Irwin Redlener

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Irwin Redlener
Iredlener-photo small.JPG
Redlener in 1999
Years active1971 – present
Medical career
FieldPublic Health
Disaster Preparedness

Irwin Redlener is an American pediatrician and public health activist who specializes in health care for underserved children, health care reform, and disaster planning, response, and recovery. He is the author of Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now (Knopf, 2006).[1]

Redlener is president and co-founder (with singer songwriter Paul Simon) of Children's Health Fund (CHF), director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at The Earth Institute - Columbia University. [2][3] and Professor of Health Policy & Management and Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center.

Redlener is a special advisor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with a focus on emergency management and planning to support and advise the administration's citywide disaster preparedness and response efforts.[4]


Redlener was born in Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.A. from Hofstra University in 1964 and his M.D. from the University of Miami in 1969. In 1971, while a pediatric resident at University of Colorado Medical Center, Redlener left his program to serve as a VISTA physician in Lee County, Ark.[5] During this time, he met his wife, Karen, who was a fellow VISTA volunteer. The two have worked together since.[2]


Redlener served as the director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital. He also worked on disaster relief efforts in Honduras, Guatemala,[2] and created a new Child Action Center to study and treat child abuse. In 1979, after a brief stint in neonatal intensive care at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he established a private practice in Utica, New York, and became involved with Physicians for Social Responsibility.[5] Redlener also served as head of outpatient pediatrics at Cornell/New York Hospital (1987–1990) and head of community pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center (1990–2003).[5]

In 1985, Redlener joined the board of USA for Africa as the organization's medical director and director of grants, where he met Paul Simon.[5] In 1987, Redlener and Paul Simon founded Children's Health Fund to provide health care to homeless and medically underserved children in New York City. The program began with a single mobile medical unit funded by Simon and designed by Redlener's wife, Karen.[6] More than 25 years later, the organization has 23 programs with more than 50 mobile medical units.[7] Karen Redlener remains with the Fund, currently serving as the organization's executive director.[2]

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Redlener was chairman of the National Health Leadership Council, a group of 300 health professionals who supported President Bill Clinton's candidacy. In 1993-1994, he was part of the White House Task Force on National Health Care Reform, serving as the vice-chairman of its Health Professional Review Group.[8] He was also a founding member of the Task Force on Terrorism of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2001.

In April 2000, Redlener was engaged by INS Commissioner, Doris Meissner, to provide strategic guidance regarding the management of the Elian Gonzalez case. He claimed in a letter to INS that based on a 40-second video of 7-year-old Elian, he “is now in a state of imminent danger to his physical and emotional well-being in a home that I consider to be psychologically abusive.” He urged that the government immediately remove the "horrendously exploited” Elian from the “bizarre and destructive ambiance” of his Miami relatives.[9] Eleven Cuban American doctors dismissed Redlener's opinion for not “having obtained a medical history, performed a physical examination or other proper psychological evaluations of Elian."[10] Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson said Dr. Redlener was "neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist and who has never examined the young Cuban refugee."[11] Elian Gonzalez was returned to Cuba two months later, where he had permanent bodyguards assigned to him since the age of seven, enrolled in military school and in 2013 declared: "“Fidel Castro is like a father to me. I don’t profess to have any religion, but, if I did, my god would be Fidel Castro."[12]

Redlener played a lead role in the creation of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, which opened in 2001[6] and he served as president of the hospital until 2003.[5]

In 2003, Redlener joined the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University to establish the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Since 2003, Redlener has served as director of NCDP, working to improve public policy and resources, as well as citizens’ individual preparedness.[13] In 2013, the NCDP moved from the Mailman School to join Columbia University's Earth Institute.

In May 2009, Redlener was appointed to the National Commission on Children and Disasters.[14] In 2010, in part due to his research on the health effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil,[15] the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Oil Drilling appointed Redlener to serve as the Commission's Special Consultant on Public Health. [16]

On November 15, 2012, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he had appointed Redlener co-chair of the NYS Ready Commission, which was tasked with finding ways to ensure critical systems and services are prepared for future natural disasters and other emergencies.[17]

On June 17, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio named Redlener special advisor with a focus on emergency management and planning to support and advise the administration's citywide disaster preparedness and response efforts.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Redlener, Irwin (2006). Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now. Knopf..
  2. ^ a b c d Mishkin, Budd (2008-11-25). "One On 1: Dr. Irwin Redlener Helps Heal The City's Health Care". New York 1. Archived from the original on 2012-09-29.
  3. ^ Krajick, Kevin (2013-08-01). "Disaster Readiness Center Joins Earth Institute". The Earth Institute.
  4. ^ a b "Mayor de Blasio Appoints Joseph Esposito as Commissioner, Office of Emergency Management". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e Vandewinckel, Doug (2009). "Part of the Solution". Hofstra Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19.
  6. ^ a b LaBarre, Polly (2009-04-30). "Strategic Innovation: The Children's Hospital at Montefiore". Fast Company.
  7. ^ Burden, Melissa (2010-12-01). "Project gives health care to low-income Detroit children". The Detroit News.
  8. ^ Pear, Robert (1993-04-28). "Experts to Review Clinton Health Plan". The New York Times.
  9. ^ default. "Text of letter from pediatrician Dr. Irwin Redlener". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  10. ^ default. "Pediatricians dispute views of N.Y. doctor". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  11. ^ Cova, Antonio De La. "Justice adviser on Gonzalez case has long ties to Clinton". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  12. ^ "El joven Elián González". 3 December 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  13. ^ Sparks, John (2010-09-10). "9/10: Disaster Preparedness in the Aftermath of 9/11". Marist Poll.
  14. ^ "National Commission on Children and Disasters". National Commission on Children and Disasters. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  15. ^ Dewan, Shaila (2010-08-02). "Survey Finds Broad Anxiety Among Gulf Residents". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Columbia's Redlener Appointed to Federal Gulf Oil Spill Commission". Association of Schools of Public Health. 2010-10-15.
  17. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Commissions to Improve New York State's Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities, And Strengthen The State's Infrastructure to Withstand Natural Disasters". 2012-11-15. Retrieved 17 September 2017.

External links[edit]