CNY Cares Team Spotlight
Since the beginning, the CNY Cares team has been dedicated to supporting our partners. This page will feature the great work our team members have accomplished during their time at CNY Cares.
|Catherine Alton||Elizabeth Hooper||Michele Jacobson||Karen Joncas||Siti Mack|
|Dr. Joseph Maldonado||Kelsie Montaque||Brian Moran||Ebony Pengel||Barbara Rhodes|
|Lee Shaw||Tammy Van Epps||Kate Weidman|
Elizabeth Hooper joined the CNY Cares team in July 2015 as the Executive Admin and quickly put to work her education and previous experience to use executing tasks ranging from project management, accounting, vendor negotiations and organizational management. With her leadership and “get it done” attitude, she was promoted to Operations Coordinator and then to her latest title, Director of Resource Management. In the summer of 2019, Liz took on the additional role of Interim Corporate Compliance Officer.
Liz played an integral role in setting up operations, securing and preparing the CNYCC office space, and making it home to the company for the last five years. Liz has worn many hats in the company from the early days from travel coordinator to event planner to interim IT. Liz played the pivotal part in hiring the talented staff, ensuring the overall means for daily operations were met. She organized and led three successful Independent Assessors audits reviewing over $100M in payments.
Liz’s responsibilities included daily company operations, on-site Human Resources, payroll, vendor contracting, negotiations and accounting as well as leading special projects. Liz oversees the administrative, audit and communications staff.
In Liz’s own words, “It has been a humbling experience to see the disparity in healthcare. I am so very proud of the progress CNYCC and partners have made over the last 5 years to close the gap. Even though I am not face to face with the community daily to see the changes up close, the progress that our programs have assisted in making in the community gives me hope for the future and all providers working together to provide better healthcare. My time here at CNYCC has been an absolute blessing.”
Michele Jacobson joined the CNY Cares team as Project Manager- Data & Performance in August 2015. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Innovation & Entrepreneurship with a minor in Project Management from Clarkson University and earned her Master of Science in Education Degree in Information & Communication Technology with a concentration in Organizational Performance, Leadership & Technology from The State University of New York at Potsdam. As a Performance and Outcome Measure subject matter expert with a background in Project Management and expertise in process creation, Michele quickly became an asset to the organization. She had previous experience in data analysis for performance measures and led cross-functional team communication to help bridge the gap between executives and senior teams and data analytics staff. Her proficiency in vendor management set her up for success working closely with the CNY Cares Partner organizations.
During her tenure at CNY Cares, Michele used her keen data analysis skills to deliver impactful projects that streamline processes for partner organizations and provided data to identify and help the community’s most vulnerable populations. She regularly created dashboards and reports for partners to indicate organizational performance on HEDIS® Quality Measures and identify at-risk populations.
Michele oversaw the integration of clinical quality measures in the population health management platform that allowed organizations to track performance in real time. She worked with partners to provide analytical support and act as the internal Subject Matter Expert.
Michele also supported the implementation of a population health management platform by working with various electronic medical record systems including McKesson, Medent, Meditech and others to better understand how data is entered and utilized in order to provide critical integrations into the platforms.
The project that had the most significant impact on Michele was the Actively Engaged Patients (AEP) project. For this project, Michele created the process where rosters were submitted to CNY Cares and then validated using software built by the CNY Cares team. Michele managed the project from concept to completion and could see the direct impact that the AEP project had on patient care. This project helped to transform healthcare delivery within the community.
“We are so grateful for the role Michele Jacobson has played in assisting us to grow our population health strategies here at MVHS. Michele's tireless dedication has assisted our population health department to enhance our reporting capabilities and implement best practices to improve the health and well-being of individuals we serve. Thank you Michele for your commitment to partners and our community.”
