August 24, 2020 News

Everyday Heroes: COVID-19 Brings Out the Best in Business Community

The COVID-19 crisis turned our collective worlds upside down. With little warning, the virus and its associated economic upheaval caused profound change in our personal and professional lives, and forced many of us to reimagine the way we do business, or whether businesses would survive at all.

At CDPHP, survival was the only option. After all, we have nearly 400,000 members to take care of.

Seemingly overnight, CDPHP and its 1,100 employees moved to a virtual environment with almost no interruption to service. We moved swiftly to expand access to new, no-cost telehealth and mental telehealth options, waived cost-share for COVID-19 testing and treatment, removed prior authorization to speed the delivery of care, extended payment grace periods for businesses and individuals, and offered early and extended prescription drug refills to our members.

CDPHP was not alone in its response. Hundreds of local businesses hunkered down to address the community’s needs, many of them putting people over profits in order to rise above the pandemic.

Today, I would like to thank the small and large business owners who shared in our mission, refusing to give up on their community, their customers, and their employees. Here’s just a few examples.

SEFCU establishes Heroes Landing 

It came as no surprise that our good friends at SEFCU were among the first to step up to the plate, creating a safe and warm place where frontline health care workers could catch their breath. The credit union moved quickly to establish Heroes Landing, a respite center located inside the Hilton Garden Inn across from Albany Medical Center where doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals received much-needed rest, nutrition, comfort, and strength in-between shifts.

Precision Valve pivots for patients

Prior to the pandemic, Precision Valve & Automotive (PVA) in Colonie spent nearly 30 years manufacturing robots. When COVID-19 came to town, CEO Tony Hynes tells the Albany Business Review, “When we heard the governor ask businesses to be creative and help, we took that as our marching orders. We can build anything and make it work.”

Hearing New York was facing a shortage of ventilators needed to keep the most critical patients alive, PVA pivoted and began producing 100 vents per day.

So much more than buses

When you think of CDTA, you naturally think of their iconic blue buses seen throughout the Capital Region. But the organization is so much more than a bus company, and the COVID-19 crisis has once again reaffirmed that for us.

The transportation authority enhanced its service schedule in response to the crisis, increasing frequency of routes serving hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential business. CDTA also implemented a strict sanitizing schedule to ensure the safety of its riders, and updated guidelines to ensure proper social distancing on its fleet of buses.

Understanding the significance that mobility has on a person’s health, CDTA also began redeploying its fleet of CDPHP Cycle! bicycles, implementing a rigorous cleaning schedule and equipping each bike with hand sanitizer to keep riders safe.

Nothing small about “Smallbany”

COVID-19 may have upset the apple cart in 2020, but few communities were as prepared to weather this storm. As we enter the final months of the year, I am increasingly optimistic about the resiliency of this community and I look forward to tackling the challenges of tomorrow, together.

John D. Bennett, MD, FACC, FACP
About the Author

John D. Bennett, MD, FACC, FACP, is president and CEO of Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP), an award-winning, physician aligned, not-for-profit health plan based in Albany, NY. Bennett has held the position since 2008 after serving more than 10 years as chair, vice chair, and board member for CDPHP. During his tenure, CDPHP has been ranked among the top-performing health plans in New York and the nation, most recently named #1 in Customer Satisfaction in the 2023 J.D. Power Member Health Plan Study. Under his leadership, CDPHP has also become known as a model employer regionally and nationally and was recently named among the top five Best Companies to Work for in New York by the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as Forbes Best-in-State Employers 2022. Prior to joining CDPHP, Bennett served as founding member and CEO of Prime Care Physicians, PLLC. During his tenure, he co-led a team of 25 cardiologists and helped grow the practice to a 100-physician multi-specialty group. Bennett is board certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Internal Medicine, with subspecialties in internal medicine and cardiology. He earned his medical degree at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, and a Bachelor of Science degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bennett completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Albany Medical Center. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians. Bennett is currently board chair for the Center for Economic Growth and the Capital Region Chamber, and vice chair for the Palace Theatre. Bennett also serves on the boards of the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Russell Sage Colleges. Bennett is a member of the New York Public Health and Health Planning Council where he helps shape decisions related to New York State's public health and health care delivery system. Well-known locally and nationally for advancing health care innovation, Bennett was recently named to Crain’s New York Business 2021 Notable in Health Care, as well as the Albany Business Review’s Power 50 list.

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