Natalia Cineas (MEYERS ’06, WAG ’09)
Caring for the Vulnerable
By Lindsy Van Gelder
Portrait by Christopher Domurat
As an undergraduate thinking of being a teacher, “I was working at the Student Health Center,” Natalia Cineas recalls (we shot our portrait of her in that very center). “One of the nurses told me, ‘You would be an amazing nurse.’ ” Was she ever right: last year Cineas was named chief nurse executive for NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public healthcare system in the United States. She oversees around 9,000 nurses, and one in six New Yorkers benefits from the system’s services.
Many of the New Yorkers whose health is in her hands are among society’s most at-risk: people who are “poor, unemployed, immigrants,” Cineas says. Last year the city launched NYC Care, a program providing underserved residents who have no or inadequate health insurance (more than 600,000 New Yorkers) with access to primary care.
Born at Kings County Hospital—now under her professional jurisdiction—and raised in Midwood, Brooklyn, Cineas says her main mission is “prevention, making sure that patients have primary care to mitigate factors they can’t control, like genetics, and to help them get their screenings. Often people don’t seek care until something is wrong.” (Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is part of her responsibilities.)
Cineas also has an interest in public healthcare in underdeveloped countries around the globe, including Haiti, where her family is from. “My uncle passed away last March,” she says. “He went there to retire, but there was no technology to save him from a heart attack—so I support organizations that are opening nursing schools there.”
Last year Cineas was named chief nurse executive for NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public healthcare system in the United States.