Affinity Health’s Bronx Renaissance

Victor Hayghe shares the unique ways Affinity Health Plan not only gives back to its employees, but also to its community

The word renaissance is not typically associated with the Bronx—New York City’s northernmost borough and home to one the country’s poorest congressional districts. In the eyes of Victor Hayghe, however, the community has been undergoing a rejuvenation for 30 years and, during much of that period, he has been actively participating in its transformation.

Hayghe is the vice president of facilities and administrative services for Affinity Health Plan, one of New York state’s most innovative health insurance providersprovider being the operative word. The driving force for Affinity Health Plan is ensuring accessibility to high-quality, cost-effective healthcare for New Yorkers in the five boroughs as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties. Since Hayghe joined the company in 2003, he has been pursuing its mission to improve both the healthcare and community spirit of the company within its hometown of the Bronx.

Each of Affinity’s Community Service Centers, formerly known as Retail Stores, are where visitors can explore their healthcare options and review their existing plans with immediate, face-to-face support from Affinity staff. They can also learn about evolving healthcare laws, find healthcare and other support systems for the borough’s diverse ethnic populations, and attend any of several community events. Additionally, special events such as family nights, fruit and veggie giveaways, and family fun days are held at Affinity’s 16 centers.

Since its founding in the Bronx in 1986, Affinity’s presence as a true community partner has continued to grow with its support of Run the Bronx, Bronx Fashion Week, and Bronx Week. The company’s presence in the borough is one of community, with affordable healthcare coverage for those with lower incomes being just an added bonus.

Outside the Walls

Victor Hayghe doesn’t reserve his talents solely for work. His charitable efforts for several nonprofits, including the American Cancer Society (ACS), are equally notable.

Last year, for instance, as his county’s ACS representative, he chaired the Real Men Wear Pink campaign and wore some shade of the color every day in October to raise awareness about breast cancer.

He also hosted a tea party for Grandparents Around the World, a nonprofit that pairs children and teenagers with mentors from local community colleges. He selected the site and even designed and set up the space.

“It was a really fun event,” Hayghe says. “My dream is to own a nonprofit to provide services to children. Until then, I’ll continue to support charities from around the country.”

But, as a modern-day renaissance man himself, Hayghe was drawn to the Affinity role over several other offers. As a new father back in the late 1980s, he and his family didn’t have access to health insurance and paid thousands of dollars to cover the cost of their son’s birth. Fifteen years (and several lucrative careers) later, Hayghe was back in the Bronx and excited to work with a company that shared his personal life’s mission: helping underserved populations.

He’s a strong advocate for giving back to a community that has given so much to him. His first job was with an engineering union, where, as an untrained laborer, he quickly learned not only about the trades, but also trade-related career opportunities. From this inspired beginning, he grew into a general contractor, having mastered the skills of all the building trades. He transformed his general contracting career into a successful company, and in the 15 years from the birth of his son to his joining Affinity, he won several awards for his sensitive restorations of historic homes, commercial buildings, and for his development of many shopping malls.

But it’s at Affinity that Hayghe has come into his own. Originally hired to consolidate offices from two locations into one building, Hayghe’s whole-hearted embrace of Affinity’s focus on customer service moved him swiftly from his role as director into his current position as vice president. Under his leadership, each Affinity facility is now built around the core value of customer service, with staff members counted as customers, too.

In Affinity’s workplaces, Hayghe’s design principles ensure that employees enjoy workspaces tailored to their specifications and comfort levels. “My office acts as an ergonomics lab,” he says. “I have different kinds of chairs and desk configurations, so staff can try out several before choosing what works best for them.”

Clearly, his office is not the quiet, windowed corner suite that is commonly expected of many vice presidents of large corporations.

With Hayghe’s help and direction, Affinity recently moved its headquarters into a new building that itself represents a renaissance of sorts for the company, given that the headquarters formerly occupied an industrial complex. The site of the new building is remarkable for two reasons: it’s in a commercial park, and it’s the Bronx’s first class A office complex. It’s also built on the swampy field where Hayghe played baseball as a kid. Essentially, it’s the same playground but a different game.

The new facility is an intentional study in modern ergonomic style and ambiance. It’s ADA-compliant and boasts state-of-the-art technology, thermal design, and comforts. Even the paint was chosen to stimulate particular emotional responses. There are calming blues in quiet areas, for instance, and brighter yellows and positive reds in spaces where people can congregate.

Safety is another of Hayghe’s major focuses. “Risk management is a big part of my job,” he says. “I deal with the company’s insurance, so I designed safety features into all of Affinity’s spaces.” Specifically, he has included video cameras in Affinity’s facilities, and he’s working with a private security firm and the New York Police Department, too. He has also included low-VOC paints and floorings, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and other healthy building elements.

At the service centers, Hayghe finds his true muse in a newly minted position: service center specialist (SCS). His nickname for the position is the “concierge,” as a nod to the customer-service professionals he has experienced at swanky hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton. The SCS position launched as a pilot project at eight locations in March 2017, with the goal of ensuring same-day resolutions for the concerns of all Affinity members who might come in. During the first month, out of more than 3,500 encounters, SCSs resolved the issues of 2,380 (68 percent) on the day they came in.

After only two months, the project was fully underway and will now be a central aspect of customer care at Affinity’s centers. Citizens of the Bronx have never experienced anything like the SCS service they now enjoy. And, while Hayghe’s quiet and unassuming manner won’t permit him to accept being called a renaissance man, his savvy ability to adapt and adopt many elements into a single, aesthetically pleasing, humanistic whole belie his humble protestations.

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RD Weis Companies congratulates Victor Hayghe on this well-deserved honor. We are grateful for the long and lasting relationship we share with Victor and Affinity Health and appreciate the important work he does. We strive to provide the same level of expertise as he provides to his clients on a daily basis. Congratulations, Victor!

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Congratulations to Victor Hayghe on this well-deserved honor, from your friends at Assured Environments.