Growing in Strength: Expanding Upstate’s Heart Care Program

By: Becca Taurisano

With an influx of new talent, Upstate University Hospital’s heart care program is growing stronger than ever. Bringing experience from some of the nation’s top medical facilities with formal training in specialties like structural interventional cardiology, the program is leveraging the knowledge and talents of the well established heart care team at the region’s only medical university. Upstate has assembled a dynamic group of providers that is expanding the program and offering comprehensive heart health care to Central New York.

Full Range of Services
The heart care program at Upstate University Hospital provides a full range of services—preventative, interventional, surgical, and post-operative. With six cardiology practices in the greater Syracuse area, the heart care team has increased accessibility to care and bolstered their footprint in the community. In addition to Upstate’s downtown Syracuse location, which includes the dedicated Heart and Vascular Center, cardiology consult services are available at Upstate Community Hospital as well.

The heart care team treats all health issues related to the heart including coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation, complex aortic disease including aneurysms, cardiac tumors, and the full spectrum of structural heart disease including closure of small holes in the heart. All the major cardiac surgical services are available, from open surgery to less invasive transcatheter procedures.

The physician team is composed up of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, a structural interventional cardiologist, electrophysiologists, and a cardiac critical care anesthesiologist who is the newest member of the team. They are supported by advanced practice providers (APPs), nurses, operating room staff, perfusionists, cardiac catheterization laboratory staff, anesthesiology staff, imaging staff, and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff.

Preventative education and postoperative treatment are both key components to the heart care program. For congestive heart failure patients, there is an educational support team located in Upstate’s downtown Syracuse location to help patients with lifestyle, dietary information, and support to keep them out of the hospital. This complements  the cardiac rehabilitation program at the Upstate Health Care Center in Syracuse.

Introducing Dr. Marek Polomsky, Cardiac Surgery

Cardiac surgeon Marek Polomsky, MD joined Upstate University Hospital this July as an Assistant Professor of Surgery and the Medical Director for Cardiac Critical Care. He is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and most recently was the Surgical Director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program and the Quality Chair for Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He was attracted to Upstate University Hospital’s status as a teaching hospital, with a long tradition of educating successful medical students and surgical residents and providing top cardiac surgical care, which supports his interest in teaching  and optimizing surgical performance and outcomes.

Cardiac surgeons at Upstate University Hospital benefit from a vast array of institutional resources. This can be found in the operating rooms which are equipped with the latest technology and supported by cardiac anesthesiologists proficient in the specific needs of heart patients such as utilization of transesophageal echocardiograms. “Whatever I need to do procedures, we have it here at Upstate,” said Dr. Polomsky. “The most important resource is our staff. The support from nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, perfusionists, and laboratory technicians, makes this possible. The level of talent here is remarkable.”

Quality is a primary focus for Dr. Polomsky, both intraoperatively and postoperatively. He follows and has implemented protocols for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS), through which Upstate optimizes postoperative care, such as weaning patients off ventilators and early extubation, minimizing blood transfusions, early mobilization, and focusing on nutrition. For Dr. Polomsky, compassion for his patients is paramount. “I treat each patient as if they were a member of my own family. I make sure they have the appropriate surgery that is based on medical evidence. That is what I am most proud of,” he said. “It is vital for our community to have a strong cardiac care program here, and there is a common goal among all of us for the program to grow.”

Introducing Dr. Michael Fischi, Interventional Cardiology

Michael Fischi, MD, FACC, FSCAI joined Upstate University Hospital in September 2022 as an interventional cardiologist. Using catheters to diagnose and treat heart and vascular conditions, allows patients to avoid open-heart surgery while providing life-saving results. Dr. Fischi has a background in electrical engineering and gravitates toward the tools and technologies utilized in transcatheter procedures. During his cardiology fellowship at Duke, he focused his research on cardiac assist devices, coronary interventional technology, drug-eluting stents and polymer delivery platforms. Dr. Fischi holds U.S. patents for a multi chamber sequentially inflating cardiac assist device, muscle function augmentation, and a novel percutaneous Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). He also did a fellowship in coronary and peripheral vascular intervention at the University of Rochester, is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and is a fellow of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.

The environment at Upstate University Hospital was a major draw for Dr. Fischi, with its focus on a heart care team that works well together and encourages learning to support patient care. “We have a nurturing environment here. People are encouraged to develop new skills and are not afraid to ask questions. Our staff is well-trained and equipped to handle emergent situations,” he said.

One of his focuses is on developing relationships with other area hospitals, primary care physicians, and external cardiology practices. “Referring physicians are looking to work with people who will provide their patients with quality care, inform them of the results of the procedure, and take care of their patients in a timely manner, without having to jump through a lot of hoops,” he said. “We are in the position to offer that to them here at Upstate.”

Team Approach to Patient Care

The cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at Upstate use a team approach, using direct communication and constant collaboration to ensure patients receive the best possible care. Larry Charlamb, MD, Interim Chief of Cardiology said, “The cardiac surgeons are our closest allies in treating patients. It is a natural allegiance for all of us to work together to provide care.” The cardiology and cardiac surgery teams confer regularly to discuss patient cases and develop the best treatment plan moving forward.

Cardiac surgeon Marek Polomsky, MD, said, “Every patient is discussed in a team setting and is cared for in a collaborative manner.” In addition, a joint cardiology, cardiac surgery, and vascular surgery conference meets once a month, where the heart care team shares perspectives on the diagnostic evaluation process, treatment, and outcomes of complex cardiovascular and aortic cases. There are echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG), and cardiac catheter laboratory conferences conducted regularly as well.

Introducing Dr. Srikanth Yandrapalli, Structural Interventional Cardiology

Srikanth Yandrapalli, MD, FACC joined Upstate University Hospital this July as a Structural Interventional Cardiologist. Following his role as Chief Resident of Internal Medicine at New York Medical College at Westchester Medical Center, Dr. Yandrapalli completed three fellowships in cardiovascular diseases: interventional and structural cardiology at New York Medical College; Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School; and Brown University Hospitals. He also worked as an interventional cardiologist at Brown University hospitals. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular diseases, and Interventional Cardiology.

Dr. Yandrapalli is one of the few formally trained structural interventional cardiologists in Central New York. Structural interventional cardiology is a specialized field that manages structural abnormalities or defects within the heart including the valves, the muscle, and the septum or chambers. It bridges the gap between surgery and medicine, allowing patients to receive treatment in a less invasive way.

