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Deborah Ottenheimer, MD, FACOG

Deborah Ottenheimer, MD, FACOG

Director, Women’s Health Services
NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Morrisania

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A Champion for Women in the South Bronx

Back in her high school days when she was just “Deb,” Dr. Deborah Ottenheimer worked as an options counselor at a family planning clinic and as a rape crisis counselor. That was the early 1980s, less than a decade after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. 

But that service shaped everything that followed: ethnographic research in Cameroon on contraception among Ewondu women; a senior thesis on patterns of injury against victims of domestic violence; consulting at a medical clinic in Rwanda; forensic medical evaluation of women seeking asylum; abortion services at Planned Parenthood here in New York; acute care for earthquake survivors in Haiti, as well as lectures to local midwives; a free clinic for uninsured survivors of Hurricane Sandy in Far Rockaway; development of evaluation for pediatric mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo; development of a multi-specialty clinic for women affected by genitalia mutilation; and the establishment of a refugee health program for survivors of torture. 

It’s a lot.

And yet Dr. Ottenheimer sees it all as never enough. Having joined NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Morrisania in the summer of 2021 as its Director of Women’s Health Services, she has already nearly doubled the program’s capacity for patient care. She has a voracious appetite for growth.  “My days are full of moments that make me proud,” she says. “It’s really the little things that inspire me — a nurse practitioner acquiring a new skill, a PCA going above and beyond for a patient, a student suddenly understanding a concept that had confused them. I always try to encourage members of our team to learn and grow and expand their horizons.”

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