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Nazma Hossain

Nazma Hossain, MD, FACP

Attending Physician
NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler

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From Rural Bangladesh to Providing Care on Roosevelt Island

Dr. Nazma Hossain grew up in the famine and turmoil of Bangladesh’s battle for independence, which was achieved in 1972. But it paled in comparison to her private struggle: losing her father when she was 14 and he was just 38.

Her inability to help him propelled her into medicine. For 30 years, she has served as an Attending Physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler. She is known for giving ethnic-specific meals to patients — mapo tofu for Chinese patients or chicken biryani for Indian patients — as well as holding patients’ hands even in their intimate final moments.

“The quality of life I couldn’t give my father, I can give it to my patients,” she said.

She donates frequently to food banks, homeless shelters, and orphanages. She carries an enormous sense of gratitude with her — literally, in the form of a kidney transplant she received in 2013 from a donor who died of a brain hemmorage after tripping on the sidewalk in Manhattan.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, she became a patient herself and underwent a six-day hospitalization for pneumonia. The experience helped her relate better to her patients.

“To me, respect in medicine is very important,” she said. “As a physician in a public hospital, there is often a disparity in education and income with our patients. This creates an unequal dynamic between the patient and physician that can only be bridged with humility and respect for one another.”

Even now in her 60s and surviving with a transplanted kidney, Dr. Hossain maintains humility by practicing Ramadan, the monthlong tradition of fasting from sunrise to sundown — abstaining even from water.

“Working for the city of New York is an honor,” she said. “When I first came to America, New York was my home and will always be my home. The city has given me, an immigrant woman from Bangladesh, the opportunities to raise a family and succeed in a foreign country. Having the opportunity to take care of its citizens is something that is near and dear to my heart. After all, nobody is more vibrant or outspoken than the people of New York.”

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