BY JAMES FARRELL
Dr. David Reich can remember standing on the top floor of Mt. Sinai Queens’ new Ambulatory Pavilion, celebrating its official opening in 2016. He was surrounded by local police officers, firefighters, elected officials and reporters, looking out at the Queens skyline from the newly built Astoria perch. As the president and chief operating officer of Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens, Reich was expected to give a speech.
Reich cites that moment as one of his proudest since he took over his post in 2013. In his speech, he reflected on the symbiosis between Mount Sinai and Queens, framing the new $125 million expansion as a legacy-shaping moment for the borough’s hospital.
“It was just a beautiful moment when we saw what we had built, when others are diminishing their commitment and not as involved in providing complex hospital care outside of Manhattan and we did just the opposite,” Reich said. “We showed our commitment to the community and the community showed their commitment to us.”
As part of a bigger healthcare network, Mount Sinai Queens could easily be diminished as an ancillary, outer- borough limb in a larger system. But projects such as the Ambulatory Pavilion embody Reich’s more ambitious vision for the hospital. The pavilion came complete with an interventional radiology suite, new operating rooms, a state-of-the-art emergency department and imaging center, and more.
“Mount Sinai Queens doesn’t just feed complex cases into Manhattan,” Reich said. “It’s become in its own right a center for advanced care.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Reich had a fascination with science that ultimately led him to medicine. His career path made him a self-described “black sheep” in his family—with a father and two siblings becoming attorneys and a mother working as a schoolteacher, he was the first to pursue medicine.
“I felt it was the most useful way to use my interest in science to find a rewarding career,” he said.
He launched that career quickly, becoming a doctor at age 22 after completing a combined undergraduate and medical-school program at Penn State and Thomas Jefferson University. While he was there, he became attracted to cardiac anesthesiology.
“I realized that I truly enjoyed the cardiac operating room and critical care,” he said.
He arrived in New York at Mount Sinai in 1984 for an anesthesiology residency and stayed there in 1987 to complete a cardiothoracic anesthesia fellowship. Ultimately, he became the chairman of anesthesiology in 2004, a role in which he would remain until becoming president and COO of Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens in 2013.
Even moving to his newer administrative role hasn’t torn Reich from anesthesiology. He still makes three or four visits per month to the operating room, helping out with cardiac cases and mentoring up-and- coming residents who are still earning their wings.
“It’s great because I get to work with relatively junior residents and get to prove to myself that I still have what it takes because they’re very junior in their training, so they need a lot of guidance,” he said.
Reich had been accumulating administrative duties over the years as the chairman of anesthesiology until he was eventually asked to take on his current job.
“It just happened,” he joked.
He came into his role at an exciting time—Mount Sinai Hospital was in the process of expanding to become the Mount Sinai Health System, merging with the former Continuum Health Partners.
As president, Reich has found new life as the architect of Mount Sinai’s future. His contributions extend beyond capital improvements—such as the Ambulatory Pavilion. He has overseen the addition of a new stroke intervention program at Mount Sinai Queens and one of the world’s largest transgender medicine and surgery programs.
“It’s fun to grow programs and to build stuff where it didn’t exist before,” he said. “And this isn’t always bricks and mortar like building beds—it’s more about growing programs.”
Reich has also tried to emphasize the importance of outpatient care to keep people healthy and reduce the need for inpatient hospital visits. A significant portion of the Ambulatory Pavilion is devoted to outpatient care.
Those growing programs are pivotal in shaping Mount Sinai’s vision for comprehensive care, even beyond Manhattan. And Reich sees Queens as a vital epicenter.
“Specifically, western Queens has been just a growing gem of Mount Sinai’s since it first became part of the health system in 1999, so it’s already going on 18 years, I guess,” Reich said. “The beauty of it is that we took something that was, frankly, a decent, just sort of middle-of-the-road community hospital, and we’ve gradually transformed it into a very vital node of a vibrant health system.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.