Several years ago, at a health fair at Open Door Family Medical Center, where she’s served as president and CEO since 1999, Farrell was told that her blood pressure was high. This brought her to the realization that not only did she need to reduce her blood pressure but she could also stand to lose a few pounds.
So, like the woman who moved to Ossining 38 years ago with limited business experience and a young baby in tow – walking into the offices of Open Door to volunteer at a federally qualified health care center that she saw as truly making a difference in the lives of those most in need of quality and affordable health care – she held nothing back. To improve her health, she started competing in half-marathons and then marathons, which eventually led to triathlons. This culminated with her qualifying in her age class for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships (the 70.3 an accumulation of the distances in the bike, swim and run) in September in St. George, Utah. She will do a tune-up by running in the New York Triathlon on July 11.
Farrell’s schedule includes waking up at 4 a.m. to get her training in before she begins her very demanding day at Open Door, where she became president/CEO in 1999 after graduating from volunteer – where she shuttled patients to their appointments with her young daughter often in a car seat – to jobs in fundraising and operations.
Under her direction, Open Door has more than quadrupled in size. Founded in the First Baptist Church in Ossining in 1972, today it cares for nearly 1,000 adults and children every day in Westchester and Putnam counties – with more than 300,000 patient visits – regardless of patients’ ability to pay. In addition to medical, dental, pediatric, women’s, podiatry and behavioral health care offered in its Ossining, Port Chester, Sleepy Hollow, Mount Kisco, Brewster, Mamaroneck and Saugerties facilities, and its school-based health centers, Open Door promotes wellness, good nutrition, stress reduction and physical activity to help families stay healthy.
Communities of color, like the patients Open Door cares for, were impacted the hardest in the New York metropolitan area by the pandemic. President Biden has specifically praised health centers like Open Door for mitigating the spread of Covid and effectively promoting vaccines.
Admirers like former Congresswoman Nita Lowey have applauded her for being on “the frontline of every progressive change in health care.” Her goal has been not only to provide health care for those most in need, but to create a first class medical center with a focus on wellness care and educating patients to take a proactive approach to their health.
As for the triathlon, Farrell says, “it’s fun and great for your physical and mental health. I love the events and the regular training helps me manage my time. You also meet an interesting group of people from all walks of life.”