2022 ANNUAL REPORT

Letter from the Chair

Gynecologic surgery expands in Westchester and Lower Manhattan

New education model improves residency transition

New approach to treating endometriosis

New research leadership brings public health expertise

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Table of Contents

Mary D’Alton, MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, shares some of the highlights our department has seen over the past year.
GYNECOLOGIC SURGERY
Expansion to new hospital sites sees close to 70 percent growth in surgical volume
DIGITAL INNOVATION
Video visits offer life-improving care while reducing costs and expanding availability for patients
RESEARCH
Building excellence across research methods, in women’s health and beyond
MEDICAL EDUCATION
Revamped Ready for Major Clinical Year course and new trauma-informed care curriculum brings updates to medical education
GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY
June Hou, MD opens new Columbia practice on Mott Street
COMMUNITY HEALTH
Ana Cepin, MD, leads effort in Ob/Gyn department to strengthen relationship between Columbia and Washington Heights
GYNECOLOGIC SURGERY
Jessica Opoku-Anane, MD, leads new comprehensive treatment center, providing innovative holistic care
COMMUNITY HEALTH
Doula-led education courses and postpartum support help patients transition to parenthood
REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCE
New location offers advanced options for fertility treatment to women and couples in Westchester
GENERAL OB/GYN
State of the art labor and delivery floor and midwifery program brings together the best of academic medicine and community hospital
RESEARCH
Uma Reddy, MD, appointed as Vice Chair of Research
MEDICAL EDUCATION
Residents and fellows mobilize to disseminate information across the country during the pandemic

Table of Contents

Contents
Mary D’Alton, MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, shares some of the highlights our department has seen over the past year.
GYNECOLOGIC SURGERY
Expansion to new hospital sites sees close to 70 percent growth in surgical volume
DIGITAL INNOVATION
Video visits offer life-improving care while reducing costs and expanding availability for patients
RESEARCH
Building excellence across research methods, in women’s health and beyond
MEDICAL EDUCATION
Revamped Ready for Major Clinical Year course and new trauma-informed care curriculum brings updates to medical education
GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY
June Hou, MD opens new Columbia practice on Mott Street
COMMUNITY HEALTH
Ana Cepin, MD, leads effort in Ob/Gyn department to strengthen relationship between Columbia and Washington Heights
GYNECOLOGIC SURGERY
Jessica Opoku-Anane, MD, leads new comprehensive treatment center, providing innovative holistic care
COMMUNITY HEALTH
Doula-led education courses and postpartum support help patients transition to parenthood
REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCE
New location offers advanced options for fertility treatment to women and couples in Westchester
GENERAL OB/GYN
State of the art labor and delivery floor and midwifery program brings together the best of academic medicine and community hospital
RESEARCH
Uma Reddy, MD, appointed as Vice Chair of Research
MEDICAL EDUCATION
Residents and fellows mobilize to disseminate information across the country during the pandemic

Letter from the Chair

Throughout a very challenging and uncertain few years, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center has grown and developed in new directions – all toward our mission of advancing women’s health. 
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or our patients, we strive to make care more accessible, comfortable, and compassionate: our gynecologic surgeons are operating at more locations than ever before, our new Labor and Delivery unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital is beautiful and complete with birthing tubs; and our teams are focused more than ever on providing every one of our patients with the care that they need and deserve.

Telehealth has provided an enormous opportunity to expand the reach of our Women’s Mental Health @ObGyn and Women’s Genetics services, and physicians who are particularly passionate caring for underserved communities are transforming the experience of those under their care.

In 2022, we reached the top 5 in National Institutes of Health funding for research and were recognized once again by U.S. News and World Reports for our superb program in Ob/Gyn residency education. We were delighted to recruit Dr. Uma Reddy as our new Vice Chair for Research, who will continue to build and expand our clinical trials, basic science, and outcomes research programs.

GYNECOLOGIC SURGERY

Gynecologic surgery adds two new hospital sites

Expansion to new hospital sites sees close to 70 percent growth in surgical volume
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ince joining Columbia in 2014, Arnold Advincula, MD, Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Specialty Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has made it his mission to transform gynecologic surgery in New York City and beyond. Over the past eight years, Dr. Advincula has recruited a team of minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons with the full complement of surgical skills and dedication to moving the field forward in innovative ways. 

With a solid team in place, Advincula began to think about how they could grow the number of patients they were able to treat. During the pandemic, outpatient procedures were sharply curtailed, and booking space in the busy operating rooms at Milstein Hospital on the main CUIMC campus became even more challenging. Advincula saw an opportunity to maintain and grow their surgical volume in the comparatively quiet and newly renovated operating room at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester in Bronxville.

