The moment Dr. Suedeh Ranjbar, accompanied by Dr. Collin Brathwaite on piano, belted out Alicia Keys’ “Good Job” — with lyrics like, “You’re doing a good job/Don’t get too down/The world needs you now” — audience members knew they were in for an emotional and meaningful evening.
Drs. Ranjbar and Brathwaite of NYU Langone Hospital on Long Island were the opening act of Healthcare Rocks!, a virtual benefit concert to honor 2020’s frontline heroes. The one-hour celebration included stellar musical performances by health professionals and student-artists; candid conversations with frontline workers; and insights from health care industry leaders. It was all to benefit three NYC-based charities, including The Child Center of NY, that are addressing major issues New Yorkers face: food insecurity, mental health access, and children’s well-being.
The event was organized by NYC Health Business Leaders (NYCHBL), a professional community of 4,500+ senior executives of health care companies and organizations across the city, and hosted by Gil Addo, CEO and co-founder of RubiconMD, and Bunny Ellerin, president and co-founder of NYCHBL and director of the health care management program at Columbia Business School.
The talent of the health care workers who “moonlight as musicians” (as Addo put it!) was incredible, as you can hear for yourself. And the firsthand accounts of the pandemic from frontline medical professionals were as inspiring as they were insightful.
Robert Fields, M.D., MHA, senior vice president of CMO Population Health, Mont Sinai Health System, for example, spoke about building equity in under-served communities. Noting that the pandemic exposed the devastating disparities in health care access, Dr. Fields said, “Care management teams were receiving inbounds from all sorts of folks saying, ‘I’m having behavioral health issues, increases in suicidality, anxiety, food insecurity. … Some of the services [like tele-health] that we could offer to address those [issues] required broadband, Wi-Fi access. … It became really clear that a lot of our most vulnerable folks didn’t have it.”
Dr. Fields then went on to note the opportunities to start closing the gap: “Education had an imperative to solve it today. … So if schools were able to distribute cellular-enabled laptops or tablets, that now provides access in the home that can be used for other things besides education”— such as tele-health.
This spirit of hope, coupled with the clear-eyed assessment of the systemic inequities exposed by the pandemic, was embodied in insights from Dr. Arabia Mollette of Brookdale University Hospital. Dr. Mollette noted that Brookdale, in an under-resourced section of Brooklyn, had the highest death rate. The pandemic disproportionately affected black and brown communities, she said, “not because of the virus itself, but because of the institutional racism” that often affects access to care. She also noted, “We were in a medical war zone — we still are … but New York pulled through. And it wasn’t just the doctors and nurses … it was the community.”
The sense of optimism also came through in performances by the night’s youngest musicians: Gan Family Rocks!, composed of husband and wife team Anand Gan and Landon Westbrook, along with their three young children: Harrison on drums, Leela on ukulele, and Carter on keys; and the talented students of LaGuardia’s New Music Ensemble, who inspired listeners with the beauty of the voices and the clear passion with which they performed.
The concert ended with the incomparable Steff Reed, performing “Power of Love,” which he introduced by saying, “It’s not just a song. It’s my mantra”; and with a poignant rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” by Mount Sinai fourth-year medical students Adam Lieber and Varsha Subramaniam, who have been on the front lines during COVID-19, both as doctors and musicians.
The Child Center of NY is deeply grateful to have been selected, along with Food Bank For New York City and Vibrant Emotional Health, as a Healthcare Rocks beneficiary. It means so much to us to have the support of New York’s frontline health care workers, who have done so much for the city in these difficult, challenging times.
There is still time to contribute: https://childcenterny.org/healthcare-rocks/.
We extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to all who already have contributed; to the sponsors who made the event possible; and to the musicians, health care heroes, and leaders who made the event a success and truly earned this special recognition.
Learn more about the amazing sponsors and lineup in the event program — and prepare to be inspired!