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NYC Health + Hospitals’ Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Ambulatory Care Operations Sarah Joseph Kurien Named to Modern Healthcare’s “40 Under 40” List

Sarah Joseph Kurien is recognized for her work leading New York City’s response to the asylum seeker crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, and for improving access to primary care and outpatient services for thousands of New Yorkers

Feb 13, 2024

Sarah Joseph Kurien, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Ambulatory Care Operations and its Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRC) program, has been named to Modern Healthcare’s 2024 “40 Under 40” list in recognition of her work leading New York City’s response to the asylum seeker crisis and COVID-19 pandemic. As the former Testing & Vaccination Lead for the NYC Test & Trace Corps (T2), Sarah helped lead the City’s effort to provide accessible, no-cost COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and resources for those infected or exposed, enabling them to quarantine or isolate. As a leader of NYC Health + Hospitals’ HERRC operations, Sarah helped create a network of 15 humanitarian centers that currently house 25,000 asylum seekers and launched the city’s Arrival Center, a central intake to register and provide medical and social services to new arrivals that has welcomed over 115,000 people to date.

“I’m so grateful to be recognized on Modern Healthcare’s ‘40 Under 40’ list. This honor would not be possible without the many, many people on our team who’ve had New Yorkers’ backs in their greatest times of need,” said Sarah Joseph Kurien, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Ambulatory Care Operations and HERRC program.“I believe that our health is connected to those around us, and I am proud to be part of a public health system at the forefront of delivering and redesigning care for those who have been historically marginalized. Thank you to my colleagues and the millions of New Yorkers and asylum seekers from around the world whose daily displays of hope, courage, and compassion inspire me that we can move mountains together.”

“Sarah is amazing. Through the COVID-19 pandemic and then the asylum seeker crisis, her work has touched the lives of millions of New Yorkers,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Care & Population Health Ted Long, MD, MHS. “She is an exemplar of civil service, and will not let anything get in her way of changing the lives of those in need. From the moment Sarah arrived at NYC Health + Hospitals, she has been central to our efforts to make the public health system more responsive to our patients and broaden the doorways for all New Yorkers to access care.  I am honored to call her my colleague, and we are so lucky to have her at the helm to keep our city moving safely forward.”

“Sarah leads by example, bringing her sharp sense of operational instincts and the just-so amount of righteous indignation it takes to drive forward against impossible odds in order to make things better for the people we’re here to serve,” said NYC Health + Hospitals’ Ambulatory Care Chief Operating Officer Chris Keeley. “Her unwavering courage in the face of uncertainty, dedication to her team, and ability to problem solve, organize, and execute no matter how great the challenge is the heart of our emergency response. New York City is safer, stronger, and more equitable because of Sarah. She is a hero and I feel so fortunate to work alongside her and call her a friend.” 

In response to New York City’s historic influx of asylum seekers, Sarah helped establish the city’s Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers and Arrival Center. She currently manages operations at NYC Health + Hospitals’ 15 humanitarian centers, ensuring that the approximately 25,000 people the facilities currently house — three quarters of whom are families with children — receive humane, dignified care and the services they need to take the next steps in their path towards a better life. The facilities provide asylum seekers and their children on-site access to medical and mental health care, nutrition, language services, school enrollment, social programs, reunification and case management resources. As of January 2024, staff at the humanitarian centers and Arrival Center have welcomed over 115,000 asylum seekers, helped over 16,000 asylum seekers apply for health insurance, and administered over 56,000 vaccines.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Sarah was appointed Testing & Vaccination Lead for the NYC Test & Trace Corps, the largest municipal testing, contact tracing and treatment program in the country. Sarah oversaw the Corps’ testing, treatment, and at home vaccination programs and helped implement several innovative COVID-19 mobile testing and vaccination models. At the height of the pandemic, Sarah managed a fleet of nearly 200 mobile testing units and oversaw operations at the city’s three mass-vaccination sites. Her efforts helped administer nearly 15 million tests for COVID-19 in the communities where they were needed most, keeping New Yorkers safe and saving lives. Over the course of the NYC Test & Trace Corps’ operations, which sunset in May of 2023, staff distributed over 100 million free at-home COVID tests, administered over 2 million COVID-19 vaccines, reached 1.7 million COVID-positive cases, identified 1.8 million close contacts of positive cases, provided over 600,000 care packages to those in isolation or quarantine, helped 33,000 New Yorkers safely stay in isolation hotels, and launched the nation’s first mobile Test to Treat program, providing onsite access to Paxlovid minutes after a positive test.

Sarah helped lead NYC Health + Hospitals’ successful reduction of wait times for new primary care patient appointments by 50% and, for the first time in a decade, its expansion of the number of primary care patients in the public healthcare system. These improvements in access to care and growth in primary care contributed to the elimination of a $1.8 billion structural deficit and, most recently, outpatient revenue increasing by $165 million from 2021 to 2022. Sarah has spearheaded efforts to provide permanent access to high quality healthcare for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers, redesigning access to care, ensuring those who called for an appointment were given one at a time that worked for them, reducing no-show rates, and maintaining manageable patient panel sizes for clinicians.

Sarah oversees NYC Health + Hospital’s Street Health Outreach + Wellness (SHOW) Program, which brings clinical care and resource connections to individuals who are unhoused and unsheltered, and has delivered more than 300,000 street-based engagements since its launch in April of 2021. Sarah is a 2022-23 America’s Essential Hospitals Fellow and the 2022 recipient of the Frederick O’ Reilly Hayes Prize awarded for excellence in city service. She received her MPA from Cornell University and her BA from Colby College.

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About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.