For structural cardiology procedures, planning is essential and the first step is imaging. Utilizing CT Scan imaging and advanced perioperative transesophageal echocardiography with 3D technologies, the staff can create 3D models of the patient’s anatomy in order to determine the feasibility and approach to managing a structural heart condition. “This ensures a really good roadmap. I have to know what to expect so that we can provide safe and effective treatment to our patients,” Dr. Yandrapalli said.

Through his training, Dr. Yandrapalli has cultivated knowledge of the latest tools and technology. “I have learned not just how to do these procedures, but also how to navigate complications and risks that may arise, so we can more safely treat patients,” he said. Upstate University Hospital leadership is committed to providing advanced services and is focused on improving the access to the minimally invasive procedures Dr. Yandrapalli performs, including providing the latest technology available. “Technology plays a really important role in what I do. We want to offer the least invasive treatment available to our patients and we are committed to doing that at Upstate,” he said.

“The cardiac surgeons are our closest allies in treating patients. It is a natural allegiance for all of us to work together to provide care.”

Looking Ahead to the Future With a strong  foundation and the support of senior leadership, the heart program can continue to add new offerings to its service line. Upstate Medical University Department of Medicine Chair, Cynthia Taub, MD and Upstate University Hospital Chief Medical Officer, Amy Tucker, MD are both cardiologists with extensive background in clinical practice and program development. With leadership laser-focused on the prioritization of heart care, Upstate is positioned to see tremendous growth in the coming years by serving the needs of the community. “We are building on the strengths of the academic medical setting where we can offer an even greater range of cardiac services, such as the expertise needed for patients in our Cancer  Center whose treatment may affect the heart, or patients in our obstetrics/maternal fetal medicine program who have cardiac conditions during pregnancy. There is room to develop more preventative care and address care disparities. We have the system and expertise to offer that,” said Dr. Taub.

By developing relationships with regional hospitals, primary care physicians, and cardiology groups, Upstate looks to further expand its access. In the last year, catheter laboratory volume has increased by 50% and referrals have risen as well. Two of the cardiac catheter laboratories are being updated, featuring the most up-to-date technology available for the interventional cardiologists to perform transcatheter procedures. The heart care program also plans to recruit additional staff in several areas including electrophysiology, advanced cardiac imaging, advanced heart failure cardiology to expand access to services.

Private Equity in Health Care and the Impact on Non Profit Care


I have worked my entire career in government or nonprofits. It has led me to see the value of models that protect access to care for those who are underserved. The non profit model uses profits to re-invest in the provision of care in the community. Income is derived from profitable areas of care . Where the cost of care is not covered by insurance or there is no insurance, donors, grants and government subsidies often fill the gap.

For many years in New York State, regulations prevented private equity firms and for profit models to provide health care in some areas.

That’s changing.

Private equity seeks to make a profit. When a private equity firm buys a non profit provider or starts a new health care business, it’s expected to produce income for investors. It’s a common business model in this country.

At the same time we need to provide care to our communities that may not be profitable.

In Plunder, by Brendan Ballou, he provides a good analysis of the growing concerns about the impact of private equity in our society. The book looks at examples of private equity acquisitions in long-term care that drain income to other related corporations, leaving the non profit organization without resources to provide adequate care.

Another important study from the Columbia School of Public Health published this past July, was the first thorough review of global private equity ownership in medical settings. It stated, “Private equity investment was most closely associated with increases in costs for payers and patients in some cases as high as 32%. Private equity ownership was also associated with mixed to harmful effects on healthcare quality, while the impact on health outcomes and operations was inconclusive.”

So is one model preferable over the other, can they co exist or collaborate? Can the efficiencies from a private equity operation help not for profits find ways to reduce overhead for sustainability? Venture Philanthropy seeks to apply the principles of venture capital to achieve charitable objectives. There are several experiments going on where private capital invests in philanthropic goals such as Bain Capital’s , New Profit. Jeffrey Walker in the Stanford Innovation Review, March 2019 says private equity is showing that in order for nonprofits to succeed in this new financial environment they need to demonstrate better measurement of results, and management expertise. Investors are hands on advisors to a business and he suggests that donor expertise is often prevented from transferring their knowledge to the non profit setting.

This is a complicated arena , and one that could change the face of years of community care. Covid has placed great financial pressure on many large providers, and private equity acquisitions are adding to that financial pressure.

We need to continue to watch the impact in our communities of mergers, acquisitions and closures in health care and advocate on behalf of access and delivery of care.


Plunder, Brendan Ballou, 2023, Public Affairs

Columbia School of Public Health

The Emerging Capital Markets for Non Profits, Kaplan and Grossmn,

Stanford Social Innovation Review,

Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor, can be reached at or at

The Newest Member of the Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Neck & Back TeamL Jessica Albanese, MD

As the newest member of the Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists Neck & Back Team, Jessica Albanese MD brings nearly seven years of experience to the care of spinal conditions and injuries. Dr. Albanese received her bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and earned her medical degree from the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Prior to joining SOS in August, Dr. Albanese completed a fellowship in adult spine surgery at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Q What orthopedic specialty do you practice?
Dr. Albanese: I diagnose and care for spinal conditions and injuries from age 12 and up. I treat a variety of spine disorders: degenerative conditions, such as scoliosis, stenosis, degenerative disk disease, deformity. Spinal infection and spinal tumors. Traumatic injuries— fractures and dislocations.

Q Why did you choose the spine?
Dr. Albanese: I actually started orthopedics wanting to treat trauma-fixing broken bones, fractures, acute injuries. But once I learned more about the orthopedic specialties, I discovered I like the spine. I thought the pathology of spinal injuries and conditions was really interesting. There are a lot of complex issues with the spine and a lot of ways to solve a problem. Then there is the surgery itself—I enjoy operating around the spinal cord and the nerves. There is a lot of innovation going on right now, so there are a lot of solutions we can offer patients.

Q Orthopedics in general is a very male-dominated field. In 2022, Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report found that the number of female orthopedic surgeons was at 9 percent. How do you feel about that?
Dr. Albanese: That’s actually starting to change. It’s important for patients to see more diversity, to have more options when seeking care. It’s exciting to be part of that change, growing the number of women in the field.

I’d like to help introduce The Perry Initiative ( locally. They offer a Medical Student Outreach Program that provides a hands-on introduction to orthopedic surgery for women in medical school. Participants are connected with local mentors and peers while completing two surgical simulations and participating in discussions. I hope to be a role model and show girls and young women that orthopedics is a viable option for them. Exposure is the largest limiting factor: If you don’t know the opportunity is there, you don’t know to pursue it.

