The views and opinions expressed are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.
New York, New York
I woke up and the sun was glistening off the glass and steel skyscrapers that had become my GPS. Between them, just across the water, there she was, tall and beautiful — Lady Liberty greeting me each morning. A faithful companion reminding me of my roots and our great country. My belongings had shipped the day before, so there would be no run on the Highline today.
I showered, dressed, and began my familiar walk up Church, giving respects to Hamilton, left down Broadway, turning up Wall Street, dancing with tourists marveling at sacred Federal Hall and the Exchange. A final right on Broad where the cobblestone street forced a jump in my step, leading up to 55 Water, where I took my seat alongside my team in our shared space.
A beautiful high-rise vista, we shared views of the East River with its gorgeous bridges connecting us to Brooklyn through the harbor at its edges. We arguably had the best vantage point to observe security logistics whenever dignitaries made their way into Manhattan via heliport. We waved to presidents and popes.
Today was different. This would be my last walk through hallowed grounds of our founding fathers and fellowshipping with my team.
Shy of three years, I was the leader of our team that carried our broken division. If you observed us and knew our outcomes, you think we had been together for decades. Our bonds grew quick and deep. The urgency of our mission, our passion, and the significant time spent huddling after hours hastened our bonds.
Our team included spouses and children who knew one another well. None of us native to this country, we were the perfect mix serving the NYC melting pot. Easily the most painful part in my decision to leave NYC was departing our team. Against all odds, our team did what others failed to do, what many said was an impossible task.
I rarely reference the organizations I serve, but NYC Health & Hospitals was special. I knew I was called here for a season of life and how it all came to pass implied providence. Public health is vital to the greater good and I was honored to make a contribution, however small in the bigger picture.
Reporting to the CEO, the experience opened my eyes to the critical role of public health in our society. The specific NYC mission fills many gaps in caring for everyone regardless of status or ability to pay. We had routine meetings with City Hall to ensure alignment and accountability with municipal leaders. Each time at City Hall I would sneak off and spend time in the rooms set aside to pay homage to our founding fathers. It was sacred ground that reaffirmed my calling to healthcare service.
I grew as a leader during my tenure. Many blogs and ideas were inspired by the experience. The exposure to political nuances was both awe-inspiring and an insightful awakening. I gained appreciation for the inner workings of government and the challenges of balancing the needs and welfare of arguably the greatest city on earth. Frustrating at times, I loved her.
Serving in public health also fulfilled one of the remaining aspects of my career strategic plan that I developed with my 2004 mentor, Mr. Zenty, the CEO of University Hospitals. I intentionally served in academic medical centers, community-based hospitals, integrated delivery systems, faith-based systems, and in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. I served in a mix of ambulatory and acute care environments. Armed with this experience, I knew without a doubt that my greatest affinity centered on academic medicine. When the opportunity came about to serve as a senior leader of perhaps the greatest health delivery system on Earth, I did not hesitate. Except for my team.
In fact, it has taken me 70 days to express myself via this blog. I am thankful to have visited with my NYC squad several times since leaving as our friendships remain strong. We learned so much on our journey, but perhaps purposefully, enjoying the moment was the most profound. We all tend to rush here and there and mindfulness gets lost in the stress and adrenalin of crisis and deadlines.
We took deliberate time in each meeting to reflect. We took time weekly to be social. We planned time monthly to bring together families and play. Almost quarterly we gathered somewhere around the country to celebrate life. We cried. We laughed. We jumped into frigid oceans. We ate foods that made us cringe. We lifted each other. We saw sports. We saw Broadway. We made mistakes. We shopped. We served. We saw comedy. We saw stars. We danced. We cooked. We walked. We ran. We held hands. We prayed. We screamed. We talked deeply. We consoled. We counseled. We encouraged. We learned. We challenged. We conquered. We played tricks. We accomplished. We smiled. We won.
If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.