Dr. Joseph Masci, chairman of the global health department at Elmhurst Hospital Center, died on Nov. 15. Dr. Masci’s work in infectious diseases both inspired and intersected with Epicenter-NYC’s pandemic coverage and Covid-19 vaccine equity efforts.
We named Elmhurst Hospital to our GOATED list of 2021, saying, “We cannot count all the ways Elmhurst Hospital has SHOWED UP for Queens and communities across the city (the world, really). When we discovered we needed more masks and sanitizers at our site in Queens Village, folks at the hospital sent thousands of each to Epicenter’s storage. Beyond the donation, it’s remarkable how Elmhurst, time and time again, looks so far beyond its borders to uplift communities in the most collective, inclusive sense.”
Much of that philosophy, Elmhurst’s ethos of abundance, community and generosity, was embodied in Dr. Masci. An author of books on HIV/AIDS, Ebola and bioterrorism, he applied his expertise widely during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, he appeared regularly on Caribbean Power Jam Radio with a plain-speaking, accessible style that packed a punch. (“It was a ridiculous arrangement,” he said of the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2020, where hundreds of people gathered in close proximity.) “Bring it the People,” a documentary on the bumpy vaccine rollout in Queens where Epicenter was among community-based solutions featured, was dedicated to him. Dr. Masci even showed up to an Epicenter volunteer meeting in the early days of our efforts to book the elderly, undocumented, essential workers and other New Yorkers for their vaccines.
Says Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of system-wide special pathogens for NYC Health + Hospitals: “He leaves behind a legacy of building bridges in the community, advancing important work in global health security and being a mentor to so many.”
In a 2018 video recorded upon winning the Jacobi medallion from the Icahn School of Medicine, Dr. Masci reflected on what he believes his legacy to be: “What I would want people to take away from my work is that connecting with patients is the centerpiece of what we do.”
Contributions in honor of Dr. Masci are invited to: