Schenectady County

Hometown Health names CEO

After a year of having interim chief executive officers, State Street-based Hometown Health Centers

After a year of having interim chief executive officers, State Street-based Hometown Health Centers has named an insider to take the reins of the provider of medical and dental care to the uninsured and underserved in Schenectady County.

Joseph Gambino officially became CEO of the 40-year-old organization after unanimously being elected by the executive committee of the board of directors Thursday.

The community health center, with 80 employees and an annual budget of more than $6 million, has struggled financially in the past but is doing better now.

Gambino said that looking forward to 2010, the organization’s financial statements actually project a profit.

“This is an organization that provides for the underserved in our community. It needs to survive. We’ve turned a corner financially, and I want to keep us on that path,” Gambino said. “There are just way too many people in this community who need the services provided by Hometown Health.”

Gambino had served as interim CEO for the organization since late May, replacing Robert Bylancik, who served as interim CEO starting in August 2008 and retired in July. Bylancik became interim CEO when John Silva resigned in July 2008 after leading the clinic for six years.

Even before becoming interim CEO, Gambino carried two titles — director of development for Hometown Health Centers and executive director of the Hometown Health Center Foundation.

His work over the past two years at Hometown Health paved the way for his succession as he increased the center’s productivity and helped bring more than $1 million in grants to the center, increasing the number of patients treated.

Gambino has 20 years of experience in health care, public relations and the media in the Capital Region.

“Joe is the perfect fit for this position,” the Rev. Michael Hogan, board chairman, said in an announcement. “Through his leadership, we have increased patient visits, successfully restructured day-to-day operations and boosted productivity by more than 40 percent. This is a remarkable achievement from a solid individual who sincerely cares for the patients we serve.”

Previously, Gambino worked as public relations coordinator for Fidelis Care, the largest government programs-based health insurance company in New York state. Earlier in his career, Gambino was a broadcast journalist at television stations WRGB in Niskayuna and WTEN in Albany.

Hometown Health is focused on improving how it does business and delivers services — becoming more efficient to meet patient demand, hiring more doctors, nurses and support staff and working with community partners.

Gambino also said Hometown Health continues to work on getting more people with insurance to be patients — the heavy percentage that are uninsured is what put the center in financial trouble before.

But correcting public misconceptions is one of Gambino’s goals as he conveys that Hometown Health is not just a place for poor people and it doesn’t just provide free care — it is a community health center.

“The one thing that everyone should know is that everyone is welcome at Hometown Health. We have a mission to serve people who are underserved, but we wouldn’t preclude anyone from the community from coming here,” Gambino said.

By offering obstetrical, pediatric, family medicine, gynecological and podiatry care, plus a large, comprehensive dental program, Gambino said the center has all of the services available anywhere else.

“It’s very much a primary care practice,” Gambino said.

Hometown Health is the primary care provider of choice for more than 20,000 local residents.

Currently, Gambino serves on the board of directors for both the Hudson Mohawk Area Health Education Center and the Healthy Capital District Initiative. He is also a director of the National Board of Alumni Relations at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public communications.

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