BY MATT SHORTALL
After her own battle with breast cancer, one radiologist has used her own experiences to become a leader in the fight to improve patient care. Dr. Sabiha Raoof, M.D., became the chair of Radiology at Jamaica and Flushing hospitals when she was just 34 years old.
Her initial staff of five radiologists has grown into a group of more than 20 board-certified and subspecialty trained radiologists.
Dr. Raoof grew up in Kashmir, India, where she received her medical degree from Government Medical College of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1989 she came to the United States where she has been practicing medicine for more than 20 years.
“I really come from a family of physicians,” she said. Her father was one of the most prominent physicians in Kashmir State. Her sister, a family-medicine physician, is married to an ophthalmologist. Her brother is an interventional cardiologist and her husband, Suhail Raoof, is the chief of Pulmonary Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Raoof completed her radiology training in 1997 and joined the staff of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. During that time, Raoof has seen major technological advances that have produced faster and safer CT scans, more powerful MRIs, and better X-ray and ultrasound machines.
Raoof says she came to Jamaica Hospital at a time when the market for radiology was very tight. She had plans to move back to Long Island at some point, but fell in love with the neighborhood she worked in. “I realized how much cultural diversity exists here,” she said. “Every day brings new challenges. Working at Jamaica Hospital has been a pleasure and a privilege.”
Around 2012, Raoof was told she had breast cancer. It was a diagnosis that would change the direction of her life. “I see so many patients with cancers, but when it is your own film you’re seeing, it is a whole different experience,” she explained in an interview with the American College of Radiology. “At that moment, I felt everything had been taken away from me in one split second.”
Nothing could have prepared her for the experience of being a patient. “Some of the doctors were excellent in what they did, but had little interaction with the patient, and that made me wonder what we were doing wrong in our department.”
Today, Jamaica Hospital is one of the busiest emergency medicine departments and Level 1 trauma centers in the country. “Our busy outpatient clinics serve a very needy patient population here in Queens. Being a breast cancer survivor has also made me a patient advocate.
My passion is to improve care for our patients.”