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Leonardo Lopez, MD

Leonardo Lopez, MD

Associate Chief of Psychiatry
NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue

From Math Teacher to Mental Health Care Provider

In just four years, Dr. Leonardo Lopez, a former high school math teacher, has made a remarkable impact on the psychiatry service at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. He has transformed the quality of inpatient care, won plaudits for clinical and teaching excellence and taken on growing responsibilities in the department and the hospital.

In 2018, Dr. Lopez was recruited directly from residency to be Director of Bellevue’s eight units of Inpatient Psychiatry. In 2021, he also assumed responsibility for patients in the hospital’s two forensic inpatient units and now oversees the treatment of more than 200 psychiatric inpatients whose care is provided by 30 psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Since joining Bellevue, he has been successively promoted to Assistant and then Associate Chief of Psychiatry and taken on hospital-level roles including Chair of the Physician Peer Review Committee.

Dr. Lopez graduated from Columbia with a degree in mathematics and physics and taught high school math before starting medical school at Northwestern. “I was inspired to become a doctor through my experiences as a high school teacher in New York City,” he said. “I taught many adolescents experiencing difficulty with their physical and mental health, and I realized that their success as students was to some degree dependent on their health issues being addressed.”

At Bellevue, Dr. Lopez has reduced length of stays by revamping inpatient flow from the hospital’s psychiatric emergency service while also developing a streamlined process to accept patients from other hospitals who can benefit from Bellevue’s specialized treatment. He has also been cited for his success in recruiting inpatient psychiatrists and for creating a highly regarded weekly psychiatry clinical conference.

He’s proud to work in a hospital – and a health system – that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration to provide the best care for patients with complicated health issues. “It is a rare hospital in which psychiatrists and critical care doctors can work side-by-side,” he says, “and where physicians, nurses and social workers are motivated by a singular mission. I have worked with outstanding colleagues in the private sector as well, but the dedication to the disenfranchised in the public health system is truly unique.”

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