Corporate Compliance
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Our Professional Team

Effective Regulatory Navigation

Click the names below to learn more about our key professionals.

Aaron Lichtman, JD

Christopher Johnson, MPA, MHA, LNHA, CHC

Marie O’Connor, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN

Daniel Coyne, JD

Darshna Dave, CPHIMS

Susan Almeida, RN, BSN, LNHA, CHC

Katherine O’Brien, JD, CHC

Tara Rosenbaum, JD

Kimberly Howard, MSW

Eileen Churchill

Donald Ponzini

Dawn Kubie


Aaron Lichtman, JD

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

alichtman@rytescompany.com

Aaron Lichtman is widely regarded as a leading healthcare lawyer in the nation. For the past 20 years, he has served, advised, and represented healthcare clients (real estate owners, operators, healthcare vendors, ancillary companies, and their owners and investors). His work spans the healthcare universe from transactions, corporate structural issues, compliance matters and programs, defending facilities in governmental and private litigation, handling workouts, partnership, and management matters, Governmental and Union driven labor issues, handling public relations and other crisis management; to a host of other healthcare related matters. Aaron has negotiated, structured, advised, and helped document billions of dollars of acquisitions and billions of dollars of financing and re-financing of healthcare assets. He has helped structure and guide multiple healthcare groups from the small start-up to billion plus operations. He has been lead counsel and successfully resolved multiple large-scale Department of Justice, OIG, and MFCU as well as numerous attorney general and/or grand jury investigations involving the false claims act, anti-kickback statute, adequacy of staffing issues, worthless or inadequate services, and other issues. In addition to the foregoing, Aaron has recently represented clients on matters being investigated by the Secret Service, Homeland Security, State Auditor General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, UPICs, State Offices of the Inspector General, Department of Labor, OMIG, NCQAs, Local Police, APS and several other governmental or quasi-governmental entities. Aaron, together with clinical and administrative support staff and consultants, have saved several facilities from closure; successfully reduced scope and severity and/or eliminated tags prior to the issuance of a 2567 and assisted clients to improve and demonstrate compliance, enhanced care, and stronger operations; Aaron has helped special focus and CIA, or facilities with provisional licenses to “graduate”. Aaron has acted as point and architect for complex workouts with lenders, members and creditors and calmed or reduced the impact of virtually every type of crisis that can befall a healthcare client: from deadly outbreak of disease; to costly and time consuming governmental investigation; to severe labor unrest; to mandatory extended evacuation; to default, foreclosure or eviction; to operational, structure, or compliance issues; to difficulty recruiting training and/or retaining staff; to ownership or investor unrest; to negative media or political attention; to any number of other unimaginable events that can happen in the best of healthcare communities.   Aaron routinely acts as a facility spokesperson or representative in legal action and supervises the litigation and negotiates settlements in professional liability cases in several high-risk states as well as many other types of healthcare related litigation. In addition to having hung a jury in a facility acquired decubitus ulcer case, Aaron has supervised and acted as a decision-maker in mediations and helped to resolve many hundreds of professional liability cases.

Aaron actively represents hundreds of skilled nursing facilities and several other direct healthcare providers as well as a plethora of ancillaries including Ambulance, Mobile x-ray, Medical Billing, Institutional Pharmacies, medical courier, administrative consultants, clinical consultants and other vendors and service providers. Aaron often works with some of the top healthcare practitioners in the country, from doctors and nurses, to operational people, to lawyers, accountants, and reimbursement specialists. Aaron thinks of himself as a student who is constantly attempting to understand where we are today and where we will be six years from now when the actions of today are judged. 

