A knight in shining armor


| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center
Photo courtesy of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

With the closing of so many hospitals, it’s been amazing to many that Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, which straddles the border of Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Queens’ Ridgewood, has survived. Not that it hasn’t been a bumpy road.

But it appears a “knight in shining armor” has arrived to save the hospital for the growing, bustling, gentrified communities it serves. This year, Wyckoff Heights reported a $3.7 million surplus — unheard of in these troubling times. It is a turnaround of tremendous importance to the people it serves.

I had the pleasure recently of meeting the hospital’s new CEO, Ramon Rodriguez. Given his passion, knowledge and compassion, I feel he will make Wyckoff the pride of community hospitals. He is a man perfectly positioned to make that happen.

Ironically, Rodriguez had been part of the decision to merge Wyckoff with Interfaith and Brooklyn Hospitals. After he was hired by the board, he voted against the merger. After less than two years, Rodriguez is beginning to turn the hospital around, and there is now a surplus! It is a most remarkable achievement in these challenging times. But I wasn’t surprised.

He “took the bull by the horns” and reconfigured medical staff, ended physicians’ perks and reorganized the board of trustees. A new tone was being set and Rodriguez charged ahead with changes he saw necessary for Wyckoff’s survival and growth.

The board obviously has recognized its new CEO’s acumen. As an attorney he worked with the Mario Cuomo administration, heading up the Parole Board. He was brought back to government by our present governor after years of running health care and health insurance agencies.

I was touched by the fact he has a child diagnosed on the autism spectrum and has lived through the challenges I did, too, fighting constantly for services for our children. Nothing sensitizes anyone like living it, a quality that will help him navigate the choppy waters of today’s health care.

As a role model who knows both worlds, I see how Michael Dowling has built a mega hospital system for North Shore-LIJ Hospitals. Hopefully Rodriguez will be as successful in the most western part of our borough, becoming Wyckoff’s “knight in shining armor.”

After all, 1,800 employees, 300 medical staff and a community of hundreds of thousands are counting on him. He seems to have the “right stuff,” and is partnering with community doctors on the way toward success.