Lisa Volo, Director of Population Health Management, Mohawk Valley Health System
Karen Joncas joined the CNY Cares team in January of 2016 as Project Manager, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise from the healthcare industry to the organization. Karen received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from SUNY Oswego and earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Syracuse University. She is a NCQA PCMH Certified Content Expert from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. She trained in Rapid Cycle Continuous Improvement methodology through the Medicaid Accelerated eXchange (MAX and MAXny) program. In addition to Patient-Centered Medical Home and Cardiovascular Disease Management, her knowledge and experience within the healthcare sector spans: Value-based payment models and standardized performance quality measures (HEDIS and AHRQ), Electronic Medical records, Behavioral Health Integration, Palliative care, and Transitional and Chronic Care Management including social determinants of Health.
During her time at CNY Cares, Karen worked on three major projects that resulted in improvements in whole person, team-based patient-centered care. Her most meaningful work came from working directly with Partners’ teams who worked to improve patient experiences and health, hearing their patient stories and their passion and satisfaction in affecting the change.
Karen led the Cardiovascular Disease Management Project, which with 20 elements, was the project with the most requirements chosen by CNY Cares. Her dedication to engaging with the Primary Care Partners led to the successful completion of 100% of the requirements. The project requirements included:
Karen managed the Medicaid Accelerated eXchange (MAX) Rapid Cycle Improvement initiative, where she facilitated the redesign of two hospital delivery systems for Hospital High utilizers. Her dedication to this project led to measurable decreases in hospital utilization and readmission rates and improved care for patients
Her involvement in the Performance Improvement project included the development of and quality assurance process for partner performance dashboards. She facilitated Learning Collaboratives and provided one-on-one counsel on best practices for performance improvement.
With previous employment in PCMH Consulting, Karen provided direct consulting to primary care practices seeking Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition, and delivered services including training on the model, practice facilitation including workflow, policy and procedure, and report development. Each practice that she worked with had 100% success in achieving the highest level of recognition. This experience led to her success leading the Patient-Centered Medical Home project at CNY Cares. She developed implementation plans for achieving recognition, provided training in the model, facilitated an EMR user group to understand how optimizing use of the EMR would help achieve recognition goals and worked directly with practices in process improvement.
Karen’s commitment to PCMH aided 84% of partner eligible sites in achieving NYS PCMH by June 2020. Her expertise in the subject allowed her to create lasting impacts on many of the organizations that she worked with, going above and beyond to ensure their practices reached this milestone.
“I wanted express my appreciation and gratitude to you for all of the work and support Karen provided to us over the course of the DSRIP project. We truly would not have been able to submit our initial PCMH application without her guidance and certified expertise. Karen came to our office and spent one very long day, in to the evening hours to ensure that we had everything we needed to be successful. Karen’s passion for the CVD project was evident as we worked through the patient management and 5 A’s and created a foundation to support patients for years to come! We knew, no matter what, we could always count on Karen for prompt answers, support and of course to offer us up to be a keynote when the opportunity presented!”
Tricia Peter Clark, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Office at ConnextCare
“Karen helped to reshape the healthcare landscape in the Utica area. With her dedication and assistance, Upstate Family Health Center was able to achieve Patient Center Medical Home status and moved forward with other various CNY Cares’ community based initiatives. Upstate Family Health Center was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Karen and the patients in the Utica area will benefit from it for years to come.”
John Milligan, CEO Upstate Family Health Center, Inc
“We have had the pleasure of working with many of the people at the collaborative, but none more closely than Karen Joncas. We recognized Karen as the ultimate professional right from the start. Tony Gray and I both realized early on, as non-healthcare trained individuals, that Karen could be a very valuable resource to us. As it turns out, we underestimated just how much of an asset to us she would become to Christian Health.
Karen has been our "consultant" to all things DSRIP for years now. She has always given us sound advice and has gotten to know us well enough to be able to gauge what we could do and what we couldn't. Karen was a driving force in our year-long effort to achieve PCMH recognition, which we did in September of 2019. As a result, we are now a better run organization that puts serving our patients more effectively, firmly at the top of the list. The PCMH certificate that we proudly display in our waiting room has Karen's fingerprints all over it. We consider her a member of our team.”
Garry Maderi, Executive Director, Christian Health Service of Syracuse
“There are no words to express how grateful we are to be able to count on Karen during all this time. Her support through the entire process of PCMH recognition and her collaboration in the management of cardiovascular diseases helped us escalate to a higher level and made us a stronger entity. Her knowledge and skills have been of great help to our practice.”
Niurka Morales Castellanos, Director of Clinical Operations, Compassionate Family Medicine
Siti Mack joined CNY Cares as the Manager of Workforce & Cultural Competency/Health Literacy in August of 2017. Siti’s background as a certified project management professional (PMP), her degree in Master of Health Administration (MHA) along with her experience working in healthcare systems as a liaison between DOH and OMH made her a great asset in her role at CNY Cares. During her tenure at CNY Cares, Siti developed and implemented workforce strategy plans and managed workforce training programs including peer support training, VBP trainings. She oversaw training program development, coordination and deployment including HWapps LMS. She also developed and managed proposal processes from training providers, including content evaluation, schedule management, contract review and negotiation.
With her expertise in project management and strategic planning, Siti helped to maintain detailed records and documentation as mandated for quarterly state reporting and annual audits. These included workforce reporting (staff impact and workforce spending), and compensation & benefits survey. Siti’s efforts lead to CNY Cares having the highest participation rate for DY5, with 122 organizations reporting representing over 55,000 full and part time employees among the 6 PPS administered by IHA.
During her time, Siti was able to work with many partner organizations, who had positive things to say about her dedication to her role. Rich Hughes from Circare shared, "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Siti. She is always cheerful, positive, and willing to go the extra mile whenever I've had a question or needed her assistance."
Siti worked on the Health Literacy Master Trainer Program, a “champion model” and skill-based training with the goal of creating a pool of local trainers capable of making sustainable changes at their respective organizations. This project resulted in 23 Master Trainers who were then asked to complete 12 hours of health literacy training within their organizations. To date, over 800 individuals including both clinical and professional staff were trained.
Another project that she lead was the Physician Recruitment Program, a recruitment subsidy program that assisted with the recruitment of primary care providers. She collaborated with The Medicus Firm, an organization that specializes in national recruitment of physicians and advance practice positions. To date, The Medicus Firm has placed 13 providers under the subsidy program.
“I am pleased to write about my experience working with Siti Mack, said Will Liberman from the Medicus Firm. “Siti is always professional with consistent communication to answer all my questions at any given time. She has proven to be exceptional at quick responses, providing all necessary information and documentation, and going an extra mile to find a solution. It is an absolute pleasure working with Siti.”
The project that left the most impact on Siti the Care Coordination Certificate Program, an enhanced training program funded by CNY Cares and developed by Falk College’s School of Social Work in partnership with CNY RPC, and other state and local stakeholders. The program had a total of 29 frontline workers and 10 supervisors across 6 partner organizations participate. While the final report and evaluation of the program is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2020, the results and work will continue to have a positive influence on the community.
Dr. Joseph Maldonado joined the CNY Cares team in November 2017 as the Chief Medical Officer. He is a graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and holds three graduate degrees from University of Oxford, an MBA, diploma in evidence based healthcare and MSc in major program management. Dr. Maldonado completed his Urology Residency at the Einstein, Montefiore and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Fellowship in Urological Oncology at Dalhousie University in Saint Johns, New Brunswick, Canada. Dr. Maldonado’s extensive healthcare and leadership experience include his roles as the Past President of the Medical Society of the State of New York as well as New York State Urological Society, delegate to the American Medical Association, he has served on three NYSDOH MRT Workgroups and has over 20 years in clinical practice in the Mohawk Valley and North Country. Dr. Maldonado is the current Director/Trustee of the Medical Society of the State of New York, the Empire Medical, Scientific and Educational Foundation and Healtheconnections.
During his tenure at CNY Cares, Dr. Maldonado oversaw the development, revision, implementation and monitoring of clinical standards of care for 11 CNYCC DSRIP Projects. He worked diligently on the strategy, implementation and monitoring to ensure Partners met both DSRIP and CNYCC clinical goals.
