As SIUH’s Board Chair, Frank Besignano is dedicated to the hospital’s mission of community access to quality healthcare

by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos BY Amessé photography

When Frank Besignano was an undergrad at Baruch College, he took a summer job with Lincoln Savings Bank in Brooklyn to help fund his student expenses. “I worked in the file room during my first summer with the bank and returned for a second summer during which I worked directly with customers,” Besignano said. “I enjoyed that opportunity to interact with people directly and began to take an interest in all aspects of banking, so I continued earning my degree at night in order to work at the bank full time.”

Before Besignano had even earned his degree, he climbed to a supervisory position and was promoted to branch manager not long after his graduation. When a job opportunity at Staten Island Savings Bank became available, the borough native couldn’t pass it up.

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“I was hired as a branch manager and worked my way up to an executive position,” Besignano said. “After several years, I became one of the bank’s senior officers, responsible for marketing, business development, and compliance.”

For Besignano, who took his first banking job as a kid for a small summer income boost, the chance was surreal.

“My interest in banking and my love for working directly with customers had intersected and suddenly tied together in this one position,” Besignano said. “The opportunity to work directly in my hometown simply made the opportunity even sweeter.”

The William Vale Spread

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As a senior officer, Besignano was involved in the bank’s initial public offering in 1997 as well as its name change to SI Bank & Trust. He also aided its expansion into New Jersey and Brooklyn. When it merged with Independence Bank in 2004, Besignano was placed in charge of 75 retail branches across New York City and Long Island. It was an executive VP position that he held onto after Sovereign Bank acquired Independence in 2006. In 2008, Besignano became manager of business development for Signature Bank, a position he still holds today.

“My role is focused on introducing local, privately owned businesses to the bank. This role was an easy transition for me to make because I had a 25-year relationship with the Staten Island business community,” he said.

Signature Bank’s private client banking model was a perfect fit for the executive at that point in his career.

“Here I am back to my original roots and responsibility of working directly with clients, a function that appealed to me when I started in banking and one that has been a constant throughout my career.”

Another constant throughout Besignano’s career has been an unwavering dedication to local charities.

“When I started working at SI Bank, we were continually encouraged to become involved and support our community,” Besignano said. “They gave us the time and financial support to do so, and it was ingrained in us to work locally with both individuals and organizations in need.”

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Besignano began working with organizations such as the March of Dimes, Visiting Nurse Association, United Activities Unlimited, Boy Scouts of America, the Staten Island Children’s Campaign, Kiwanis Club, and the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.

In 2004, when he was asked to become a board member at Staten Island University Hospital, he recalls he was both honored and humbled to join the board of one of the borough’s largest community establishments.

“I grew up in Dongan Hills, in the shadow of what is now the North Campus. As a kid, I played in the fields and rode my bike on the trails long before the property was prepared for development. Throughout my adult life, I have visited this location—now my local hospital—in times of need. When invited to join the board, I was tasked with helping shape the future for an organization that touches the lives of so many Staten Islanders. The opportunity tobe associated with such an organization was a true honor.”

Besignano initially became involved with SIUH’s finance and compliance committees. In 2013, he was named a board chair.

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“This is the largest organization I’ve ever participated in; the hospital employs over 6,000, has approximately 700 beds between both locations, handles 120,000 ER visits annually, and serves two-thirds of the Staten Island community. To be a part of SIUH during such an exciting time of advancement has been a privilege.”

And during Besignano’s 12-year board tenure, the hospital has made impressive strides.

“Our first major project was the expansion of The Elizabeth A. Connelly Emergency and Trauma Center on Seaview,” Besignano said, describing the 2006 endeavor which added an additional 56 patient treatment modules. “And we were then able to open the Regina McGinn Education Center in 2010, which houses a digital medical library, five conference rooms, patient simulation labs, an executive board room that doubles as an emergency command center, and a 250-seat auditorium that enables this teaching hospital to host wonderful, state-of-the-art educational programs.”

Besignano also helped secure funding for the Patient Safety Institute, a multidisciplinary simulation center located in the Regina M. McGinn MD Education Center, equipped with simulation and audiovisual and recording systems to aid in educational training. During his board service, he also has been involved in various activities surrounding SIUH’s Heart Institute and updated Burn Unit, as well as the development of SIUH’s Comprehensive Breast Center and the expansion of its Pediatric Unit. He also helped put the wheels in motion for a dedicated pediatric emergency room at the hospital’s South site.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved at SIUH—not just because of what we’ve already accomplished and put into use—but also because of what the future holds,” Besignano said. “We were recently approved for new projects estimated to cost $120 million and will kick off campaigns to supplement funds we have in hand.”

Those campaigns include a Women and Newborn Center that will feature an updated NICU and obstetrics facility. The hospital’s Cancer Services will also be expanded, and more than $10 million has been invested in state-of-the-art operating rooms for cardiac and vascular services.

All tasks that Besignano said would have been impossible if not for the support of the hospital’s board and leadership team—and the importance of SIUH’s integration and involvement with Northwell Health.

“Our community is fortunate to have executive director Donna Proske leading the administrative team and chief medical officer Dr. Ted Maniatis leading the clinical team,” added Besignano. “Both are Staten Islanders who have impressed me with their professionalism, expertise, and leadership abilities. Healthcare is a complex industry and environment, and they partner with us to deal with a myriad of issues on a daily basis while always keeping the quality of care as a priority.

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Besignano further explained that the hospital’s membership in Northwell Health brings benefits to the delivery of healthcare locally.

“We have access to the resources and clinical expertise of one of the most respected health systems in the country,” he said. “I am also proud to say that SIUH has contributed on many occasions to system wide best practices based on the high level of our standards of care.”

For Besignano, taking the opportunity to speak with employees during events and ceremonies and recognizing their service to patients is one of his most enjoyable roles as chair.

“All the positive things we do in the delivery of quality care is accomplished by every individual we employ,” he concluded.

Staten Island University Hospital
475 Seaview Avenue / 718.226.9000 / siuh.edu