Grad nabs spot in 40 under 40 list

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Christopher Palmieri ’00 is president of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York CHOICE Health Plans.

Christopher Palmieri ’00 (health systems administration) experienced RIT by VHS cassette.

As a student in the early years of RIT’s distance learning program, Palmieri was FedExed graduate school lectures on cassette. He watched the lecture, participated in conference calls and took the same tests from his home in Utica, N.Y.

“I really liked the program,” he says. “It was spot-on in terms of being very applicable.”

During his 17-year career in health care, Palmieri has been quick to jump off the path most traveled and do things in a non-traditional way. That approach landed him in the 2012 Crain’s New York Business 40 under 40, which recognizes those who have achieved success before the age of 40.

Palmieri attended RIT after getting his Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration in 1996 from Ithaca College. As an undergraduate, he focused his studies on managed care and insurance, even though his advisers at the time told him to go into long-term care if he wanted a job.

Palmieri was offered a job at Slocum-Dickson Medical Group in Utica, N.Y., where he had worked as an intern. He was one of few people in the office who had experience in managed care. That’s where he worked when he took RIT classes.

By the age of 23, Palmieri was building a managed health care plan for Senior Network Health in Utica. He moved to the New York City area in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The recruiter called me back at the end of September and asked if I wanted to reconsider my move given everything that had happened,” Palmieri recalls. “And I said, ‘Actually, now is the best time to go to New York City. If I am ever going to have an opportunity to enter, now is probably the time when everyone else is leaving or scared to be there.’ ”

Palmieri went to work for Home First, a subsidiary of the Metropolitan Jewish Health System, and expanded its services from Brooklyn to all of the New York City area. In 2005, after a brief time with Amerigroup Corp., he landed at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York CHOICE Health Plans, a provider of home and community-based health services. He became president in 2009.

When he started, the company served about 3,000 people with $400 million in revenue. Today, it serves 31,000 people and boasts about $1 billion in revenue.

The company recently expanded beyond the New York metropolitan area to all of New York state, which means a lot to Palmieri to bring the company’s services to his hometown and Rochester.

“It is amazing how thankful people are that these types of programs exist—programs that allow people to stay in their own homes or apartments,” Palmieri says. “To be able to do this across the state is really special to me.”