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Hospital president makes Westchester history

Susan Fox
Susan Fox.

A health care administrator who began her career as a New York City nurse has been named president of White Plains Hospital, as the hospital’s longtime CEO hands off day-to-day duties in his gradual transition to retirement.

Susan Fox on Jan. 1 became the first woman outside of a religious order to serve as president of an acute care hospital in Westchester County.

The late Sister Mary Linehan served as president of St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers from 1969 to 2000.

Fox assumed one of the job titles held for 31 years by White Plains Hospital CEO Jon B. Schandler, who has worked closely with Fox since her arrival in 2010 as senior vice president of administration.

“Susan is a seasoned executive,” Schandler said. “She has great experience. She relates well with people and she’s done an exceptional job” at the East Post Road hospital. With Fox, the hospital’s future is in good hands, he added.

The White Plains Hospital board of directors in December approved her precedent-setting appointment as president of the approximately 2,600-employee institution with an annual budget of roughly $350 million.

“Our hospital is at a critical point in its 120-year history,” hospital board chairman J. Michael Divney said in a prepared statement. “We are building for the future and bringing exceptional doctors onboard to offer our patients the most advanced techniques and technologies available. Susan’s innovation, coupled with Jon Schandler’s three decades of experience as a health care leader in this market, is the best of both worlds, and will ensure White Plains Hospital will continue to be a health care leader now and into the future.”

Fox, a Long Island native and Larchmont resident married to a New York City hospital administrator, worked for 14 years at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, where she ran the faculty practice and worked with doctors as senior vice president for physician and ambulatory network services. That experience has been transferred to her work in White Plains, where she has led the hospital’s strategic plan to respond to the changes in the health care industry being wrought by the federal Affordable Care Act and to continue to grow as a leading community hospital in Westchester.

Among the strategic innovations, Fox led the creation in 2011 of White Plains Hospital Physician Associates, the hospital’s alternative for area doctors looking to join large health care organizations. The hospital practice group is an alternative to the large multispecialty practices that have become formidable competitors with established hospitals for patients and services. It has quickly grown to include nearly three dozen physicians whose specialties include thoracic medicine, orthopedics, oncology, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology and internal medicine.

Fox said the hospital has turned its focus to more complex medical services, such as cardiac catheterization and cancer treatment, that have been moving out of hospitals into other health care settings.

Dr. Roger Cappucci, president of the White Plains Hospital medical staff, in a statement noted Fox’s “remarkable leadership skills” and said she has “inspired confidence in the physician community” about the hospital’s future growth.

Schandler, a certified public accountant who joined White Plains Hospital as comptroller in 1976 and was named CEO in 1981, said Fox will take a larger day-to-day role in running the hospital. Schandler himself “will take more of an outside role, more of a fundraising role, more of a community role,” he said, as he prepares to retire in three years.

As fundraiser, Schandler will be busy. The hospital has raised about $20 million in a five-year capital campaign, called The Time Is Now, which is the largest such effort in the hospital’s history. “We have to raise $100 million, so there’s a long way to go,” he said. Having focused privately on major donors since 2011, the hospital this year will launch a more broad-based campaign to reach its goal, he said.

For Fox, a Westchester resident for 20 years, the shop talk sometimes continues at home. Her husband is Jeffrey Menkes, president and CEO of New York Downtown Hospital in the Manhattan financial district.

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