Richmond University Medical Center has announced the appointment of Keith Diaz, MD, to Chief of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine. Since 2011, Dr. Diaz has worked as an intensivist and consulting pulmonologist at RUMC, and he also serves as director of the hospital’s lung screening program. He is also part of the medical leadership team overseeing multiple clinical specialists treating patients in their long-term and short-term recovery from COVID-19 at RUMC’s Post COVID-19 Care Center.
“Especially with a COVID-19 resurgence, expansion of our pulmonary and critical care team was critical,” Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Pietro Carpenito, MD, said. “With this expansion, we are confident that we will be able to meet the needs of both our inpatients and outpatients, and that they will continue to be treated in accordance with the latest evidence-based standards.”
A graduate of Ross University School of Medicine and lifelong Staten Island resident, Dr. Diaz completed his residency in Internal Medicine on Staten Island at then-St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center. He then completed additional training in Surgical Critical Care Medicine at Mount Sinai followed by a Pulmonary/Critical Care fellowship at Stony Brook University Medical Center. His efforts as a teacher earned him the designation of “Attending of the Year” for the 2018-2019 academic year. In addition to his roles at RUMC, Dr. Diaz is also a medical specialist for the Fire Department of the City of New York, helping firefighters recover from 9/11-related diseases.
“I am truly proud to be a member of the family at RUMC, whose roots and excellence of service have been firmly planted on Staten Island for well over a century,” Dr. Diaz said. “I feel it’s never been more vital to apply my skills as a pulmonologist to RUMC and my community than during this critical period. This past year, the entire institution displayed extraordinary teamwork throughout the most difficult times imaginable. In addition to working alongside the exceptional team at RUMC, I look forward to having more time with my patients as well as the residents and students.”
Dr. Diaz helped to create RUMC’s lung screening program, one of the most advanced in New York City. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Found in their earliest stages however, 90% of lung cancers are curable. A lung screening involves the use of a low dose Computed Tomography (CT) scan, which produces cross-section images of the lungs. The patient is asked to hold their breath for five to ten seconds during which time the CT scan is able to take an x-ray of the entire chest.
“Dr. Diaz brings a wealth of clinical experience and expertise to Richmond University Medical Center in the areas of pulmonary and critical care medicine,” Chair of Medicine and Chair of Endocrinology, Philip Otterbeck, MD, said. “As Chief of Pulmonary Medicine, Dr. Diaz will teach our resident physicians and students, while providing cutting-edge, evidence-based care to our patients on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.”
This past June, RUMC opened its comprehensive Post COVID-19 Care Center which features a team of multi-disciplinary experts focused on assisting recovering COVID-19 patients with their short-term and long-term healthcare needs. Dr. Diaz has been part of the leadership team since the center opened and was also part of the development team that designed the center and its services. The center features experts in pulmonary care, cardiology, infectious disease, psychiatry, behavioral health, physiatry and additional areas of healthcare. Since March, Richmond University Medical Center has treated and discharged over 1,500 COVID-19 patients. Over 100 people have been cared for at the Post COVID-19 Center since its opening.