St. Joseph’s University, New York hosted its second annual Esse Non Videri Gala Awards Dinner on Friday, Nov. 18, this year honoring six alumni who have achieved transformational success in their healthcare careers.
Among the award recipients was Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse manager for Northwell Health during the COVID-19 pandemic and the very first person in the United States to be vaccinated against the virus. She now serves as Northwell’s vice president of public health advocacy.
“The common thread that runs through tonight’s program is excellence,” St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., said. “And excellence comes at a price — the price of excellence is hard work. Everyone that is being honored this evening has worked terribly hard to be in the positions they’re in.”
The University’s Associate Dean for Nursing Maria Fletcher, Ph.D., R.N., C.N.E., added, “They have made us proud. They are really outstanding, stand-out individuals.”
Alumni, faculty, staff, students, friends and guests attended the event at the Garden City Hotel. Proceeds from the event — which acknowledges the St. Joseph’s University’s motto: Esse non videri – “To be, not to seem’ — are going toward the funding of student scholarships.
St. Joseph’s Board of Trustees member Raymond Morales ’12, D.P.M. AACFAS, chaired the Gala Awards Committee, while S. Suzanne Franck, CSJ, Ph.D. served as the chair of the Gala Committee.
OnCampus spoke with the winners prior to the ceremony. Here are their individual stories.
President’s Award for Public Service
Sandra Lindsay ’99, DHSc, MS, MBA, RN, CCRN-K, NE-BC
Vice President of Public Health Advocacy, Northwell Health
Heralded as “a ray of light in our nation’s dark hours,” Brooklyn Campus alumna Sandra Lindsay received the Presidential Medal of Honor from U.S. President Joe Biden during a powerful White House ceremony in July.
The president thanked Dr. Lindsay — formerly a critical care nurse manager at Long Island Jewish Medical Center — for her tireless and heroic work serving on the frontline at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and for becoming the first individual in the United States to be vaccinated against the virus outside of clinical trials.
Dr. Lindsay noted that her award — one of the highest honors bestowed by St. Joseph’s University, New York President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D. — sends a powerful message to current and future St. Joseph’s students.
“This award is special to me, coming from an institution where I received my education,” said Dr. Lindsay, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Joseph’s in 1999. “I think (the award) is powerful for the students to see that they too can accomplish whatever they set their minds to.”
Dr. Lindsay was recently promoted to vice president of public health advocacy at Northwell Health, where she is tasked with raising health across Long Island and the world.
Healthcare Professional of the Year
Ingrid Walker-Descartes ’18 MBA, MD, MPH
Vice Chair of Education, Department of Pediatrics at Maimonides Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn; Chief Medical Officer, JCCA
Ingrid Walker-Descartes has made caring for children her life. A pediatrician and the vice chair of education in the Department of Pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, she specializes in helping traumatized children.
She is the program director for the pediatrics residency training program and the child abuse fellowship. Additionally, she is involved in community service, including the Organization for International Development, which provides medical outreach to underserved communities in Jamaica without adequate access to healthcare.
“When you’re advocating for children, you really need an advanced degree,” Dr. Walker-Descartes said, referring to the MBA in healthcare administration she earned from St. Joseph’s in 2018. “My advance degree at St. Joseph’s has allowed me a seat at the table.”
At the only pediatric trauma center in Brooklyn, Dr. Walker-Descartes analyzes what has happened to traumatized children — an ability especially important when children are too young to verbalize their own experiences. She talks with children and families — and screens for domestic violence — during exams and during court proceedings advocates for children’s protection.
A specialist in sexual abuse against children, she has extensively researched the gross violation of children’s rights during their formative years and how the abuse will likely interfere with their developmental trajectory and long-term quality of life.
Distinguished Achievement in Patient Care and Innovation
David Conway ’10, PA
Physician Assistant, Compassionate Community Physicians P.C.
David Conway began his healthcare career as a paramedic for the New York City Fire Department in 1999. He served as a first responder on 9/11 and suffered injuries that left him on medical leave. Upon his return, he was again injured during a domestic disturbance call, spurring his decision to leave his first responder role and enroll at St. Joseph’s. In 2010, Mr. Conway earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Joseph’s University and went on to receive his master’s in physician assistant studies.
As a physician assistant at Good Samaritan Medical Center, chief medical officer at Integrity Home Care and regional director for Compassionate Community Physicians, Mr. Conway works on the cutting edge of patient care and medical innovation. Valued for his dedication to chronically infected geriatric patients, he helped create Integrity Home Care, a service that ensures seniors can get to their medical appointments, receive and take their medications and receive visits from staff.
