NEW YORK – Dr. Nadine Sabbagh, MD, a fierce advocate of the Hellenic professional community as well as the community of professional women, women in STEM, and young professionals, passed away on July 30. She was 73.
Her eldest daughter, Christine E. Salboudis, made the announcement following the 40 days of heavy mourning, noting that “she and my maternal grandparents were the inspiration for my efforts in establishing the Philo4Thought initiative, which will continue on with a special scholarship dedicated to sponsoring college-bound young professionals who have overcome great financial and/or medical adversity to reach their dreams and goals.”
Nadine Sabbagh in a passport photo, Egypt, circa 1971. Photo: French Embassy in Egypt/ Courtesy of the family
Sabbagh was born September 10, 1947 and attended the Ecole des Soeurs Franciscaines de Marie and the Mere de Dieu academies in Cairo, Egypt for the duration of her elementary education followed by the Sacre Cœur (Sacred Heart) Academy for her secondary education. She was one of the first of about 15 women to complete the full medical (MD) program at the University of Cairo (Kasr AlAiny School of Medicine) and went on to complete specialized training in pediatric surgery through a fellowship at the Cite Universitaire in France. She later returned to Cairo to serve in the Doctors Without Borders initiative and completed a variety of advanced medical training and certifications before being recruited to St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City for her residency and fellowship in pediatrics and allergy. Ever the diligent student and aspiring physician, Sabbagh maintained first place throughout her academic path.
She dedicated her life to helping others as a physician specializing in pediatrics and allergy. In this capacity, she served the communities at St. Vincent’s Hospital, St. Clair’s Hospital, and the Hotel Union; she also engaged in pro bono rotations at six other local hospitals and clinics across the five boroughs of New York in addition to running her own private practice in pediatrics and allergy.
Nadine Sabbagh and family, Egypt, 1971, left to right: Georges Sabbagh (youngest sibling), Nadine Sabbagh (the eldest), Jean Sabbagh (middle sibling), with parents Elie Sabbagh (seated, left) and Annette Sabbagh (seated, right). Photo: French Embassy in Egypt/ Courtesy of the family
In the years to follow, Sabbagh was recruited to work for the New York City Department of Health & Human Services (NYC DOHHS), where she was the first woman to hold each of the following titles: Medical Director of Quality Assurance, Head of STD Control, Deputy Commissioner, Acting Assistant Commissioner. In these capacities she (1) managed the resolution of several major defects in the city-wide healthcare system, (2) created a sustainable checks and balances on examinations and reporting that are still used today, (3) she worked vehemently to the alleviation and rescue of those who had fallen victim to AIDS/HIV, sexual assault, and more, (4) spoke at several elementary and secondary schools as well as prominent colleges and universities to educate youth on preventative medical protocols, etc.
Nadine Sabbagh and daughters, Gimbles in New York, 1987, from left to right: Nadine Sabbagh, Anne-Marie Sabbagh (younger daughter) and Christine Salboudis (older daughter). Photo: Courtesy of the family
Sabbagh earned several recognition awards including a special plaque for her outstanding efforts in the medical industry from former President George H.W. Bush.
Family spirit, unity and love were core values in Sabbagh’s life and the greatest legacy she has imparted to her daughters, Christine and Anne-Marie, and to her grandchildren, Keegan and Zoe. Ever the wise and generous hostess of our hearts, everyone was always made to feel welcome at her table, welcome to confide, and welcome to seek refuge or assistance. Like the widow in Mark 12:41-44, she gave everything that she was, body, mind and soul, to the service of her family, friends and the greater community. Through every word and action Sabbagh truly imparted the values of faith, courage, wisdom and attentiveness in work and in life.
Family and friends are invited to share a few of their stories and memories in the Tribute Wall: shorturl.at/nyX29. The family expressed their thanks to all those sharing memories of Nadine, beloved daughter, sister, cousin, mother, grandmother, physician, mentor, and friend.
Nadine Sabbagh and family, Gimbles 1987 in New York, Nadine Sabbagh (top center), Anne-Marie Sabbagh (left), Christine Salboudis (right), Annette Sabbagh (mother, seated, right) and Elie Sabbagh (father, seated, left). Photo: Courtesy of the family
The funeral mass was held August 14, burial September 10, and memorial mass September 12. A memorial mass will also be held December 19. Additional details will be emailed to family and friends separately.
As a staunch advocate for families and youth in the U.S. and beyond, the family respectfully requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Philo4Thought Inc., the Hellenic Mentoring Initiative: https://philo4thought.org, which was inspired by the philanthropic and professional work of Nadine and her parents, Elie and Annette Sabbagh. Paypal donation link: https://bit.ly/3oqLEf9.