DIGITAL INNOVATION

Growth of telehealth improves access to care

Video visit technology offers life-improving care while reducing costs and expanding availability for patients
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rior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare providers found it difficult to incorporate telehealth into their practice. The technology could be unreliable, it was challenging to get all the information needed during a visit, and both providers and patients alike felt uncertain about missing out on the important in-person interaction and the experience of personal connection that develops in these settings.

Left with few other options once in-person visits were curtailed due to COVID-19, our providers swiftly pivoted, adapting their workflows and approaches to the new medium.

“Before the pandemic, we were starting to offer telehealth for patients and finding that for working women and postpartum women especially, it really facilitated their engagement in therapy because they didn’t have to take time to travel,” said Catherine Monk, PhD, Director of Women’s Mental Health @Ob/Gyn in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “I think it was lifesaving for people to have access to mental health care at the start of the pandemic. There are a lot of people in need we would have been missing without it.”

RESEARCH

Reaching #5 in NIH funding

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his year, for the first time, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center is proud to announce that we have reached #5 in our specialty ranked by funding received from the National Institutes of Health.

The past several years, under the leadership of Ron Wapner, MD, Director of Reproductive Genetics and former Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Ob/Gyn, as well as Michelle DiVito, MSN, RN, Chief Administrative Officer and former Administrative Director of Research for the Department of Ob/Gyn, have seen a major expansion of research efforts across many fields and specialties impacting women’s health. Over the last five years, the Department has recruited investigators to expand its portfolio even further, with a focus toward diversifying across research methods and taking a broader view of women’s health.

MEDICAL EDUCATION

New education model improves residency transition

Revamped Ready for Major Clinical Year course and new trauma-informed care curriculum brings updates to medical education
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or medical students, the transition from pre-clinical to clinical work can be a difficult one. Learning in the classroom versus learning by the bedside is a big shift, and students often feel unprepared to realign from a learning-focused environment to a patient-centric environment.

Devon Rupley, MD, saw this firsthand, first as a resident in the department and later in her role supervising medical students and residents as an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYP/CUIMC.

“The students we recruit for our medical school are used to personal success through rigorous dedication to their academic careers, which they achieve by studying hard and performing well on exams,” Dr. Rupley said. “That’s completely different to the skills required to be excellent health care providers, where they need to utilize a team-based approach. It’s no wonder that we’re having students who blow us away with their intelligence in the classroom and then flounder in a clinical setting.”

GYNECOLOGIC ONCOLOGY

Gynecologic oncology care – now in Chinatown

June Hou, MD opens new Columbia practice on Mott Street
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or the first time ever, gynecologic oncology patients can now receive care in downtown Manhattan from Columbia University specialists, thanks to a new practice established by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Led by June Hou, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and a specialist in gynecologic oncology, the new practice has a team fluent in Chinese to care for the diverse and multi-ethnic Asian diaspora in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood and beyond. 

“There’s an untapped need for specialty care in that community,” Dr. Hou said. “Patients are definitely more comfortable seeking care in a community they’re used to navigating, especially when they are dealing with intimidating medical language and fears about their health. There’s an illusion in the medical community that Chinese patients aren’t high risk, but they don’t necessarily see primary care doctors and get the preventative care they need. There’s not less need, it’s just underrecognized.”

COMMUNITY HEALTH

Improving women’s health through community partnerships

Ana Cepin, MD, leads effort in Ob/Gyn department to strengthen relationship between Columbia and Washington Heights
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ashington Heights, the neighborhood in northern Manhattan that is home to the main campus of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, is a vibrant community with a diverse population. With a population that is more than 70 percent Hispanic, almost 40 percent with limited English proficiency, and around a 27 percent rate of poverty, many of those living in Washington Heights face significant barriers to accessing high-quality, affordable healthcare.

Through a collaboration with the Department of Ob/Gyn at CUIMC and NewYork-Presbyterian, a new role was developed in our department to address health for women in the community. Based on a community health needs assessment conducted by NewYork-Presbyterian, it was found that maternal and child health was an area with opportunity for improvement. Ana Cepin, MD, an Assistant Professor of Ob/Gyn at NYP/CUIMC, was appointed Director of Community Women’s Health, a new role focused on improving health outcomes for people in the community.

GYNECOLOGIC SURGERY

New approach to treating endometriosis

Jessica Opoku-Anane, MD, MS leads new comprehensive treatment center, providing innovative holistic care
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ndometriosis is a relatively common condition that can cause severe pain and discomfort, and even inhibit everyday activities for those who suffer from it. In order to expand and enhance our endometriosis care to more patients and advance our innovative clinical research in this field, Jessica Opoku-Anane, MD, MS, a leader in treatment of endometriosis, joined our Division of Gynecologic Specialty Surgery this year. Dr. Opoku-Anane will establish a Comprehensive Endometriosis Center and will serve as director.