Aaron earned his undergraduate degree from Bard College where he was a three-time recipient of the Reamer Kline Award (given to an undergraduate who contributes significantly to the vitality of the College). He earned his Judicial doctorate from New York Law School where he ranked in the top ten percent of his class after his first year and was one of two students to be published in Law Review. Aaron also, during Law School, received an American Jurisprudence Award for outstanding scholastic achievement in Contracts. Aaron served as a multi-year teaching assistant to the Dean Emeritus and Joseph Solomon Distinguished Professor of Law, E Donald Shapiro and a multi-term Clerk for the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey, then Federal District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York and later Chief Judge and Attorney General of the United States. In his second summer, third year and after he graduated, Aaron worked for the Wall Street Law Firm of Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander and Ferdon for The Honorable Jed S. Rakoff in his criminal defense and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) practice. Judge Rakoff, currently serves as a Senior Judge in the United States District Court for Southern District of New York. When Judge Rakoff left the firm, Aaron was given the opportunity to work for some of the Firm’s finest attorneys in its Real Estate, Corporate, Bankruptcy, Public Finance Departments and litigation departments.

From Mudge Rose, Aaron started his own practice with the hopes of holistically, passionately, and effectively serving the needs of his clients. Aaron honors creativity, perseverance, and results. He believes that a great attorney must be strategic, practical, analytical, patient, decisive, a good listener, and a good communicator on the one hand and be able to understand business motivation, strategy and consequences on the other. He is as comfortable with financials as he is with complex legal documents or communicating a position in any type of negotiation. Aaron’s clients typically desire to focus on providing high quality service and care to their residents, patients or clients and have him take care of that which distracts so many. While his client bases have materially grown over the years, Aaron’s client retention rate is exceedingly high.


Christopher Johnson, MPH, MPA, LNHA, CHC

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

cjohnson@rytescompany.com

Christopher Johnson holds a Master of Science in Health Care Administration from Lynn University and a Master’s of Public Administration in Geriatric Healthcare from Florida State University. He is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator in New York and Connecticut. He has served as an Adjunct Professor with Lynn University and then the College of New Rochelle.

Chris started his healthcare career in the public sector as a Health Facility Surveyor with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and a Program Specialist for the Area Agency on Aging of North Florida.

Chris has over 20 years of healthcare experience and has a record of accomplishment delivering service excellence, and ongoing improvements for the success of single-site facilities and multi-facility regions. He is a strong decision-maker with keen ability to help define overall direction, build high-performing, ethical and legally compliant organizations, and navigate complex situations.

For example, prior to coming to Rytes, Chris was a Vice President of Operations for an international group providing oversight for nine healthcare operations in five states providing skilled nursing, sub-acute rehab, ventilator care, and pediatric long-term care/rehabilitation. Over a period of three years, Christopher drove key change and improvement in various areas, including customer satisfaction, quality clinical outcomes, and overall service excellence and value. This included driving four centers to achieve clinical excellence with deficiency-free CMS surveys, increasing overall customer satisfaction from the mid-70s to 91%, and achieving a competitive average employee turnover rate that exceeded the 40% industry average.

Chris has a particular passion for quantifying data and executing the practical application of data through a methodical implementation process to secure defined outcomes. In 2010, he was recognized with the ACHCA 2010 Facility Leadership Award for excellence in patient quality outcomes. During this time, he also served on the New York State Health Facility Association’s Board of Directors and acted as its District IV Legislative Liaison.


