A listing of 11 “power players” in the Rochester region’s health care industry.
Chief Medical Officer, University of Rochester Medical Center
As chief medical officer, Apostolakos has been at the forefront of leading the University of Rochester Medical Center’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has worked with state and local leaders to develop plans that balance preventing the virus from spreading with caring for patients.
“The faculty and staff have remained positive and steadfast in caring for patients, families and each other despite all of this year’s challenges,” he says of the health system’s work this year.
As COVID-19 cases have surged in recent weeks, Apostolakos is frank about what the future holds.
“The industry will continue to be under stress caring for both COVID and non-COVID illness,” he says.
Apostolakos received a Health Care Achievement Award in the Innovation category from the RBJ in 2010.
He has served as president of the New York State Thoracic Society as well as the New York State Chapter Representative to the American Thoracic Society. He is an active member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and is course director for the Fundamentals of Critical Care Support Course. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
President and CEO, Rochester Regional Health
Bieber took over as president and CEO of Rochester Regional Health in November 2014, four months after the region’s second-largest health system was created by the merger of Unity Health System and Rochester General Health System.
He has worked since then to grow the health system through acquisitions and affiliations, and that expansion has continued this year even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This fall, Rochester Regional Health opened the Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care, which broke ground in May 2017. The 312,000-square-foot center at Rochester General Hospital is the largest project in the hospital’s history and increases its footprint by 33 percent.
Bieber also announced this fall that the health system’s Isabella Graham Hart School of Practical Nursing will expand by moving into the building that used to house Macy’s at the former Irondequoit Mall.
With the pandemic raging, it might have been tempting to delay opening the Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care or to slow down on expansion, but Bieber sees opportunity instead.
“One of the challenges for us is to be forward-thinking,” he said. “What are the right things to do in spite of the current challenges? Some might ask, ‘Why the heck would you do this now?’ but frankly, there’s no better time than now.”
Professor of psychiatry, University of Rochester
Director, University of Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony Center
Director, Laboratory of Interpersonal Violence and Victimization at the University of Rochester Medical Center
Cerulli is a licensed attorney with a Ph.D. in criminal justice who has been working with victims of violence in a variety of capacities since 1983. In her current roles, she advocates for social justice and works to improve violence prevention and intervention efforts.
She takes pride in that both of her teams “were able to quickly adapt to working remotely, meeting the needs of our constituents (i.e. students, community members, research participants) in a respectful manner. All understood people were in different states of readiness to respond to COVID (i.e. computer and internet access, etc.).”
As the community continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Cerulli knows that will mean different things for different people.
“To continue adapting to the aftermath of COVID means understanding that recovery is not just physical health and economic growth, but also people healing emotionally and spiritually as they mourn many losses of loved ones, events, and milestones,” she says.
This year Cerulli was selected as one of six Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows and began working in Washington, D.C., in September on health-related legislative and regulatory issues.
President & CEO, Trillium Health
In the six years that DeMeo has led Trillium Health, the number of patients the community health center cares for has increased more than tenfold. DeMeo has built on Trillium’s legacy of caring for those with emerging diseases and has expanded services to serve other vulnerable communities.
“As the leader of this organization I feel my biggest responsibility is to ensure we are responsive to the emerging needs of our community,” she says. “We treat everyone who walks through our doors with care and compassion, and work hard to ensure that everyone has access to the high-quality affordable health care that is an inalienable right for all.”
DeMeo highlights how quickly Trillium was able to pivot to continue serving patients when COVID-19 hit our region.
“Within the span of just one week, we rapidly operationalized virtual care for our patients, formed partnerships to bring COVID-19 testing and now primary care and flu vaccines to the communities of people most at risk through our Mobile Access Clinic, ensured everyone could receive their prescription medication by providing pharmacy delivery and curbside pickup, continuing to address food insecurity by modifying operations to ensure physically distanced food distribution and harm reduction services all the while continuing our work to end the HIV epidemic, address the opioid epidemic and services that address health equity,” she says.
DeMeo was inducted into the RBJ’s Circle of Excellence as part of the Women of Excellence awards program this year.
President and CEO, Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital
Goldstein has been at Strong Memorial Hospital since 1996, after leaving his role as president and CEO of Rochester General Hospital to join the University of Rochester’s flagship medical facility. He took over stewardship of Highland Hospital as well soon after that.
Goldstein directs all aspects of the hospitals’ operations and he has helped grow Strong into an award-winning hospital with more than 39,000 annual admissions.
Between them, Strong and Highland hospitals employ more than 16,000 people and had more than 53,000 admissions in 2019.
Goldstein has served on the American Hospital Association’s board of trustees. When the country was shaping health care reform, he took part in determining efforts hospitals could take to find savings in the health care delivery system.
Chief Medical Officer, Rochester Regional Health
Mayo became Rochester Regional Health’s Chief Medical Officer in 2014 when the health system was created by the merger of Rochester General Health System and Unity Health System. He had previously held the same position at Rochester General Hospital.
Among other responsibilities, Mayo leads the patient safety and regulatory functions for Rochester Regional and has been intimately involved in the health system’s response to COVID-19.
