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Selwena R. Brewster

Selwena R. Brewster, MD, MBA

Associate Chief Medical Officer
NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County

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Putting Patient Safety First

It wasn’t long after Dr. Selwena Brewster joined NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in 2019 that hospital leaders recognized her as a rising star who could have a major impact on the hospital’s staff and the quality of care they delivered to patients.

The daughter of a long-time nursing administrator at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, Dr. Brewster spent 12 years in several hospital emergency departments – in New Jersey, Connecticut and at Jamaica Hospital in Queens – before joining Kings County as the Emergency Department’s Director of Quality and Patient Safety. In that role, she was credited with revamping the ED’s procedures in ways that improved its culture of safety, quality and accountability. One of her most significant accomplishments was developing a Type 1 ED Observation Unit, a dedicated area where interdisciplinary collaboration and evidence-based protocols put patients on paths to better outcomes.

With her vision, personal qualities and varied credentials – she’s board-certified in both emergency medicine and internal medicine and also holds a physician executive MBA – Dr. Brewster was destined for more expansive leadership roles at Kings County. Among other things, says Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rajesh Verma, Dr. Brewster personifies the principle, “Successful leaders don’t control their teams, they lead them.”

In 2022, Dr. Brewster was appointed the hospital’s Associate Chief Medical Officer, overseeing risk management, peer review and ethics – areas of administration in which she and her team implement strategies for maximizing patient safety and access to care. Key to those objectives is the work they do in employee education, professional growth and mentorship.

“Accountability is a value that I teach and use in both my professional and personal life,” Dr. Brewster says – but she interprets that word with a positive connotation. “One of my proudest moments recently was when a staff member had an emotional interaction with a very ill patient and came to us for support. This touched my heart because our goal has been to change how providers view our risk management team. They are now recognizing that we are not a punitive service but a proactive and supportive one.”

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