Hospital for Special Surgery HSS

Mary K. Crow, Hospital for Special Surgery HSS

Mary K. Crow, M.D.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

Editors’ Note

Dr. Mary Crow is also Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Rheumatology Division at Weill Cornell Medical College and Professor of Immunology in its Graduate School of Medical Sciences. She holds the Joseph P. Routh Endowed Chair in Medicine and is a Senior Scientist and Co-Director of the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research and Director of the Autoimmunity and Inflammation Program in the Research Division of HSS. Crow received her M.D. at Cornell, completed her Internal Medicine and Rheumatology subspecialty training at New York Hospital and HSS, and completed her postdoctoral research training at Rockefeller University in the laboratory of Dr. Henry Kunkel.

How do you define your role and your key areas of focus?

I oversee most of the physicians, including pediatricians, pediatric rheumatologists, endocrinologists, and infectious disease doctors, and we’ve had a very strong rheumatology department for years, which I oversee. Perioperative medicine has additionally become a larger focus for us – these are the internists who take care of the surgical patients.

I’m in charge of the clinicians who don’t perform surgeries but who often interact with the surgeons. I oversee their activities in the context of their clinical care, education, and research.

Regarding clinical care, we have about 25 rheumatology practices, which function like private practices but with physicians who are employed by the hospital in contract positions. I’m responsible for ensuring that they run their practices efficiently.

I work closely with my senior administrative director to define and review the operational processes of each practice. We make sure that the staff functions well and that we have good practices across all clinical areas. We have to pay attention to our budgets, as well as to recruiting in order to maintain our strength in all areas.

Have there been strong advances within rheumatology?

The big advances have been in the inflammatory arthritis area, through the development of biologic therapies that have changed the lives of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Many new discoveries have been made concerning molecular pathways and the biology of how diseases develop, and what makes people sick. While this knowledge hasn’t been translated into new therapies in every area, one of the strengths of HSS is identifying therapeutic targets. If we are able to target a particular molecular pathway, we have a strong chance of developing a good therapy.

There have also been advances in the care of some of the other diseases that haven’t been based on the development of new therapies but instead on learning how to manage the patient medically in a comprehensive way.

What is it about the institution that has made it so successful?

It helps that we focus on a relatively defined area of medicine and that we have high standards.

Our goal is to influence medicine and surgery around the world in all our areas, so there is always positive pressure to expand beyond our own doors and share our breakthroughs globally.

There’s also a very multidisciplinary and collegial approach to achieving the high quality of care that we deliver. All components of the institution – including physicians, nurses, other healthcare providers, and administration – are engaged in making important decisions and developing strategies, and this leads to more collegiality.

Our CEO is good at helping the institution be successful financially and that allows our academic research side to be successful.•