NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- March of 2020 is a time that Dr. Machelle Allen will never forget.
"March 1 we've had four patients but with positive patients in our system. On March 30, we had 4,000," she said.
As Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of NYC Health and Hospitals, Dr. Allen led the city's hospital response through one of Gotham's darkest seasons.
It's a moment that she spent a lifetime preparing for.
She grew up attending Mother Cabrini in Washington Heights before going to Cornell and then the University of California San Francisco.
As a woman, she points to the ladies in her life who shaped her future as a career woman and mom. People like her own mother.
"My mom was the drill sergeant to the goals and set the pathway," Dr. Allen said.
And also her 10th-grade biology teacher at Mother Cabrini.
"My biology teacher was Sister Patricia, At that point, I found a subject that I was really good at," she said.
Dr. Allen also points to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"Fighting for gender equity," she said.
All of it led to a career at NYC Health and Hospitals where she wanted to have an impact.
"So I established a special premium prenatal clinic at Bellevue Hospital," Dr. Allen said.
This women's history month, she's inspiring others, making sure she leaves the impact so many left on her.
"I need to be very cognizant of my voice, the importance of my voice, and the importance of the legacy to make sure that those things that I learned, that they get passed along to the next generation," Dr. Allen said.
RELATED: What is Women's History Month, and why do we celebrate it
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Dr. Allen recounts leading NYC H+H through beginning of COVID pandemic