Six Bronx-based doctors honored for NYC Health + Hospital’s Doctors’ Day

a posed group picture of the doctors who received the honor
Six Bronx-based doctors were honored on Tuesday for NYC Health + Hospital’s Doctors’ Day.
Photo courtesy NYC Health + Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals, the city’s public hospital system, honored 23 doctors for its Doctors’ Day on Tuesday, and six of the honorees are based in the Bronx.

The municipal health care system is the largest in the country and serves more than one million New Yorkers across 70 locations each year across the five boroughs, according to NYC Health + Hospitals. The 23 doctors were nominated by the chief medical officer at their facilities to qualify for the honor.

“These doctors stood out among their peers for their dedication to their work and their commitment to closing equity gaps,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, the president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “They exemplify the mission of NYC Health + Hospitals to serve all New Yorkers.”

One of the health care superstars is Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer, the director of women’s health services at NYC Health + Hospital’s Gotham Health in Morrisania. Ottenheimer started the role in summer 2021 and has already almost doubled the program’s patient care capacity.

“My days are full of moments that make me proud,” she said in a statement. “It’s really the little things that inspire me — a nurse practitioner acquiring a new skill, a PCA (Patient Care Assistant) going above and beyond for a patient, a student suddenly understanding a concept that had confused them. I always try to encourage members of our team to learn and grow and expand their horizons.”

Ottenheimer’s experience spans nations, researching contraception in Cameroon, consulting at a medical clinic in Rwanda, caring for earthquake survivors and providing lectures to local midwives in Haiti and developing an evaluation for pediatric mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ottenheimer has also worn different hats in NYC, providing abortion services at Planned Parenthood and a free clinic for uninsured survivors of Hurricane Sandy in Far Rockaway.

Another honoree, Dr. Yvonne Choi, is the director of labor and delivery at NYC Health + Hospital’s North Central Bronx location. Choi began at the medical center as an attending physician in 2002. Choi briefly departed the medical center in 2013, but couldn’t stay away, coming back after a year.

Choi takes pride in “every successful delivery, every hemorrhage stopped” and every photo a patient shows her of a child she delivered.

In the East Bronx, Jacobi Medical Center attending physician Dr. Steven Hahn has been at the public medical center since 1982 and has worked at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine since 1984.

He has directed various programs that integrated aspects of internal medicine, psychiatry, psychology and bioethics.

“I’ve been at Jacobi for 43 years and had many jobs,” he said. “But I am most proud of the over 1,250 residents who have passed through Jacobi during my tenure, and most grateful to the thousands of patients who have let me into their lives.”

Dr. Karam Abdul Karim Al-Shaikhly, a primary care physician at the health system’s Gotham Health Belvis location in the South Bronx, said she sees a lot of patients that were just released from jail, are unhoused, living in a shelter or otherwise having a hard time.

“I love that you never know what’s coming through the door,” she said. “It can be anything. I like the general knowledge of being a general physician, the holistic approach. And it comes with this beautiful privilege of being seen by them as ‘my doctor.’ We’re not the only doctor they see. But we’re often the only doctor they know.”

Another doctor who cares for underserved patients is Dr. Sady Sultan, who has worked as a psychiatrist at Rikers Island since 2010 after working for NYC Health + Hospitals in Harlem for 35 years. While Rikers — a jail with people in custody who are either awaiting trial or sentenced to a year or less — is represented by a Queens community board, it is technically part of the Bronx.

“I try to get them to see themselves in their own future in a positive and optimistic way,” Sultan said of his patients.

Dr. Laura Hyde, a South Bronx doctor who works as an attending surgeon at Lincoln Medical Center, was also honored. She sees a variety of cases, with emergency surgery for a traumatic injury one day and a case of appendicitis the next.

“And then I’ll spend a week in the surgical ICU using my brain in an entirely different way to manage critically ill patients with multi-organ failure,” she said. “ … To me, there is a sacred bond when a patient trusts you enough to allow you to operate on them. I don’t take that for granted.”

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes