Celeste Carnes Celebrates 30 Years Of Service At Connextcare

On Wednesday, January 19, 2020 a plaque was presented to Celeste for her 30 years of service at the ConnextCare Board of Director’s meeting. Pictured left to right: Dr. Patrick Carguello, Sr. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at ConnextCare; Celeste Carnes, NP; Tricia Peter-Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer at ConnextCare; Michael Backus, Chairman of the Board.


In December 2021, Celeste Carnes, Nurse Practitioner, celebrated 30 years of service at ConnextCare, formerly Northern Oswego County Health Services, Inc. (NOCHSI).

Celeste began her career at NOCHSI in 1991 as a Registered Nurse at the Pulaski office. As a life-long resident of Oswego County, she wanted the chance to work in the community where she was raised. At the time, NOCHSI administration agreed to sponsor her through the Community General Nurse Practitioner Program, which, along with Onondaga Community College, is where she went to school to get her degree as a nurse practitioner.

Celeste launched her tenure working alongside Dr. Charles Kim, a former NOCHSI provider, for four years. Along with Dr. Kim, Celeste notes that Dr. Hugh McChesney, William Downey, PA, Dr. Pat Chapman and Dr. Jay Chapman all played a major role in her mentorship and training in her early years with the organization. When asked about his time working with Celeste, Dr. Jay Chapman says, “She was smart and curious and soaked in all she saw, quickly setting her pattern for what is now 30 years with us. Celeste asked Pat and me to be her preceptors teaching her the clinical aspects of patient care in our community health center setting. This involves more than just direct medical care but also requires community involvement and commitment to building an improved community. Celeste proved herself to be excellent in both areas. Throughout the years, Celeste played an essential role in the organization working at nearly every ConnextCare location at one point or another. This is quite the feat considering ConnextCare now operates 15 practice locations across Oswego County.

When asked about the highlights of the past 30 years of her career Celeste reminisces on her involvement in opening the first school based health center (SBHC) in Sandy Creek in 2002 under the guidance of Muriel Clark-Spencer, the former Executive Director of NOCHSI. As stated by Dr. Jay, The SBHC thrived and a few years later Pulaski schools pushed to open one so Celeste spearheaded that project first at the elementary school and then eventually at the high school/middle school.” The SBHC program has grown by seven additional locations in four school districts since its inception. The expansion of these services is largely due to the positive image and reputation developed within the community as a result of the hard work, time and dedication Celeste and the team put into those initial school based sites. The school based health center is a program run in school districts throughout the county that offers medical, dental and mental health services to enrolled students. The program serves countless school-aged children with services they may not otherwise have access to.

On a more academic note, Celeste was also involved in the ALLHAT study (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial). This was a double blinded study that looked at the effectiveness of various blood pressure medications. Even years later, the findings from this study are still relevant to the treatment of hypertension. Celeste notes this as one of the projects she is particularly proud of being involved with.

Today, Celeste Carnes is a cornerstone of ConnextCare and the entire community. Besides providing exceptional care to her patients, Celeste has become an integral part of training and mentoring new providers herself. Todd Bryant, NP was hired at ConnextCare in 2020 and was paired with Celeste for mentorship and training as a new provider. When asked about his experience with Celeste he says, “I first met Celeste “the Hammer” (he jokingly adds) Carnes at a Nurse Practitioner conference where we happened to sit next to each other and couldn’t resist chatting. When I was hired at ConnextCare I was ecstatic to learn Celeste would be the one training me. Though I only ever met her the one time before, I heard from many of my co-workers and classmates how great of a provider and excellent teacher she was. She has proven this to be true day after day.”

In talking with Celeste it is clear that she has dedicated her career to serving her community. When asked if she envisioned being at ConnextCare for 30-plus years she stated, “I imagined that at some point I would move on; then the community atmosphere became so fulfilling that I wanted to stay.” The sentiment for Celeste is the same no matter who you ask she is kind to everyone, she cares deeply for her patients and she is an excellent provider. Rarely in my experience as a provider, student, or patient have I met someone who provides such compassionate and thorough care for their patients. She goes above and beyond for everyone and anyone would be lucky to have her as their Nurse Practitioner.” states Todd Bryant, Although there are hard days with this job, it never feels like that when I am around Celeste. I look forward to every day that I work with her and rarely have I found a job, or co-workers that I can learn so much from and enjoy being around so much. I consider myself lucky that I have had chance to learn from Celeste and continue to learn from her every day.”

Celeste has been a trusted and well respected provider all across the NOCHSI/ConnextCare system. Her humility, generosity, and kindness is a constant source of motivation and inspiration, and her dedication and work ethics are exemplary.” said Ms. Peter Clark, President and CEO of ConnextCare. When we need a provider to stabilize services at a practice location, Celeste is the one we can always rely on to go where asked and offer the highest level of care to anyone on her schedule. She demonstrates daily the value of having a primary care provider, someone who knows you and your family, listens to your concerns, coordinates with your specialists and watches for results to come in, even nights and weekends, with personal calls to patients to explain their results and reassure them of the next steps.” In Celeste’s words, this is her favorite part of her career, getting to know her patients and their families, “meeting them where they are in life.” She believes deeply in a “shared decision-making” model of practicing medicine - working together to make decisions and select treatments and care plans based on clinical evidence that balances risks and expected outcomes with patient preferences and values.

Dr. Patrick Carguello is a fellow colleague of Celeste’s and the Sr. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at ConnextCare. When speaking of his time working alongside Celeste he states, Over the years, I have developed a strong appreciation for nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. I have to give credit to Celeste Carnes and the core mid-level providers that were here when I started at the health center back in 2003. Primary care, especially in rural communities would collapse without the help of our mid-level providers. Celeste Carnes has been such a valuable team player. Over the past 18 years I have heard and read more compliments from patients and other providers about Celeste Carnes than any other provider that I’ve worked with. I am definitely grateful that I have had the privilege to work with Celeste over the last 18 years and I look forward to working with her for many more years to come.

As an entire community we owe Celeste Carnes a huge “THANK YOU” for her dedication and hard work over the past 30 years, she is certainly an invaluable asset to us all!

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