Northwell Names Sandra Lindsay to Public Health Leadership Role

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Northwell Names Sandra Lindsay to Public Health Leadership Role
Sandra Lindsay, RN, MBA, DHSc

Northwell Health today announced that Sandra Lindsay, RN, MBA, DHSc, the first American to be vaccinated in the fight against COVID-19 and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has been appointed vice president of public health advocacy.

Dr. Lindsay spent 29 years in nursing, most recently serving as director of nursing critical care at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center in New Hyde Park. She led from the front lines of the pandemic, both during the First Wave from March-June 2020 and then volunteering to become the first American vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on December 14, 2020.

Her vaccination resonated around the globe, thrusting Dr. Lindsay into the spotlight as an advocate for vaccination to protect against COVID. As a woman of color and proud Jamaican immigrant, Dr. Lindsay’s message also struck an authentic tone with communities of color and Caribbean peoples alike. Her ID badge and scrubs reside at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. For her community health efforts, President Joe Biden awarded Dr. Lindsay with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a White House ceremony in July.

“Sandra Lindsay is an amazing profile in leadership and compassion, someone who exemplifies the best of the American experience and the values of this health system,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO at Northwell. “I’m grateful for Sandra’s willingness to serve as an example for her own team members as the first person at Northwell to get vaccinated and then to continue to advocate for vaccines – and vaccine equity – at every turn, including at the United Nations and the White House. It’s clear Sandra is destined to serve as a public health advocate and excited to elevate her to this role.”

Dr. Lindsay emigrated to the United States from Jamaica in 1986, graduated from Borough of Manhattan Community College in 1993 as valedictorian of her nursing program and joined Lenox Hill Hospital one year later as an oncology nurse. While continuing her education, she served as a critical care nurse manager at Lenox Hill before transitioning to LIJ.

When the pandemic struck New York State in March 2020, Queens quickly became the epicenter and no hospital treated more cases than LIJ. She oversaw expansion of the hospital’s intensive care unit capacity by 212 percent to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Dr. Lindsay saw the opportunity to get vaccinated nine months later as a game-changer, so she volunteered to be the first at Northwell. By a quirk of timing, Dr. Lindsay was acknowledged as the first person in the U.S. to receive the Pfizer vaccine – an internationally-celebrated turning point in the deadly pandemic – transforming her into a global figure overnight and conferring her with the authority to address global health. Her latest appointment is a continuation of her evolution from frontline clinician to spokesperson and health advocate.

“I plan to work collaboratively with my colleagues to positively influence social and health issues that are priorities for our communities in New York, throughout the U.S. and globally,” said Dr. Lindsay. “I chose a career in health care because I believe in raising the health of everyone. I plan to advance the mission at Northwell Health of compassionate and equitable care.”

Dr. Lindsay served as grand marshal of New York City’s Healthcare Heroes Parade in 2021 and grand marshal of NYC’s African American Day Parade in September. She participated in the 2020 New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, President Biden’s 2021 Inaugural and gave the commencement address at Lehman College in the Bronx in May. She has been awarded the 2021 Outstanding Americans by Choice recognition from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the 2021 Robert Nesta Marley Humanitarian Award, the American Nurses Association’s 2021 President Award and named USA Today Woman of the Year in March. In August, the Jamaican native who helped organize a shipment of COVID relief supplies to the island nation, received the Order of Distinction/Commander Class as an outstanding ambassador of Jamaica.

“Sandra Lindsay is one of the remarkable stories of this pandemic,” said Ramon Soto, senior vice president and chief marketing and communications officer, who will manage Dr. Lindsay. “She’s given voice to health care workers around the world and served as an inspiration to so many others who share her hardscrabble and humble roots. Her impact is just beginning.”

After graduating with an associate degree from Borough of Manhattan CC, Dr. Lindsay earned her bachelor’s in nursing from St. Josephs College (Patchogue, NY), a master of science degree from Lehman College, an MBA from Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY), and in 2021, a doctor of health sciences degree with a concentration in global health and organizational behavior and leadership from A.T. Still University (MO). Dr. Lindsay is a resident of Port Washington, NY.