Preet Kukreja, MBA, MHA is the director of Population Health Initiatives at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and an expert in public health with extensive experience in project and grant-implementation, evaluation and sustainability. She is also a co-chair the Program Committee at Healthcare Innovation and Lean Network of New York that brings together Lean and innovation practitioners in healthcare facilities across the state. She also serves as a Judge for the SIIA CODiE Awards that honors top companies, products and people as leaders in innovation and excellence.
She has been instrumental in implementation of the public health programs and grants to address pandemic-COVID-19, public health emergencies-Mpox and health needs of the communities – Cancer, Obesity, Hypertension, Diabetes, Substance Use and HIV among others. Preet was instrumental in building partnerships with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, churches, schools, community-based organizations, and congregations to address the health disparities prevalent in the Far Rockaway community. During the pandemic, she has secured grants through NYC DOHMH which led to expansion of access to care and improved COVID-19 vaccination rate in the community. She is passionate about serving underserved, medically marginalized and vulnerable communities through addressing health disparities such as medical transportation, improving access to care, providing preventative screenings and point of care testing, health education, nutritional counseling, health- related resources, and improving vaccination rates. She has received acknowledgement and a certificate from NYC DOHMH for playing a prominent role in advancing health equity and preventing COVID-19 in NYC through Public Health Corps.
Preet has received her MBA in India, masters in health administration from Hofstra University and currently pursing master’s in public health from CUNY School of public health. She is a certified New York State Citizen Public Health Leader and completed her Citizen Preparedness Corps training which equips her with the tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster or emergency, respond accordingly and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions. She is a Lean green belt and six sigma white belt certified. She hold certification in DOHMH led training in HIV, HEP-C, STI, PEP, PREP & Other Biomedical Interventions, Best Practices in PEP & PrEP Education & Counseling, HIV Stigma, LGBTQIA+ Primer, HIV Rapid Testing, Linkage to Medical Care, Undetectable=Untransmittable and & Hepatitis C Patient Navigation. She is a member of the New York Academy of Medicine, Healthcare Association of New York State, American College of Health Executives, Healthcare leader of New York, American Public Health Association, and New York State Public Health Association.
Preet Kukreja is an exceptional public health leader who has consistently demonstrated the ability to drive innovation and transformation in the healthcare sector. With over 7 years of experience in project and grant implementation, evaluation, sustainability, and operations, Preet has a proven track record of successfully leading and managing complex projects, resulting in measurable improvements in healthcare outcomes. Her exceptional skills in strategic planning, creative problem solving, process improvement, and data analytics and reporting, have been instrumental in driving results and achieving success. She was instrumental in building partnerships with NYC DOHMH, churches, schools, community based organizations, and congregations to address the health disparities prevalent in our community.
Preet is a certified NYS Citizen Public Health Leader which establishes her expertise in preventing and responding to public health emergencies. She also holds a certification in “Citizen Preparedness Corps” which makes her equipped with the tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster or emergency, respond accordingly and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions.
Impact of COVID-19 on Far Rockaway community: The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Rockaway peninsula harder than many neighborhoods and has exacerbated health disparities across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. In the Rockaway peninsula, where healthcare disparities have existed for decades, limited access to medical care, reported mistrust in health delivery and vaccine hesitancy have depressed vaccination rates for months. According to data from NYCDOH, only 34% of Rockaway residents were vaccinated in 2021. Our hospital reported the 1st confirmed case of coronavirus in the borough of Queens. In response, the Governor had declared a state of emergency. During the height of the pandemic Far Rockaway experienced 990 deaths in all five zip codes with the highest being 681 deaths in the 11691 zip code that is in the immediate vicinity of the hospital. This community was identified amongst those that were the highest hit vulnerable communities in New York State. Expanded Access to Care (EAC) Grant: One of the most notable actions Preet has taken is securing NYC DOHMH and federally funded grants to support the organization’s response to COVID-19. She was instrumental in securing a $1.6 million NYC DOHMH funded grant through FPHNYC for “EAC” to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations, social needs screening, blood pressure screening, pre- diabetes risk test, depression screening, and primary care services for community disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, which was a significant contribution to improve vaccination rates in the community. Post completion of the grant, the vaccination rate of Rockaway peninsula in 2022 is more than 70 percent as compared to 34% in 2021.
Continued Access to Vaccination Grant (CAV): While a high percentage of adults in NYC are considered fully vaccinated, many remain behind on recommended booster doses. In order to continue the impactful work to address the pandemic, she secured a $700,000 “CAV” grant. The Continued Access to Vaccination program is administered by the DOHMH through the FPHNY to support the COVID-19 vaccination response efforts of organizations serving communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been instrumental in continuing to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, flu shots and promote the importance of routine vaccinations in the community using a mobile health unit and clinical site. Hence, ensuring that the organization has the resources it needs to address the ongoing effects of the pandemic.
Mobile Unit Outreach Program: Preet has secured an A. Ackermann Memorial Fund of $315,000 through Bank of America to expand services offered through Mobile Health Outreach Unit program in order to address the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expanded services include cholesterol, glucose, and lipid profile tests, COVID-19 vaccinations and prevention education, depression screenings, nutritional counseling, prediabetes risk tests, social needs screenings, and referral to care for the community. This has been instrumental in addressing health disparities such as medical transportation, improve access to care, providing preventative screenings and tests, health education, nutritional counseling, health-related resources, and improving vaccination rates.
Food Security Program: Food insecurity is one of the major social determinants of health impacting the Far Rockaway, New York community. When COVID-19 hit the Rockaway peninsula, it exacerbated food insecurity across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups due to increased food prices, loss of income and reduction of support services. And due to a lack of access to healthy food, its community is at a high risk of food insecurity and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In response to the growing food insecurity, she played a critical role in collaborating with The Campaign Against Hunger — one of the largest and most trusted emergency food and community support organizations in New York City — to distribute fresh produce and non-perishables. Working together, the organizations have distributed more than 6,000 boxes of fresh produce in the community so far.
Recognition for her work: Her work has been recognized by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene through the acknowledgement of her role in advancing health equity and preventing COVID-19 in NYC through the Public Health Corps. Her programs have received notable recognition such as the Food Security Program, which received membership spotlight on the Healthcare Association of NYS (HANYS) platform and the Mobile Health Outreach Program, which was nominated for a Community Health Improvement Award through HANYS.
Preet has demonstrated exceptional leadership in managing the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency to improve health and wellbeing within medically underserved and vulnerable community. Preet’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances and her dedication to the community has enabled the department to provide vital preventative services, health education, and vaccinations during the pandemic. Her leadership has set an example for others to follow and her priority on the safety and well-being of the community has been evident through the provision of resources, guidance, and support. Her contributions have been essential to the continued service to the community during this challenging time, making her leadership truly remarkable.
Honorees selected for the Health Innovators to Watch Awards come from across the globe, representing health and healthcare innovation in traditional public health fields, research, academia, architecture, and more. In addition, innovators are intentionally diverse in backgrounds, from public health founders and co-founders, inventors, national and international leaders, directors, researchers, academicians, and curriculum developers