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September 13, 2019

For Immediate Release:

Healthcare Trustees of New York State presents 2019 Trustee Leadership and Advocacy Awards to James H. Barr and George J. Tsunis

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY — Healthcare Trustees of New York State presented its 2019 Trustee Leadership and Advocacy Awards today to two trustees: James H. Barr, CPA, board chair, UR Medicine Thompson Health in Canandaigua, and George J. Tsunis, Esq., board chair, Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

The awards were presented at HTNYS’ Annual Trustee Conference in Saratoga Springs.

“HTNYS is pleased to recognize James Barr and George Tsunis for their outstanding work in guiding their healthcare institutions through the many challenges providers face today. As trustees, they have exhibited an unwavering commitment to their communities and institutions,” commented HTNYS Executive Director Sue Ellen Wagner. “We congratulate them on this well-deserved award.”

James H. Barr, CPA

UR Medicine Thompson Health is pleased to recognize James Barr, a trustee and board chair whose sound counsel helps the board make strategic decisions that enable the organization to adapt and be resilient in the ever-changing healthcare landscape. Mr. Barr is a strong supporter of Thompson Health’s vision, mission and values. The board and leadership’s trust in his guidance and expertise enables the health system to confidently act on opportunities that contribute to its long-term growth and success.

Mr. Barr played a critical role in Thompson Health’s 2019 implementation of a new electronic health record system, helping to deliver a project that was delivered on time, under budget and with great operational adoption.

Mr. Barr was also instrumental in Thompson Health’s acquisition of Canandaigua Medical Group and the building of a new, state-of-the-art 44,000 square-foot facility on Thompson Health’s campus for the CMG team. This project also came in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Mr. Barr has also addressed the need for more critical care services in the community. Thompson Health’s intensive care unit has only seven beds and is typically full; it has been transferring critically ill patients to its nearest affiliate hospital almost an hour away. Mr. Barr has led the charge, overseeing the state Certificate of Need application and garnered support from State Assembly member Brian Kolb and State Senator Pamela Helming. An expanded ICU is currently under construction, along with a pulmonary medicine clinic, which will be triple the size of Thompson Health’s current clinic.

When it comes to advocacy, Mr. Barr isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions and keep the most pressing issues at the forefront. At the state level, he spoke out strongly against government-mandated nurse staffing ratio legislation and he takes pride in Thompson Health’s participation in the joint association advocacy day in Albany. His passion for healthcare is also evident in his support of the HANYS Political Action Committee.

An entrepreneur at heart, Mr. Barr co-founded Mengel Metzger Barr & Co., LLP more than three decades ago, which specializes in a range of accounting services. The same passion that led him to grow his business has brought him to the helm of Thompson Health’s board of directors. His talent and expertise make him an invaluable contributor to Thompson Health’s success.

Mr. Barr is an approachable leader who shows up and leads by example. He is a consummate professional and dedicated champion for Thompson Health.

George J. Tsunis, Esq.

George Tsunis has been recognized for his efforts to reform Nassau University Medical Center. NUMC is the only public safety net hospital in Nassau County and serves its most vulnerable and economically challenged communities.

The mission is to provide healthcare to all — regardless of the ability to pay or citizenship status. Upon being appointed as chairman, Mr. Tsunis was adamant that those with undocumented immigrant status could seek care at NUMC without fear. He has brought both oversight and support that were lacking to critical areas of the hospital system through his leadership and dedication to both staff and patients. Mr. Tsunis has shifted NUMC’s focus to emphasize education, prevention and health screening for people of all ages.

Upon becoming board chair in February 2018, Mr. Tsunis was immediately attentive to the dire finances of NUMC and the longstanding concerns of each department. He made prompt changes in hospital administration and staffing, saving the corporation nearly $30 million within six months of his appointment. He partnered with the county police department to address security concerns on campus. Mr. Tsunis also restored and created alliances and partnerships with community-based organizations to deliver effectual high-quality health and social care to the community.

Mr. Tsunis brokered an historic management contract through which Northwell Health manages the hospital, and he acted as the interim chief executive officer without pay for five months while this transaction was finalized.

In addition to his role as chairman of the NUMC board, he serves on every hospital committee and also chairs the Nassau Queens Performing Provider System, which consists of Catholic Health Services of Long Island and Northwell Health.

Under Mr. Tsunis’ leadership, NUMC has increased its clinic hours and offers veteran discounts. He is always approachable to employees and patients.

Mr. Tsunis is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Chartwell Hotels, as well as an attorney, developer, philanthropist and public policy advisor with a strong interest at the intersection of economic and foreign affairs.

Deeply involved in the community, Mr. Tsunis serves on many boards, including as chairman of the Battery Park City Board. These relationships help foster programs and support to NUMC. NUMC is on the right path due to his guidance. Mr. Tsunis serves as a role model to all NUMC staff and has gained the respect of his colleagues and staff in the wider community as he continues to safeguard this vital resource.

About the Trustee Leadership and Advocacy Award

HTNYS created the Trustee Leadership and Advocacy Award in 1985 to recognize trustees who bring extraordinary leadership and dedication to their governance role. The award is presented to trustees whose skills, commitment and effective decision-making have a profound impact in their boardroom. The award honors trustees for taking a lead role in positioning their organizations to meet the challenges of the evolving healthcare environment. It also recognizes trustees for their outstanding contributions to grassroots advocacy efforts for their hospital or healthcare system. 

About Healthcare Trustees of New York State

HTNYS was established in 1981 to address a growing need for governance education for New York’s healthcare trustees and to provide them with new opportunities to participate in healthcare advocacy.

HTNYS’ Mission

To assist voluntary healthcare trustees through education, communications and advocacy to promote the delivery of quality healthcare to all communities in a cost-effective manner.

The Healthcare Association of New York State is the only statewide hospital and continuing care association in New York, representing nonprofit and public hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies and other healthcare organizations.