Denise C. Soares
Harlem Hospital Center and Renaissance Healthcare Network
New York City
Holistic health, which addresses one’s internal and external well-being, fittingly describes the professional pursuit of Denise C. Soares, a registered nurse. How well medical institutions function internally and how well they deliver care to patients are her highest concerns. Executive director of the Harlem Hospital Center and Renaissance Healthcare Network since July 2011, Soares has managed the multimillion dollar budgets, operating plans, policies and performance of a number of New York–area hospitals and medical centers, placing ultimate concern upon patient care. Compassion has driven her success and led to several awards, including the North Bronx Healthcare Network’s Employee of the Year Award.
Of Jamaican descent, she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the Hunter College Bellevue School of Nursing and a master’s in health education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her volunteer and board member activities for the Organization for International Development focus on improved quality of life and health care for the medically underserved in Africa and the Caribbean. “The desire to help others is why I became a nurse,” says Soares. As a staff nurse years ago, she learned a valuable lesson in professional assertiveness. Her conclusion that a 2-year-old girl with a urinary tract infection was also the victim of sexual abuse was met with the comment, “You’re only a nurse and don’t know anything” from the attending physician. Soares presented the case to another physician who confirmed that the child did exhibit clear signs of abuse. “This incident taught me to stand my ground,” says Soares. “Knowledge is power, and can never be taken away from you,” she adds.
Throughout her career as a staff nurse, nursing educator, manager and director; chief nurse executive and hospital chief operating officer, Soares remains driven to defend victims of abuse and ensure safe, quality and compassionate care to all patients.