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The Lenke Dream Team

Lets Meet The Support Staff  Behind The Surgeon

Bernard Figueroa

Lead Academic Practice Coordinator


I joined Dr. Lenke and his team at NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital during October 2015 as his Academic Coordinator. During this time, I coordinated and managed the academic and administrative aspects of Dr. Lenke’s practice.  I developed presentations for teaching purposes and appearances at prominent spine society meetings, educational courses and grand round lectures. This position required me to have knowledge of complex computer software programs, knowledge on hospital and local services, and multitasking and management skills for widely varied information paramount to  Dr. Lenke’s academic and administrative practice. I also managed Dr. Lenke’s credentialing for hospital privileges, medical licenses, coordinate all travel arrangements and handled any other request needed by Dr. Lenke and the practice.

Today, I hold the position of Lead Academic Practice Coordinator where I oversee and manage the administrative staff within the Spine Division while administering the day-to-day operations alongside the Spine Division Manager. I oversee the Spine Fellowship Recruitment Program which is a prestigious competitive program that allows our institution to meet, interview and recruit Spine Fellows from around the nation for future employment within NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital. In addition, I manage the International Clinical Observership Program which allows surgeons from around the globe to visit NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital and follow our spine surgeons’ surgical practices and approaches.

Working with Dr. Lenke has been an amazing experience. He truly has a passion for what he does and genuinely cares for each and every one of his patients. Dr. Lenke’s personality, professionalism and knowledge set him apart from the rest. He truly strives to provide excellent medical care and surgical outcomes. I am honored to be a part of this team

Angela Smith, RN, BSN, ONC

Clinical Care Coordinator


I am Dr. Lenke’s Clinical Care Coordinator as well as the Clinical Team Supervisor for the Spine Hospital. I started my nursing career as a bedside nurse caring for orthopedic patients and many of whom had spine surgery. I have cared for many of Dr. Lenke’s patients on the bedside level before transitioning over to solely working with Dr. Lenke. My job on the Lenke team is to work closely with patients before and after surgery. I ensure that all patients are prepared to undergo extensive spine surgery by having all necessary tests completed and be fully informed as to what the realistic expectations are from both patient’s and provider’s prospective.

I had the unbelievable opportunity to leave my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and move to New York City to continue working with Dr. Lenke and to be a part of The Spine Hospital. The journey and opportunities in New York City have been amazing. I cannot be more thankful to work with other Lenke team members like  Mayra Vargas and Molly Metzdorf, Dr. Lenke’s clinical nurses as well. Mayra , Molly and I work hand-in-hand daily to provide daily coverage in the clinical office to assist all of Dr. Lenke’s patients. Mayra and Molly are  typically the first voices you hear when making your first appointment to see Dr. Lenke but once you meet everyone in person, you cannot help but love their compassion and radiant smiles.  All of us are committed to providing excellent patient care.

I have worked with many doctors in the past but Dr. Lenke by far surpasses all expectations of what others perceive a doctor of his caliber to be like. He is talented, intelligent, approachable, kindhearted, and by far, humble. Many patients that come for a consultation are simply blown away by him as a person but also his abilities.  I could not think of a better surgeon to work for and work with. I am forever grateful to continue being a part of his team.

Molly Metzdorf

Clinical Nurse 


I am one of Dr. Lenke’s clinical staff nurses. I have been a part of this excellent team since September 2019.  I just recently graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing in May 2019 and was very excited to accept the position as a nurse on Dr. Lenke’s team. My career in healthcare began in college when I majored in Exercise Science at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. I interned alongside physical therapists and assisted in rehabilitating patients of all ages many of which were suffering from back pain, post-operative pain, etc. After working at a physical therapy office for two years, I decided to go back to school for nursing, which I knew was my true calling. 

    While attending NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing, I developed excellent skills in patient evaluation and care. I learned in a variety of nursing environments including cardiac rehabilitation, home health care, pediatrics, organ transplant, maternity/labor and delivery, medical/surgical, and psychiatry.

My experience as a student nurse has given me the confidence and skills to care for patients of all cultures and the ability to provide exceptional care that focuses on all facets of a patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and psycho-social needs.
    My experience so far working with Dr. Lenke and his team has been nothing short of amazing. He is incredibly knowledgeable, passionate, and dedicated to his patients. It is a pleasure to be a part of this team.

