HEALING GOTHAM: Running a Hospital’s Cardiology Department

Dr. Hal L. Chadow at Brookdale Hospital (The Ink/Isabella Rolz)

Hal. L Chadow, 55, is the chief of the cardiology division at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, where he runs a department with nine doctors and a staff of 50 technicians. Ever since he was young, he said, he has been “fascinated by science and how it can be used to heal people.” Chadow started medical school, at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, in Mexico and graduated from at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. His favorite subjects were neurology and cardiology. Intrigued by cardiovascular medicine and cardiovascular diseases, he chose to specialize in cardiology.


I would say … that my week is divided into three major areas. One is administrative. As chief of cardiology, there’s a lot of administrative responsibilities that come with running such a large division. There are days that I call procedure days where I’m in the cardiac catheterization lab … doing all kinds of procedures. … And the other two days a week I see patients in the office.


I would divide them into two or three different types. … You have the challenges of the disease. … Our knowledge, while extensive, in both depth and breadth, is still not complete. Sometimes we do not know enough about the disease to affect a treatment. Or there may not me be a treatment for some reason. That’s challenging.

And then you have patient factors. … We have a patient population that doesn’t always like to hear our advice. I don’t know that that’s unique, but it’s certainly more prevalent here. … It’s very hard when you tell a patient that it is in his best interest to stop smoking, to stop doing drugs, to eat a healthy lifestyle, to exercise, and they continue to do the opposite.

And then the last relates to … the issue of health insurance and how care is paid for. … The problem that we face is that patients are not getting to see the doctor that they want to see. … One out of five prescriptions are not able to be filled because the patient can’t afford them or the insurance company isn’t covering it. Tests that the physicians feel [are] necessary aren’t getting covered by the insurance companies. This is creating a … political issue and, really a human tragedy, because you’re not doing what you were trained to do.


When you lose a young patient … especially a young patient. … As a cardiologist you will see death. … In a way, the challenge is to figure out how to balance … to be caring and not become totally numb, seeing patients die.


It’s … extremely rewarding, especially in this area, because without Brookdale Hospital, this area would be a health desert. … This hospital serves close to one million people.


(Header photo by James Baker via Flickr)