Dr. Ram Raju is joining Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state of New York, the health system announced Friday. Raju, who in November stepped down from his position as president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, will serve as senior vice president and community health officer at Northwell.
“Northwell Health created a position that enables me to pursue my passionate interest in improving population health and addressing the social determinants of health,” Dr. Ram Raju, the former chief executive officer of one of the country’s largest public health system, NYC Health and Hospitals Corp., “I thoroughly enjoyed the many years I spent at NYC Health + Hospitals, which gave me valuable insight into the needs of our most-vulnerable communities and how health policies can positively influence the delivery of care and improve outcomes.”
NYC Health and Hospitals has roughly 42,000 employees, 11 acute-care hospitals, five nursing homes, six diagnostic and treatment centers, more than 70 community-based health centers, a large home care agency and one of the region’s largest providers of government-sponsored health insurance MetroPlus Health Plan.
In his new role, Raju is expected to work on finding ways to meet the needs of Northwell’s most vulnerable communities. Northwell, a system with 21 hospitals and 550 outpatient facilities, sees 2 million people every year in the New York metro area and beyond.
“Ram’s vast experience, deep commitment to caring for vulnerable communities and keen understanding of New York’s healthcare delivery system make him the ideal individual to lead our efforts,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, according to a press release. “His most recent work with NYC Health + Hospitals certainly enhances his ability to respond to this challenge.”
NYC Health + Hospitals, which Raju led from January 2014 until November 2016, is the largest municipally owned health system in the U.S. and a major safety net provider, serving a large proportion of poor and uninsured patient. But it has struggled financially, facing a potential budget gap of $1.8 billion in 2020.
At Northwell, Raju’s role will entail examining programs aimed at improving the health system’s response to the community’s needs and working with local organizations to address them.
Northwell created the position of community health investment officer specifically for Raju, who said his time at NYC Health + Hospitals taught him about what vulnerable communities need and how health policies can affect their outcomes.
“My new role with Northwell will enable me to promote, sustain and advance an environment that supports equity and diversity, and help eliminate health disparities within the communities served by Northwell throughout the city, Long Island and Westchester County,” Raju said in a press release.
Before working at NYC Health + Hospitals, Raju was CEO of the Cook County Health & Hospitals System in Chicago, the country’s third-largest public health system. “Ram’s vast experience, deep commitment to caring for vulnerable communities and keen understanding of New York’s health care delivery system make him the ideal individual to lead our efforts,” said Northwell Health president and CEO Michael J. Dowling in a statement. “His most-recent work with NYC Health and Hospitals certainly enhances his ability to respond to this challenge.”
A graduate of Madras Medical College in India, Raju underwent further training in England, where he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He later earned an M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee and CPE from the American College of Physician Executives.
Raju, who served as vice chair of the Greater New York Hospital Association, currently sits on the boards of numerous city, state and national healthcare organizations, including the American Hospital Association, the New York Academy of Medicine and the Asian Health Care Leaders Association.