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Dr. Stella  Safo

Dr. Stella Safo

HIV Primary Care Physician & Founder of Just Equity for Health


A board-certified practicing HIV primary care physician and public health practitioner, Dr. Stella Safo is dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to the best healthcare. As a Black woman practicing medicine, Dr. Stella Safo knows firsthand that systemic inequities are baked into healthcare delivery. That’s why redesigning our healthcare system to ensure that everyone has access to the best care is her life’s passion. She believes that now is the time to call attention to and to work hard to address those inequities. Read More >

And that is exactly what she has done. Dr. Safo is a Ghanaian-American, board-certified practicing HIV primary care physician and public health practitioner who has led teams dedicated to healthcare improvement in various settings. In 2021, Dr. Safo created Just Equity for Health, a health care improvement company that uses advocacy, education and care model design to ensure equitable care delivery across all sectors of medicine.

Trained at Harvard for her B.A., M.D. and M.P.H., she completed internal medicine training at Montefiore’s Primary Care Social Medicine program with a fellowship in HIV care through the HIV Medicine Association.

As the former Senior Medical Director for Clinical Transformation at Mount Sinai Health System, Dr. Safo and a multidisciplinary team oversaw the system-wide redesign of Sinai’s 50+ primary care practices. This work included leading a practice transformation team to work within Sinai’s diverse eight-hospital system and launching a year-long learning collaborative of physicians and staff to share real-time insights.

She then went on to lead a national health care consulting research group as Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Premier Inc. There, she oversaw the Applied Science and Implementation Research teams that utilized Premier’s large health care database and real-world research to identify novel clinical findings that impact patient care. These findings were translated to health systems across the U.S. through a health care leaders collaborative that Dr. Safo led.

Currently, Dr. Safo is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she holds dual appointments in Medicine and Medical Education. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Montefiore Medical System where she serves as the current Director for the Social Medicine Curriculum. Her research areas focus on qualitative analyses of challenges to healthcare delivery for vulnerable populations around the world. She has lectured nationally and continues to teach and mentor students and trainees. In addition to consulting on projects around equitable care model design and to a commitment to social justice work, Dr. Safo also provides clinical care to HIV+ and LGBTQ+ patients in New York.

She also continues to be an advocate for gender and racial equity in medicine. In 2019, she joined seven of her colleagues in filing a federal lawsuit against Mount Sinai Health System for gender, age and race discrimination. Through her efforts, she has become a national voice on how to address racism and sexism in medicine, and this collective activism led to the New York City Council passing legislation in 2021 to create a Gender and Racial Equity Advisory Committee. She has continued these efforts with ongoing advocacy to ensure antiracist policies are enacted on the federal level, through her efforts with the Coalition to Advance Antiracism in Medicine.

In addition to being published in several peer-reviewed journals, including JAMA Open Network and AIDS and Behavior, Dr. Safo has written for such popular medical media as STAT and KevinMD.com on gender equity and physician wellness. Her advocacy efforts have been featured in The New York Times, AP News, and The Wall Street Journal. Her television appearances include MSNBC, CNN, Black News Network, Yahoo Finance and Cheddar.

In 2020, Modern Healthcare named Dr. Safo one of that year’s Minority Clinicians to Watch and she was named as a notable figure in healthcare by Crain in 2021. She is a current New York Academy of Medicine Fellow. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

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Speech Topics

Health Equity: Giving Everyone the Opportunity for Good Health

Is it possible to create a healthcare system where equity is embedded into everything it does? Unequivocally yes, says Dr. Stella Safo. In this keynote, the HIV Primary Care Physician and Founder of Just Equity for Health shares how health inequities impact patient care and an organization’s mission. And why health equity, with its current diversity, equity and inclusion focus, is bound to fail in corporate and healthcare settings if it does not include patients at the design table. Using examples in gender and racial equity, Dr. Safo explores how we can move from theoretical discussions of implementing equitable care to actual, real-world experiences that positively impact patient lives.

DEI in the Workplace

Corporations that have cultures of diversity, equity and inclusion are thriving. When everyone is included and all voices are heard, there are higher rates of engagement, productivity and innovation. And yet, many leaders have never gone past the talking stage when it comes to implementing DEI programs at their companies. Using examples of gender and racial equity, Dr. Stella Safo, HIV Primary Care Physician and Founder of Just Equity for Health, explores how we can move from theoretical discussions to implementing antiracism and gender equity-based programs and operations.

The Power of Storytelling to Change the World

Sharing her own story of growing up in West Africa to receiving her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a public health master’s with a focus on global health at the Harvard School of Public Health Harvard college, Dr. Stella Safo discusses how individual stories and lived experiences can galvanize populations to make necessary changes, including using trusted messengers in public health campaigns. She also discusses the case study of advocating for gender equity within New York City, which resulted in changing of local law. This talk can also be tailored toward students to show how the power of their voices can help change the world, too.

Fighting Physician Burnout Through Advocacy

Physician and healthcare worker burnout has been a growing problem for the last two decades, from years of disempowerment and making healthcare more businesslike. But since the pandemic, the rate of physical and mental exhaustion has hit crisis levels, with many healthcare workers leaving their jobs and rates of depression and anxiety going through the roof. This not only affects the doctors, nurses and other staff but also is detrimental to patient care, especially for the most vulnerable. So, what’s the solution? In this keynote, Dr. Stella Safo, HIV Primary Care Physician and Founder of Just Equity for Health, discusses how one tool can reduce burnout rates—becoming an advocate for change. By helping change or build systems and improve conditions for staff and patients, burnout will decrease and physicians will be able to concentrate on what matters the most—helping the sick. Dr. Safo will show you how to get started and the most efficient ways to make a difference in the workplace and for your patients.

Valuable Lessons From Battling the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Before Covid-19, HIV/AIDS was an epidemic most people were not equipped to handle and one that deeply impacted societal views of sexuality and partnership among historically marginalized populations. But through the years of managing it, we’ve learned a lot. In this talk, Dr. Stella Safo shares the lessons HIV/AIDS has taught us—helping hard-to-reach populations, preventing provider burnout and advocating for local and national legislation to protect populations—and will evaluate how we can mold these lessons to navigate the current Covid-19 pandemic. She also discusses how these lessons learned will impact rebuilding healthcare after the pandemic is over.