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Upstate's new president expects community-based work to be key

Upstate Medical University

Upstate Medical University’s incoming president has spent some time this month getting to know her new community.

In January, Danielle Laraque-Arena will take the reins of institution that is a hospital, but also an educational center.  As vice president of Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn, she’s been involved in a lot of community-based work, and expects that to continue in Syracuse. 

“What I was impressed when I came to Syracuse, was how much people care about the community. How much people care about the institution. And actually have been here and devoted their careers and lives to Syracuse. That’s something you can’t make up,” she said.

Laraque-Arena says collaboration is key to making community hospital connections successful.  She says she expects Upstate’s community involvement will reflect the changing world of medicine, which is pivoting away from hospital care.

“It’s going to have to evolve to ambulatory, really state-of-the-art ambulatory services and primary care services that keep people out of the hospital. And obviously also let them have access to high-end medical interventions, because at least in our lifetime, we’re going to need those kinds of interventions.”

Laraque-Arena, who was born in Haiti, and who emigrated to this country in 1962, also adds a couple of firsts as she joins upstate -- the first woman and the first African-American leader of the institution. She says even in a community that has had its share of high-ranking women leaders, it’s a fact that should be noted.

“Because there is still work to be done with respect to leadership by women, by a diverse group of individuals, so I think yes, it is notable. And it’s good and I’m happy about it, but then we move on to the work that has to be done.”

Laraque-Arena is a pediatrician by trade. She starts her job in Syracuse January 14.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.