Manager at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
New York, NY
Philadelphia-native Grace Bell was likely the only four-year-old in the world who wanted to become an accountant. Her childhood interest naturally led her down the road of business; in high school, she was a book keeper for a venture capitalist firm.
In the fall of 2006, Bell entered Case Western Reserve University and began taking business courses at the Weatherhead School of Management. “I wanted to be business from the get-go,” Bell remarks. “But after my freshman year, I realized accounting wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t a good fit.” During the summer between her first and second year, Bell interned at the Physician Billing Office at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she found her passion for the business of healthcare. “It was complicated and, because of that, I loved it,” Bell explains.
After returning to campus for her sophomore year, Bell and her adviser discussed the possibility of pursuing a degree in healthcare finance, leading her to design for herself a concentration that combined undergraduate-level courses in finance and graduate-level courses in healthcare through Weatherhead and CWRU Schools of Law, Medicine, and Nursing. Despite her busy course load, Bell found the time and energy to become deeply involved in on-campus organizations, holding such positions as president of the Wolstein Society, director of membership for the Student Turning Point Society, food and hospitality chair for Relay for Life and executive president of the Residence Hall Association.
During the spring of sophomore year, Bell interned for Sherwin Williams, a Fortune 500 paint company, in their tax accounting department. While the opportunity deviated from her studies and brought her back into the world of accounting, Bell took the job to confirm her reservation about accounting.
So, Bell returned to the Physician Billing Office the following summer and began an internship the summer after that at Charis Healthcare, a strategic consulting firm, where she brainstormed solutions with physicians for the many business issues that plague patients, doctors and hospitals. It was an experience that solidified her desire to go into healthcare consulting. “It was a much better fit for me,” Bell says. “And it was great to put classwork into practice.”
Back in school, Bell participated in the study abroad programs Case Western Reserve offered, traveling to Amsterdam to study bioethics and Costa Rica to study health and healthcare. Her capstone project, greatly influenced by her passion for healthcare finance, looked into the implementation of electronic health records. During her senior year, she conducted qualitative studies with a medical student by researching policies for emergency care around the world and gathered data through interviews with physicians to analyze how these policies influenced social justice.
After graduation, Bell moved to New York City to begin her full-time position with Huron Consulting Group as a clinical operations consultant. Her job took her around the United States, from Mississippi to Maine to Virginia to Connecticut; in fact, she was home in Brooklyn only 10 days during each month. At each location, Bell worked with medical centers to improve alignment, data reporting and clinical practices. “I coached department directors and staff to embrace and advocate for the key organizational changes to ensure the sustainability of the changes after the end of the engagement,” Bell explains.
Currently, Bell is the meaningful use service manager at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she works in the Primary Care Information Project department. When Bell first started, she was recruited as an EHR implementation specialist and worked to implement electronic health records in the New York City borough of Queens. Seven months later, she was promoted to manager and now oversees the distribution of services in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.
When asked what advice she would give to undergraduates and prospective undergraduates, Bell replies, “Get internships.” She adds, “Really work with your professors. Get to know them and get them to know you. Have them be a great mentor to you because they are willing to do that!”
An avid runner, Bell enters at least one race a month and enjoys running around New York City, exploring its hidden elements. But her zeal for exploration does not end there. Bell loves “extreme vacations”; she has kayaked at the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru and climbed the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. She is currently in the stages of planning an expedition to climb the 19,341 foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.