Department of Medicine
Excellence in Quality and Community Outreach,
while Assuring Accessibility of Services
|Dr. Sridhar S. Chilimuri, Chairman, Department of Medicine.
|Bronx-Lebanon’s Department of Medicine is its largest medical department,
with 80 Attending Physicians and 110 Residents and Fellows. The department
consists of 14 major divisions: Cardiology; Dermatology; Endocrinology;
Epidemiology; Gastroenterology; Hematology; Infectious Diseases/AIDS;
Nephrology; Neurology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services;
Oncology; Primary Care/Preventive Medicine; Pulmonary/Critical Care;
Rheumatology; and Geriatrics. Its highly trained physicians, under the
direction of Dr. Chilimuri, provide services in many specialty areas.
|(LtoR): Dr. Gilda Diaz-Fuentes, Chief, Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care,
and Dr. Trupti Vakde, Fellow, Pulmonary, in ICU area.
||Dr. Richard Duncalf, Medical Director, Intensive Care Unit (center), discussing
case with (LtoR): Dr. Aviva Kamath, Attending, Medicine and Rashmi Mishra,
Resident, Internal Medicine.
|CRITICAL CARE, ASTHMA, AND CHRONIC LUNG DISEASE
The Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine, under
the leadership of Dr. Gilda Diaz-Fuentes, is providing highly
specialized care for patients with serious and often lifethreatening
problems. ICU staff closely monitor, evaluate,
and treat patients in a 26-bed medical intensive care unit.
Patients benefit from 24-hour specialty care, extensive
physician consultation, and critical care nursing, as well as
respiratory, nutritional, and physical therapy.
Dr. Diaz-Fuentes and her team also provide
multidisciplinary care to patients with all forms of lung
diseases, including asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive
pulmonary diseases, and lung cancer.
The Center for
Sleep Medicine offers advanced diagnostic and treatment
plans for patients with sleep apnea and sleep-related
disorders. Additionally, the division also uses state-of-theart
bronchoscopic equipment, including endobronchial
ultrasound for examination and sampling of the lung.
This allows for the early recognition and treatment of lung
conditions, such as cancer, Sarcoidosis, and infectious
diseases, among other problems.
|Dr. Jonathan Bella, Chief, Division of Cardiology, reviewing patient results
with (LtoR): Dr. Parkash Pokharel, Fellow, Cardiology and Borris Yusim,
||Dr. Marcia Rashelle Palace, Chief, Division of Endocrinology, examining
The Division of Cardiology, under the direction of
Dr. Jonathan Bella, is at the forefront in the prevention and
treatment of heart disease. Its inpatient and outpatient
facilities provide high-quality, state-of-the-art services to
manage coronary heart disease and treat heart attacks,
heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.
Coronary Intensive Care and Telemetry Units are an integral
part of the Divison of Cardiology’s daily activities. An
Angioplasty/PCI (Percutanous Coronary Intervention)
program offers patients emergent and elective non-surgical
options in the treatment of coronary heart disease, while
a Heart Failure Program complements these efforts through
the provision of services aimed at improving quality of life
in heart failure patients.
In addition, an Arrhythmia Service is providing care and treatment to patients with atrial
fibrillation (irregular heart beat) and other complex heart
rhythm problems, including implantation of permanent
pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators to prevent sudden
In the outpatient area, Bronx-Lebanon’s Cardiology practices
are seeing more than 15,000 visits annually, providing
comprehensive services in coordination with primary
care and referring community physicians. Additionally, its
Echocardiography and Nuclear Stress Testing Laboratories
performed 10,000 echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds) and
3,000 stress tests in 2012. These facilities are internationally
recognized for their high quality care.
The Division of Gastroenterology is providing the
community with excellent clinical care in addressing
gastrointestinal diseases and related problems. “We perform
life saving endoscopic procedures and take pride in being a
major center for preventing and detecting colorectal cancer
at an early stage,” stated Dr. Bhavna Balar, Chief, Division
A state-of-the-art endoscopic center
staffed by eight board certified faculty members performed
more than 7,300 procedures in 2012. Patients with Hepatitis
C and B are treated, with the aim of preventing cirrhosis
and complications resulting from liver disease.
The GI division also performs advanced endoscopic
procedures including ERCP, EUS, capsule endoscopy,
balloon enteroscopy, and high-resolution manometry.
“We are one of only a few centers in the nation who have the
equipment and expertise to perform manometry and high
resolution anoscopy,” stated Dr. Balar.
|Dr. Bhavna Balar, Chief, Division of Gastroenterology, performing
||Dr. James Morris, Chief, Division of Neurology,
discussing CT brain scan with patient.
The Endocrinology team cares for patients with thyroid,
pituitary, adrenal, reproductive, lipid, and electrolyte
disorders, as well as Type I, Type II, and gestational diabetes.
During the past two decades, extensive research has
fostered the development of new drugs and related devices
to control and effectively monitor diabetes.
the most innovative therapies available to prevent the
devastation that uncontrolled diabetes can wreak,” stated,
Dr. Marcia Rashelle Palace, Chief, Division of Endocrinology.
Bronx-Lebanon’s Diabetes Center of Excellence (as
designated by the National Center for Quality Assurance)
encompasses 17 clinical sites. Primary and specialty care
providers, with expertise in the field, as well as Certified
Diabetes Educators and nutritionists offer a wide range
Under the guidance of Diana Malkin-Washeim,
Diabetes Health Coordinator, patients are encouraged
to take a more active role in managing their disease to
preserve their health, function, and quality of life.
