Northwell Health tapped two SJC students this summer to help re-imagine the dreaded waiting area experience at hospitals.
Boasting innovative industry practices they learned in the classroom, hospitality and tourism management (HTM) majors Michael DeCicco and Kaleigh Bednor were picked for Northwell’s first-ever hospitality in healthcare internship. It is a position Bednor actually helped create.
“A couple of semesters ago, I met Sven Gierlinger, Northwell’s Chief Experience Officer, at our department’s hospitality in healthcare symposium,” Bednor said, explaining that the meeting led to a conversation on improving the patient experience, and the possibility of an internship surrounding healthcare hospitality.
When Gierlinger realized no such internship existed, he and Northwell Health – New York state’s largest healthcare provider and private employer – pioneered the new program this summer.
“When they decided to introduce this internship, (Gierlinger’s) office emailed me,” Bednor said, who is now spending eight weeks of her summer as Northwell’s hospitality in healthcare intern at Huntington Hospital, one of 18 hospital locations under the Northwell Health umbrella.
We’re focusing on how we can tie hospitality elements into certain policies, procedures and areas of the hospital. My hope is that I can make even the smallest impact on any of the patients and their loved ones that I come in contact with.”
“It can be a very stressful time waiting for updates on a patient in surgery,” Bednor said of the traditional ambulatory waiting room. “We’re focusing on how we can tie hospitality elements into certain policies, procedures and areas of the hospital. My hope is that I can make even the smallest impact on any of the patients and their loved ones that I come in contact with.”
Volunteering for a career in healthcare
Due to join Bednor at the internship was fellow St. Joe’s HTM major Michael DeCicco, who was already familiar with Northwell’s Huntington Hospital location.
“I volunteered at Huntington from December 2016 to April 2017,” DeCicco said. “Many of the employees became familiar with my work ethics and expressed interest in having me join the team in the future.”
That interest manifested into a job offer quicker than DeCicco could have imaged. After being accepted to Northwell’s hospitality in healthcare program, DeCicco was given an unexpected second option. On the merit of his impressive volunteer work, DeCicco was asked to become Huntington Hospital’s new access control coordinator – an opportunity he gladly accepted.
I believed that I could make even more of an impact by working non-clinically with the patients directly. I have zero regrets about deciding to pursue a degree in hospitality in healthcare.”
“I’m one of the first impressions of the hospital, so it is extremely important to assure no one leaves with any questions or concerns,” DeCicco said. “I hold a big part in bringing a hospitable environment and assisting all visitors.”
A month into his employment, DeCicco is working with the director of patient and family experience to survey patients and seek any ways to better their experience.
“I believed that I could make even more of an impact by working non-clinically with the patients directly. I have zero regrets about deciding to pursue a degree in hospitality in healthcare,” he said.
Healthcare hospitality is one of three tracks available to St. Joseph’s HTM majors, along with hotel management and tourism management. For more information, and to apply, visit our website.