New Leadership Continuing the Vision for Syracuse Community Health

By Elizabeth Landry

2024 marks the start of another new chapter for Syracuse Community Health, with Ofrona Reid, MD, MBA, MS taking the helm as Interim President and CEO this past January. Reid was previously the Chief Medical Officer at Oneida Health, having re-located to Oneida from the Bronx, where he grew up. His experiences in his youth have contributed to his sense of passion for leading Syracuse Community Health, a vital health care organization in Central New York that serves those who are uninsured, disadvantaged or who face other obstacles to receiving quality healthcare.

“Growing up in the same type of community with similar struggles, barriers and exposures gave me a sense of what’s needed in the greater Syracuse community, as well as the desire to really make a change,” Reid said. “My ultimate passion and vision are to design and deliver a high-quality care model that focuses on providing health equity to patients who unfortunately are vulnerable and under-served in our community.”

Reid and the leadership team at SCH have laid plans for several initiatives aimed at increasing access to quality healthcare for the impoverished communities in Central New York. SCH will be expanding the Quick Care center to increase walk-in access for patients. According to Reid, these walk-in services are critical to the goals of the organization.

“If we have a patient coming into Quick Care for foot pain, for example, we can screen them for other underlying conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, and then tunnel them to a primary care provider for further care. This process allows us to identify and help close health care disparities in the community,” Reid explained.

Related initiatives involve collaboration with other community-based organizations. To help address food insecurity, SCH is working with the CNY Food Bank to distribute 200 boxes of fresh produce each month, available to anyone in the community. A collaboration with Food Access Healthy Neighborhoods Now, or FAHNN, as well as the Mary Nelson Program, will also help SCH alleviate the food desert in Central New York. Additionally, SCH will be partnering with Brady Market to offer a café space in the new building at 930 South Salina Street, offering fresh, healthy food options for patients and staff alike. The team at SCH also has plans to partner with Catholic Charities, the Rescue Mission, and Dr. David Lehmann from Upstate Hospital to help provide quality health care to the sheltered and unsheltered homeless population in Syracuse.

Helping to achieve the vision for SCH this year is the executive team made up of John Milligan, Chief Financial Officer and Jessica Yoxall, Chief Operating Officer. According to Reid, one of the most important requirements for achieving the goals laid out in 2024 and beyond is a strong, supportive leadership team. “Without my staff and clinical teams, there’s no way I’d be able to go after my vision for the organization,” Reid said.

Certainly, this emphasis on teamwork also resonates with the executive leadership team at SCH. “What I enjoy most about working at Syracuse Community Health is our team,” said Yoxall. “Everyone at SCH has a shared vision to provide high-quality care to improve health outcomes for the patients we serve. The employees at SCH are constantly going above and beyond to meet the needs of our patients and organization.”

With the team aligned on strategies for making material improvements in healthcare access in the community, even more changes are coming down the pike at SCH. Planned building expansions include a second Quick Care location, a new clinic on the Onondaga Community College campus and enhancements to the original SCH location at 819 South Salina Street. These developments will further improve patient experience as demonstrated by the brand-new, state-of-the-art location at 930 South Salina Street that recently opened in December of 2023.

“We are so proud of our new 930 building,” said Milligan. “It was specifically designed to enhance the patient’s experience. The natural lighting, open spaces and easy transitions between care areas really improve the patient flow and experience.”

Whether at the new building, the Quick Care center, in Syracuse elementary schools or in the streets of the community, the team at SCH will continue to focus on achieving healthcare equity for all.

“I really feel that if we’re going to close the healthcare gap, we can’t sit back and wait,” explained Reid. “We’re going to make the necessary moves to close the gap and bring high-quality healthcare to those who need it the most.”