Winning the war against cancer represents another
important challenge for the Department of Medicine. Its
Division of Oncology is achieving a high survival rate for
cancer patients. An outpatient Oncology Center is providing
specialized diagnostic treatment and support services.
|NEUROLOGY, PHYSICAL MEDICINE, AND
The potential and often serious consequences of strokes are
being addressed by the Department’s Division of Neurology,
through its 911 Designated Stroke Center in the ER (the
recipient of the American Heart Association’s gold medal, as
well as national ranking by U.S. News and World Report as a
This division, under the direction
of Dr. James Morris, is providing expert care for migraine
headaches and other neurological problems. Bronx-Lebanon
is also providing important leadership in the treatment
of Multiple Sclerosis. Its program, under the direction of
Dr. Rene Elkin, is the only one in the Bronx that is
recognized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
For many patients, rehabilitation programs are an essential
part of their care. Bronx-Lebanon’s Rehabilitation Center,
under the direction of Dr. Marshall Kurtz, provides patients
the necessary follow-up to maximize their mobility.
|Dr. Donald Rudikoff, Chief, Division of Dermatology,
||Dr. Marshall Kurtz, Chief, Division of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation,
providing hands-on therapy to patient.
| OUTPATIENT CARE
In the outpatient area, the Department of Medicine is taking
a pivotal leadership role in delivering patient centered care
at clinical practices throughout the Bronx. The Division of
Primary Care and Preventive Medicine (its largest division)
is the anchor from which care is coordinated.
provides quality and comprehensive care that includes same
day access, care coordination, and medical management of
patient populations, with an additional emphasis on health
education and prevention,” stated Dr. Isaac Dapkins. The
division also provides Ambulatory Care education to more
than 140 medical residents, thereby helping to train the
primary care workforce for the future.
The Infectious Diseases Division, is a pre-eminent leader in the treatment and
prevention of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, as well as
emerging and common infectious diseases, such as Swine Flu,
West Nile Virus, multi-drug resistant bacteria, influenza, and
“Our specialized inpatient program and nationally recognized outpatient Center for Comprehensive Care are providing state-of-the-art primary treatment and educational services, as well as continuing research. Availability of National Institute of Health funded clinical trials for patients and numerous other grant awards area further tribute to the efforts of the Infectious Diseases team.
|Dr. Mahendraray Dave, Chief, Division of Nephrology, examining inpatient dialysis patient. He is assisted by Rizalinda Ignacia, RN.
||Dr. Giovanni Franchin, Chief, Division of Rheumatology, examining patient.
|OTHER KEY SERVICES
The Department of Medicine provides the leadership for specialty
programs in other key areas, including Hematology, under the
direction of Dr. Zwi Schreiber; Nephrology, under the direction of
Dr. Mahendraray Dave; and Rheumatology, under the direction
of Dr. Giovanni Franchin. Dr. Franchin is also responsible for
the Lupus program, the only one in the Bronx.
The area of
Dermatology, under the direction of Dr. Donald Rudikoff is one of
the busiest in the Bronx, providing more than 7,000 patient visits
annually. A new hospice unit, under the direction of Dr. Joseph
Sacco, was recently put into place and is providing quality and
Medical and Dental at POE
|Yvonne Cruz, M.D., Medical Director, BronxCare Medical and Dental at POE, often refers to Bronx- Lebanon as her home. As a primary care provider, Dr. Cruz sees close to 25 patients a day.
Along with her expert staff, she works closely with the divisions within Bronx-Lebanon’s Department of Medicine and with the hospital’s many centers of excellence.
“I help my patients comprehend their illnesses and teach them how to maintain their health,” stated Dr. Cruz.
“They are my extended family.”
While growing up in the Bronx, Dr. Cruz knew she wanted to practice medicine.
By the time she was 13, Dr. Cruz was helping nurses and physicians as a hospital volunteer.
“I always knew I would serve my community and would come back to help them,” stated Dr. Cruz.
| She received her undergraduate degree and completed the physician assistant program at Long Island University.
“I am one of the first in my family to graduate from college,” stated Dr. Cruz. “It wasn’t an easy path for me.” After years of working as a physician assistant, she attended medical school in Tampico, Mexico and completed her training at New York Medical College.
The need for quality medical care in Mexico reinforced Dr. Cruz’ desire to work in her own Bronx community. She became a medical resident at Bronx-Lebanon and joined the hospital as a full- time attending physician in 1996. Teaching medicine is also Dr. Cruz’ passion.
She currently oversees 16 residents at the POE Medical and Dental Practice and instructs a course on physical examinations at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. When she’s with her students and residents, Dr. Cruz consistently emphasizes the importance of learning beyond textbooks.
“I tell them medicine is more than science, it’s about compassion, caring and understanding their patients’ physical and emotional needs,” stated Dr. Cruz.
Outside of the hospital, Dr. Cruz enjoys spending time relaxing with her close friends and family. She is very proud of her 22-year-old son, Jamil, who graduated from Wesleyan University and works for the Harm Reduction Coalition in the Bronx.
He is now following in his mother’s footsteps by studying science as he moves toward a career in medicine. “He grew up at this hospital into a strong man and knew all of the doctors well,” stated Dr. Cruz. She credits her father, who recently retired at 82 years old, and her late mother, for teaching her the importance of hard work.
Looking ahead, Dr. Cruz is eager to be part of Bronx-Lebanon’s ongoing efforts to expand primary care services for the community. She also takes pride in the hospital’s emergence as “Doctor to the Community.” “Word of mouth is very important here and people know they can trust our doctors. I feel called to serve the Bronx,” stated Dr. Cruz.