A handful of the city’s most impactful health care heroes and crucial supporters of the field were “unmasked” at the NYC Health + Hospitals gala in Corona on Thursday, Nov. 30.
The Heroes “Unmasked” Community Gala was hosted by Cheryl Wills, an Emmy award winning journalist and anchor at NY1 Spectrum. Wills announce the honorees and invited them on stage to deliver remarks to over 100 health care professionals who attended the event at Terrace on the Park.
Each honoree had a video made in recognition, which was played on screens across the room before they accepted their award. It gave attendees a glimpse into their day-to-day work.
Dr. Michelle Allen, senior vice president and systems chief medical officer at NYC Health + Hospitals, was one of the night’s honorees. Throughout her extensive career, she served as an attending physician at Harlem and Bellevue hospitals before being appointed as the system CMO in 2017.
“It is elevating that the work that I’ve been trying to do and has been recognized by people I respect, whether they’re the environmental services workers, dieticians, nutritionists and nurses or the CEO,” Dr. Allen said in a video played during the gala. “In order to make a difference, sometimes you have to cause a little bit of trouble.”
She took the time to praise the health care workers who “prefer not to live the uncomplicated life” and instead go against the status quo to serve some of the most vulnerable people.
Another honoree, Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur, chief medical officer for both Queens and Elmhurst Hospitals, is also a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and dean for Elmhurst/Queens Programs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“I cannot tell you how appreciative our patients are by the care that we receive from its hospital,” said Dr. Moshirpur. “Our staff is proud that we are able to provide the best care to the community.”
“On behalf of the medical executive committee at Queens Hospital and the entire medical staff, we appreciate you and we thank you for your years of mentoring support, wisdom and service,” said Dr. Marcy R. Stein-Albert on behalf of Dr. Moshipur’s 30 years of service.
Dr. Yusufal Mamoon, a Queens Hospital physician in Jamaica who focuses on the geriatric community, was also honored for his 30 years of service in Queens. He was one of the doctors who worked directly with patients when Queens was the epicenter of the pandemic.
The organizers of the event took the opportunity to play a Vice documentary about a patient at Queens Hospital who was put on a ventilator for 29 days from COVID-19, but ultimately recovered in the hospital and was released. It also showed the emotional turmoil that Queens health care workers experienced during the height of the pandemic
Some of the honorees of the night weren’t health care professionals themselves, but have contributed time and resources to improving health care in Queens.
Hari Hariharan, a Queens businessman and chairman and CEO of NWI Management LP, a global macro hedge fund, was one of the honorees. In April 2021, he donated $1 million to NYC Health + Hospitals in Queens. The donation was used to power a new diabetes management service, as well as update equipment and exam rooms.
“I was again just blown away by the quality of care and compassion, the attention in which this hospital provides to people,” said Hariharan, after mentioning that he received his first COVID vaccine at a Queens hospital during a time when securing an appointment was difficult. “It just opened my eyes, a fantastic experience.”
Loida Lewis, former immigration lawyer and co-founder of the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, was another honoree who is not a health care worker, but has made significant contributions to the community. She took the opportunity to offer words of support to women in the health care field who are struggling with imposter syndrome.
“Especially for women, sometimes an opportunity comes and you tell yourself ‘I’m afraid.’ But you will never be ready,” said Lewis. “Just say, ‘I can do it’ because you can do it. You learn the job as you go along.”
The event also featured a silent and live auction where attendees bid on everything from tropical vacations to Yankees tickets as part of fundraising efforts by the hospital.