Marie O’Connor, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN

CHIEF OF STAFF

moconnor@rytescompany.com

Marie Joins Rytes Company as Chief of Staff, adding more business, clinical and data analytic depth to our Team. Marie holds a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Sacred Heart University, and a Master’s in Business Administration in Data Analytics, and a Master’s in Science of Nursing Administration. That said, Marie is as accomplished outside the classroom as inside. By way of example, from 2009 to April 2016, Marie served as Staff Nurse and then Nursing Supervisor at White Plains Hospital Center where she managed over 300-night shift nurses and hospital staff; developed policies and processes to maximize efficiency and efficacy of patient flow and delivery of clinical services; collected and analyzed data based on patient outcomes and implemented evidence-based practice to improve care. From 2014-2016 she also served as a Healthcare Data Analytics and QI Consultant for Anthem Inc where Marie had the opportunity to analyze thousands of data points for hospital systems such as NYU, Mt. Sinai, Columbia, and Montefiore to help them improve efficiency and patient care and customer experience. Marie also evaluated data from Empire Reports and implemented actionable evidence-based strategies aimed at improving chronic disease population health outcomes and led a quality improvement project effort which contributed to the reduction of readmission rates by 3.5% for CHF patients in a large Accountable Care Organization in New York over a 1-year period. Thereafter, as a principal, Marie helped to build two successful, medically based, multi-location businesses, in one case building nine locations throughout the United States. Moved by the need brought about by the COVID Pandemic, in January 2020 Marie served as a per diem Nursing Supervisor at a Westchester New York, Nursing Home while she continued to service as Chief Nursing Officer of ProsperIV.


Daniel Coyne, JD

LEGAL PARTNER

dcoyne@rytescompany.com

Dan has joined the Rytes Company following a 22-year career as both an attorney and executive leader. Most recently, Dan served from 2017-2020 at the New York Office of Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”) as the Deputy Medicaid Inspector General for the Division of Investigations. As Deputy, Dan reported directly to the Medicaid Inspector General, providing necessary guidance and direction; led a staff of over 100 investigators, auditors, nurses, pharmacists, and data analysts; served as liaison with the New York State Attorney General and New York State Inspector General, State regulatory agencies and State and Federal Law Enforcement agencies on criminal and civil matters; and reviewed compliance by Medicaid providers of state regulations and contractual provisions, including Managed Care and Managed Long-Term Care Organizations.

From 2014-2017, Dan served as the Assistant Medicaid Inspector General for the Division of Medicaid Investigations at OMIG, in charge of all Medicaid investigations in the lower Hudson Valley and the greater New York City Area. Dan also served as a Senior Attorney within the General Counsel’s Office at OMIG from 2009-2014.

Dan began his legal career in 1998 as an Assistant District Attorney at the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. He received his law degree from Pace University-School of Law in 1998 and his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University in 1994. From 2000-2006, Dan practiced as a civil litigator. From 2006-2009 Dan served as an Associate Attorney in the General Counsel’s Office for the New York State Insurance Department, currently the Department of Financial Services.


Darshna Dave, CPHIMS

DATA ANALYTICS PARTNER

dcphims@rytescompany.com

Darshna is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems with in-depth training of project life cycles, CDSS, DBMS and the healthcare industry. Darshna also holds an MBA in Finance from Fordham University and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. For the last 18 years, Darshna has, in the field of healthcare, engaged in sophisticated Business Analytics, Reporting Data Visualization, EHR Systems, auditing and project management, survey dissemination and analysis, database management/warehousing, and healthcare tools and logistics. She has provided reports, dashboards, clinical quality improvement measures, KPIs to leadership for review. Darshna developed an in-depth expertise in health informatics to optimize use of data from multiple sources to generate relevant analysis and interventions that can improve clinical quality, patient care and generate more efficient workflows. Darshna takes pride in her ability to collaborate with providers, clients, and users to understand business needs, design, develop, test train, implement and perform acceptance testing of projects to ensure collection of data and accuracy of results. Darshna has accurately and timely delivered data/cascades to regulatory institutions and data marts such as e-HIVQual, eHEPQual, UDS and more. Darshana possesses a strong technical background, and is capable of working on concurrent projects, with familiarity of claims, billing, and practice management.