Thanks to Dr. Maldonado’s ability to bring together parties with divergent perspectives, he advanced CNY Cares’ efforts in primary care recruitment, correcting health disparities and addressing cultural disparities. He developed the Primary Care Plan Revision and Strategy from Mid-point through end of the program. Garnering support from many sectors of the healthcare industry, Dr. Maldonado actively engaged with both hospital and community physicians and clinicians to spearhead the CNY Cares Clinical Governance.
The most impactful projects that Dr. Maldonado worked on included the effort to address health disparities in Central New York and his development of COVID-19 risk mitigation strategy for patients at high risk for complications related to COVID-19. Both projects gave Dr. Maldonado the clinical satisfaction of being able to help those who are often most overlooked and who often have no voice of their own to get themselves the help they need to improve their health.
“Dr. Maldonado is truly dedicated to addressing the healthcare needs of our community. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Maldonado leapt into action, collaborating with the CNY Cares team and Public Health Experts to develop invaluable resources to support the growing needs of our Partners. His medical expertise and strategic leadership during the time of crisis fostered impactful mitigation strategies throughout the local healthcare system.” Cathy Homkey, Interim Executive Director, CNY Cares
Kelsie Montaque joined the CNY Cares team in 2015 as Project Manager, bringing over 15 years of experience in Program Management and Planning administration to the organization. She graduated from SUNY College at Brockport in 2004 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Social Work and went on to complete her Masters in Social Work from Syracuse in 2005. Her dedication to community organizations and improving service provisions for the community’s most vulnerable populations, along with her expertise in organizational development and strategic planning set her up for success with the numerous projects she spearheaded during her tenure at CNY Cares.
Kelsie began her work at CNY Cares focusing on the Reducing Premature Births and Patient Activation projects. She oversaw the development and implementation of 4 new CenteringPregnancy® Model for Prenatal Care sites in Central New York. She oversaw the development and implementation of Clinical Standards Protocols for Depression/Anxiety, Stress Management, Tobacco Use, Substance Abuse and Alcohol Use, and Oral Health with the birthing hospitals and outpatient obstetrical practices to reduce preterm birth rates. Kelsie also supervised the funding for expansion and/or preservation of Community Health Worker/Home Visiting Programs. She also developed and managed of the Patient Activation project, which was designed to identify an individual's level of activation (i.e. the degree to which they can manage their own health) and improve their activation levels through coaching and care coordination. She led the efforts to implement the project across 26 organizations and trained over 400 PAM Coaches in Patient Activation Measure® (PAM) and Coaching for Activation ® (CFA). These projects have been the most meaningful to Kelsie, as they have created an infrastructure that will have an impact for years to come.
As the subject matter lead in the development of strategic engagement initiatives for community-based organizations, Kelsie worked collaboratively with CBOs and their Hub Leads to serve as a direct resource for VBP Planning and all DSRIP activities and initiatives. She developed a platform to facilitate network building, information sharing, and cross-system collaborations. Kelsie lead the development of the widely successful Learning Collaborative structure, where she established a forum to share best practices and form cross systems collaborations to improve performance outcomes. Her passion for addressing major social determinants of health and improving outcomes for our most vulnerable population will have lasting results in the community. Her work has helped to provide essential resources for community-based organizations (CBOs), providing an even larger community impact.
“Kelsie has been one of the big reasons we were able to pull off our big success! I genuinely appreciate her hard work, dedication, and passion. Wherever Kelsie lands, they will be lucky to have her!” Beth Spier, Cathy Berry MD and Associates
Kelsie’s devotion to the community shows through her hard work. In every issue that she has tackled at CNY Cares, there is always the underlying factors that point to social determinants of health. These social determinants of health are mainly being addressed through the intervention of our community- based organizations that she worked closely with. She has done outstanding work highlighting the value of CBO’s and their impact on healthcare.
Brian Moran joined the CNY Cares team in 2018 as Support Lead, bringing over a decade of professional educational training, and 6 years of IT support experience to the team. During his tenure at CNY Cares, Brian worked in the IT department and contributed his expertise to numerous projects and was the System Admin and Access Control for population health management tools
Brian developed and maintained CNY Cares’ Population Health Management Help Desk and facilitated helpdesk workflows utilizing integrations with key business software including Zendesk and Salesforce. Along with helping the organization save time and effort through building automated processes, Brian also developed a streamlined ticketing process to more effectively resolve issues submitted through the help desk system. Brian played a key role in the IT department providing Tier I and Tier II IT support for CNY Cares team members and triaged data requests and helped to answer questions and resolve IT issues for partner organizations.
