Thank Yous

On the Front Lines: Jose Ramirez      
Jose A. Ramirez (Executive MBA, ’20) is an information technology manager at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. During the COVID-19 pandemic his time was split between completing his MBA, leading his team through the crisis, and managing the new “new normal” at home, with his son’s classes moving to virtual learning.

“Being at the center of this pandemic made me appreciate my career in ways that I did not consider before,” Jose says. “The ability to adapt in this rapidly changing environment has been invaluable.  We’ve been working around the clock in the front lines to convert operating rooms into intensive care units. We’ve created testing sites and special patient care areas, and we supported the opening of the Larkin Field Hospital, which helped us treat more patients. We led the charge in increasing support for the workforce that is now working remotely, as well as providing iPads for patients to communicate with their loved ones throughout this crisis. It has been heartwarming to hear back from our patients and co-workers  during this time, being able to stay connected, and to feel supported has helped us all persevere through this challenging time.” 

On the Front Lines: Ola Ellis     
Ola Ellis (Executive MBA, ’19) is a senior patient service center supervisor for Quest Diagnostics, which is on the forefront of testing for both COVID-19 and the recently released IgG antibody test. She writes:

“My job responsibilities have definitely changed. I spend a lot of my time in sites with my team, managing their fears. They are phlebotomists and as medical professionals you might expect that they would be a little more stoic than the average person. But I’m finding that they are just as scared for themselves and their families as the people they service every day. I spend a good portion of my time reminding my team of the science we know and the processes we have in place to keep them safe, as well as just being an open and empathetic ear. I’ve also had to change my approach when engaging with patients. Talking to patients and trying to calm them, without being able to hold their hand or pat their back, has been a struggle.  The former ‘normal’ human interaction with both my patient and team has definitely changed. 

“As far as increased responsibilities, we have had to manage changing patient volume from stay-at-home orders and with the demand for testing.  I have been involved in ensuring accurate specimen collection and transport, staffing for increased volume with COVID antibody testing, and providing general information to both our clients and patients about both COVID-19 testing and COVID-19 IgG antibody testing. The plus side? I get to wear scrubs to work now! Super comfy and I’ve started a collection of matching masks.”  

On the Front Lines: Benjamin Llamzon    
Benjamin Llamzon is an IT project manager at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx and a student in Zicklin’s Executive MS in Information Systems program. He’s been involved in implementing several COVID-related initiatives, including a mobile application that allows a patient’s loved ones to get updates via video and text messages because visits are not allowed, and a rapid coronavirus test that produces results in only 15 minutes.

“Patients used to wait days for test results because we had to send specimens through the mail to laboratories around the country, and some didn’t even have access to testing before this was implemented,” Ben explains. His team has also been involved in converting all nonessential floors and rooms to intensive care beds in order to handle the huge influx of COVID patients. This required reconfiguring all electronic medical record systems, phone lines, and lab and pharmaceutical systems. 

Here’s a photo of Ben dropping off some food that was donated by his neighbors to his hospital’s emergency department.

On the Front Lines: Kaustubh Bhatt
Kaustubh Bhatt, a pharmacist and a Zicklin graduate (EMBA, ’20), writes:
“Although I have been lucky enough to work from home during the pandemic, I am glad I was able to help the overnight staff at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. As a pharmacist, I had to revisit my roots and was able to help verify patient orders as there was an influx of very sick patients, both adult and pediatric. This involved accurately verifying medication dosing, and constant communication with the medical and nursing staff to ensure proper patient care. I am grateful to have been a small part of this and to have worked with an exceptional team at New York-Presbyterian.”  


A Message from Zicklin Alum JC Alejaldre (far right) 

“Dear @FDNY, thank you for your support and having our backs – we will always have yours! stay safe out there brothers! #HealthcareHeroes” 

7:00 PM Thank You
By Lindsey Plewa
Associate Director of Career Advising 

I live in downtown Manhattan and make sure to keep my windows open so I can participate in #thankyouhour for our healthcare workers. The other night I went to my roof and captured the surrounding cheers on video.

On the Front Lines: JC Alejaldre (contributed by Alison Lund, Deputy Director, Student Services, Executive Programs)
A big thank-you to Zicklin alumnus JC Alejaldre (EMBA HCA ’18; far right), who oversaw the operations of the deployment tents at Columbia University Medical Center. 

On the Front Lines: Isa Bacardi (contributed by Alison Lund, Deputy Director, Student Services, Executive Programs)
A big thank-you to Isa Bacardi (EMBA HCA ’19), an Assistant Nurse Manager at Lenox Hill Hospital. She asks that  everyone please stay home, adding, “Throughout these trying times you never stop hearing, ‘Are you okay? Do you need anything? If you need anything, let me know.’ It’s made a dark situation a little bit brighter.”

On the Front Lines: Felipe Garcia and Kirk Castillo (contributed by Alison Lund, Deputy Director, Student Services, Executive Programs)
A big thank-you to Felipe and Kirk (both EMBA HCA, ’21), who work together at the Mount Sinai Hospital in upper Manhattan, where Felipe is assistant director of facilities management and Kirk is senior manager for dialysis.

“Since the pandemic, I’ve had to help convert regular patient rooms to isolation rooms to house COVID patients,” says Felipe (top). “This involves building negative pressure rooms so that air doesn’t escape when the door opens, which lowers the chance of spreading the virus.” 

Adds Kurt (bottom), “It’s especially crucial now to keep the dialysis life support equipment functioning, and because my staff is so small I often have to fix and operate the equipment myself, while managing my team at the same time.”