Women Leaders

Lorraine Chambers Lewis, Northwell Health

Lorraine Chambers Lewis

Ensuring Employee
and Patient Safety

Editors’ Note

Lorraine Chambers Lewis provides vision, direction, and oversight for the 17 Northwell Health EHS offices that provide comprehensive occupational health services to its more than 68,000 team members. Her career with Northwell Health began in 2002 as the Supervising Physician Assistant of LIJ Medical Center’s Emergency Department. In 2007, she was appointed Northwell’s Corporate Director of EHS. In 2012, she led the development of Northwell Health’s first Injury Management and Prevention team. She graduated with distinction from Hofstra University with an M.B.A. Lewis has also earned the distinction of board certification in healthcare management by becoming a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. A long-standing member of the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare, Lewis now serves as President of the New York Chapter.

Institution Brief

Northwell Health (northwell.edu) delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and a visionary approach to medical education, highlighted by the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. Northwell Health is the largest integrated healthcare system in New York State with a total workforce of more than 68,000 employees.

Will you provide an overview of Employee Health Services at Northwell Health?

Employee Health is ultimately about impacting the health and safety of our workforce and ensuring a safe patient care environment. As we bring new team members into our organization, we make sure that they don’t have any specific issues that might be a danger to our patients.

We also want to be sure that team members are protected as they work in healthcare settings. By doing those two things, we help keep all the team members healthy and productive.

For instance, we provide immunizations and training on respiratory protective equipment for our staff to help them maintain their health by protecting them from certain pathogens they may be exposed to in the work environment.

How critical is it to develop and maintain engagement with your team members after they join Northwell?

It’s critical for us to stay engaged with all team members throughout their careers at Northwell Health. There are multiple services that we provide that will be required of them in the future for patient safety reasons as well as other recommended services that help keep them safe and healthy. We need to establish this relationship early.

We want them to understand that we are here for their occupational health needs and as a resource for information regarding various services that are available throughout the organization. Whether it is a referral to the Employee and Family Assistance Program or the smoking cessation program, we can help. We make sure that all the EHS managers across our organization are aware of these services so that we can be effective resources for the team members.

One of our primary tasks is to provide treatment and support should a team member have an inadvertent exposure to an infectious disease. We follow up on vaccinations and treatments to make sure that they’re protected as effectively as possible. Then we partner with Infection Prevention and Safety departments to review cases carefully and identify the source of any safety concerns, with the goal of eliminating them.

We are also here to assist with employee fit-for-duty assessments. If there is a concern regarding a team member’s ability to return to work or continue working, due to a medical concern, we play an important role. We work with the employee, the provider treating them and human resources to find solutions that support the employee’s best interest and organizational needs.

Our objective is to provide great occupational healthcare and ensure we do everything possible to ensure employee and patient safety.