Stephanie Le always aspired to be a doctor like her father, a radiologist who worked for the U.S. Army. And she quickly found that geriatrics was the specialty for her. She did her residency in internal medicine at Boston University, which has a strong geriatrics program. “I love working with older people,” she said. “They are great to talk to, they tell wonderful stories, and they are grateful for the care. When I applied for fellowships, I focused on New York and I was fortunate to get into Mount Sinai for geriatric and palliative care.”

Stephanie Le
Dr. Le understands how teamwork enhances geriatrics and palliative care.

Since 1985, all Geriatric Fellows at Mount Sinai Hospital have received hands-on training at The New Jewish Home as part of their curriculum. During her rotation at Jewish Home, Dr. Le enjoyed the relationships she developed with patients and their families on long-term units. She was also impressed with the high-quality care the patients received.

“When it came time to figure out where to work, I wanted to do both palliative and geriatric care,” she said. “In most settings, you can focus on either one or the other. Here they overlap—this is where people live, and where many of them spend the end of their lives. I can use my skills and my training to the highest degree.”

In August 2019, Dr. Le became assistant medical director of The New Jewish Home. She helps lead a medical team of 10 Mount Sinai physicians and nurse practitioners who work full-time at The New Jewish Home—something no other skilled nursing facility in New York City offers. “I’m the medical doctor on two long-term floors and part of a sub-acute floor. I also teach—fellows, medical students, and residents—which is wonderful.” In addition, Dr. Le works with the in-house Research Institute on Aging, also unique to The New Jewish Home, publishing abstracts at conferences. “The quality of academic work done here is really high,” she said.

One of her favorite things about working at The New Jewish Home is being part of the interdisciplinary team (IDT), a group of physicians, nurses, social workers, CNAs, and therapists who meet weekly to collaborate on patient care. “Patients are complex, and not every problem is medical,” she said. “It’s a group effort to help people live a more comfortable life.”

Recently, she said, a social worker shared with the team that a resident was trying to reach out to his estranged child. “She told everyone at the weekly meeting that this was emotionally difficult for the resident, and asked all of us to look out for any change in him. As a result, we could contribute to his plan of care in different ways, using this knowledge.”

Another resident, who lives on a floor for people with dementia, used to be a teacher. “Every day around 2 p.m. she’d try to go home,” Dr. Le said. “It was important for the whole team to know that. Therapeutic recreation might take her to the garden at that time, or nursing can check in on her in order to distract her.” As for Dr. Le herself, she said it’s important for her to have access to this deep knowledge of residents. “Knowing that, I won’t prescribe medication for something that’s just a behavior or habit we can address with other team members.”

This team approach is part of what makes The New Jewish Home a great place to work, Dr. Le said. “I like the way I can practice medicine here, getting to know patients and staff, and working with the interdisciplinary team. It’s collegial and collaborative.”

And the feeling is mutual. Sonya Choudhury, a nurse practitioner, said, “Working with Dr. Le is absolutely wonderful. She is a superior clinician and extremely holistic and thorough in her clinical care. She is readily available at all times to discuss the most challenging patients. She’s also skilled and knowledgeable in palliative care and brings that to everything she does!”