Our new endometriosis center will focus on treating the whole patient, including all of the physical, mental, and emotional complications that can arise from endometriosis, expanding the breadth of services offered. Our holistic and individualized approach involves coordination with our gynecologic specialty surgery experts as well as specialists from across the medical center, including fertility, radiology, general gynecologic care, pain management, pediatric and adolescent gynecology, urogynecology, integrated medicine, and mental health and wellness.

Community Health

Doula programs offer support for expectant parents

Doula-led education courses and postpartum support help patients transition to parenthood
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or many expecting parents, doulas – professionals trained to provide emotional, physical and informational support to birthing people – play an important role before, during, and after childbirth. While doulas have always been welcome when invited by patients on our Labor and Delivery units, two initiatives offering doula services more broadly to patients have seen early success.

Through a grant from the New York City Department of Health as part of the Maternity Hospital Quality Improvement Network, a pilot program launched in October 2021 in collaboration with Uptown Village Cooperative to provide doula-led virtual prenatal education to patients delivering at NYP/CUIMC and NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital.

REPRODUCTIVE SCIENCE

Columbia Fertility opens practice in White Plains

New location offers advanced options for fertility treatment to women and couples in Westchester
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olumbia University Fertility Center has opened a second practice location in White Plains, NY to complement its midtown Manhattan practice. Located at 244 Westchester Avenue, the new location features a full suite of fertility services, including fertility screening and diagnosis, semen analysis, intrauterine insemination, oncofertility services, preimplantation genetic testing, daily monitoring for IUI and IVF cycles, and more. Like the team’s midtown Manhattan practice site, the new location offers patients boutique-level personalized care, the outstanding outcomes of a world-class laboratory, and innovative treatments that come from being at a top-tier academic program.

Rachel McConnell, MD, Paula Brady, MD, Roger Lobo, MD and Priyanka Ghosh, MD see patients at the new location, along with care teams providing full fertility support services. The new location bolsters the department’s mission to expand crucial access to cutting-edge treatments for infertility within this region.

GENERAL OB/GYN

Hudson Valley raises the bar for care

State-of-the-art labor and delivery floor and midwifery program brings together the best of academic medicine and community hospital
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ewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital recently celebrated the opening of a new state-of-the-art birthing center, featuring a patient-focused design that enhances care and comfort for expectant moms and newborns. The new birthing center also offered the perfect opportunity to build a comprehensive midwifery program, something that Tracy Bohn Hemmerdinger, MD, Chief of Ob/Gyn at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley, says the community has long desired.

“With the opening of our new labor floor, it’s really a perfect environment for midwifery, with bright, private rooms, soaking tubs, wireless monitors, and lots of space,” Dr. Hemmerdinger said. “I learned the community would love midwifery care, but they wanted a safe setting, where there would be high-level obstetricians as well as anesthesiologists and other specialists they may need. We’re fortunate that as a community hospital within an academic medical center, we can offer the best of both worlds.”

RESEARCH

New research leadership brings public health expertise

Uma Reddy, MD, appointed as Vice Chair of Research
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n a major step forward to advance our research mission, the Department of Ob/Gyn at CUIMC welcomed Uma M. Reddy, MD, MPH as our new Vice Chair of Research.

Known throughout the field for her groundbreaking research in stillbirth, preterm birth, and labor management, Dr. Reddy also holds an appointment as a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Professor of Population and Family Health in the Mailman School of Public Health.

A distinguished physician, researcher, and educator, Dr. Reddy previously served as a Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Section Chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. Prior to joining the faculty at Yale School of Medicine in 2018, Dr. Reddy served as a Medical Officer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). While at the NIH, she provided clinical services at several hospitals, including Walter Reed Medical Center and Medstar Washington Hospital Center as a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Medical Education

Trainee research more vital than ever

Residents and fellows mobilize to disseminate information across the country during the pandemic
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any of us recollect with painful clarity the fear and uncertainty that pervaded in March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, was the “epicenter of the epicenter” in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the disease struck our community with a rapidity and severity seldom seen before. Little was known about COVID-19, but we were learning quickly, and needed to share our data and lessons with healthcare providers across the country before they faced the same conditions.

“There was really a dearth of information, and we had no idea of the effect of COVID-19 for pregnant and delivering patients or for patients undergoing gynecologic procedures,” said Jason Wright, MD, Division Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at NYP/CUIMC. “There was an urgent need to communicate this information, to understand and share the lessons we’ve learned, and to get this out to other Ob/Gyn departments and programs so they could improve the care of women.”

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