Eboné Carrington: Building Her Legacy at Harlem Hospital

Eboné Carrington: Building Her Legacy at Harlem Hospital

By R.L. Witter

Eboné Carrington personifies the phrase “more than meets the eye.” While on the surface she may appear as just another attractive, young woman traversing the landscape of Harlem, there’s so much bubbling beneath the surface. Raised in Harlem, she comes from a family of achievers who understand the commitment required of excellence and the importance of giving back. Her experience and confidence belie her age, and her calm yet passionate demeanor reveals the depth of her foundation.

Carrington came by that foundation, as well as her desire to achieve, honestly. “I’m like my dad,” she said referring to her natural drive to succeed, which led her to degrees in Business and Public Administration from Stonybrook and NYU respectively. Her father, the late Dr. James E. McIntosh (for whom both the Dental Center at Harlem Hospital and a scholarship fund are named), was an oral surgeon who worked tirelessly for both his family and community. Dr. McIntosh was instrumental in setting his daughter on the path that led to her current position as CEO of Harlem Hospital. “I felt like I wanted to do something along the lines of business and fashion merchandising and I worked at GAP Corporate. My father said to me, ‘I don’t feel that I spent my hard-earned money on private schools and your education for you to work at The GAP,’” Carrington recalled. “‘So will you take this internship at Harlem Hospital in the finance department of our affiliate?’” Dr. McIntosh even sweetened the deal by offering to supplement his daughter’s income to match what she was previously making, and his sage, fatherly wisdom paid off. “I kind of happened upon healthcare,” Carrington reflected. “And I really fell in love with it.”

But there’s more to Carrington’s family story at Harlem Hospital. Her mother, Gwen Elliott-McIntosh ran a program for women, infants, and children there for many years. “We have a fun fact for interviews,” Carrington chuckled. “We have 80 years of public service through Harlem Hospital between us.” As if having parents who both worked there wasn’t enough, Carrington also grew up across the street in Lenox Terrace and could see the hospital from her balcony. It seems that maybe, just maybe, her destiny was always calling —and it was a local call.

While following her parents’ footsteps so closely could be daunting or intimidating to others, Carrington fully embraces her family’s history. “I was raised to have a legacy, to say ‘I have laid this groundwork and I hope that you carry it forward —that you bring the integrity and passion to this environment that I did,’” she explained. But don’t be mistaken, Carrington did not get this position simply because she is the child of two long-tenured former Harlem Hospital employees. A first-rate education, talent, and know-how had much to do with it.

There was something else, too; that something bubbling below the surface. Having two grandfathers who were pastors has definitely impacted Carrington’s life. “My faith played a role,” she said. “Daily I pray to hide me behind the Cross and to submit to completely having my steps ordered… My pastor, Mike Walrond ( First Corinthian Baptist Church, Harlem) always says ‘Just be available. Just allow yourself to be used. Open yourself up to all that God would have available to you.’ And I was available.” She continued, “I would never say ‘I am deserving,’ because quite frankly, when you say ‘I deserve this,’ you take away from God. I would say I was prepared… When I say ‘I deserve this’ or ‘this was the next logical step,’ I’m not giving God his just due, and to Him be all the Glory.”

A driven professional, Carrington credits God and her pastor for instilling a sense of power and empowerment in all aspects of her life. “I think that your pastor is, of course, one of your best coaches—being coached into confidence in your faith, in the seeds that you’ve planted— Before I was introduced to Pastor Mike’s ministry, I may have said ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’ ‘Someone else deserves it more,’ or ‘I’m too young for it,’” she explained. “But he teaches us to be radical disciples. He teaches us that if God gave it to you, He’ll keep you. So I do feel a different type of comfort, a different type of confidence, and definitely a victory in advance —in everything I do, as long as I’m doing it for the right reasons. And when I come to work every day, it is for the right reasons.”

Carrington’s photo ought to be the first thing you see when you look up the word dedication in the dictionary. A new mother, she was still working two days before she delivered her baby because she is so ardent about the work she does and her goals for Harlem Hospital. “We want people to come to Harlem Hospital and to actually feel and experience the passion that I believe is present in our workforce. But our [Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems] scores don’t indicate that right now,” she lamented. “I always wonder —and it’s one of the things that keep me up at night— why do we have a workforce that is so dedicated, how are we as a leadership team so thrilled about working here and feeling fortunate about being part of the roadmap to success, but our patients don’t feel that?” Not one to shy away from a challenge, Carrington is prepared to move forward with her plans to achieve her goals for Harlem Hospital. “What I would like to be a defining accomplishment of this administration is to improve the way the patients and the community perceive the care and the delivery of care at Harlem Hospital. I want it to be professional; I want it to be efficient. I want there to be no difference from the experience of what we call in healthcare a luminary institution —Mt. Sinai, NYU, or Columbia Presbyterian— and coming to the city hospital,” she said. Her enthusiasm outweighs any trepidation others might feel about her endeavor to elevate the institution. “I want to improve that perception and it starts with engaging my staff differently, empowering them to make decisions and recognizing them for the good work we’re doing… I live in this community and I want to come here for all of my services and I want other people to come here and experience the same service.”

Outside of work, Carrington enjoys family life with her husband, Demez, and their infant son, Chase Hunter Carrington. “I gave birth to a delicious little boy,” she gushed. “He is so wonderful!” Together since they were teenagers as college sweethearts, Eboné referred to Demez as “My Everything” and praised his patience, his ability to listen and observe, and his unwavering support over nearly 20 years. “He has loved me through the journey of getting to where I’m happy where I am today.”

Looking toward the future, the Carringtons are eager to continue the legacy of excellence and their own little dynasty. “We’re so excited to instill in him the pride and the legacy of being a black man who will be raised to value people, to be a disciple who transforms the world, to be good to people,” Eboné shared. “That’s going to be my signature accomplishment in this world. Many things are in my future, but that will define me, I feel.”

As Mrs. Carrington prepared to return to her daily duties as CEO, I asked her if her crown as executive, wife, mother, and all of the other things she does ever feels heavy on her head. Without hesitation she replied, “I feel blessed to have these talents. I feel blessed to have been afforded these opportunities; and I will prove that I am the right person for the job. I’m confident in what I’m able to do.”