As we celebrate Veterans Day, NewYork-Presbyterian is proud to honor all our servicemen and women and salute a few of the veterans among us.
Dr. T. Sloane Guy, Associate Professor of Clinical Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Director of Robotic Cardiac Surgery, leads the first-ever robotic cardiac surgery program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine, heading a clinical team that performs innovative and minimally invasive procedures for cardiac patients.
From an early age, Dr. T. Sloane Guy learned to value and respect the men and women who serve in the U.S. military. His father served as a combat medic with the Navy during the Vietnam War and his grandfather was a chaplain in the local hospital. As a kid, Dr. Guy knew he wanted to focus on healing the sick and injured.
He began that important work as an officer in the Army, serving three tours as a trauma surgeon. Twice he served in Afghanistan as chief of clinical services with the 249th General Hospital detachment at Forward Operating Base Salerno and most recently he served as chief of surgery for the 47th Combat Support Hospital in Mosul in Northern Iraq.
“Veterans put themselves in harm’s way for public service and they deserve top flight medical care,” Dr. Guy says.
Dr. Guy faced a diverse set of clinical challenges during his military service — shrapnel wounds, head injuries, stroke, heart attacks, and viral meningitis among others. “The spectrum of diseases that I dealt with was so broad that it gave me an old school experience of learning medicine from the ground up. Because of this, I can practice medicine now outside of the box.”
“I would not be where I am now without the U.S. Army,” Dr. Guy adds. “I learned the tremendous value of teamwork — particularly in war. I worked in very austere environments in strenuous conditions with people that I didn’t know. I learned a lot about how to work with people from all medical backgrounds — family practice, urology, ophthalmology, OB/GYN, pulmonology — we all acted as one team.”
Through his years of service, the Army has recognized Dr. Guy with many awards including the Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star.
“I’m most proud that I had the honor and privilege to provide surgical care to a large number of injured American soldiers. Some of whom would not have made it home if not for the quality of the team I worked with and the training we received.”
At NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, Dr. Ronald Lehman is well known as a highly-rated spine surgeon, treating patients with complex spinal deformities including scoliosis.
Not many patients know that before joining NYP/The Allen Hospital as a well-known spine surgeon, Dr. Ronald Lehman served on Active Duty in the Army for 17 years as a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). Dr. Lehman was at the forefront of caring for our nation’s heroes who were injured during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“To this day, it is the single most rewarding experience of my life. The sacrifices made by our men and women of the armed forces is nothing short of amazing,” he says.
With a family background in service — both of his grandfathers served in WWII, and his father was a Pennsylvania State Policeman — Dr. Lehman entered West Point in June 1989, then applied for medical school. It was a coveted honor as West Point only allowed two percent of the graduating class to attend medical school.
“Having a military family had some influence on going to West Point, but it was my Senior Army Instructor in High School JROTC (LTC Peter Doak) who most influenced my decision.”
Dr. Lehman completed his residency training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Dr. Lehman worked at the Pentagon from 1998–2000 as the General Medical Officer.
“I actually took care of one of the Generals who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon,” he remembers. “The plane struck in the section near where I had worked, and my colleagues in the Dilorenzo TRICARE Health Clinic were the first responders during the attack, so it had a significant impact on me.”
Dr. Lehman was deployed to Iraq in 2010 and served as the Chief of Surgery and Consultant for Orthopaedics to the Commander of United States Forces-Iraq (USF-I). He finished his Active Duty on April 30, 2014.
“I am most proud of the amazing individuals that I was able to meet while I was in uniform for over 20 years. I will continue to feel humbled for the rest of my career by the care I was able to provide to our nation’s heroes.”
Dr. Lehman has been the recipient of several Department of Defense research grants, totaling more than $10 million.
“I ultimately want the best care for our veterans and their families. These military personnel dedicate and sacrifice a lot in service to our country. I firmly believe that veterans and their family members should have the highest quality health care, and that all Americans should be very thankful for the sacrifices that our military and their families have made.”
Daniel Barchi is Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian. He leads a team of more than 700 informatics and technology specialists who provide the tools and data that physicians and nurses use to deliver acute care and manage population health.
Before he began a career in the information technology field, Daniel Barchi served in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer.
Mr. Barchi came from a military family but had his own reasons for enlisting at the age of 18.
“My father and grandfather both served in the Navy, but I joined because I wanted to serve my country,” he says. “In the Cold War, it felt like military service was important to our protection.”
During the six years he spent as an officer, he was deployed to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the South Atlantic and his ship circumnavigated South America. Mr. Barchi endured quite a few “white-knuckle moments” that tested his skills in crisis management and leadership, ultimately impacting who he is as a leader today.
“At the time, they seemed like they were just challenging moments, but I learned later on that they were good teaching moments too,” he recalls. “When things go bad in a healthcare environment — there are times when a key piece of equipment is down or there’s an immediate need for a tool or a piece of data — it really does impact patient care. And having been through a lot scarier moments in the military, I find that I tend to remain calm and try to keep the people around me calm while focusing on the mission at hand.”
His time in the military has been incredibly useful to him in his everyday operations at NYP, both from a managing crisis perspective and a leadership perspective.
“Most people who are in the military find themselves managing large diverse groups of people at a very young age, many of whom have different backgrounds or, in many cases, are older than them,” he says. “So as I work with my large team, I feel comfortable collaborating with people from across our large organization and at every level.”
“I am proud of our country. Our history of having a strong military that serves at the direction of our elected leadership is very important. I am proud that I and other members of the armed forces serve to protect all of our citizens and their rights as Americans.”
Capt. Maxy Escalante is a clinical care nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She is also a Captain in the Nurse Corps for the United States Air Force Reserves, serving at the Joint Base at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.
Growing up, Capt. Maxy Escalante dreamed of becoming a police officer. “I was surrounded by cops my whole life,” she says. “I knew I wanted to help people.”
When she joined the Air Force in 1997, she planned on joining the security forces squadron until a recruiter convinced her that she should consider becoming a medical technician based on her aptitude tests.
She served eight years as a medical technician while also working to get her nursing degree. “I fell in love with being able to care for patients,” she says. “You get to work with all the wounded, and you really make a difference.”
As a Captain of the Nurse Corps in the Air Force Reserves, Capt. Escalante ensures that nurses are trained and certified before they are deployed, and when deployed, Capt. Escalante works as a clinical care nurse, taking care of troops. Over the course of her 19 years of service, Capt. Escalante has been part of four humanitarian missions in places as diverse as Hawaii and Mozambique. She has also served during wartime in Germany and at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
“My service has taught me to be a team player and to have a can-do attitude,” she says. “I’m not easily convinced that I can’t do something.”
Those lessons have served her well in her work as a clinical care nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. “What I love about being a nurse is taking care of people and making a difference in their lives. If I can make their experience better while they are in the hospital, then I have done my job,” she says.
“I love what I do because I can instill hope in patients,” she says. “I am incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions in the lives of patients and their families every day. As a nurse, I take pride in doing my job because I can influence my patient’s hospital experience here at NYP and anywhere in the world. I believe the military has prepared me well. I always finish my day knowing that my actions can provide a lasting impact. “
On this Veterans Day, Capt. Escalante will honor other veterans’ service. “This day is very dear to me. But we need to honor our veterans every day and remember our fallen heroes.”
As a veteran, Capt. Escalante says, “I take pride in serving our country and contributing to our freedom.”