GNYHA’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting Highlights Pandemic Challenges, Triumphs

May 10, 2021

At GNYHA’s May 6 virtual Annual Meeting, which honored GNYHA members’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Kenneth E. Raske noted that the pandemic, when weighed against other recent crises, is unique. “It tops all in terms of touching the lives of so many people. None of the previous disasters touched everyone. The pandemic did—no one escaped, and we all continue to be affected by it.” He added that this year’s Annual Meeting “is intended to look forward to what we need to do for the future.”

Outgoing GNYHA Board Chair Alan Guerci, MD, the recently retired President and Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Health, thanked the Board and GNYHA for their support during his tenure, saying, “It’s been an honor to serve in this capacity for the last two years.”

Incoming GNYHA Board Chair LaRay Brown, One Brooklyn Health President and chief Executive Officer, noted health care is going through “unprecedented times,” and that she stands ready to work with GNYHA and colleagues to “take a serious look at how we can affect greater health equity in New York.”

During the Annual Business Meeting portion of the Annual Meeting, the new slate of candidates and officers for the 2021-22 GNYHA Board of Governors was duly elected and installed.

In an interview with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mr. Raske introduced the Senator by saying, “the health care system in New York would’ve been shredded to ribbons” without him. The CARES Act alone “saved many of our institutions.” He noted the Majority Leader’s key role in obtaining “state and local” funding, which prevented massive Medicaid cuts. Senator Schumer, Mr. Raske said, “was our champion, who rode in to save us.”

Senator Schumer noted additional recent successes—the American Rescue Plan, the Provider Relief Fund, more graduate medical education slots, making vaccine and testing “readily available”—and highlighted potential benefits of the upcoming infrastructure bill. “Infrastructure means better access to capital, loans for new things, and investing in health IT,” among other things. He detailed other efforts President Joe Biden and the Democratic majority in Congress are focused on. The list includes making prescription drugs more affordable, fueling investment in home- and community-based services, and expanding mental health and addiction services.  “Big, bold change is what is needed in America,” he said.

GNYHA Vice Presidents Jenna Mandel-Ricci and Zeynep Sumer King introduced a tribute video that highlighted member experiences and lessons learned during the pandemic. The video was made to capture “the heroic efforts of our staff,” which should not be “lost to posterity,” said Mr. Raske.

In the video tribute, various GNYHA members discussed what they learned and experienced during the pandemic. Gina Del Savio, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, said the importance of adaptability was a key lesson learned. Alfredo Astua, MD, Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, highlighted how text messaging and podcasts, among other communication tools, allowed for collaboration on which medications to use on patients during the pandemic. GNYHA Board Member and Past Chair Gary S. Horan, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, said that even with all the illness and death brought by COVID-19, “it also brought out the best in us.”

In concluding remarks, Mr. Raske noted GNYHA’s ongoing mission: “We are committed to providing the best of patient care to everyone who needs care regardless of their ability to pay.”