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Nail Cemalovic, MD

Nail Cemalovic, MD

Director, Intensive Care Unit
NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln

From Bosnia to the Bronx

Raised by a nurse grandmother and a gynecologist mother, Dr. Nail Cemalovic was born in the village of Velika Kladuša in northwest Bosnia on the Croatian border. He escaped war in Bosnia to graduate medical school and then came to New York to work as an emergency medical technician for eight years before joining the Emergency Department at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx.

At Lincoln, as the director of the hospital’s medical intensive care unit, he has started a program that rotates interdisciplinary doctors through the MICU’s rounds, seeing results in the form of improved care and getting patients closer to zero harm. Throughout the pandemic, he introduced proning into intensive care, created video evaluations of swallowing, instituted continuous electroencephalograph monitoring and opened a neuro intensive care unit. “I’m a firm believer that our society should be judged based upon how we treat our most vulnerable members,” he said. “Every patient taken care of is an accomplishment.”

Like many doctors, his compassion and talent have shone brightly throughout the pandemic. “During each wave of the pandemic, he was on the front line caring for the sickest patients in the facility,” said Dr. Lewis W. Marshall Jr., Lincoln’s Chief Medical Officer. “He did so with grace and humility.” Dr. Cemalovic embraces the challenge of public health. “With significantly less resources, the ability to provide excellent care with equivalent if not better outcomes than private hospitals attests to the quality of our physicians,” he said.

Dr. Cemalovic approaches life with a sense of adventure – in Hawai’i or Paris, whether skiing snow-topped mountains or riding a camel across a desert – and he brings a similar flair to his work. A photo he posted to Instagram of himself with two doctors during the pandemic is simply titled “Three Musketeers” – doctors who are one for all and all for one.

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