East Harlem Hospital's New CEO Ushers in Era of Culturally Competent Care

The city's hospital system is moving toward having its leadership better reflect the communities it serves. This Hispanic Heritage Month, NY1's Erin Billups sat down with the new CEO of Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan, Alina Moran.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan CEO Alina Moran's life began at what used to be called Metropolitan Hospital Center.

"When they came here from Puerto Rico, my parents actually lived on 116th Street. So Metropolitan was the closest hospital to them, so they chose to have me here and my brother as well," she says.

And now Moran is running the facility - now called NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan with nearly 400,000 annual patient visits, overseeing 2,600 employees, with 58 percent of patients identifying as Latino.

She's been with the city's hospital system for 17 years, starting in the financial office at Bellevue. On September 11, 2001, she helped out in the emergency room.

"That was really a turning point for me. It was really the first time I understood the impact of healthcare outside of just providing care to patients. How we're there to ensure that patients and family members feel comforted, that they feel like they have a safe space," says Moran.

She rose through the system's ranks including a stop as Chief Financial Officer at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens before coming to Metropolitan. She says her experience as a child being an interpreter for her family guides her as she pushes her hospital toward more culturally competent care.

"We have staff that are certified interpreters, a lot of the staff is bilingual. So you're not putting that burden on a child who is growing up. Some of the words, I didn't know how to say in English, let alone in Spanish," says Moran.

The hope is with new leadership that truly understands the community more New Yorkers will consider making Metropolitan and other city hospitals their healthcare homes.

"A lot of our patients are undocumented and really can't receive healthcare anywhere else," says Moran.

About 30 percent of Metropolitan's patients are uninsured, highlighting the problem facing the struggling hospital system - the safety net for poor New Yorkers. The goal is to make them healthier and bring in more patients who are eligible for insurance, but maybe haven't felt welcome or understood in the hospital setting.

"There are a lot of misconceptions still out in the community. Part of our job is to alleviate that tension or that fear," says Moran.

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