“Brian is always quick to respond and resolve technical issues internally and externally for partners having difficulty with various platforms,” said Siti Mack, Workforce & Cultural Competency/Health Literacy Manager at CNY Cares.
Brian performed clinical data validation on custom and HEDIS measures to support DSRIP program. The most meaningful project that Brian worked on was for the funds flow process because it gave him the opportunity to see the evidence of the impact that CNY Care’s partner organizations have on the community.
Ebony Pengel joined the CNY Cares team in 2018 as Training Manager, contributing her wealth of knowledge and experience in adult learning, education and development, and over a decade of Medicare experience to the team. Ebony’s impressive credentials include: Certified Practice Facilitator from University of Buffalo, Certified Professional Consultant and Certified Master Trainer from Langevin Learning Services, Comp Tia CTT+ - CompTIA, Synchronous Learning Expert from Insync, and Licensed Zumba Instructor.
Her initial priority after joining the CNY Cares team was to launch the training initiatives for the IBM Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) system for our partners. Ebony immediately demonstrated her quick learning skills by independently absorbing nuances of the system, creating training materials, developing a training curriculum, and ultimately becoming the in-house subject matter expert. Ultimately, she coordinated and facilitated training sessions to approximately 100 super users from over 20 partner organizations.
Following trainings, Ebony continued to work closely with IBM and several members of the project management team to stay updated on the project and to assist with any partner needs, contextual trainings, and system updates.
In addition to facilitating trainings, Ebony was instrumental in several of our learning collaboratives and town halls by utilizing her skill set and expertise to co-facilitate, create activities, and lead interactive group discussion sessions.
When CNY Cares partnered with Helio Health to offer Motivational Interview training, she played a significant role in facilitating partner education sessions, creating partner communications, and coordinating the sessions. Ebony continued to play a role with Motivational Interviewing by utilizing her practice facilitation skills to engage partners with rolling out continued Motivational Interviewing education/development within their organizations.
Our CNY Cares team relied on Ebony’s expertise and positive demeanor to help coordinate several team-building activities within the organization. Perhaps the most meaningful and memorable included a volunteer activity with the We Rise Above the Streets organization that serves the homeless community of Syracuse, NY. Getting the CNYCC organization connected to the community spoke to the heart of our agency.
Most recently, Ebony played a major role with the launch of our CNY Cares Referral Network. She partnered with Unite Us to participate in Unite Us End-User trainings as well as complete the Unite Us Ambassador Training in order to become a certified Unite Us end-user Trainer. Because the launch of the network happened in the midst of COVID-19, Ebony developed a virtual training curriculum to meet the needs of our partners to learn remotely. In addition to the training curriculum she created training documents and job aids for end-users to reference for utilizing the platform. Outside of training 900+ end-users, she played a large role in developing the CNY Cares Referral Network page of the CNY Cares website and creating/editing the End-User bulletin communications. She continues to support the success of the platform by reaching out and coordinating partner engagement, managing the CNY Cares Referral Center, holding office hours, and continued facilitation of end-user trainings.
“Ebony has been integral in implementing and cultivating relationships with partners across the Central New York region. Her tenacity and optimism have directly contributed to the success of establishing a coordinated care community, bringing together partners from varying backgrounds to accomplish a common mission. Ebony’s training expertise and leadership has provided partners with unparalleled support, so they can better serve their clients. She is truly passionate in her work to help others and creating long lasting, positive change for the community.”
Rachael Volpe, Account Manager, Unite Us
Ebony has transformed the CNY Cares team with her positive attitude and dedication to education and team building. Her enthusiasm has led to her success working within the organization and with partners.
