Dora C. Piccirilli, MD

Specialty: Family Medicine 
Practice: ColumbiaDoctors 
Hospital: Phelps Memorial Hospital Center

Years before she was a family doctor in Pleasantville, Dora Piccirilli, MD, was awed by her own family doctor. “He took care of my whole family,” she recalls. “It always impressed me that, whatever our complaint, he was able to help and very rarely had to refer us to another doctor.” Ultimately, Piccirilli went on to study medicine, began her rotations in family medicine and soon realized the characteristics she admired most about her childhood family doctor were the same things she loved about the field of family medicine. Of her 25 years in the specialty, Piccirilli says, “The most meaningful work I do is to be there for my patients from beginning to end. I try to make myself as available as possible, and, many times, I’m just there to listen. I’m usually the one who has known them the longest and the most completely. Even when a referral to a specialist is required, I’m the one they come back to. I’m the one responsible for making sure there’s appropriate care and follow-up.” 


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What’s great about practicing family medicine in Westchester?

I feel that we have some of the best specialists at our fingertips. Family doctors are trained to handle most problems, but, when in doubt, a specialist is just a phone call away.


Do family doctors still make house calls? 

Yes, family doctors still make house calls to our homebound patients. I, as well as my office colleagues, have several homebound patients whom we visit.

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How has the changing role of insurance companies impacted how you practice?

The biggest changes I’ve seen in family medicine are the changes in the role of insurance companies and the advent of electronic medical records (EMRs). I used to be able to give a patient a name and phone number of a specialist I wanted them to see, or recommend a treatment, and that would be that. Now, we have questions of insurance, who’s on each patient’s plan, and if certain procedures are covered. I’m also not happy with the fact that some patients have to change doctors because their insurance changes. This is so disruptive to care. It used to be you had the same doctor until he/she retired or you moved. Regarding EMRs, there are certainly benefits such as e-prescribing. However, I find their use decreases my face-to-face time with patients to a degree, and they can interrupt the flow of a visit if there’s a slowdown or malfunction with the system.


What do your healthiest patients have in common? 

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They make their health a top priority. They try to eat as healthy as possible and exercise regularly. I know — nothing new here. Of course, some are just born with good genes! 


How can we all stay our healthiest?

The less stress in your life, the better for your health. So try to de-stress and simplify as much as possible. And, of course, eat healthy, exercise, and take advantage of getting vaccines, mammograms, and colonoscopies.

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