Mayra Vargas RN, BSN

Clinical Nurse

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I am one of Dr. Lenke’s Clinical Nurses. I started my nursing career with Dr. Lenke and his team at The Spine Hospital in May 2019. I was a recent new graduate from Long Island University and fortunate enough to receive this opportunity. Prior to working with Dr. Lenke, I was a dental assistant for 3 years where I worked closely with both the provider and patients. As a nursing student, I was able to gain experience while in the medical/surgical, pediatric, post-anesthesia care and intensive care units which allowed me to develop strong assessment and communication skills.

As Dr. Lenke’s Clinical Nurse, I triage patients to ensure surgical appropriateness and work with them throughout their postoperative recovery. I work alongside Angie and Molly, also Dr. Lenke’s Clincal Nurses to ensure all patient needs and concerns are addressed.

Working with Dr. Lenke and the rest of the team has been an incredible and rewarding experience. Dr. Lenke truly loves what he does and genuinely cares for all of his patients.  Everyone on this team is also always willing to help without hesitation. I am beyond lucky to have started my nursing career here.

Eric Schaum, PT DPT GCS

Patient Educator


 I am the Patient Educator for all spine patients at the Och Spine Hospital at New York Presbyterian/Allen Hospital. Prior to joining Dr. Lenke’s team, I worked for many years as the Advanced Clinician in Acute Care on the orthopedic floor at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

I assist Dr. Lenke’s practice by educating patients and their family members, from a physical therapy perspective, on how to prepare for such an extensive spinal surgery. In addition, I also educate the patients on what to expect postoperatively as well as precautions and limitations during the recovery period. I have extensive knowledge in the pre- and postoperative management and care of surgical patients, as well as the recovery process from a rehabilitation perspective. I have found that my experience and calm demeanor are especially beneficial to our more anxious and nervous patients.

As a member of this collaborative approach, I am dedicated to the patients and their care givers, from the initial planning through to full recovery.  Patients and family members continue to seek my rehabilitation guidance months after discharge and I feel that I can meet their needs during their routine followup visits or via phone and email to assist with any additional questions or issues they may experience.

Once I heard that Dr. Lenke was coming to our institution, I knew that I wanted to be a part of creating the best possible patient experience. Once I met Dr. Lenke, I knew that we both shared a passion for producing the best possible results for every single patient. I consider it an honor and privilege to work on such a gifted team.

Josh Silberbush, RN

Operating Room Clinical Nurse


As Dr. Lenke’s Operating Room Clinical Nurse at the Spine Hospital, I am responsible for making the necessary preparations for each of his operations as well as monitoring each patient from the preoperative area through the course of the surgery. I work outside of the sterile/operative field, working in conjunction with the entire operative team, including documenting and staying in touch with the patient’s family. Prior to each surgery, I review each patient’s specific information and ensure that the necessary adjustments are made to carry out a successful and safe surgery.

I graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While in college, I was exposed to the operating room and knew that it would be my calling. Following college, I moved from New York to Florida, where I worked as a bedside nurse at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, caring for oncology and medical surgical patients. Subsequently, I had a close family member receive spine surgery from one of Dr. Lenke’s colleagues. Interested in moving back to New York and having heard what a positive experience my family member had at the Spine Hospital, including the great care he received post operatively, I looked to New York Presbyterian Hospital for employment.

Upon receiving a job at the Spine Hospital, I started working as a beside nurse on the Spine Unit caring for many of Dr. Lenke’s patients. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to accept a position as a clinical nurse in the operating room. Having knowledge and experience of caring for spine patients at the bedside, I was able to integrate this into my new role in the operating room.

After working with Dr. Lenke for two years, I am continuously amazed at the work he does. He is truly an incredibly talented and hardworking surgeon. I take pride in helping each patient receive a successful surgery and could not be more grateful for being a part of Dr. Lenke’s team.

Rick Leung

Senior Physician Assistant


Rick is one of two Senior Physician Assistants (PAs) for the Och Spine Hospital. Together with Kristen Stride, she supervises a team of PAs that are responsible for the care of all patients at the Och Spine Hospital. In addition to their supervisory role for the PA team, they also assist Dr. Lenke in the operating room.

As a whole, the PA team cares for all patients on the spine service from admission to discharge, coordinating a multi-disciplinary team to manage the comprehensive medical care of each individual patient. The PA team is in the hospital 24/7, 365 days a year, ensuring that every patient receives the highest level of consistent care throughout their recovery while in the hospital.