“Ebony’s energy, creativity and enthusiasm are unmatched, making working with her at CNYCC an absolute pleasure. She brings a level of insight and perspective that is unique and that has served me, our CNYCC team, and our partners well. Ebony possesses an uncanny ability to learn quickly, develop efficiencies and generate solutions to the toughest of problems. She has a passion for her work, and it is contagious! She makes you care about things you were not ever sure you would. Her work ethic and determination to get things done has led to so many successes, both big and small – she is fearless! It has been my good fortune to have the opportunity to have our paths cross. What a great person to have as a partner and colleague – I will be forever grateful!”
Tammy Van Epps, Project Manager, CNYCC
“We were very lucky to have Ebony join the CNYCC. She was able to learn a complex population health management system very quickly and was soon independently spearheading the training program. She is now one of the CNYCC team members rolling out the Unite Us platform, a key strategic initiative, which is a direct result of the trust and confidence she has earned. She takes lots of initiative, works very well as part of a team, and adapts quickly to changing circumstances – nothing fazes her! She is also a very positive team member and stands out for having contributed to the workplace culture at CNYCC. She is also very committed to learning and personal development and will soon be a graduate of the Gifford Foundation’s Nurturing Tomorrow’s Leaders program. Anywhere Ebony chooses to work next will be greatly enriched by that decision, and we at CNYCC are grateful to have worked with her for the last two and a half years.”
Lauren Wetterhahn, Director of Program Operations & Strategy
Barbara Rhodes joined the CNY Cares team as Process Manager/Internal Audit in October of 2017. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science, Community Health Track from California State University, Fullerton, earned her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from East Stroudsburg University and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). After completing Graduate school, Barbara shared her expertise as an Adjunct Professor, teaching Medical Orientation and Law & Ethics at McCann School of Business and Technology in Allentown, PA. She then shared her expertise at Lehigh Valley Hospital as the Community Health Educator, where she developed and delivered stroke education presentations at health fairs in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining CNY Cares, Barbara worked at Crouse Hospital as Quality Improvement Analyst, as the Surgical Department analyst lead on hospital performance improvement councils and action groups that led to a reduction in surgical site infection rates.
During her time with CNY Cares, Barbara worked on internal audits and the process flow of partner submissions and funding schedule. She also coordinated the tracking and collection of all funds flow reporting, communications, documents, and materials.
Barbara made it a priority to understand how each department contributed to the funds flow process: Operations, Finance, Administration, IT, and Project Management. Similar to our Hub and Spoke partner affiliations, the funds flow process works the same – Funds flow is the wheel and each department in the organization is a spoke. With Barbara’s expertise, and team collaboration, CNY Cares became a well-oiled machine that operated effectively through the coordination of many parts.
The most meaningful project that Barbara contributed was the Hub/Spoke partnerships that were developed in Phase 3 and were carried into Phase 4. It gave CNY Cares an opportunity to develop a deeper collaborative relationship with each partner and more importantly, it gave the Hub-Spoke partnerships a deeper meaning. Getting to know the partners on a more personal level has been extremely rewarding and allowed Barbara to experience the results of what our collaborative efforts have made in the DSRIP program.
“Working with Barb on the CNY Cares team has been a pleasure. Barb was instrumental in tightening up internal processes and facilitating payments to partners. She has always been a team player, working in a truly collaborative spirit.”
Kris Hebert, Systems Analyst, IT, CNY Cares
Lee Shaw joined the CNY Cares team in February 2016 as Executive Assistant. With her positive attitude, attention to detail and extensive experience in event coordination, she ensured seamless operations throughout the organization. Lee received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Le Moyne College, and is a Certified Notary Public in the State of New York. Lee established her skills through previous experience in assistant roles in Healthcare, Real Estate Development & Management, Banking, and Manufacturing & Distribution industries, enabling her to foster efficient work environments and provide consistently excellent support within the organization and to partner organizations and vendors. Lee also used her previous first-hand experience as a family advocate for her daughter that required direct services from NYS Medicaid to build her foundational knowledge within the healthcare industry.