Dr. Albanese is accepting new patients. Appointments can be made by calling 315 251-3232 or visiting to request an appointment.

Returning to CNY: As the Newest Surgeon on the Joint Replacement Team at SOS: David A. Quinzi, MD

David A. Quinzi, MD is returning toCentral New York as the newest surgeon on the Joint Replacement Team at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists. Dr. Quinzi received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and earned his medical degree at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. He completed his residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center and in July completed a one-year fellowship in adult reconstruction surgery at the Rothman Institute in New Jersey.

Q What type of orthopedic specialty do you practice?
Dr. Quinzi: I am a joint replacement surgeon for the hip and knee, performing joint replacement for hip and knee arthritis whether for general wear and tear or other reasons such as post traumatic arthritis. I also perform revision hip and knee arthroplasty for dysfunction or wear of previously replaced joints. I think that joint replacement as a sub-specialty has an innate ability to get people active again and doing what they like to do. Arthritis is a big quality of life killer, and giving people new joints is a great way to get people active and back to enjoying life and the things they like to do.

Overall, knee arthritis is more common than arthritis in the hip, although both are prevalent. The bulk of joint replacement surgeries are performed for arthritis whether it’s standard wear and tear (think tires wearing out), or arthritis related to previous trauma. Avascular necrosis can cause joint collapse and pain as well.

Q How has robotic technology changed the way you perform surgeries?
Dr. Quinzi: Robotics is the more modern way to perform knee replacements. It was available toward the mid-portion of my residency, and in fellowship it was a large portion of my training. Fifty percent of the knee replacements I performed used robotic technology. I think it adds benefit in patients that have arthritis with significant deformities. It further helps with planning how a surgeon will perform the surgery and allows you to more accurately rotate the components for a more “patient” specific technique.

Q Are there other ways joint replacement surgery has changed?
Dr. Quinzi: There are multiple approaches to hip replacement— posterior, anterior and lateral—and there has been a shift towards the anterior approach overall which is the approach I utilize. With the direct anterior approach you use a pathway between muscle planes so you don’t cut muscles which I think helps with early recovery. It’s also easy to obtain x rays intraoperatively, which helps with positioning and sizing the components as well as leg length restoration.

Q Do you have a philosophy about patient care you’d like to share?
Dr. Quinzi: Medicine today can be very mechanical and robotic. I try to keep it
very conversational with my patients. I like to talk about their day-to-day activities and find commonalities with them. I treat their conditions with those activities in mind. I try to stay away from typing notes while I’m with the patient and make it more informal.

Q You are from Upstate New York. Where did you grow up and why did you decide to return?

Dr. Quinzi: I from Rochester and my wife is from Fayetteville. We attended medical school for four years here at Upstate Medical University. She’s an anesthesiologist and we were lucky enough to couples-match together at the University of Rochester Medical Center. We love it here, so we decided to come back, settle down and raise our family. We just had a baby in August and we have another daughter who is 2 1/2. My wife is taking a little time off and will start back to work in November as an anesthesiologist in town.

Dr. Quinzi is accepting new patients. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 315 251-3100, extension 9814 or by visiting to request an appointment.

Grieving Families Act: Necessary Adjustment to an Antiquated Statute or Disastrous for New York Health Care?

Round two of the Grieving Families Act has slight changes but is substantially the same one vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this year, citing the need to evaluate the “impact of these massive changes to the economy, small businesses, individuals, the state’s complex healthcare system.”

The sponsors wrote in their justification on, “New York’s wrongful death statute is over 175 years old, and it is unfortunately out of step with nearly every other state because New York’s laws prohibit grief-stricken families from recovering damages for their emotional suffering from the death of their loved one.”

The current law, which awards compensation for pecuniary loss only, impacts most harshly on children, seniors, women and people of color – people who often have no income, significantly less income or who have been traditionally undervalued in our society.

How does the act change the current wrongful death statute? The act changes who can file suit from relatives in line for direct inheritance to include those with a close relationship to the decedent. Clearly, it greatly expands those given the right to sue with little clarification on the definition of “close relationship.” Also, lawsuits previously included a single request for compensation tied to economic damages; now grief, loss of consortium and sympathy may be included.

While proponents note that the emotional component is part of most other states’ wrongful death statutes, it neglects the fact that, unlike the Grieving Families Act, most states have a cap on this type of compensation. With no cap, quantifying grief will lead to astronomical payouts. Adding to the speed at which these payouts will come to fruition, the changes will be applied to any cause of action that accrues after July 1, 2018.

Although one can see the merits of the justification noted above, it ignores the realities of its impact on the state. The state leading in claims and payout amounts will be a windfall for plaintiffs’ attorneys. Malpractice carriers are already struggling with upticks in claim frequency and the dramatic rise in award amounts. The act will add to the pressures already in play. To maintain solvency, carriers and the Insurance Department will keep a close eye on
these trends, which might indicate the
need for increased rates.

As we all know, the healthcare sector in some ways is still recovering economically. The margins that most hospitals and small practices operate under are often slim. Any increase will have a significant impact on the ability of dedicated healthcare workers to provide quality care. The sad truth is that underserved or undervalued individuals – the ones the act intends to help – will be the ones to suffer disproportionately from the misguided attempts to correct the current statute.

Most involved feel the act will be approved by Gov. Hochul in some form; it is such a high-profile legislation that garners a great deal of sympathy, and it is incumbent upon everyone to reach out to ensure any change is done in a manner that will not harm those it is meant to help. I leave you with this final thought from New York State Medical Society President Paul A. Pipia, M.D.

“We urge Gov. Hochul to veto this legislation again and call for the creation of a workgroup that can develop balanced legislation that will expand the rights of grieving families without devastating our healthcare system in the process.”

I encourage you to reach out to Gov. Hochul (@govkathyhochul) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information, please contact Jenn Negley, Vice President, Risk Strategies Company at 267 251-2233 or JNegley@

Syracuse Community Health: Continued Expansion Under New Leadership

Over the past five-and-a-half years, Syracuse Community Health has undergone significant change and laid the groundwork for exciting transformations still to come. Led by Mark Hall, who joined Syracuse Community Health as interim President and CEO in 2018 and came on full-time in 2019, the health care organization has been serving the Syracuse community since the 1960s. With Hall at the helm over the past several years, Syracuse Community Health has begun efforts to expand care into surrounding areas in Onondaga County, is nearing the completion of a brand-new, state-of-the-art building and is planning a family medicine residency program, all while maintaining the central mission of serving patients and those who have difficulty accessing quality health care.

