Best Doctors 2003
From allergists and immunologists to vascular surgeons, meet the local physicians other doctors recommend to their friends and families.
By David Nayor
Photography by Phillip Ennis
Kathryn E. McGoldrick, MD
Rhoda S. Narins, MD
Dr. Rhoda S. Narins is one busy woman. She maintains a private practice, serves as president-elect of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and is a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Dr. Narins, an international expert in
the field of minimally invasive liposuction techniques, has also written four books. She graduated from Barnard College and earned a medical degree from New York University Medical School. She and her husband live in Scarsdale and have two grown children.
Why did you choose dermatology? It’s an exciting field, one that’s constantly changing and developing new techniques. With dermatology you get to do—and see—a lot, and since you’re dealing with the skin, you often see results right away. That’s enormously satisfying. Plus, when people look better, they feel better. So my patients tend to feel really good.
What are some of the more vexing problems you encounter in your private practice? Well, I don’t really do a lot of straight dermatology anymore, although I do treat a lot of skin cancers. We’re making many advances in the areas of anti-aging treatments. I believe we’re on the cusp of a revolution in the field of anti-aging remedies. Today, there are a host of things you can do to prevent lines and wrinkles, and keep skin cancers from forming. There’s an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) machine that gets rid of red and brown spots, some of which might turn into skin cancers. We can also treat acne scarring with peels and lasers.
Where do you see the field of dermatology heading in the next 10 to 20 years? It’s probably the most sought-after residency in medical schools because of all the exciting things that have occurred in the field. I think there are going to be better non-invasive lasers that get rid of wrinkles and scarring. There are procedures, including radio frequency and LED (light-emitting diode) technologies we’re already starting to use that can do face and brow lifts without being invasive. There’ll be new ways of inducing collagen into the face that will help replace the fat that we lose as we age.
What gives you the most satisfaction? People who have lived with a deformity such as port wine stains or who are so heavy they can’t fit into regular-sized clothes sometimes come to see me. Using local anesthesia, we can perform procedures that can change their lives. They come to the office a week later, and I hardly recognize them. That’s very satisfying.
obstetrics and gynecology
Rajendra K. Bansal, MD
“Inever give my patients false hopes,” says Dr. Rajendra K. Bansal, who attended medical school at the University of Delhi and completed his residency at the University of Delhi-affiliated Irwin and GV Bant Hospital. “I tell them as is.” What makes a good opthalmologist? “Good observation skills and the ability to handle surgery under
a microscope,” answers Dr. Bansal, who completed a fellowship in glaucoma (ophthalmology) at the Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. He has been practicing in Westchester for 23 years.
What led you to choose ophthalmology as a profession? The results and the rewards are instantaneous. Plus I was attracted to the surgical aspect of ophthalmology. I looked into general surgery, but found it too messy and dirty. Ophthalmology is clean and precise.
What are the types of surgeries you typically perform? I perform all eye surgeries, including cataract removal. These days, I mostly perform glaucoma surgery. It’s a subspecialty of mine and I work mostly on advanced cases. But unfortunately glaucoma can’t be cured. Surgery only helps reduce pressure on the eye.
Is there any way to prevent glaucoma? Regular eye exams to check eye pressure are the best way. Also, the disease is three times more common in African Americans and in anyone with a family history. Everyone over 30 should have a regular eye exam.
Is there a particular case that stands out in you mind? I had one patient who was blind in one eye and had advanced glaucoma in the other—he’d lost 85 percent of the vision in that eye. I put a glaucoma implant into his good eye and he has been able to maintain vision for more than five years.
What changes do you see in the next 10 to 20 years? A lot of research is being done on europrotectors, medications that prevent damage to the optic nerve. A lot of experiments are being done with Memantine, a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, as a possible neuroprotector in glaucoma. In 15 years, there may be an agent available as a neuroprotector.
What gives you the most satisfaction? Sight is one of our most important senses. Getting a patient to see better or maintain vision is enormously satisfying.
George S. Alexopoulos, MD
“The older we become, the greater become the ordeals,” poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said. Heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis are among the uninvited guests that too often visit during the autumn years. Depression, it seems, is another unwelcomed visitor. Approximately 2 percent of the population over age 65 suffers from major depression. Another 15 percent of seniors over 65 have clinically significant depressive symptoms.
To psychiatrist George S. Alexopoulos, founder and director of the Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry in White Plains, this is old news. He has been dealing with the issue of age-related depression since coming to Westchester in 1976.
Dr. Alexopoulos earned his medical degree from the National University of Athens in Greece and completed residencies in general psychiatry at the Westchester division of New York Hospital. He lives in Briarcliff Manor.
Why did you choose to focus on geriatric depression? Geriatric psychiatry needs more people than any other field of medicine. There are more than 20 million elderly people in the country, and about 1,500 board-certified geriatric psychiatrists to treat them.
What do we know about depression and the elderly? I was interested in finding the causes and cure of depression in later life. We know that aging-related disorders often produce lesions in the brain. Often, these are precursors of depression. Research has shown that people with impairment in the frontal lobe of the brain are likely to develop depression that is resistant to traditional anti-depressant medications. Some people have early-onset depression, which is a hereditary disease and is characterized by depressive episodes that start early and continue throughout life. This is very different from vascular depression, which shows up as lesions in the brain and is found in individuals who have no history of depression in their families.
Why is depression so common in the elderly? A majority of people who develop depression for the first time in later life have medical illnesses or disabilities—heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers—that predispose them to depression. The inability to perform certain functions that most of us take for granted can also lead to depression.