“RRH has achieved tremendous coordination to successful implementation of COVID related policies and procedures,” he says.
Mayo points out that the health care industry needs to ensure that it does not lose sight of other health concerns in the face of COVID-19.
“Health care will continue to manage COVID and will need to simultaneously ensure that preventive care, and chronic disease management are sustained and advanced,” he says.
Commissioner, Monroe County Department of Public Health
Mendoza has been the community’s guiding light on COVID-19, giving countless briefings and interviews on the virus, the county’s response and what people should be doing to limit the spread.
“It’s important for us to do the work behind the scenes, but ultimately the impact we have on the community is only as good as the trust we earn through being transparent, evidence-based, and clear in our analysis and communication,” he says. “Our job is to provide accurate and timely information to ensure that the public is knowledgeable and equipped to make healthy decisions that not only affect us as individuals, but as a community.”
While COVID-19 will continue to be a priority in 2021, Mendoza hopes to refocus the department on other core areas such as mental health and substance use.
“Some of these areas have been made more challenging as a result of COVID, but in general our commitment has not changed,” he says. “Our focus on adverse childhood events and trauma remain central to our approach to prevention. I want to continue our collaboration across the community — whether with health care systems or local nonprofits focused on health.”
Mendoza was honored by the RBJ in 2019 with a Health Care Achievement Award in the Physicians category and this year as a COVID-19 Hero at the Health Care Heroes awards.
Wade S. Norwood
CEO, Common Ground Health
Norwood has led Common Ground Health for two years, and has pushed the nonprofit to become a change agent for the region’s at-risk residents.
“I am incredibly proud of the way in which Common Ground Health staff have found powerful ways to leverage our data, analytics, community engagement and convening to meet the demands of these unprecedented and challenging times,” Norwood says.
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on health inequities, on the way in which poverty exacerbates these inequities, and how urgently we need to reinforce our commitment to addressing housing, education, employment, transportation and other social determinants of health.”
Norwood is a staunch proponent of working to improve health outcomes by working to reduce poverty.
“I take very seriously my responsibility to advance the understanding that health improvement must extend beyond the four walls of the doctor’s office or hospital,” he says.
The next step in advancing that understanding will be to conduct the next iteration of Common Ground Health’s My Health Story survey in 2021.
“The massive undertaking aims to ensure that the lived experience of residents continues to be captured and updated; and to help guide collaborative efforts to improve health across government, business, health care, education and other sectors,” Norwood says.
Chief Operating Officer, Strong Memorial Hospital; Executive Vice President, University of Rochester Medical Center
Parrinello has been COO at Strong Memorial Hospital since 2000. Her key focus areas include program growth and expansion of services to better serve regional communities and establishing sustainable improvements in patient experience and employee engagement. Those skills have been crucial as she has helped lead URMC’s response to COVID-19.
“We have cared for our community by keeping them safe and providing them with high-quality health care. At the same time, we have continued to be a great place to work for health care professionals and staff members,” she says. “Our teams have been resilient and innovative during our response, redesign and recovery efforts associated with this pandemic.”
As a health care leader, Parrinello feels a responsibility to provide “one standard of care regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, in an environment that is consistently inclusive and respectful.”
Parrinello has served on several local boards, including the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, the Greater Rochester Community Technology Assessment Advisory Board and the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System Board.
CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center; Dean, School of Medicine & Dentistry
Taubman served as acting CEO of the health system in 2009 while CEO Bradford Berk recovered from a spinal injury sustained in a bicycle accident. He then took the CEO position permanently in 2015 when Berk stepped down and also became dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the first UR leader to hold both positions.
Under Taubman’s leadership, the health system in recent years has sought unique ways to expand its services, including an agreement to offer services at local YMCA sites; a first-of-its-kind initiative to innovate connections between health and the arts; and a planned orthopedic center at The Marketplace Mall.
In response to criticism of URMC’s treatment in the Daniel Prude case, the health system rolled out a five-year Equity & Anti-Racism Action Plan that outlines strategies to strengthen diversity across the system.
“It’s more imperative than ever, that we act now and attack this problem,” Taubman said in announcing the plan.
Taubman is a member of the American Heart Association, the American Society of Hypertension, the Association of University Cardiologists, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Executive Vice President, Chief Physician Enterprise Officer, Rochester Regional Health
Wiefling assumed her current position in August after spending four-plus years as senior vice president for the RRH Primary Care and Ambulatory Specialty Institute and chief innovation officer. She is responsible for supporting and promoting the strategic growth of the health system’s physician group.
In her primary care role as the COVID-19 pandemic first hit our region, Wiefling played a key role in Rochester Regional Health’s response to the crisis through expanded telemedicine services, at-home monitoring equipment, a drive-up coronavirus testing site and more.
Before joining Rochester Regional Health, Wiefling served in several other local health care leadership roles. She was co-director of Finger Lakes Performing Provider System for nearly seven years and CEO of Anthony L. Jordan Health Corporation for five years.
Wiefling was honored with a Women of Excellence award by the RBJ in 2019. Outside of the medical field, she serves on the boards of the Al Sigl Center and The College at Brockport.