The annual honor recognizes outstanding individuals in the healthcare community who have made an impact on New York City in significant ways, in their professional, civic and philanthropic achievements—with a focus this year on their involvement in the medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Sharma, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and emergency physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, is a national leader in the fields of emergency medicine, healthcare operations, innovation and telemedicine. Since 2016, he has founded and launched several telemedicine programs, including the Emergency Department Telehealth Express Care Service and Weill Cornell Medicine’s Center for Virtual Care.
“I feel honored to be selected. It’s a great recognition, not only for me but for all of the people I’ve worked with in our efforts to expand emergency care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Sharma, who is also a professor of clinical emergency medicine and of population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine. “We conducted one of the most collaborative approaches to a crisis I’ve ever seen in my entire life, which empowered and supported faculty and frontline staff to provide the best possible care to patients. If you support the people that you work with, they will always rise to the occasion.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sharma spearheaded the transformation of emergency medicine healthcare delivery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. These efforts included redeploying medical providers to work in the emergency department and on the telemedicine platform—an unprecedented collaboration that provided rapid emergency medicine training and support to 85 faculty from different specialties. He has also overseen the onboarding and training of staff to support the increased demand for urgent care telemedicine through the NYP OnDemand platform, which rose from 20 to 40 patients a day before the pandemic to more than 300 patients a day during the height of the pandemic. As a longstanding advocate of physician wellness, Dr. Sharma expanded these efforts to support physicians and other staff during this challenging period, including regular peer support sessions.
Dr. Stracher serves as chief medical officer and director of primary care for the Weill Cornell Physician Organization, and as an internist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. A leading specialist in internal medicine, he has overseen the growth of a primary care system that provides services to more than 200,000 patients per year in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, endocrinology, and cardiology.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Stracher worked with other leaders across Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian to develop a unified approach to staff hospitals; redeploy doctors from outpatient to inpatient settings; develop treatment protocols; and provide a safe environment for patients, physicians and staff in the ambulatory setting. He led the successful acceleration of telehealth services to accommodate the demand for virtual primary care visits—which numbered 10-20 patients a day before the pandemic to 700 a day at its height, through Weill Cornell’s Video Visits portal. This included implementing a triage process for treatment of COVID-19 based on illness severity, and continued outpatient monitoring through the telehealth platform of those who had been hospitalized. An early adopter of telemedicine, Dr. Stracher also ensured that physicians across specialties, not just primary care, were prepared for the increase, which, in total, averaged 1400-1500 virtual visits per day at the pandemic’s height.
“It’s humbling to be recognized for our work to improve the delivery of care and clinical strategies for patients. There are so many people who deserve an award for how they responded to COVID-19 and how they’ve used technology and telemedicine to support patient care during this crisis,” said Dr. Stracher, who is also an associate professor of clinical medicine. “It was really heartening to see how much physicians and other healthcare workers at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine stepped up to do what they needed to do, even early on when there were many unknowns.”