Please permit me to introduce myself: my name is John Williams, MD, and I am the new president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center. My job encompasses Downstate’s colleges and hospitals, among them, of course, Downstate Long Island College Hospital in this neighborhood. I am an anesthesiologist and a senior hospital administrator, most recently at George Washington University. I am a Brooklyn-boy - born and bred - so coming to Downstate completes a circle for me.
I am greatly encouraged by this community’s commitment to Downstate LICH. You know that healthcare nationwide is confronting serious challenges, but I am optimistic about our future and assure you that your faith in us as your neighborhood hospital will be respected. The new team, which I personally direct, is entirely dedicated to this goal.
Many of us were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. As a front-line community resource, we remained open and operational. We received many patients from hospitals, care centers and nursing homes in evacuated areas. The hospital “Command Center,” which centrally managed and allocated all our resources, made sure we never ran out of food, medicine or staff to care for the patients.
Let me tell you about some of these incredible people. One of our nurses, having been turned down numerous times by cabbies that refused to drive to Brooklyn from Manhattan, flagged down a police officer and secured his assistance just so she could get to work. And this was after she had come in from the Poconos. Another bicycled 15 miles from Queens because public transportation was unavailable. Many clinicians worked 12 and 16 hour shifts, rested a bit, then began work anew. A housekeeper made beds and blew up air mattresses several evenings in a row to accommodate staff members – over 120 - who slept over. Some of our staff suffered significant personal loss of home and property, but remained at the patients’ bedside, anyway. I am very proud and humbled at their dedication.
In hospitals, everyone is considered an essential worker. Either you take care of patients, or you take care of the people who take care of patients. The Downstate LICH staff pledges to continue to be an essential part of our community.
I know this is a neighborhood with many opinions – please let me hear yours. You can reach me directly at DrJWilliams@downstate.edu.