Rick has been working with Dr. Lenke at the Och Spine Hospital since its inception in 2015 after obtaining his Master’s degree in Advanced Physician Assistant Studies from Wagner College in Staten Island, NY. He has also worked concurrently in both surgical and neurological intensive care units during his career as a PA.

Working with Dr. Lenke is truly a pleasure. I don’t think it’s possible to find a more brilliant, capable, and well-renowned, yet truly kind and humble surgeon. He consistently puts every patient first and is able to put patients at ease with his vast experience.

Kristen Stride

 Senior Physician Assistant


Kristen is one of two Senior Physician Assistants (PAs) for the Och Spine Hospital. Together with Rick Leung, she supervises a team of PAs that are responsible for the care of all patients at the Och Spine Hospital. In addition to their supervisory role for the PA team, they also assist Dr. Lenke in the operating room.

As a whole, the PA team cares for all patients on the spine service from admission to discharge, coordinating a multi-disciplinary team to manage the comprehensive medical care of each individual patient. The PA team is in the hospital 24/7, 365 days a year, ensuring that every patient receives the highest level of consistent care throughout their recovery while in the hospital.

Kristen has been working with Dr. Lenke at the Och Spine Hospital since its inception in 2015 after obtaining her Masters of Physician Assistant studies at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Prior to becoming a PA, she worked for several years in an orthopedic clinic utilizing her undergraduate degree in Sports Medicine. Most recently Kristen became a member of an international disaster response team where she will be able to use her skills and knowledge to provide aid underserved parts of the world.

Throughout my years in medicine I have never encountered a more caring, dedicated or humble surgeon than Dr. Lenke. Not only is he a brilliant master of his craft, he truly cares about improving the quality of life of his patients while assuring they receive the best possible care. Beginning my career as a PA on Dr. Lenke’s team at the Och Spine Hospital has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

Valentina Stubbs, PhD, LMSW, MPA, MA

Social Worker


I am the dedicated Social Worker for the Daniel and Jane Och Spine Hospital and have been a part of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) since 2009. I have 26 years of experience as a Licensed Social Worker in the areas of mental illness, substance abuse, child welfare and medicine, which includes two years of being an Administrator of an Adult Home and Assisted Living Facility. Since my time at NYP, I have been assigned to work with the General/Vascular Surgery, Urology, OB/GYN and Orthopedic Teams. I was honored to become a member of the Spine Team.

As the Social Worker on the team, my role is being the patient advocate and providing social work services such as psychosocial assessments, therapeutic and family interventions, psychosocial education and discharge planning. As a licensed clinician, I provide supportive counseling to patients and their families, guidance, support and inspiration that’s crucial to the healing process. I also participate in interdisciplinary effort to evaluate and re-evaluate appropriate clinical interventions.

I am truly honored to work with Dr. Lenke. Beyond his amazing gifts and talents as a surgeon, he is a compassionate, dedicated, intelligent and humbled professional. He truly cares about his patients and his staff. Working with him has been an incredible experience. I have had the opportunity of meeting and working with patients from all over the world. I am extremely grateful to work with Dr Lenke and be a part of such a wonderful team.

Kate Speier, CST

Surgical Technologist


I am Dr. Lenke’s Surgical Technologist at the Och Spine Hospital. I work with the Clinical Nurse in the OR to set up the equipment and instruments needed for surgery. During the surgery, I work in the sterile field passing instruments, preparing implants and anticipating Dr. Lenke’s next steps. I work side-by-side with Dr. Lenke for the entire time to ensure each patient has a safe and efficient surgery.

I received my Associates in Applied Science with a major in Surgical Technology in 2008. After graduating, I worked on Long Island where I was able to gain experience in trauma, neuro and spine surgery. By the time I joined the team in 2016, I had a vast knowledge of the operating room environment and expert knowledge in spine surgery. Since then, I have continued my education, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Healthcare Administration in 2018, and I'm currently working on my Masters in Organizational Leadership. In April of 2020 I will be serving as a NYAST Director to help further the profession and help other Surgical Technologist on their career goals.

Dr. Lenke has an incredible gift, and I am truly blessed to be part of his team. Every day he enters the operating room with a smile and a "good morning," and leaves saying "thank you." He is the most hardworking and humble individual I have met, making him a natural leader and inspiration. I take great pride in my role on the team and could not be more grateful.