After ten years in the financial industry working for companies such as JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, Darshna focused her professional talents in the area of Healthcare Information Systems. Immediately prior to joining Rytes Company, Darshna served as the Director of Healthcare Information Systems for Sun River Healthcare (formerly Brightpoint Health) where she spent seven years developing clinical quality improvement projects for a large multi-specialty community health center. Among other things, Darshna was responsible for gathering requirements, designing, developing, testing, and implementing projects. Darshna also developed clinical quality measures, KPIs, quarterly clinical dashboards and UDS reports for senior leadership review and a multitude of reports for ensuring productivity and identifying opportunities for improvements and implementing interventions in workflow, policies, and procedures etc… Prior to that time, Darshna was a ten-year Vice President of Health Information Systems & Practice Management for a large geriatric practice overseeing all aspects of administrative, financial, and billing needs. In addition to the previously mentioned tasks, Darshna had the opportunity to supervise all billing for senior programs such as Adult Day Care, Health Homes, and Assisted Living, working extensively with Medicare, Medicaid, and HMOs.


Susan Almeida, LNHA, R.N., CHC

CLINICAL PARTNER

salmeida@rytescompany.com

Susan Almeida is an experienced Registered Nurse and licensed nursing home administrator. Susan graduated cum laude from Western Connecticut State University as a member of Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing, and from the University of Connecticut with a certificate in Long-Term Healthcare Management. Susan has 20+ years’ experience in the Long-Term Care industry.

She has worked at independently owned facilities as well as large multi-facility corporations in various capacities including Regional Director of Clinical Development, Quality Improvement, Case Management, Director of Nursing, and as an acting Administrator. Among many achievements, Susan has served as a Senior Examiner for the American Healthcare Association Quality Award program and has co-authored an awarded Quality Gold application. Susan provides Rytes and our clients with depth of clinical understanding and experience.


Katherine O’Brien, JD, CHC

LEGAL PARTNER

kobrien@rytescompany.com

Katherine is a seasoned healthcare attorney with over 15 years of legal and regulatory experience including the last four at Rytes Company. Katherine began her career at Oxford Health Plans as a Medicare and Medicaid Service Associate and advanced into the Legal Department, where she was responsible for drafting policy language and overseeing implementation of company-wide adherence to legislation mandating patient appeal rights. As a Manager within that department, she was responsible for compliance with state and federal regulations pertaining to patient appeal rights, as well as protecting patient rights under ERISA and HIPAA.

Katherine worked as part of a prestigious national firm, and thereafter, worked at a nationally recognized midsize firm as coverage counsel for certain syndicates of Lloyd’s of London where she became familiar with healthcare operations from a malpractice/professional liability perspective.

Throughout her career, Katherine has counseled facilities on a host of compliance, risk management and professional liability issues. Her focus was both proactive and reactive. Katherine believes that a proactive approach to compliance will be economically effective as well as satisfying.

Katherine graduated from Connecticut College with a BA in Psychology and earned her JD from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University (formerly Pace University School of Law), where she was President of the Health Law Society. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut.


Tara Rosenbaum, JD

LEGAL PARTNER

trosenbaum@rytescompany.com

Tara Rosenbaum is a skilled and experienced healthcare lawyer. She graduated from the University of Albany in 1995 and is a 1999 cum laude graduate of Albany Law School. For more than a decade, Tara has been working almost exclusively in the healthcare field during which time she has assisted in closing several billion dollars of acquisitions, divestitures, and financings. Tara has, in addition, distinguished herself as a healthcare authority, effectively working with many types of healthcare entities and ancillary providers including Residential Care, Pharmacy, Dental, X-Ray, Risk Retention, Ultra-Sound, Third Party Management, financial services, and billing and receivable companies on a multitude of complex issues, working alongside some of the most prestigious firms in the Nation. Frequently consulted by owners, operators and healthcare lawyers for advice, Tara has established herself as a trusted advisor.

Tara believes strongly in the effective, transparent, and knowledgeable execution of the law. Providers and not lawyers, or consultants, make the decision as to where they choose to live on the continuum of risk, but Tara has found almost universally that providers choose risk out of ignorance—either not understanding the limitations which are imposed by law or not understanding the safer alternatives available to them. The hundreds of operators she services share a goal of being proud of the quality of their Organizations and the services or products they provide. They put resident/patient care first, so they certainly do not want to inadvertently risk exclusion from governmental programs, criminal or civil prosecutions or be bogged down by professional liability or other suits which drain vital resources from patient care.

