Hospital CEO Gives His All for His Patients, Staff

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ByVanesa Vennard Dr. Steven Corwin went into medicine to help people, focusing on cardiology because his mother's father and his father's father both suffered from heart disease.

"You have somebody in your family that has a disease, you want to help them," he said. "Even though I couldn't help my two grandparents, there are other people who have this type of problem who I can help. And I think that the knowledge you get gives you a sense of not being powerless."

Corwin went to medical school at Northwestern and trained in cardiology and internal medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

Over time, he took the administrative route, something he said he didn't expect. He also didn't expect to be appointed as Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian in 2011.

"But life has its twists and turns and so you never can quite know what's going to happen," he said. "It's a busy but a very exciting job."

Another unexpected turn was Hurricane Sandy's effect in New York City. Corwin said NewYork-Presbyterian took in patients from neighboring institutions that had closed. Corwin said over 1,000 patients were staying the night, and that included NewYork-Presbyterian employees as well.

"We're very proud of the way our hospital responded. Our employees wouldn't leave because they were afraid that if they left they wouldn't be able to get back to work," he said. "It was very heartwarming to see the response from our employees and we felt that was part of what we had to do for our city, was be here."

Corwin said he was hoping the flu season would be mild after the overwhelming surge of displaced patients that came in because of Sandy.

According to Corwin, NewYork-Presbyterian started seeing a lot of flu patients around Christmas time and that extended through the month of January to February.

"The flu epidemic this year was pretty pronounced," he said. "We're crossing our fingers now, we've seen it dissipate a little bit but it's still pretty prevalent."

As the CEO, Corwin said he misses the personal one-on-one time he had with patients when he was a doctor. However, he still gets the satisfaction of helping patients, on a larger scale.

Some of that includes community work in Washington Heights and Inwood where they have school-based clinics, community clinics, outreach to homes and free medical screenings. Corwin said buildings are going through renovations and they are looking at putting up new buildings.

Corwin also spends time sharing information across hospitals and handles policy questions on how to get better health care for New Yorkers. He also focuses on making sure NewYork-Presbyterian has a great staff and administration that delivers excellent care.

"There's nothing that can replace the joy that you get when you're taking care of individual patients and you're making somebody better," he said. "That being said the joy in doing this job is we can help the city."

Corwin said he thinks the nation is going through a lot of controversy when it comes to expanding health care. Regardless, Corwin's message to his 20,000 employees and the New Yorkers he sees is plain and simple.

"We're going to be here, NewYork-Presbyterian is going to be here and we're going to be the very best hospital and that's something we're not going to deviate from regardless of what the financial challenges may be at the state and the Washington level," he said. "That's what we're here to do, give the best care to New Yorkers."

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