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LaRae Klarenbeek-Mitchell, PT, DPT, OCS

Head Physical Therapist

LaRae is the Head Physical Therapist at the Och Spine Hospital, New York Presbyterian/Allen Hospital.  She completed her doctorate of physical therapy in 2004 from Colorado Health Sciences Center.   She became an APTA Board Certified Orthopedic Certified Specialist in June, 2009.  She teaches as a laboratory assistant in the program in Physical Therapy at Columbia University,  teaching manual interventions and assessment of the Spine. LaRae supervises both the outpatient and inpatient areas of the hospital.  She has had the opportunity to work with patients both preoperatively and post operatively in the inpatient and outpatient setting.  

I am honored to work with Dr. Lenke and his spine team. I aspire to match his dedication to improving the lives of our patients through high quality care. Dr. Lenke has a willingness to listen to each and every patient with genuine kindness. Working together has taught me that it is only through competent cooperation that amazing things happen. Dr. Lenke knows this and I am truly grateful to be a part of this team.   


Katia Collado

Surgical Coordinator

My responsibilities as a Surgical Coordinator are to schedule and coordinate all the planning for patients to have a smooth and comfortable transition throughout their hospital stay. I also give patients the proper Paperwork/documents to prepare for their upcoming surgeries. Prior to joining Dr. Lenke's team, I was a surgical coordinator for two years in another department.

It’s a pleasure to be a part of Dr. Lenke's team. He is very dedicated and caring to his patients and his team members.

Meghan Cerpa, MPH

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Clinical Research Coordinator

Meghan lead Dr. Lenke’s research practice as one of four Spine Research Coordinators at the Och Spine Hospital. She started working for Dr. Lenke in 2016 after obtaining her Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans. As part of a dedicated team of spine researchers, we are responsible for initiating and creating new Research Protocols, facilitating collaboration between other universities and sponsors, collecting and analyzing data, as well as coordinating abstract and manuscript submissions.


“Fortunately, Dr. Lenke is as passionate about research as I, and it has been an honor to be a part of his practice. Working with Dr. Lenke has been the highlight of my career, I have learned more than I could have imagined, and I feel privileged to be a part of the Spine Hospital family. Dr. Lenke is truly one-of-a-kind – he is not only one of the world’s most renowned spinal surgeons and a highly respected professional in the Spinal Deformity community – but he is also an outstanding leader who inspires me to reach seemingly impossible goals, is kind and caring, and most importantly fosters teamwork between every member of the Spine Hospital family.”

Doris (Yen-Lou) Lee, MS

Clinical Research Coordinator

Doris is one of the research coordinators for the Och Spine Hospital. Together with Meghan Cerpa, she assists Dr. Lenke with conducting spine clinical research. Spine research coordinators closely work with Dr. Lenke’s clinical team and patients, managing multiple spine studies and coordinating between study sponsors and study surgeons. 


Doris joined Dr. Lenke and his team at the Och Spine Hospital in 2019 after finishing an internship in Translational Orthopedic Research at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital. She has also worked in the clinical research field for 3 years.


“It is such a great pleasure working with Dr. Lenke and his team. He is intelligent, humble and always puts his patients first. It is my honor to conduct spine research with Dr. Lenke, which will directly benefit patients.”

Robert Hunte Jr.

Spine Division Administrator


I am the Division Administrator for The Och Spine Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center - New York-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital. My duties include managing the daily operations, long-term planning and development of the Och Spine Hospital to ensure its continued success and growth. I oversee areas such as clinical, non-clinical and patient access. I partner with NYP and the Clinical/ Non Clinical teams to optimize the patient care experience from a practice management perspective, assessing best practices locally and nationally


I started my career 14 years ago at New York Presbyterian Hospital Department of Radiology in which I held several positions such as Coordinator, Supervisor, Manager and Practice Administrator. While in Radiology I intergraded and oversaw the merger of The Allen Hospital, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Milstein Campus Access Operations for Radiology to ensure patient satisfaction and access.  Most recently I held the Role of Patient Access Manager of the Admitting and Emergency Department at the Milstein Campus of New York Presbyterian Hospital.


Working with Dr. Lenke at the Och Spine Hospital is a rewarding experience for me. Seeing a patient from their initial visit to when they come back for their first post op visit is something to be proud to be affiliated with.  He is a positive, passionate, honest and empathetic physician, who honestly care for his patient and their outcomes. He is talented, intelligent, approachable, kindhearted, and humble.

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