He additionally created a Concierge Medicine-Physician Program to provide at-home medical care for those with restricted mobility. At Compassionate Community Physicians, he finds it very rewarding to help take care of the elderly population in assisted living facilities.
“It’s not shiny. Nobody wants to do it. It doesn’t pay the best,” he said. “But it’s something that has a great need. I get to spend time with some of the most amazing people and listen to their stories.”
Conway also serves as a trauma and orthopedic surgery PA at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center and he works to train future health care professional by serving as an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s University, teaching anatomy and physiology, as well as pathophysiology, to nursing students.
“I want to bring better things into this world to help out people. Innovation in medicine is one of the key ways of making this happen,” Conway said.
Excellence in Community Impact and Service
Richard T. Margulis ’85
President and CEO, Long Island Community Hospital
Richard Margulis has long viewed healthcare as a community issue. Early in his career, he began to focus on community healthcare — with particular emphasis on mental health, substance abuse and alcoholism — while serving in administrative positions at the South Brookhaven Family Health Centers.
He has carried that passion with him into his role as president and CEO at Long Island Community Hospital (LICH) since 2013.
“We live, work and go to school together, and we need to take care of the people of the community, their health and their well-being, while being sensitive to cultural makeup and socio-economical drivers,” said Mr. Margulis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health care administration from St. Joseph’s University, New York while working full time as a radiologic technologist.
Mr. Margulis is known for his dedication to quality healthcare and to his community. In addition to developing a variety of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs at LICH and throughout Long Island, he has also secured funding for multimillion dollar cardiac care facilities, youth mental health services, and outpatient psychiatric and substance abuse treatment.
He regularly highlights the need to ensure medical care for underserved populations. As the community emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked closely with St. Joseph’s on the University’s new Master of Social Work program to develop programming opportunities that support hospital and healthcare workers at LICH.
Compassionate Leadership Award
Kimberly Fitzpatrick Biegasiewicz ’08, RN, MHA
President and CEO, The Avante Group Inc.
Early in her career, Kimberly Biegasiewicz set a goal to become a chief nursing officer before she retired. She reached that objective by 34 and is now president and CEO of The Avante Group Inc., a Florida healthcare company with three business divisions, including 11 skilled nursing facilities that treat 1,200 patients daily and carry 2,000 staff.
Ms. Biegasiewicz earned a bachelor’s degree in history at St. Joseph’s University, New York before earning her nursing degree at a local community college. Starting off as a floor nurse in 2013, she was quickly promoted to evening shift supervisor, and then to the assistant director of nursing.
“A year later, I was promoted to director of nursing of a 145-bed skilled nursing facility,” she said.
Her place of work quickly went from a one-star facility to a five-star CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) rated facility. Two years later, she became regional director of clinical services for four facilities. In 2018, she became vice president of clinical services at The Avante Group Inc.
In early 2020, she was promoted to CEO. A well-respected leader who guides her team effortlessly and fiercely with a laser-beam focus on improving the quality of care, her nursing background allows her to better understand the challenges faced post-pandemic, from both the operational side and clinical side of the business.
“I think what’s unique is that not many CEOs are nurses,” Ms. Biegasiewicz said. “At the forefront of everything is quality of care.”
Katelynn Doyle ’20, RN
SICU/CTICU Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center
Katelynn Doyle will long remember the moment when the expectations she had for her last semester in St. Joseph’s nursing program erupted. She was just starting the fun stuff — the crucial hands-on part of her degree — when COVID-19 rerouted her from the hospitals to learning from her house.
“It was a completely and utterly different type of learning, and to have it in the last semester when we were supposed to be with patients was just crazy,” Doyle said.
Still, Doyle persevered, graduating from St. Joseph’s University, New York in May 2020 and passing her NCLEX RN exam that July.
Early in her career, Doyle has been widely recognized for her dedication, care and compassion. She’s become known as a nurse who is skilled in providing culturally competent and personalized patient-centered care, along with using organization, teamwork and critical thinking skills to produce the positive patient outcomes.
“No matter what assignment, no matter what comes into my life, I know I’m going to get through it. Every day, I remember the resiliency I had to have in school,” said Ms. Doyle, who’s thankful to credits St. Joseph’s for the variety of clinical rotations she served across six institutions.
“The biggest thing I took away from St. Joe’s is the support; there was always support,” she said.