This year will mark the beginning of another new chapter for Syracuse Community Health when Keith Cuttler takes over as President and CEO on November 1. Cuttler joined Syracuse Community Health in 2021 as Chief Operating Officer and also took over the role of Chief Business Development Officer in 2022. His over twenty years of experience working in health care has included leadership roles at several local hospitals, including serving as the President and CEO of East Hill Medical Center in Auburn, NY.

As Hall prepares to hand over the baton to Cuttler, he outlined the achievements from his tenure at Syracuse Community Health (SCH) that have laid the groundwork for continued growth and success for the organization under Cuttler’s leadership, to expand its footprint throughout Onondaga County.

“One success we’ve experienced over the past several years has been the financial turnaround. A little over five years ago, we were in a dire financial position, but now we’re very much on solid footing. Secondly, we’re excited to see the fruition of our plans to construct a new building at 930 South Salina Street, which will be opening to the public over the next month. Thirdly, we have pulled together a strong management and senior executive team, which includes Keith, who we were blessed to have join us almost two years ago. SCH now has a great foundation on which to grow under Keith’s leadership,” said Hall.

Evolving Care Through New Construction and a Residency Program

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Syracuse Community Health centers around a mission to provide individuals with access to quality health care services. While never losing sight of this foundational purpose, Cuttler is looking forward to continuing the growth of the organization that was initially spearheaded by Hall. “I’m excited to continue efforts toward providing access to quality care to a much larger population than has traditionally been the case. There’s strong recognition that there are folks all over Onondaga County and in Central New York that are suffering from poverty. We don’t just have poverty located within three small zip codes and everyone outside those zip codes is in the middle or upper class. We have poverty everywhere and people who need access to health care everywhere,” Cuttler explained. 

The brand-new, state-of-the-art medical facility opening soon at 930 South Salina Street is the first major component of Syracuse Community Health’s expansion into offering care to a wider population in need of health services. Looking further down the road, the planned Family Medicine Residency Program that will begin in 2024 will transform Syracuse Community Health into a teaching health center where primary care physicians will receive specialized experience from learning at a Federally Qualified Health Center. For Cuttler, these developments at Syracuse Community Health will launch the health center into a new stage in its evolution.

“The opening of the new building at 930 South Salina Street is effectively turning a page and starting a new chapter for Syracuse Community Health,” Cuttler said. “It is there that we show the greater community that Syracuse Community Health is an ambulatory care provider that’s multi-disciplinary and provides extraordinary health care in an exceptional environment with stateof- the art equipment. Beyond that, we’re very excited about the new residency program and about the transformation of the organization into a teaching health center. I believe we’ll be only the third teaching FQHC in the State, and we’ll be the primary trainers of family medicine physicians going forward. Both the new building and the upcoming residency program give us that leg up and that opportunity to really open up our services to a much broader audience.” 

A Continuum of Success into the Future 

Cuttler emphasized that although these changes are publicly taking place alongside a shift in leadership at Syracuse Community Health, the outcomes are by no means resulting from the transition of Hall to himself as President and CEO. 

“It’s sort of like growing a plant: you plant a seed and the roots grow first, but it’s only later that you see the flower come up. What the public will begin to see as we transition leadership has actually been growing and taking place over the last five plus years, and particularly with the new building. Those plans languished on a shelf for years and years and Mark was the one that gave that project life. We wouldn’t be opening a new building next month if he hadn’t made executing on those plans a priority,” Cuttler stated. 

As for Hall, he isn’t retiring, but rather shifting his focus back to the business he created 18 years ago, M.S. Hall + Associates. Even though he’s resigning from his official role at SCH, his connection with Syracuse Community Health is one that won’t be completely ending anytime soon. 

“My connection to the health center will always be strong, being that this is where I received care when I was a child when my parents would bring me here,” said Hall. “I’ll always be connected, whether directly or indirectly, formally or informally as we move into the future.”

Drakos Clinical Dynamics

Enhances Healthcare Accessibility with Expanded Services in Central New York

In a healthcare landscape teeming with both challenges and opportunities, Drakos Dynamics has emerged as a pivotal player in Central New York, with successful healthcare services like a dedicated pediatric urgent care in Liverpool (Clay Medical Center). Drakos Pediatric Urgent Care opened in May as a unique option to help address the shortage of accessible pediatric healthcare in Central New York. 

The company is now furthering its commitment to the region with ambitious plans that are not only expansive but also strategically focused. The company will be opening Drakos Urgent Care in Cicero with an expanded portfolio that will provide comprehensive care for the entire community, including adults, as part of Drakos’ mission to continue addressing gaps in healthcare, one of those most critical being increasing access to high quality care. These services include urgent care services, a full vaccination program, X-rays, ADHD screenings, weight loss and metabolic health management, a comprehensive lab onsite, full respiratory panels, sexual health, and more.

“Since opening Drakos Pediatric Urgent Care in May, we’ve provided care for more than 1,000 patients,” says Drakos Founder and CEO Heather Drake Bianchi. “With the urgent care in Cicero, it’s not just about expanding our services, it’s about access. It’s about ensuring that we continue to fill crucial gaps in the healthcare system here in Central New York. This is a data-driven decision. We’ve reviewed the epidemiological trends and identified a need. It’s proactive healthcare delivery, aligned with regional demands, to help address current and future shortages.” 

As many local urgent cares are closing temporarily or shutting permanently, Drake Bianchi is passionate about the company’s responsibility to serve the community, especially as experts already see the start of another challenging respiratory season.

Drakos Pediatric Urgent Care observed an early uptick in both COVID-19 and strep infections, starting as early as the end of August – much earlier than normal. Local teachers shared that schools were grappling with significant numbers of students falling ill with COVID-19, strep throat, or influenza, even before October had arrived. This pattern immediately raised concerns about another potentially challenging respiratory season, impacting both kids and parents alike.

“We want to be a resource to truly anyone in our community in need of outstanding, convenient care, and to other healthcare facilities by helping ease the stress in emergency rooms and across the healthcare system at large,” says Drake Bianchi. “We’re here for the long haul to serve this community.”

Drakos has other major plans, too. The company’s ethos has always been to provide healthcare without walls— innovating to overcome barriers and bring quality healthcare to people when and where they need it. The company began in 2020 with its subsidiary, CineMedics, which focused on providing medical testing and services on medical sets.

