorkers are now enrolled in the program, which launched in August 2019 in the Bronx. Earlier this year the program rolled out in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and will be completely citywide in September. NYC Care is a membership that focuses on enrolling members, regardless of their immigration status and ability to pay. The low-cost program allows those who don’t qualify for insurance to receive health care services at NYC Health + Hospitals.

As President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Talya Schwartz was appointed to MetroPlusHealth Health Plan in May 2019. Prior to her appointment, Dr. Schwartz served as the Chief Medical Officer at MetroPlusHealth, leading the Medical Management division. Under her leadership MetroPlusHealth ranked among the top plans in the State for quality. She has led technology solutions that enhance access to health care and pertinent health information for its more than 560,000 members. She transformed the care management program into a holistic, field-based program that now also addresses social determinants of health with special focus on housing for its homeless population. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Schwartz worked quickly to initiate outreach and support efforts to serve the plan’s membership. Dr. Schwartz joined MetroPlusHealth from the private sector. She has been a founding member of a behavioral health technology startup company and prior to that served in various leadership roles in regional and national health plans.