Dr. Devi Takes on the Establishment


The Republican candidate for public advocate of NYC wants to fight for more empathy in an apathetic system, that’s Devi Nampiaparampil’s goal

In the darkest hours of the pandemic, she decided to run for office – in her case, the office of the public advocate for New York City.

Dr. Devi Elizabeth Nampiaparampil is running for the second-highest official position in New York City, next only to the mayor, due to the ordeal she and her family endured being infected with COVID and the apathy she felt was meted out to her by the city.

Nampiaparambil is more commonly known as Dr. Devi – the moniker that stuck with her after she appeared on the daytime soap opera “General Hospital.”
An Indian American physician and researcher who specializes in treating chronic pain, she has a successful practice in the heart of the financial district and is regular on television.

Born to Mary and Joseph Nampiaparampil – Catholic Indians who came to America in the early 70s from Kerala – Nampiaparampil was born at the NYU Medical Center. Now she teaches at the same hospital.

She resolved to follow medicine after suffering a medical emergency as a child.

“When I was 16, I was just walking home from school, same as any other day, and I just felt really exhausted and fatigued. Within a couple of days, I was in the hospital and I had what’s called a ventricular tachycardia episode – a code blue situation where the heart’s not working properly.” She remained in the ICU for almost a month and was in and out of the hospital for almost eight more. She missed school while battling this life-threatening condition, but recovered.

A couple of decades on, she faced another life-altering experience last year, when Nampiaparampil and her family got infected with the coronavirus – at a time she was pregnant. In the midst of winter, while her husband was seriously ill with COVID, and her toddler, also infected, was in her care, she gave birth to her second child – alone.

“My husband actually had serious complications and was hospitalized for almost two weeks,” she said. “When I started going into labor, I thought, what am I going to do with my child? I can’t give her to my parents. She has COVID, too. That could kill my parents.”

She tried to contact the city for help, but got none.

“Throughout the pandemic, I noticed again and again, that there were different obstacles that were to some degree imposed by our government leaders. I needed help from the city because there’s no way to find childcare in this kind of scenario. Nobody wants to come into a COVID home. There were laws preventing people from coming into COVID home. The city’s response was that this is an unsafe situation. They almost said that they would take my two-year-old away from me and put her in an orphanage – just one step short of that.”

Nampiaparampil concluded that she was in a battle with the city, not gaining help from it.

“The people that could help us really were not there,” she said. “They were either not sympathetic, and sometimes even created problems. So it was really a very stressful experience.” So, while still in hospital, Nampiaparampil decided to contest for the office of the public advocate of the city.

Nampiaparampil said that was trying to make a difference on an individual level as a pain physician limited her.

“This is not enough to make a difference,” she said. “Maybe I should be thinking on a larger level, especially because I felt like there is some major problems in our society. There is something wrong with the thinking, there is a lack of empathy here. Why are the most vulnerable people and the most desperate people fighting these battles?”

She began watching and following what politicians were doing and what she could do to bring about change. She hopes that, come November 2, when the elections are held, she will get a chance to do it.