Now Drakos is adapting what it learned with CineMedics and designing mobile care to reach underprivileged and remote areas, along with anywhere that suffers from access issues. According to the Urgent Care Association, 89 percent of the U.S. population can drive to an urgent care in 20 minutes or less, but only 15 percent of urgent cares are in urban areas and only 9 percent are in rural areas – a gap that contributes to healthcare
access challenges.

“Our origin story is rooted in mobile care. Mobile clinics are redefining healthcare accessibility,” says Drake Bianchi. “That matters in a community that has one of the highest rates of segregated poverty in the country and underserved immigrant communities and is surrounded by rural areas where regional hospitals have closed at alarming rates. The entire Drakos team is incredibly motivated to use our skills to serve people in our community who struggle to access healthcare.”

Despite being one of the most technologically advanced and affluent nations globally, the United States falls short in terms of healthcare access both locally and nationally. That’s why Drakos is also committed to using mobile healthcare, as well as the physical locations in Cicero and Liverpool, to address these healthcare disparities.

Data from the New York State Department of Health 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Health Indicators by County and Region reveal that 1 in 10 Central New Yorkers don’t have a regular health care provider, 1 in 7 struggles with mental health more than 14 days per month, and 1 in 10 report overall poor physical health. Additionally, of those who do have a primary care provider, nearly 25 percent don’t see their doctor for a checkup each year.

“If we really want to improve our fellow citizens and neighbors, everyone needs regular care for their physical and mental health,” says Drake Bianchi. “We understand that mobility issues, geographic hurdles, and other challenges can hinder timely and appropriate access to healthcare services for everyone. One of our lessons from working in Hollywood is that a lack of time can be a major healthcare access issue for everyone. Although their access to wealth and specialized care obviously differs greatly, one thing a parent working two jobs struggling to make a living and a movie star working on set for 16 hours per day often have in common is the feeling that they just don’t have time to see a doctor. We look at all the factors impacting healthcare access and think, ‘where can our skills help?’”

As Drakos works toward its goal of becoming a long lasting part of the region’s healthcare infrastructure, the team is working with local nonprofits and businesses to create new alliances that will increase healthcare for all.

“All of our plans focus on innovative solutions that incorporate a network of physical brick and mortar locations, mobile, and virtual care. We aim to set a precedent for agile, effective healthcare delivery,” states Drake Bianchi. “At our core, the Drakos team is passionate about bringing together data, science, and action to drive decisions and create a more accessible, convenient healthcare network in Central New York, so everyone can receive high quality healthcare when they need it.”

For healthcare leaders seeking to understand the future contours of healthcare in Central New York, Drakos serves as a case study in thoughtful expansion and effective communication. By strategically widening their services and using innovative technologies and approaches, they are not just serving the community —they are actively helping to shape it. Their data driven, communityfocused approach promises to make them a lasting fixture in Central New York’s healthcare. 

For more information, please see www.

St. Joseph’s Health:Trailblazers in Robotic Surgery

By Martha Conway

St. Joseph’s Health has always been an early adopter of technology, so it is no surprise they became the first facility in Central New York to acquire da Vinci robotic surgery technology and start a comprehensive program for patient care – not long after the FDA approved da Vinci for general surgery, such as cholecystectomy and Nissen fundoplication to treat foregut problems. Surgeons performed 43 robotic surgeries the first (partial) year, nearly quadrupling that number the following year. St. Joseph’s Health has performed 13,284 robotic surgeries to date. As a result, they have attracted the surgical expertise of a range of specialists who use the technology to improve the health of patients, and their robotic surgery program is second to none in the U.S. In addition to the above, St. Joseph’s surgeons are using da Vinci for revascularization (coronary artery bypass), heart valve repair, hiatal hernia repair and other gastric reflux procedures, as well as groin or belly hernias, gynecological procedures, urology (including prostate) procedures and colon procedures. They are the leaders in robotic general surgery cases in Central New York. 

The breadth and depth of surgeon expertise mean patients experience less scarring, shorter hospital stays, faster recoveries, less pain and few infections with da Vinci.

“To continue recruiting high quality surgeons – including our newest surgeon coming in September, we need to have robotic access availability,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Philip Falcone.

“Virtually everyone in a surgical residency and fellowship training receives robotic instruction and expects this to be available in the hospitals where they work. Robotics are now the norm, and access to this technology is an expectation for most surgeons.” 

The Heart of the Robotic Surgery Program at St. Joseph’s Health 

“St. Joseph’s started investing in robotic surgical technology at least 15 years ago,” said Dr. Zhandong Zhou, a cardiac surgeon who performs bypass and valve procedures using da Vinci. “Surgeons can do single bypass surgery, but not many people need single vessel revascularization, so we started doing robotic bypass to the left anterior descending artery, then PCI [percutaneous coronary intervention] to non-LAD territories, which we called ‘hybrid’ revascularization.”

“St. Joseph’s is dedicated to robotic surgery.” “We put resources into it, employ excellent robotic surgeons and lead the market in terms of technology… ”
Dr. Belfield

Defects in the LAD cause widow-maker (often fatal) heart attacks; PCI opens narrowed or blocked sections of the artery, restoring blood flow to the heart.

“One of the major benefits is that patients recover very well, and – after a couple of weeks – they can do pretty much everything,” he said. “The results from this procedure have been wellreceived, but most people need multivessel bypass. Not everybody can have hybrid revascularization bypasses, so we started the multi vessel bypass. Initially, it was stressful, difficult and took a long time. We recently revised the technique to get them done more quickly and achieve identical results to standard surgery. We just presented our results at the STS Coronary Conference and got very positive feedback.”

“There are only a handful of people doing this in the country, and that makes us stand out,” Dr. Zhou said. “We are showing the world we are one of the few hospitals with the technology and expertise to perform robotic revascularization as good as standard surgery and with quicker recovery. Now patients come in and ask for robotic bypass, but the robots are in high demand because there are a lot of specialties using them, so we just don’t have enough spots.”

Dr. Zhou focuses on coronary bypass surgery because so many patients need it. “About half of open heart surgery patients need coronary bypass, and about half need valve surgery,” he said. “Mitral valve repair can be done robotically, but with limited scheduling slots and minimally invasive surgery being very successful – also done through a very small incision – we can do those either robotically or standard using special instruments, and we can do as good a job as with the robot. For the coronary bypass surgery part, we can do more along the lines of bypass, if we have the [scheduling] spots. Down the road, one of the areas to explore is total robotics – make the incision even smaller.”

