Over the past five-and-a-half years, Syracuse Community Health has undergone significant change and laid the groundwork for exciting transformations still to come. Led by Mark Hall, who joined Syracuse Community Health as interim President and CEO in 2018 and came on full-time in 2019, the health care organization has been serving the Syracuse community since the 1960s. With Hall at the helm over the past several years, Syracuse Community Health has begun efforts to expand care into surrounding areas in Onondaga County, is nearing the completion of a brand-new, state-of-the-art building and is planning a family medicine residency program, all while maintaining the central mission of serving patients and those who have difficulty accessing quality health care.
This year will mark the beginning of another new chapter for Syracuse Community Health when Keith Cuttler takes over as President and CEO on November 1. Cuttler joined Syracuse Community Health in 2021 as Chief Operating Officer and also took over the role of Chief Business Development Officer in 2022. His over twenty years of experience working in health care has included leadership roles at several local hospitals, including serving as the President and CEO of East Hill Medical Center in Auburn, NY.
As Hall prepares to hand over the baton to Cuttler, he outlined the achievements from his tenure at Syracuse Community Health (SCH) that have laid the groundwork for continued growth and success for the organization under Cuttler’s leadership, to expand its footprint throughout Onondaga County.
“One success we’ve experienced over the past several years has been the financial turnaround. A little over five years ago, we were in a dire financial position, but now we’re very much on solid footing. Secondly, we’re excited to see the fruition of our plans to construct a new building at 930 South Salina Street, which will be opening to the public over the next month. Thirdly, we have pulled together a strong management and senior executive team, which includes Keith, who we were blessed to have join us almost two years ago. SCH now has a great foundation on which to grow under Keith’s leadership,” said Hall.
Evolving Care Through New Construction and a Residency Program
As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Syracuse Community Health centers around a mission to provide individuals with access to quality health care services. While never losing sight of this foundational purpose, Cuttler is looking forward to continuing the growth of the organization that was initially spearheaded by Hall. “I’m excited to continue efforts toward providing access to quality care to a much larger population than has traditionally been the case. There’s strong recognition that there are folks all over Onondaga County and in Central New York that are suffering from poverty. We don’t just have poverty located within three small zip codes and everyone outside those zip codes is in the middle or upper class. We have poverty everywhere and people who need access to health care everywhere,” Cuttler explained.
The brand-new, state-of-the-art medical facility opening soon at 930 South Salina Street is the first major component of Syracuse Community Health’s expansion into offering care to a wider population in need of health services. Looking further down the road, the planned Family Medicine Residency Program that will begin in 2024 will transform Syracuse Community Health into a teaching health center where primary care physicians will receive specialized experience from learning at a Federally Qualified Health Center. For Cuttler, these developments at Syracuse Community Health will launch the health center into a new stage in its evolution.
“The opening of the new building at 930 South Salina Street is effectively turning a page and starting a new chapter for Syracuse Community Health,” Cuttler said. “It is there that we show the greater community that Syracuse Community Health is an ambulatory care provider that’s multi-disciplinary and provides extraordinary health care in an exceptional environment with stateof- the art equipment. Beyond that, we’re very excited about the new residency program and about the transformation of the organization into a teaching health center. I believe we’ll be only the third teaching FQHC in the State, and we’ll be the primary trainers of family medicine physicians going forward. Both the new building and the upcoming residency program give us that leg up and that opportunity to really open up our services to a much broader audience.”
A Continuum of Success into the Future
Cuttler emphasized that although these changes are publicly taking place alongside a shift in leadership at Syracuse Community Health, the outcomes are by no means resulting from the transition of Hall to himself as President and CEO.
“It’s sort of like growing a plant: you plant a seed and the roots grow first, but it’s only later that you see the flower come up. What the public will begin to see as we transition leadership has actually been growing and taking place over the last five plus years, and particularly with the new building. Those plans languished on a shelf for years and years and Mark was the one that gave that project life. We wouldn’t be opening a new building next month if he hadn’t made executing on those plans a priority,” Cuttler stated.
As for Hall, he isn’t retiring, but rather shifting his focus back to the business he created 18 years ago, M.S. Hall + Associates. Even though he’s resigning from his official role at SCH, his connection with Syracuse Community Health is one that won’t be completely ending anytime soon.
“My connection to the health center will always be strong, being that this is where I received care when I was a child when my parents would bring me here,” said Hall. “I’ll always be connected, whether directly or indirectly, formally or informally as we move into the future.”