SUNY Canton Healthcare Management Major Starts New Career During Pandemic


From online to the frontline, SUNY Canton’s Healthcare Management majors are contributing to the COVID-19 pandemic response while completing their coursework. One student has even landed a new career before graduation.

Christopher S. Ponsammy a senior in the program, has been working at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady for about four years. He’s been able to take classes in the college’s most popular online bachelor’s degree and complete an internship while working 12-hour shifts in the emergency room.

Christopher Ponsammy

“One of our infection preventionists left in the beginning of March right as COVID-19 was about to rock our hospital,” he said. “It wasn’t the best time to lose an infection preventionist.”

Ponsammy said his mentor created a temporary position for him, pulling him away from his ER responsibilities. He was one of a very few healthcare professionals who possessed the necessary qualifications and had knowledge about the rapidly spreading virus to fill in.

“A few weeks into March, I was tasked with making an educational video and helping to develop policies and guidelines for COVID-19,” he said. “After everyone saw what I had done, I was encouraged to apply for the open position. I had the job interview on March 31 and received a job offer later that week.”

Ponsammy officially began his career as Ellis Hospital’s newest infection preventionist on April 13. He said the biggest adjustment was transitioning from 12-hour shifts 3 days a week to the 8-hour 5-day post.

Other students currently serving as the frontline response in the battle against the virus include an emergency medical technician in New York City, numerous employees in a variety of clinics, long-term care facilities, and many hospitals.

“Healthcare Management is designed for professionals who have already begun their careers who want to continue their education,” said Assistant Professor Marela Fiacco, Ph.D., the lead faculty member in the program. “COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on students in our program. Many of them are carrying an incredible load during this time and I’m proud of them.”

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.