Q and A with Dennis P. McKenna, MD, ’92, President and CEO

Inside the System

Q & A with Dennis P. McKenna, MD, ’92, President and CEO

800-plus physicians. 125-plus outpatient locations. A health system serving three million people across the region.

The numbers tell part of the story of what makes the Albany Med Health System a leader in care for our communities. Dr. McKenna explains how the mission, vision, and make-up of the System will play an instrumental role in the future good health and prosperity of our region.

What makes the Albany Med Health System stand out?

Dr. McKenna | When our patients place their trust in us, they’re doing so with the region’s only locally governed health system. There’s significance in that. It means that decisions are made locally and by people who understand our region’s identity. It is truly our System. That starts with me. I’m a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Albany and a 1992 graduate of Albany Medical College. It continues with the clinical staff, many of whom are from here, and received their training at Albany Medical College or one of the many colleges, universities, or nursing programs in our region. The System-wide decisions that significantly impact the health of our communities are being made right here, by people who live and work here.

How does the System bring each campus to the next level?

Dr. McKenna | The success of the Albany Med Health System is based, in part, on our ability to elevate standards of care across the System. Our vision is coordinated or fully integrated care across specialties throughout our communities. Coming together as a System will have positive impacts by creating a comprehensive network of care. While you will see the Albany Med Health System brand at each hospital, you will also see a clear representation of the local identity of each location.

Are there other benefits to coming together under the umbrella of the Albany Med Health System?

Dr. McKenna | Our hospitals, our Medical College, and the Visiting Nurses play a significant role beyond providing care. Each of our hospitals was founded dating back to before the start of the 20th century. Each is essential to not only our patients, but to life in the communities outside our doors. One of our guiding pillars is to be an academic medical system that brings hope, healing, and top providers to ensure the good health of our neighbors.

We also understand the health care challenges before us, some which had already started to surface before the Covid-19 pandemic. We must address these challenges with bold and sound strategies that enhance access and quality of care rather than compromise patient care for the sake of a solution. I believe we are in a stronger position to address these challenges as a System, rather than as individuals.

Can you elaborate on how the System will impact the level of care provided?

Dr. McKenna | This question gets me excited because it is closely tied to the heart of who we are as a System. We have a workforce that I firmly believe is second to none. I remain in awe of the passion, commitment, and drive that they show each day. Each of our employees—from the emergency department to environmental services, from the operating room to the classroom—plays a critical role in the positive health and safety of our patients.

As to the question – our vision is to provide the people of our region with one consistent level of quality care, 24/7. Our patients now have access to highly trained specialists from the Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks and everywhere in between. Increased access to exceptional care is a formula for success.

What’s next for the Albany Med Health System?

Dr. McKenna | We are excited to introduce the Albany Med Health System to our region, showcase our strengths, and tell our story. It is an exciting next step after years of preparation and behind-the-scenes work.

From there, we will continue to address a challenge impacting the entire health care industry – staffing shortages that have reached record levels following the pandemic. As a System, we are proactively responding with retention and recruitment strategies designed to support and strengthen our current and future workforce. We continue to share ideas and best practices across the System to tackle potential roadblocks. Together, we will continue to collaborate to meet complex and difficult challenges head-on.