PBMC and community leaders pay tribute to hospital’s longtime leader at groundbreaking ceremony
Andrew Mitchell, the man who led Peconic Bay Medical Center through its transition from a struggling community hospital to a regional medical center during a two-decade long career in Riverhead, was celebrated Monday during a ceremony by community leaders. Among the dedications, PBMC named the circle outside the hospital’s main entrance “Mitchell’s Way” in his honor.
About 100 people, including Mitchell’s colleagues, his family and former employees, gathered on the front lawn of the hospital to surprise him with the ceremony.
“Thank you so much for being here to honour, recognize, and most of all, express tremendous gratitude to Andy Mitchell for what he has done not just for Peconic Bay Medical Center, but truly for this community,” said Amy Loeb, executive director of the hospital. and Mitchell’s successor. “It’s extraordinary. What happened here is extraordinary. And we really owe Andy this time to say thank you.
Hospital and community leaders recounted Mitchell’s lasting impact in the community and his transformative legacy from his arrival at PBMC – then Central Suffolk Hospital – in 2001 as CEO and Chairman, through his final years at the hospital as a leader of the nonprofit PBMC Foundation.
“Let’s face it, when Andy came here 20 years ago, this hospital was on life support,” said Sherry Patterson, chair of the board of PBMC. “But he had a vision. And once we boarded the Andy train, there was no way to get off.
“Like the little engine that could do it, it kept going through all the obstacles, the peaks, the valleys,” Patterson said. “Peconic Bay Medical Center came out on top, Andy not saying ‘I think I can, I think I can’. But ‘I know we can’ – and the results you see in front of you today.
Stephen Bello, Eastern Regional Executive Director of Northwell Health, reminisced about personal memories with Mitchell and heard about his vision in 2005 to make PBMC a regional medical center. PBMC joined the Northwell Health medical system in 2015.
“On behalf of Northwell, I would really like to thank Andy for all that he has done. I would really like to congratulate him on the legacy he has created here,” Bello said. “[A]At some point in your career, you look back, you think about legacy – not dollars and cents, not staff comings and goings – you think about what you are creating in a sustainable way for our community. I think what Andy and the team have done here has really impacted this community,”
Mitchell was also honored with a proclamation from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, personally presented by County Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott, and a Town of Riverhead lapel pin by Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.
“I met you physically two and a half years ago, but I knew your legend,” Aguiar said. “You came here under devastating circumstances with a mission. Just look back from day one. And think back to today. It’s amazing what you’ve done. And it all happened because of your leadership. It was a pleasure to work with you.”
Loeb also gave Mitchell a new name badge with his title of President and CEO Emeritus, a glass award for his service, and announced the establishment of an annual scholarship in his name at the available to all Peconic Bay Medical Group employees.
Loeb also presented Mitchell’s wife, Mary, with a flower arrangement “not just for putting up with you, Andy, but for the three o’clock phone calls, the worries about the generators going off at different times, the snow and hurricane shenanigans and other things that have happened. And I know you’ve always been there to support Andy, and we appreciate that,” she said.
“There haven’t been too many times where I’ve been speechless, as many of you know, but I’m a little speechless today. I didn’t expect any of this. So you kept it pretty well under wraps. And thank you, Amy, and everyone else involved,” Mitchell said.
“I just want to say people are trying to compliment me on the vision and everything. It really was, and will continue to be, a team effort. Nothing we did, we all did, could have happened if you weren’t all here and those who couldn’t be with us for the ceremony,” Mitchell said.
“It is a remarkable hospital. He has incredible support from the doctors, the staff, the community, the town of Riverhead as a whole,” he said. “The heritage is incredible. It was an honor to be part of it for 20 years. And it will truly be an honor to watch it continue to grow over the next 20 years.
To end the ceremony, PBMC staff members unveiled the new blue and white sign on the circle in front of the hospital honoring Mitchell.
“We all stop very proudly at this hospital. And we always want to remember where we came from and who helped us get there – and Andy Mitchell you sure did. And so in recognition of that, it will forever be known as the Mitchell way,” Loeb said.
RiverheadLOCAL Photos by Alek Lewis
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