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Healthcare Heroes 2020

Maria Pici, MD

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Photo by Stefan Ratdke

Chief Medical Officer, Elizabeth Seton Children’s Rehabilitation Center

I like people who aren’t afraid to challenge their own limits, and that’s what our kids do every day. I like to help them on their journey,” says Dr. Maria Pici. It’s no wonder, then, that she’s worked at Elizabeth Seton Children’s Rehabilitation Center for 40 years, serving as chief medical officer for 36 of them.

   During her tenure, the White Plains-based facility has thrived: Last year, its staff provided more than 55,000 clinical services to children suffering from complex conditions, such as spina bifida and cerebral palsy. “The center has grown, but not because of me. It’s because of the help of the therapists, the nurses, the physicians, and other people in the community,” says Pici modestly.

   Each day, she and her staff strive to give every child in their care the best life possible. “Most get referred to us by an acute physician, such as a pediatrician, neurologist, or orthopedist; it is then my mission to make that person thrive,” Pici says.

   She does this by coordinating care among teams of physical, occupational, and speech therapists, plus others. Her track record speaks for itself: Some of the children Pici has cared for have grown up to become communications specialists, speech-language pathologists, and even movie directors. In fact, one former patient is now a physician working alongside her at the center.

In addition to her already copious responsibilities, Pici is an attending physician at Westchester Medical Center/Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, an adjunct clinic professor at Montefiore Medical Center, an assistant clinic professor at New York Medical College, an attending physician at Burke Rehabilitation hospital, and a physician at Boston Children’s Health Physicians. Yet, her dedication to Elizabeth Seton trumps all: “I’ll never move from here,” Pici says.

“Our children at Elizabeth Seton Children’s Rehabilitation Center overcome enormous odds every day, and it’s extraordinarily gratifying to play a big role in helping them do so. That’s why I work here.”