For longtime Wantagh resident Joe Fennessy, leading the way for South Nassau Communities Hospital to find a health care affiliate on Nassau’s South Shore, to partner and grow with, was a “labor of love.”
Those in the area Fennessy has called home since 1983 would be able to receive the high level of medical care here on Long Island — after previously having to travel into the City. SNCH would become a “flagship” hospital, expand and be able to offer more complex medical services.
Fennessy, meanwhile, would get to continue attending the sports games of his five grandchildren, who live close by.
So, choosing Fennessy — the perennial volunteer, who SNCH officials say has given much time, energy and expertise to the hospital board — as an honoree for South Nassau’s annual soirée, was a no-brainer for the selection committee.
“Joe Fennessy was instrumental in helping to forge the affiliation between South Nassau and Mount Sinai, one of the world’s leading medical institutions,” said South Nassau’s president and CEO, Richard J. Murphy. “This move will benefit patients on the South Shore and across Long Island for decades to come. Joe helped steer a yearlong search process by our board that led us to Mount Sinai. This honor is well-deserved.”
Fennessy, in a phone interview, before heading out to his second game of the day for one of his grandchildren, said he was honored and pleased to be the guy who led the committee. He gave much of the credit to the committee members.
“The six individuals on the board spent about a year and half in the exercise of planning and studying and understanding the marketplace, and who the potential candidates were,” said Fennessy. “This group studied hard, did their homework, listened, paid attention and ultimately made a unanimous choice. My job was to keep it moving forward.”
The soirée where Joe will be honored takes place on Sept. 29 at the Seawane Club in Hewlett. Funds raised will support the hospital’s five-year, $10-million capital campaign to nearly double the size of its emergency department. The renovation, already underway, will accommodate at least 80,000 patient visits each year, and establish dedicated treatment areas for pediatric and behavioral health patients.
Final regulatory approval of the Mount Sinai-South Nassau affiliation is pending, and a closing on the deal — which was announced in January — is expected this fall.
“My work at South Nassau has been a labor of love,” Fennessy said. “I care deeply about the institution, which provides such tremendous care for patients who often are in desperate need. I am humbled and honored to be recognized. . . The Mount Sinai affiliation is the culmination of a long process that was designed to steer South Nassau into the future.”
Fennessy has served on South Nassau’s board of directors since September 2003, and was elected chairman in June 2012. He is a retired former partner and chief operating officer of Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Northeast region.
“It’s great for the South Shore of Long Island,” Fennessy said of the merger. “A lot of people feel compelled to travel into Manhattan for high-quality medical care. Our vision was to replicate that kind of care right here on the South Shore, so people didn’t have to go through all the aggravation of going into the city. Let’s build that capability right here on the South Shore.”
Fennessy has also volunteered with St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Parish and their Catholic Youth Organization. He was inducted him into their Hall of Honor for his service as the volunteer head coach of his daughter’s CYO basketball team. He has also been named an Epilepsy Foundation Distinguished Long Islander, and Suffolk Community Council Distinguished Business Leader.
Anthony Cancellieri, vice chair of the SNCH Board of Directors, said Fennessy has been extremely generous with his time, especially over the last two years in search of a partnership for SNCH, during which he “navigated some tricky waters.”
“This search to participate with another hospital was one of the most critical periods for SNCH since 1928,” Cancellieri said. “With the help of our consultants, Joe helped steer the affiliation committee through a list of interested hospitals. It took someone like Joe, with his leadership and abilities — his dedication of time and energy.”
“He’s a good friend,” Cancellieri continued. “He makes it easier for me to go to work there and meet with him. He’s a good family man, a good leader. He gets along with everyone.”
“I’m the chairman of the soirée, and it was very easy to select Joe this year as an honoree — for his commitment to the hospital,” Cancellieri added.