RN Jean G. Leon remains ‘fully committed as a healthcare change agent’

Rosslyn Taylor (left) receives the Dr. Jean Leon Award from Dr. Leon.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Registered Nurse Jean G. Leon says she is currently retired but “remains fully committed as a healthcare change agent.”

Trinidadian-born Leon told Caribbean Life that she was the executive director of the sprawling Kings County Hospital Center and senior vice president of the Central Brooklyn Family Health Network.

She said she was responsible for the budget of the facilities, for overseeing the entire operations of the facilities and for ensuring that “the best quality of care rendered to everyone regardless of ability to pay.”

Leon said the greatest challenge of her position was “adapting – while continuing to improve – the facility to the changing health care landscape.”

As the health care industry moves from Diagnostic Related Group Reimbursement to Managed Care, she said she “strived to balance meeting the constantly changing needs” of her patients with dwindling financial resources.

She is proud to note that the facility was fully accredited under her watch.

Leon said she began her professional career as a registered nurse but maintained that her career shifted from nursing to health administration when she realized that she wanted to have “more of an impact on policy and decision making in terms of health care.”

She received her undergraduate degree in health administration from St. Joseph’s College, an MPA from New York University’s School of Public Administration and an honorary degree of Law from St. Joseph’s College.

Leon holds a certification in Quality Assurance and Nursing Administration, and has lectured and consulted extensively in health care.

She is a member of the National Association of Health Care Quality and the American College of Health Care Executives, and has been the recipient of many awards, including the New York State Quality Assurance Health Care Professional Award.

Leon began her tenure with New York’s Health and Hospitals Corporation as assistant director of nursing at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center.

She then joined Metropolitan Hospital Center as director of quality management, then as associate executive director with increasing responsibilities in quality management.

Next, Leon said she joined Harlem Hospital Center as deputy executive director and remained there until she was appointed chief operating officer in 1994.   Months later, she was promoted to the position she held for 15 years.

Leon is also past president of the Caribbean American Nurses Association; The Trinidad and Tobago Nurses Association of America, Inc.; and Trinidad and Tobago Alliance of North America, Inc.

She currently serves as chair of the Paul J. Cooper Mental Health Services, chair of the Board of Directors for St. Gabriel’s Senior Center, vice chair of CLACC-C and a member of the Advisory Board of the Caribbean Nursing Organization.

For those considering a career in health administration, Leon suggested that “a commitment to health care is a valuable trait to cultivate.”

“This commitment should eventually lead to a good working knowledge of the health care industry,” she said, adding that “that some sort of practical experience in the delivery of care in many ways is a precursor to good policy making.”

Leon also cites the need to “develop a good sense of people management, as well as sharp communication and management skills.”