Dr. Zhou said while the priority right now is catching up on patients needing bypass, there are other things they can do. “If we can get bypass surgery caught up and I find more time, I can do more,” he said. “We do about 1,000 surgeries a year; 400 to 500 of them are coronary bypass surgeries. We have about 100 mitral valve surgeries, some of which can be done robotically, but I can use special instruments and do as good a job. We do about 400 to 500 coronary bypass surgeries; last year, we did about 20 to 30 percent of them robotically. ”

By avoiding sternotomy and using a rib spreader to access the heart, there is less trauma to the body, minimal scarring, very low infection rates, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times. Patients should still expect some discomfort for a few days because of the need for a chest tube.

“After that comes out, things are dramatically better,” he said, adding that cryotherapy is available. “I don’t think patients know the range of options available at St. Joseph’s Health. I’m operating all the time, so I don’t have time to spread the message, but anyone who needs these procedures can call my office. I am happy to talk to them.”

Not everyone is a candidate.

“Some patients are too obese, and that makes it hard,” he said, “and some patients have very small arteries.”

Dr. Balasubramaniam Siva Kumar, a general surgeon who has performed well more than 2,000 robotic surgeries to date, agreed.

“It’s a definite advantage in many surgeries, but it’s not the answer for all surgeries,” Dr. Kumar said. “It’s still not ideal for very large growths and tumors, because it’s riskier to maneuver around larger structures. The size of the patient is a consideration, too. It’s difficult to use robotic surgery in pediatrics because of the positioning required for smaller patients. There is a need to miniaturize the equipment to use robotic surgery in smaller people and on larger masses and growths, as well as extensive cancers.”

Over the years, we’ve been able to maintain the highest standards through a committee approach to program oversight. The range of services is wide and very high-quality.”
Dr. Kumar


Infection rates are almost non-existent because they don’t do sternotomies, Zhou said.

“Chest wall incisions rarely become infected,” he said. “Occasionally, a large breasted woman gets an infection because the incision typically is under the breast, and moisture can collect there; but cosmetically for women, it’s very good. With large breasted women, we can make the incision above the breast to avoid chances of infection.”

Exemplifying the Range of Possibilities

Dr. Kumar started performing robotic surgery about 17 years ago when Chief of Urology, Dr. William Roberts, asked him to collaborate with the urology team to do laparoscopic urologic procedures.

“He asked me to lead an expansion into general surgery,” Dr. Kumar said. “I learned everything I could, and we were among the very first to adopt robotics for general surgery.”

Foregut and hiatal hernia surgeries top the list of robotic procedures Dr. Kumar performs today. He’s also done colon surgery, hernia repair and pancreatic surgeries.

“Robotic technology adds dimension to surgery,” he said. “We can gain a much wider range of access to more radius and with more precision, expanding the ability to do more precise surgeries.”

Dr. Kumar said there also are hybrid procedures that allow access to areas of the body that are difficult to reach and previously required large openings to access. “You can use  robotics to reach the areas, then do hands-on surgical procedures via very small openings,” he said. “I do quite a range of robotic surgeries and don’t plan to add any new ones; however, the technology continues to evolve, and St. Joseph’s Health is working on developing further services in this field.”

Like Dr. Zhou, Dr. Kumar said robotic surgery minimizes trauma to tissue. He said surgeons used to do exploratory surgery with a wide-open field to see inside the body. Now the same results are achieved without that trauma. He said there are benefits to surgeons, also.

“Surgeons can work in a comfortable, seated position and achieve better reach with robotic instruments,” Dr. Kumar said. “They can perform much more intricate procedures for much longer periods of time, and they experience much less fatigue doing laparoscopic surgeries than they did during traditional procedures that required great manipulation.”

St. Joseph’s Health Tailors Care to Each Patient

Dr. Beata Belfield is a minimally invasivetrained general surgeon whose fellowship was in robotic surgery; she was recruited by St. Joseph’s Health for precisely that reason.

“Robotic surgery was an absolute prerequisite for any hospital in which I chose to work,” she said, adding that the program is cutting-edge, and the staff are very happy to help create a great patient experience. “I specialize in gallbladder removal, hernia repair and anti-reflux procedures; I’m very happy with my niche, but I would like to do more acute surgeries – procedures we would otherwise do through a big open incision – emergency procedures I’d prefer to do robotically, if possible.”

Dr. Melinda Stevens, a general surgeon, said she’s been doing robotic surgery since about 2015, starting out with small hernias under the mentorship of Dr. Kumar.

“The smaller the incision, the less risk of infection,” Dr. Stevens said. “As for intra-abdominal complications, they are slightly less with the robot because of the 3D visualization and the ability to handle the tissue with instruments that move exactly like our hands. It’s so much better than standard laparoscopic cameras, which are very good, but it’s better with 3D visualization.”

Dr. Belfield said robotic surgery is a good option for appropriate patients. “Certain procedures are not conducive to being done minimally invasive, so robotic surgery is another tool in our tool kit,” she said. “There are certain hernia procedures I do mostly robotically, then at the very end do something open, such as scar revision or removal of excess skin. But most surgeries are either open or robotic.”

“I’ve since developed further skills with larger, more complicated hernias, colon surgery, emergency surgeries – including appendix – and also use the robot more now for doing gallbladders because of the superior visualization and tissue handling,” Dr. Stevens said. “Every year, I’m growing the list of things I do with robotics vs. what I used to do just laparoscopically.”

Dr. Stevens said she wants to add large, complicated hernias that normally are done with a component separation in open fashion.

“I’d like to do it robotically, which is a longer procedure, but in the end, it’s less post op pain for patients, so it’s worthwhile doing it that way,” she said, adding that certain surgeries are not ideal to be performed robotically.

“Patients who’ve had numerous surgeries and who have a lot of scar tissue may not do well with robotic surgery,” she said. “It is best to talk to your surgeon about whether you’re an ideal candidate, because it’s hard to know what your surgeon will think, even if you’ve had surgery before. Meeting with the surgeon helps patients understand their disease process and whether it is a good option for robotic surgery. We tailor our approach to individual patients.”

Dr. Stevens agreed. “It’s difficult to gain access to the abdomen,” she said. “You really need to be able to fully see everything in order to get in safely to avoid injury to the bowel, in particular. Sometimes we have to convert to open in those patients. Some patients are extremely petite – very thin. For a tiny umbilical or groin hernia, the openfashion incisions for those wouldn’t be much bigger than with the robot, so sometimes it doesn’t make sense to use the robot for those. It’s really patientby- patient. I sit down with my patients and  explain the ins and outs of standard laparoscopic vs. open vs. robotic, and we decide together.”

