“To me, it is why I am here and why I do what I do” – Dr. Hazel Sanderson-Marcoux

Dr. Hazel Sanderson-Marcoux is a true torch-bearer of the mission of the CUNY Institute for Health Equity. Not only has Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux pursued an impressive and lengthy academic career, but she has also prioritized teaching and learning. When Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux was hired as the chairperson of the Department of Nursing at Medgar Evans College, the announcement included the sweet anecdote that to her students, she is fondly known as ‘Dr. S.’ Another consistent part of Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux’s career has been her pediatric clinical work as a home care critical care nurse for fragile infants, premature infants and infants with special needs. “To me, it is why I am here and why I do what I do,” Dr. Hazel Sanderson-Marcoux


Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux is the Chair of the Department of Nursing at Medgar Evers College, an Associate Professor of Nursing at Medgar Evers College and a faculty member for the CUNY Institute for Health Equity.

In fact, Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux says that her work with these infants is, “what keeps [her] grounded.” Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux explains: “I work with these infants who were born with numerous hurdles to overcome: low birth weight (often between 1-2 pounds), with various difficulties in sucking, swallowing, eating, turning, and with additional respiratory complications.” Some of her patients have respiratory complications to the degree that they require tracheotomies or assisted ventilation, a.k.a. a respirator, to assist with breathing.

Most Americans have heard of premature birth, or babies who are born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reported, that as of 2016, 1 in 10 babies were born premature. According to ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), “preterm births account for approximately 70% of newborn deaths and 36% of infant deaths.” Medically fragile infants refers to another category of babies. These babies have a variety of complex needs that range from needing technology, such as respirators, to survive and thrive all the way to being born addicted to drugs due to the conditions in utero. Some preterm birth babies are medically fragile but not all. The final category, babies with special needs, refers to all the cases that require the expertise of a home care critical care nurse, but don’t fall into one of the two categories above.

Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux explains how home care works, saying, “I work collaboratively with other health care providers including physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, feeding therapists and the families to help these children overcome these obstacles.”  These multi-disciplinary teams can create just the right sort of support these babies and their families need to survive and thrive. “The work is very humbling and gratifying as these children, to various degrees, can overcome some of these challenges.  The mere persistence of a 1 pound baby who could not walk or talk until the age of three, and now graduates from high school and is ready for college melts my heart,” says Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux.

Thank you Dr. Sanderson-Marcoux!

Check out a Public Health Minute about preterm birth here.

Check out CUNY Institute for Health Equity on Facebook here.

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