BC’s Health Clinic Director Retires After 30 Years of Service 

The Health Clinic, founded in 1994, provides BC students with a variety of services to address their health needs./Kate Dempsey

By T’Neil Gooden


   Brooklyn College’s Health Director of 30 years, Ilene Tannenbaum, will be retiring at the end of the spring semester, marking an end to a career of helping BC students with all of their health needs.  

   Tannenbaum had fulfilled her dream opportunity by running a clinic wherein patients were treated with nothing but kindness and virtue during their time at college as they grew into their journeys of health and wellness. 

   “I have always said the goal is to ‘see people well,’ whatever that takes. If the practitioner and the patient need an hour, that’s fine; if the patient needs or wants to return the next day or the following week, there is a disincentive inhibiting their ability to do so,” Tannenbaum told The Vanguard. 

   Tannenbaum has been interested in the field of healthcare since she was in her early 20s. Tannenbaum started her career as a health writer and advocate with a published guide on women’s health that focused on the impact of HIV on women. This led her to pursue a degree in nursing, where she was able to gain her love and admiration for helping people connect with their health. Before becoming the Director of the Health Clinic at BC, Ms. Tannenaum began as a nurse practitioner (NP) at Gouverneur Hospital.  

   “I quickly found how satisfying it is to provide patient care and became a nurse practitioner to have the best of both worlds,” Tannenbaum told The Vanguard. “I enjoy being able to evaluate, order, and interpret tests, diagnose, and prescribe treatments […] while seeing the patient from a nursing perspective which takes into account the whole person, focused on health promotion and disease prevention.”

   Her tenure at the hospital fostered not only her skills as a nurse but also her belief that every patient deserves to be treated as an individual and not just as another patient.

   “Among the most valuable skills I acquired from the NP [Nurse Practitioner] program is to be able to provide care with the consideration of patients as partners in all healthcare decisions,” Tannenbaum told The Vanguard. “Rather than only looking at an individual from a clinical perspective, care is inclusive of one’s emotional, social, and financial needs, cultural backgrounds, and behavioral preferences.”

    After being a nurse at Gouverneur Hospital, she was recruited in 1990 as a clinical researcher for SUNY-Downstate for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where she focused on studying HIV transmissions from mother to child. With these services, Tannenbaum was able to build her skills in taking care of people who need attention in the health field within colleges and clinics. 

   After working with the NIH and the CDC, Ms. Tannenbaum started her career at BC. Raised in the NYC area, she wanted to give back to the community that she was from. The beginnings of the clinic were at first sparse, but soon grew to become a coordinated team.

   “We started off as a team of only 4 members: the two individuals I mentioned [Launa Smith, clinic coordinator] and Gary Giardina [physician assistant], along with an office manager and myself,” Tannenbaum told The Vanguard. “Launa Smith was originally our receptionist and has since grown into the role of clinic coordinator. To address student needs, over the years we added another PA and NP for primary care, a case manager to address social service needs, and a psychiatric NP.”

  Some of the services that the clinic provides for students are evaluations and treatment for most illnesses and common medical conditions. This includes asthma, skin conditions, high blood pressure, anxiety, and many more. The clinic also provides wellness check-ups and physical exams, gynecological care, immunizations–which include free and/or low-cost vaccinations–and guidance on promoting health and wellness. 

   The clinic was established in 1994 and has been running to benefit the health services students need from within the walls of BC. However, as the years have continued the budgeting has continued to fall, leading Ms. Tannenbaum to make her final decision. 

   “My main concern as I prepare to leave is that Brooklyn College honors the three-decade-long commitment to providing high-quality, affordable, accessible, and comprehensive health care for our students,” Tannenbaum said. “Indeed, my upcoming departure may present an opportunity for committed members of the campus community to come together to explore creative and sustainable ways to ensure students receive the services they need.”

   Tannenbaum has left a legacy for BC and continues to have hope that the Health Clinic will be there for BC students’ needs.
  “The most important part of my job for me has always been taking care of students,” Tannenbaum said. “I will always care about the clinic and the College, especially its students.”


   For students needing health assistance from the Health Clinic at BC, they can stop by Room 114 in Roosevelt Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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