Drs. Kumar and Belfield emphasized that the robot is one of the tools the surgeon uses – it does not move independently of the surgeon.

Dr. Belfield said she believes robotic instrumentation will get smaller and less expensive as other companies enter the field, driving competitors to make more efficient, smaller, and less expensive technology.

“Years ago, robotic technology was focused on cardiac surgery, but so many specialties use it, there isn’t focus on particular specialties,” Dr. Zhou said. “In a few years when the patent expires, a lot of companies will likely try to come up with new and better technologies.” Dr. Stevens believes some of the instrumentation will result in smaller incisions; she also thinks the number of procedures surgeons are able to do with the robot will continue to increase as more physicians become proficient with the technology, which will allow them to increase the versatility of its use with time and experience.

Dr. Kumar added he thinks technological developments are going to focus on miniaturization for pediatric patients and imaging improvements that will allow 3D images to be overlaid on the patient’s anatomy to better target more precisely something like a tumor.

“Applications will widen,” he said. “Resulting enhancements could mean da Vinci isn’t just a surgical tool anymore, but possibly a treatment delivery method for something like precision radiation completed with surgery. The next 20 years we will see things very different from what we are seeing today.”

Why St. Joseph’s Health?

“St. Joseph’s is dedicated to robotic surgery,” Dr. Belfield said. “We put resources into it, employ excellent robotic surgeons and lead the market in terms of technology. We were the first to have a robot in an outpatient surgical center and the first to have the newer generation of Xi surgical robot in the main hospital. St. Joseph’s is cutting-edge on surgical robotic technology and a high volume center that leads to shorter hospital stays and fewer complications for patients.”

“St. Joseph’s has the longest and broadest range of experience with robotics in Upstate New York,” Dr. Kumar said. “Over the years, we’ve been able to maintain the highest standards through a committee approach to program oversight. The range of services is wide and very high-quality.”

“Our longevity in the field and ability to attract the most talented surgeons are the reasons we get superior results,” Dr. Zhou said.

“St. Joseph’s has been at the forefront of robotic surgery and particularly in the field of general surgery, which really got started doing upper abdominal surgeries, like hiatal hernias,” Dr. Stevens said. “St. Joseph’s has been doing this longer and in significantly higher numbers than any other hospital in the area, and we have continued to increase its use across the breadth of general surgery. We have numerous surgeons with various levels of robotic surgical expertise and experience.

In general surgery, we work as a team, and there’s always someone there to take care of any problem.”

St. Joseph’s:
• leads robotic general surgery cases in Central New York (9,300-plus cases vs. the closest competitor with 7,000);
• has the busiest cardiac robotic program in CNY;
• was the first in CNY to have a da Vinci system at an outpatient facility and the first to have an Xi at a surgery center;
• has performed more than 1,700 robotic cases in 2022 and more than 1,100 so far in 2023;
• have five surgeons who have passed 1,000 robotic cases each; and
• they are the leaders in da Vinci foregut procedures in Central New York, performing 153 cases in 2022 and 102 so far in 2023.

“I think it’s important for people to understand this technology will be the standard of care in many facets of surgery, and it isn’t offered everywhere,” Dr. Stevens said. “Having a hospital filled with surgeons very experienced with the robot is an important option people should know about.” 

Workforce Challenges, Part Two

BY Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor

Earlier this year, I wrote about nursing workforce challenges. As the year has progressed, I find myself bumping into deeper workforce challenges in rural communities; leading the list is housing. I don’t believe this is just a rural issue; I think it extends to urban areas, as well. A few times in my career, I was involved with large organizations that took on housing challenges from building senior and building workforce housing to improving a neighborhood. Some projects required direct involvement as a sponsor; other times, it was acting as a catalyst by attracting a partner. 

So whose responsibility is it to ensure a community has all levels of housing? As short term rentals have gained popularity, much of the low rent stock has been eaten up by more profitable ventures. Teachers, service workers, young families find themselves fighting for access to affordable rentals and first time homes. 

They often have to handle further distances from work, move in with their families or co share a more expensive rental.

Generally, not-for-profits have taken the lead in Central New York, such as Home HeadQuarters, Housing Visions and Christopher Community. Some for-profit builders have also taken on tax credit projects. Tiny Homes for Good addresses the needs of the homeless; others facilitate apartment rentals for special needs populations.

Home HeadQuarters CEO Kerry Quaglia is focused on the rehabilitation of older homes in Syracuse and new construction. Quaglia says new construction often offers a better option to reduce costs to a first-time homebuyer.

“Housing continues to be a major priority for our communities, especially helping low-income and first-time homebuyers access the housing market safely and affordably,” Quaglia said, adding that part of what is slowing his work at adding affordable housing units is finding contractors, who are facing workforce shortages.

Occasionally, I post blog thoughts on LinkedIn and recently issued a challenge to anchor institutions such as colleges and health systems to look at workforce housing as a challenge and strategic requirement. I took notice of the many comments and cheers from colleagues across the country. I hope it stimulated some thinking about next steps. 

While housing projects may not fit the priorities of a small practice, talking to elected officials and developers about locations and needs might. Use your voice to share what you are hearing from your employees and communities. If you sit on anchor institution boards, ask about their plans or conversations on this topic.
Communities that look at this issue and offer tax incentives or deed restrictions, or land banks dedicated to workforce development, will begin to solve workforce challenges at all levels.

Further resources on this topic:
“Adirondack Housing at a Threshhold”: https:// www.adirondackexplorer.o g/stories/adirondack- housing-at-a-crossroads

“In Vail, housing shortage threatens America’s ski wonderland”: https:// sports-colorado- sheep-vail-7a622d88e2678b32ce-

Local resources:
Christopher Community
Home HeadQuarters
Housing Visions
Two Plus Four Construction

Kathryn Ruscitto, Advisor, can be reached at or at


Dr. Praveena Paruchuri, MD Joins Auburn Heart Institute

Praveena Paruchuri, MD, is a cardiology specialist with 17 years of experience. She comes to Auburn Cardiology from St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York. Dr. Paruchuri has also practiced in a number of the largest cardiology departments in New York City hospitals including NYU Long Island Hospital, as the Director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

Dr. Paruchuri attended Saint George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, and completed her residency program at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY. Additionally, she completed her General Cardiology Fellowship at Winthrop University. She is board certified in cardiovascular disease, Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, Nuclear Cardiology, and Internal Medicine.