Of the responsibilities Lee administered, she found the most meaningful to be assisting with filing documentation, both for Board and Committee Meetings, and more importantly for Partner Contracts. She provided substantial support to the CNY Cares team through her implementation of standard procedures and consistent naming conventions for meeting materials and for partner contracts, especially across access to documents within Salesforce. Being involved with tracking the receipt of partner contracts was an important element of CNYCC’s Partner Payment Procedures. Lee’s commitment to the organization enhanced efficiency across the organization, helping CNY Cares team members to efficiently locate crucial documentation to support partner organization questions raised throughout the various phases of contracting.
Having been the primary source for Board and Committee communications from her beginning at CNY Cares, she has played a role in every project that CNY Cares and partner organizations have worked on. In her own words, “I have been proud to be witness to the CNY Cares network initiatives that have supported providers and improved patient care that has led to the overall greater benefit to the community we all are a part of and serve.”
Tammy Van Epps joined the CNY Cares team in February 2016 as Project Manager, bringing 18 years of experience developing prevention initiatives and programming to serve crime victim survivors, with specialized expertise on domestic and sexual violence. Tammy completed her degree of Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Utica College of Syracuse University, received her Licensed Master of Social Work degree from Syracuse University and achieved Certified Practice Facilitator from University of Buffalo. Previously, Tammy was Board President of the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Chair of the Central New York Crime Victims Providers Coalition.
During her tenure at CNY Cares, Tammy focused on several major projects, working with health systems across the community to improve outcomes for some of our most vulnerable populations. She partnered with the 11 participating hospital health systems to develop the Standards of Care for Care Transitions. The goal of the program was to reduce the 30-day readmission of high-risk patients. Tammy also developed 7 Care Transitions Coalitions in partnership with IPRO for the purpose of implementing the Standards of Care, identifying solutions to gaps in care, strengthening relationships among medical and non-medical service providers in each of the respective communities, and addressing the Social Determinants of Health for community members.
“I met and worked with Tammy for the last several years co-facilitating five Community Care Transition Coalitions. During this time, she became very knowledgeable of the gaps in communication and care coordination that patients and families experience during their care transitions. She was a quick learner and I enjoyed our time together.” Christine Stegel, Senior Quality Improvement Specialist, Health Care Quality Improvement, IPRO.
Working closely with primary care providers, hospice programs and palliative care experts, Tammy developed the Standards of Care for the Integration of Palliative Care into PCMH (Patient Centered Medical Home) certified Primary Care Practices. She established implementation workflows to develop standards in specific practices. This initiative became a passion project for Tammy. In her own words, “The essence of this project is to allow individual patients the grace to share the whole of themselves so that they can receive comprehensive, holistic care. It makes so much sense to help people understand the progression of their illness and to recognize that they may need more than medical treatment to address all the ways that a chronic illness impacts their lives. Offering emotional, spiritual, and alternative supports (yoga, meditation, acupuncture) to a person who is experiencing significant health conditions can make a world of difference. This project, done well, and if it can be replicated across the state can lead to a culture change; allowing us to give permission to talk about the experience of illness from its onset all the way through to a need to transition to Hospice care. Quality of life – that’s what this project is ultimately all about. How do you not get behind that?”
“Tammy is a pleasure to work with. She helps teams come to a shared vision with steady leadership. She helps find common ground to facilitate execution of ideas and projects. She is a skilled communicator and manages multiple projects with ease. She shows enthusiasm and follows projects through to completion.”
Katie Pagliaroli, Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Oswego Health.
Tammy led the implementation of the Unite Us Platform across the CNY Cares regional network. She became a Subject Matter Expert on the Unite Us Referral Platform and Certified Unite Us Trainer, engaging with key partners within the region to successfully train over 900 individual platform end-users. Along with the implementation, Tammy provided on-going support and services to both partner organizations and individual end-users to promote platform use and strengthen the Central New York Referral Network. Through Collaboration with 2 adjacent networks, she worked to develop the Unite NY Network, allowing platform access and collaboration across 19 counties in New York State.
Tammy’s desire to help others, along with her dedicated work ethic led to her success within the organization, making positive impacts with all who had the opportunity to work with her.
