By Sister Honora Nolty, OP
In this year of Consecrated Life, RENEW International will honor Blauvelt Dominican Sister Mary Flood, MD with its President’s Award at the 2015 Gala to be held on June 4, 2015 at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, New Jersey. The President’s Award is given to an individual whose actions exemplify the Christian value of service central to the mission of RENEW International.
Sister Mary is a specialist in infectious diseases and internal medicine and associate professor of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center. A native of New York City, Sister Mary attended Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Elementary and High School. After entering the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, she attained a bachelor of science in education from Dominican College and taught in elementary and secondary schools for five years. She completed her doctorate in biology at New York University in 1976 and worked in research for seven years studying genetic diseases of the retina that lead to blindness. While Sister Mary found research intellectually challenging, she missed the direct interaction with people and decided to pursue her medical degree. In 1987, she attained her MD from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and did her internship, residency, chief residency and fellowship in Infectious Diseases at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Sister Mary also did additional specialty training as a New York State AIDS Clinical Scholar.
Sister Mary began her practice in infectious diseases in the early 1990s in New York City which was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis. Moved by the fractured care of so many of the early AIDS patients, Sister Mary spent many years in the AIDS Clinic at New York Presbyterian Hospital; the earlier years were marked by limited treatment options. Now, she says it’s so rewarding to see the advances in medical care for HIV/AIDS. Patients can be encouraged to go on with life dealing with a chronic illness, rather than a terminal illness. In 2010, Sister Mary traveled to South Africa to provide AIDS education for high school students and young adults in Durban, where 20 percent of young adults under 50 years of age are infected with HIV.
Sister Mary currently has a practice at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where her interests include general infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, and infections in immune-compromised patients. In addition, she has an office in Rockland County where she provides general medical care for sisters of various religious congregations as well as many local individuals.
Sister Mary received the New York Presbyterian Hospital Department of Medicine Ewing Clinical Teaching Award in 2009. In addition, she has been recognized as a Super Doctor in the “New York Times” Magazine for the past six years. This list recognizes the top 5 percent of New York City Physicians in more than 30 specialties as chosen by their peers. She has been recognized also in New York Magazine’s list of New York City top doctors and is listed in the Castle Connolly Top Doctors.
Besides her ministry in medicine, Sister Mary currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Saint Dominic’s Home and is a member of the board of directors of Dominican College and The Lavelle Fund for the Blind.
In reflecting on her call to minister in medicine, Sister Mary points out that Jesus was a healer and spent most of his active years in ministry healing various illnesses and relieving suffering. Sister’s religious training in addition to her medical education puts her in a unique position to provide compassionate care in accord with gospel values.
Sister Honora Nolty, OP, is associate director and director of development for RENEW International.