Dr. Paruchuri is skilled in assessing conditions ranging from routine to complex adult congenital heart disease and devising treatments in line with the latest research and treatment protocols. She also is proficient in multi modality cardiac imaging including structural TEE, cardiac CTs, echocardiograms, and nuclear stress testing. Dr. Paruchuri is known for building excellent rapport with patients and colleagues to facilitate effective clinical care and has a passion for caring for women’s cardiology issues. “I am excited to join a growing cardiology practice at Auburn Community Hospital and to be able to practice in the Auburn community and be a part of building the Auburn Heart Institute,” she said.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Paruchuri join the Auburn Heart Institute. She has an exceptional background and considerable experience in caring for patients in some of the most prestigious New York City cardiology institutions. By securing Dr. Paruchuri’s services, we are well on our way to achieving our goal of developing a world-class heart institute in Auburn. N.Y.,” said Ronald Kirshner MD, Chair and Medical Director of the Auburn Heart Institute (AHI). Dr. Paruchuri is accepting new patients now. 

Please call Auburn Cardiology
17 Lansing Street, Auburn NY

Crouse’s Pomeroy College of Nursing Settles into New Location

By Molly English-Bowers

After more than 100 years on University Hill, Pomeroy College of Nursing at Crouse Hospital has moved to the Crouse Medical Center at 5000 Brittonfield Pkwy., East Syracuse. In late 2021, Syracuse University purchased the Marley Education Center at 765 Irving Ave., which the college had occupied since 1991. The relocation, just nine miles from Crouse Hospital, benefits students and college staff with minimal adjustment. “It’s a win-win for our students,” said Patty Morgan, MS, RN, Dean of the College, adding that students attend Pomeroy to become registered nurses. “This is a new facility accessible to our students just off I-481, near the state Thruway and our general education partner, Le Moyne College.” The facility was intentionally designed to meet the needs of all students, creating an excellent student experience within a dynamic learning environment. Available to students enrolled at Pomeroy are:
• three classrooms of increasing size, equipped with smartboards, video/ audio recording capabilities and comfortable seating;
• a library with thousands of books, journals and videos related to nursing and medicine, including access to online databases and texts;
• a nursing skills lab with seven patient treatment bays and mannequins that parallel a hospital acute-care setting;
• a simulation center with two fully functioning patient rooms and three high-fidelity mannequins – adult, birthing mother and baby;
• a biology lab used for teaching microbiology and anatomy and physiology;
• several areas for quiet study, group study and a student lounge for relaxation and student interaction;
• a computer lab;
• a highly regarded nursing faculty, many of whom are graduates of the college; and
• ample free parking. 

The nursing skills and simulation center areas allow students the opportunity to work with faculty and one another to grow and develop. “These areas augment students’ education,” Morgan said. “We are not using these areas to replace the clinical experience gained only in a hospital setting, rather providing students with a safe space to develop and practice their skills.” 

The modern simulation center features various high-fidelity mannequins that can be programmed with more than 200 scenarios intended to represent real patient experiences often encountered in hospitals. Scenarios involving the birthing mother and baby allow students to learn about the management of two patients at once, accessing newborn health and the immediate needs of a postpartum mother simultaneously.

Faculty members and simulation staff control the scenarios via computer terminals located in a control room centered between patient rooms. Faculty are able to watch students complete simulation experiences via one-way glass, providing immediate feedback, if necessary. A debrief room completes the space, where students and faculty are able to view a video/audio recording of their simulation experience and discuss what went well and what requires further development – providing an excellent learning opportunity for students. 

“Simulation experiences are not graded,” said Amy Graham, Assistant Dean for Enrollment. “They are intended to help students gain knowledge and experience, as well as to learn to think critically and develop teamwork.” 

Extensive clinical experience is one of the strengths of the Pomeroy curriculum, said Morgan. Students begin clinical rotations early in their first semester/ term of study. Student-to-faculty ratios during rotations are typically nineto-one, with rotations taking place at Crouse Hospital, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Hutchings Psychiatric Center.

“The fact that the college is affiliated with Crouse Hospital means that our clinical education component is very strong,” said Graham. “Students develop professional relationships, often leading to employment opportunities.”

Another strength that Morgan touted is the nursing faculty. “They are knowledgeable, supportive and skilled in the classroom and clinical environment,” she said. In fact, many members of the faculty are Crouse graduates.

The college’s career placement rate, which measures the percentage of graduates who obtained a position as a registered nurse within 12 months of graduation, is consistently in the high 90s, noted Morgan. Many  graduates choose to begin their professional nursing careers at Crouse Hospital, while others choose to practice elsewhere, depending upon their desired specialty or geographic location post-graduation. The latest figures published on the college’s website show placement rates of 98 percent in 2019, 97 percent in 2020 and 95 percent in 2021. 

An important indicator of any associate degree nursing education program is the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN exam first-time pass rate. Pomeroy’s pass rate is consistently higher than state and federal rates, most currently at 92 percent, said Graham. Students prepare for the licensing exam in various ways throughout their matriculation at the college, including testing. Additionally, Morgan said, students complete a fourday NCLEX RN preparation and review course prior to graduation. 

Pomeroy College of Nursing at Crouse Hospital offers three options for students to earn their degree. The traditional day option gives students the opportunity to earn an associate degree in applied science with a major in nursing in four semesters. The evening/weekend option allows students to earn their degree in just 16 months and is ideal for those with daytime commitments. The Degree-in- Three option with Le Moyne College allows students to earn both their associate degree and bachelor of science degree in nursing in three years while studying simultaneously at Pomeroy and Le Moyne.

Beginning in 2017, New York state began requiring registered nurses interested in practicing in the state to earn their B.S. in nursing within 10 years of being licensed. The initial associate degree qualifies a graduate to work as a graduate nurse, sit for the licensing exam and then work as a registered nurse. The Degree-in-Three option provides a continuous pathway to the bachelor in nursing degree without the worry of the looming 10-year requirement. 

Students who choose to do so may complete their general education course requirements elsewhere and, if successful, transfer those credits into Pomeroy. Included are science courses – anatomy and physiology, microbiology and nutrition – and English and psychology courses. Completing general education courses prior to matriculation at the college is especially helpful to students enrolled in the evening/weekend option, though all students may begin their nursing education at Pomeroy with all or some of those courses completed elsewhere. 

Pomeroy College of Nursing at Crouse Hospital admission applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with target dates of April 1 for fall admission and Sept. 1 for spring admission. Applications and additional information can be found online at The college may be reached via phone at (315) 470-7481 or via email at