“Getting to work with Tammy has been by far one of the best partnerships I’ve experienced during my time here at CNY Cares! She has a fantastic work ethic, is kind, genuine, driven, patient, passionate about this work, and so much more. Not only can I always count on Tammy for her knowledge and expertise, but she’s also always willing to step outside of her comfort zone to help out whenever and however she can. I have an endless list of things I could say about her, but to sum it up- She’s awesome and I am genuinely grateful for the time that I’ve gotten to work with her.“
Ebony Pengel, Training Manager, Central New York Care Collaborative
“I have known Tammy for over four years through our mutual work with CNY Cares. Over this time period I have had many opportunities to interact with Tammy as she has managed projects, led groups, and developed and delivered webinars and learning collaboratives. She has a very pleasant demeanor and a great sense of humor. She excels in the work that she does, exhibiting very high levels of competency.
She has proven to be a great resource for our organization, helping us to successfully complete a number of projects. Tammy is knowledgeable and has always been available to lend a hand.”
Joel Richman, Ph.D., Administrative Director, Psychological HealthCare
Kate Weidman, certified PMP, came to CNY Cares in November of 2015 as a Project Manger and ultimately transitioned into the Manager, Project Management Office. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Organizational Management with an emphasis on Social Responsibility and completed her Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Russell Sage College. Her life adventures brought her to Syracuse where she began her career at a non-profit organization that provided services to a plethora of individuals including at-risk youth, individuals with developmental disabilities, and unaccompanied minors. During this time, Kate gained valuable experience writing grants, implementing projects and honing her project management skills.
During her time at CNY Cares, she led several major projects including DSRIP Care Management, ED Care Triage and the Innovation Fund. In Kate’s own words, “My experience at CNY Cares has been wonderful. During this time, I’ve built relationships with amazing community organizations and worked alongside remarkable and smart coworkers. Thank you to everyone who has made this crazy DRSIP journey with me-it was an amazing 5 years.”
Kate’s leadership in the DSRIP Care Management project helped to increase the community’s awareness of available Health Home services. Her dedication to this project led her to take on the unofficial role as the Health Home liaison at CNY Cares, where she learned the valuable lesson that no one ever has a single chronic condition.
Kate also spearheaded the ED Care Triage project, where she implemented an ED Navigation program in each of the twelve participating hospitals in CNY Cares PPS. She was able to adapt each implementation to successfully address the varying characteristics and individual challenges that each geographic region and hospital system had.
The most meaningful project that Kate worked on was the Innovation Fund. She oversaw the grant process and worked with the individual organizations on the successful execution of the projects. The grant helped to fund 26 unique projects (12 in 2018; 14 in 2019) that were implemented within the community. This opportunity allowed Kate a new perspective, as she had previously had professional experience writing and receiving grants. Working on the Innovation Fund allowed her to help make the challenging decision to determine which of the many deserving projects would be awarded the grants.
The Innovation Fund was especially meaningful to Kate because it allowed her to be a part of projects that were outside of the original 11 CNY Cares projects and allowed for more creativity and innovative thinking throughout the PPS. The Innovation Fund brought out passion and pride from partner organizations that was truly inspiring and solidified her appreciation for each organization that serves our community. This project introduced Kate to many organizations that she had not worked with during previous projects. Kate truly took pleasure in learning about the different organizations and the services they provide that bring so much value to the community.
“On behalf of the AURORA of Central New York’s staff I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Kate Weidman for making our experience working with CNYCC productive, educational and inspiriting. Kate provided our leadership with the excellent support we needed to understand and pursue VBP readiness. As a smaller size CBO this kind of guidance was invaluable as we were learning about the evolving VBP environment. As our staff worked with Kate we were also impressed with her interest and enthusiasm in embracing our mission to promote independence and opportunity for people in our community with vision and/or hearing loss. Thank you Kate for being such a great partner to Aurora of Central New York!”
Debra Chaiken, President of AURORA of CNY, Inc.
"Kate is always available to brainstorm new ideas, clarify CNYCC deliverables that our agency has questions on or just simply listen and provide overall support. She is responsive, positive and thorough in her work and we could not had successfully navigated our DSRIP partnership without her! "
Jane Vail, Executive Director of CNYHHN
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