Kerri Anne Scanlon always wanted to be a nurse. Her mother, Mildred O’Connor, was the director of nursing at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital until 1959, and then worked at the now shuttered Lutheran Hospital in Smithtown through the 1980s.
“I used to watch my mother with patients, and she was making a difference,” Scanlon said. “I thought that if I could be half the nurse she was and half the mother she was, I’d be doing well. I wanted to make a difference, too.”
Scanlon, 50, has been doing just that since 1993, when she became a registered nurse. Married and the mother of two, the Smithtown resident advanced in her career quickly, becoming an administrator at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, North Shore University Hospital and Northwell Health in a variety of leadership positions, before coming to Glen Cove Hospital as its executive director. She will start her new job Nov. 4.
“I’m the person they ask to build something. Then they ask me to go someplace else and build something else,” she said. “I’m excited about going to Glen Cove Hospital. I will bring my years of progressive senior leadership experience to continue to build on the excellent foundation at the hospital and develop teams.”
Northwell is committed to Glen Cove Hospital’s future, Scanlon said. That’s good news for people living in Glen Cove and its surrounding communities. Residents, public officials and even doctors attended a rally in October 2013 outside St. Gertrude’s Church in Bayville to protest North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System’s plan at the time to turn the hospital into an ambulatory center.
But that never happened. The hospital still has beds for medical and surgical patients, and a fully staffed emergency department and intensive care unit. It also offers inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient community-based and home-based services. What it lost was cancer services, which were moved to the Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Lake Success, and the orthopedics joint replacement surgery program, which relocated to Syosset Hospital. Some residents still say they are uncertain about what remains at Glen Cove Hospital.
Scanlon said she was committed to clarifying what the hospital offers and strengthening its services. “I want people to know the hospital is here to serve the community, and is not going away,” she said. “I want to create an environment top to bottom that patients will want to go to and where staff will want to work. ”
Dr. Alessandro Bellucci, executive director of North Shore University Hospital, said that Northwell Health is putting one of its best leaders at Glen Cove Hospital. “It’s not easy to find in a leader with vision, passion for patient care and operational strength to make the impossible happen,” Belluci said. “The Glen Cove community will be thrilled that Kerri will be there to transform the hospital to what it needs to be for the community.”
Scanlon has a background of success. In 2009, when she was the chief nursing officer and associate executive director of LIJ Medical Center, she was awarded the National Nursing Excellence Award, presented by Nursing Spectrum magazine, for her efforts in “advancing and leading the profession.”
In 2017, under Scanlon’s leadership, the neonatal intensive care unit at NSUH received a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
The following year, NSUH was awarded Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, based on the “world-class care” delivered by its 2,100 nurses. To receive the honor, a hospital must demonstrate excellence in nursing and patient care, as well as innovation in professional nursing practice. According to the ANCC, there are 461 Magnet hospitals in the United States, and only 8.28 percent of hospitals nationwide have earned Magnet status.
Graduating as a registered nurse from Columbia University in 1993, where she received a full scholarship, Scanlon worked for a year full-time, and then for a year and a half part-time at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville as a surgical nurse, where she cared for a wide range of patients, including those with AIDS.
“As a young nurse, I learned what the true meaning of empathy was,” she said. “It was an honor to care to for patients with such complex medical, social and emotional needs. They truly were at their most vulnerable state. It was a time when, unfortunately, many felt isolated and afraid.”
Her goal, she said, was to make the AIDS patients feel safe, cared for and valued. “We are so fortunate we have come so far in the treatment of HIV,” she said, “but we learned that touch and warmth are sometimes just as important as the medical treatment someone is receiving.”
When she went to North Shore University Hospital in 1994, she continued to work at Lawrence Hospital on the weekends, caring for the AIDS patients.
Scanlon said that she was offered other jobs at different hospitals, but had long wanted to work at NSUH because her family members had been treated there. She began her career there as a cardiothoracic intensive care nurse.
Between 1995 and 1997, she was promoted, becoming a critical care nurse educator, and then the health system’s assistant director of quality management, director of quality and case management, and assistant vice president of quality management and regulatory affairs.
“I was meeting with staff and developing standards of care,” she said. “The things we complained about, I was involved in creating protocols, like to enhance the care at bedside. I got to go to hospitals and spent time at Glen Cove Hospital, where I got to know the leadership.”
The experience was about working with local hospitals for support, and also learning the communities’ needs so they could be met. She became the chief nursing officer at LIJ Medical Center in 2005, as well as associate executive director for patient care services. By then, Scanlon had overseen every department, from pharmacy to social workers, and she began to build teams among the different departments.
“I loved LIJ, the nurses, physicians. Everyone was completely engaged and provided spectacular care,” she said. “Between 2005 and 2013, we were rebuilding LIJ Medical Center for $380 million to create a tower with 170 private rooms.”
Scanlon went to North Shore University Hospital in 2013 to serve as deputy chief nurse executive for Northwell Health. In 2018, she was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing as a Fellow.
Maureen White, executive vice president and chief nurse executive at Northwell Health, worked with Scanlon for 15 years. “Kerri has not changed over the years. She must have drunk from the fountain of youth,” White said. “She remains very personable, innovative and creative. Kerri never sees anything as an obstacle, just as a challenge.”
Scanlon was also a great mentor for others at the hospital, White added. Then she paused. “I’ll miss her, but I know she’ll do a great job at Glen Cove Hospital.”