Advancing Key Priorities for Obstetric Care

Lisa Nathan, MD, MPH paves a transformative path as Chief of Obstetrics
Lisa Nathan, MD, MPH, Chief of Obstetrics, on the labor and delivery floor at NewYork-Presbyterian Sloane Hospital for Women.

t is a new day for the advancement of obstetric care in the Department of Ob/Gyn at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), which welcomed Lisa Nathan, MD, MPH as the new Chief of Obstetrics in 2022.

First drawn to obstetrics in medical school, Dr. Nathan found herself fascinated by the biological underpinnings of the maternal-fetal relationship. This initial interest would blossom into a focal point for Dr. Nathan’s career after her time spent working at an orphanage for children whose mothers had died from HIV/AIDS in Kenya. “I left wanting to do high-risk obstetrics because I realized the one thing all these kids needed was their mothers,” says Dr. Nathan.

Dr. Nathan was appointed as the Chief of Obstetrics after a distinguished career at Montefiore/Einstein, where she founded Einstein’s Departmental Health Equity Task Force and the Global Women’s Health Program. Dedicated to the city and state-wide efforts to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in New York, Dr. Nathan began working as an abstractor for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) on its Maternal Mortality Review Committee. As an abstractor for the committee, Dr. Nathan drafted narratives based on the medical, social, and environmental histories of patients who died of maternal causes. This work offered Dr. Nathan a well-informed perspective on the diverse physiological and social determinants of maternal mortality, as well as the pervasive racial disparities in New York City’s maternal mortality rates.

I left wanting to do high-risk obstetrics because I realized the one thing all these kids needed was their mothers.
– Lisa Nathan, MD, MPH
Today, Dr. Nathan serves as Co-Chair of the New York City DOHMH’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, where she reviews the events that lead to maternal mortality cases across the city. These reviews are used to draft recommendations for city and state-level initiatives addressing the root causes of maternal mortality. Beyond her clinical and administrative roles, Dr. Nathan is also active within the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) as a member of the District II Safe Motherhood Initiative Steering Committee and the Health Equity Subcommittee.

Dr. Nathan’s extensive knowledge and distinguished career in obstetrics has led her to identify transformative priorities for obstetric care at Columbia. These focus areas include empowering patient voices, supporting comprehensive postpartum care, establishing a strong continuity of care pathway for patients, and providing trauma-informed care and implicit bias training to staff and faculty.

With an emphasis on certain key priorities and providing exceptional obstetric care, Dr. Nathan says, “we can become a role model for how to use an equity lens while creating and linking together all of the critical elements of the whole care continuum.” While Columbia University Irving Medical Center has long established itself as a leader in maternal health, Dr. Nathan sees significant potential for the department to lead in the effort to understand and address racial disparities in maternal outcomes while advancing obstetric care in the academic medicine setting.