From litigation management to compliance and structural issues, Tara is praised for her responsiveness, focused efficiency, and legal competence. She builds trust through her low-key, straightforward, and candid approach. Her willingness to utilize the extensive network that she has built to better serve her clients in formulating their plan for success, has further enhanced Tara’s excellent rapport.

Tara currently has her own healthcare law practice and is an integral part of the Rytes team.


Kimberly Howard, MSW

EMPLOYMENT PARTNER

khoward@rytescompany.com

Kimberly Howard heads the Employment Group at Rytes Company. Kimberly is a big firm detail- oriented human resources professional who gets it. Having run a business herself and been an advisor to Senior Management and Owner/Operators, Kimberly is practical and gets things done. Along with 15 years of thorough on-the-job training with leaders in the fields of technology, human services, luxury hospitality, law and healthcare, Kim holds a Master’s of Social Work from New York University and an array of training certifications, including Crisis Intervention, Individual and Organizational Growth and Organizational Assessment from Cornell University, Lominger Career Architects, Deloitte, respectively. Kimberly has worked for premier companies such as Deloitte and Hyperion/Oracle, and most recently the Financial Accounting Standards Board where she served as Director of Human Resources. Kim has led multiple acquisitions and workforce restructurings to include blitz hiring and reductions in force and has been through the ups of the dot-com boom in the software and technology sectors and the downturn of a declining economy. Her passion lies in helping to set up systems for those who have suffered or are threatened with crisis, repetitive lawsuits, audits, poor productivity, labor unrest, poor documentation, and similar ruinous situations. Working with existing management and without ruffling feathers, he helps improve the quality and the bottom line.

Kim is proud to have worked for two of “Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For”, one of which she brought to Fortune’s attention. She successfully assessed the issues and implemented solutions at an underperforming office of a firm which was fraught with lawsuits among its myriad of issues–taking it from last to first in its employee satisfaction ratings. Kim believes motivated, happy and effectively managed employees are more productive, provide better care and services, don’t become adverse witnesses and generate positive returns. That is Kim’s focus.


Eileen Churchill

SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE CEO

echurchill@rytescompany.com

Eileen joined Rytes Company as an Administrative Coordinator in March of 2015. Since that time, she has worn virtually every hat from right hand to the CEO to Compliance Specialist – a position from which she was internally trained as well as completed an external training program in 2017.

We refer to Eileen here as our central nervous system. Whether she is the public face or not, Eileen will likely have a key role in making sure Rytes performs. Eileen currently serves a dual role as Compliance Specialist and Special Assistant to the CEO. Part of her responsibility is to oversee the customer service and billing departments. She believes that we are here to meet and exceed the needs of our clients and takes great pleasure in a job well-done.


Donald Ponzini

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS PARTNER

dponzini@rytescompany.com

Don is a technology strategist with extensive IT leadership experience including oversight of infrastructure, R&D, application support and security services. Dedicated to customer satisfaction with the focused delivery of technical solutions. A proven leader in directing operations, maintenance, and support of complex systems.

Don has developed creative business solutions, leveraged diverse methodologies, and delivered engineering solutions for leading organizations including most recently the Gap Inc. and FujiFilm Medical Systems where he served as a Manager of Support Engineering and as a Manager, IT Operations, and End User Enrollment, respectively. Don is highly adept in technology assessments and staff training.


Dawn Kubie

PARALEGAL

dkubie@rytescompany.com

Dawn brings nearly two decades of paralegal experience to Rytes Company. She provides high level support to our team. Dawn brings to Rytes her enthusiasm for research and writing, as well as her litigation experience. Dawn graduated cum laude from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven after having studied several years at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

In addition to being a talented paralegal, Dawn is a photographer and musician having sung and played keyboard in dozens of shows, and exhibitions in numerous hospitals and galleries.