Are there any new breakthroughs to report? We’re now experimenting with drugs to treat depression that have been approved for other conditions. For example, we’ve found that certain anti-Parkinson and anti-narcolepsy drugs have been effective in treating depression.
Can depression among the elderly be prevented? Some forms of depression are preventable; some are not. Generally speaking, the environment influences mild depressions. More severe forms of depression tend to be organic in nature. Certainly, adopting a healthy lifestyle—exercise, proper diet, staying active and involved—can reduce damage to the vascular system and thus reduce depression resulting from vascular causes.
What gives you the most satisfaction? Seeing a patient who was suffering with depression come back to me smiling. That’s enormously satisfying.
Katherine A. Halmi, MD
Minnesota-born and Iowa-reared psychiatrist and eating disorders specialist Katherine A. Halmi, MD, believes that after 24 years of living and working in Westchester, she finally can claim to be a true New Yorker. “Well, I have no problem finding my way around Manhattan. So I guess I qualify.” Dr. Halmi, who is also board certified in pediatrics and psychiatry, currently heads up the eating disorders program at the Westchester division of the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Halmi earned her medical degree at the University of Iowa. She lives in White Plains.
What prompted your interest in eating disorders? I was doing my psychiatric residency at the University of Iowa in the early 1970s and was given a patient who the department chairman thought had anorexia nervosa. At the time it was a rarely diagnosed illness. I was fascinated by the disorder. The chairman asked me to do a research project on anorexia. Out of 3,000 charts, I discovered 96 women with anorexia nervosa. After I completed the project, the chairman announced that I was an expert on the subject. All of a sudden, I got all these patients, and I was hooked.
Why are eating disorders more common among women than men? You can’t develop an eating disorder unless you seriously diet, and many more women diet than men.
In a culture that venerates thinness, will people, and women in particular, continue to suffer from eating disorders? Yes, absolutely. And it’s spreading into other cultures too. Studies have found that the influence of Western culture, particularly in Asia, has resulted in people developing eating disorders. Twenty years ago anorexia and bulimia did not exist in mainland China. Today, it’s far more prevalent, particularly in big cities where people have access to television. There’s a correlation between exposure to Western culture and industrialization and a rise in the number of eating disorders.
Barbara Ward, MD
How many doctors can say they got their start in a steel mill? As an undergraduate at Notre Dame, surgical oncologist Barbara Ward, a clinical associate professor of surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), earned extra money for college by working in a steel mill. “The experience taught me the value of working hard and it also gave me something in common with patients or the average guy who has to go to work everyday,” she says.
Dr. Ward earned her medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital. For five years, Dr. Ward served as director of the Breast Center at YNHH, and today she maintains a busy private practice in Greenwich.
What drew you to surgical oncology? I was always interested in cancer diagnosis and breast cancer treatment seemed like a logical next step. My work at the National Cancer Institute from 1985 to 1987 gave me a more in-depth understanding of the mechanisms of cancer growth and its spread. So I really came into my surgical training with an interest in oncology. The fact that my mother had breast cancer when she was 38—she’s now 75—made me sympathetic to this field. I certainly understand more than most what it means to have a mastectomy.
Why is breast cancer on the rise? We don’t know. About 200,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, which is one reason I took part in a study to see if there is a correlation between pesticide use and a rise in breast cancer rates in Connecticut and Long Island. We know there is a higher incidence of breast cancer in women who have gone to college. You start to wonder if that has anything to do with delayed childbearing. The prolonged period between sexual maturity and actual childbearing may give rise to a cancer cell. It may be that cells that are not fully developed (breast cells aren’t fully developed until after pregnancy) are more likely to undergo a genetic change.
Is there any way to prevent breast cancer? To be honest, there isn’t. However, epidemiologists are devoted to finding ways cancer can
Where is the field of surgical oncology headed in the next 10 to 20 years? The field of molecular biology is going to be more important in the fight against breast cancer than the discovery of any new fantastic technical surgical advances. Over the last few years, there’s been a great deal of research into how normal cells work and how cancer cells differ. The real danger in breast cancer isn’t in the primary tumor but the cells that metastasize outside the breast. We may never find a magic bullet, but hopefully we’ll find enough bullets so that cancer may become a chronic illness, like diabetes, rather than an often fatal disease. Still, there’s clearly a hope that we’ll one day cure cancer.
Stanley J. Kogan, MD
After completing his urology training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Dr. Stanley J. Kogan skipped across the ocean to complete specialty training in pediatric urology at two children’s hospitals in England. Dr. Kogan has been practicing in New York since 1974. The father of two and grandfather of two lives in Croton-on-Hudson.
When did you first become interested in pediatric urology? When I had to start making decisions toward the end of medical school, I found that urology was a field that was exploding with knowledge and sub-specializing in wonderful ways, such as kidney transplantation. I was always interested in caring for children. I found it natural to look after them and their families.
How does the care of children differ from that of adults? Children’s urologic problems are often cureable. With adults, you often can make things better but you never really cure. Children are not miniature adults.
What are some of the more troubling conditions you encounter? My practice mostly treats children who have congenital abnormalities, such as an undescended testicle. Some of these conditions can be detected in utero—when a mother-to-be has a sonogram. Often we can correct urologic problems in the first month of life. I also deal with malformations of the urinary system, testicular disorders, ambiguous genitalia and intra-sexual disorders, when you cannot tell if a newborn is a boy or girl.
How do you deal with the question of ambiguous genitalia, particularly where the family is concerned? Once we have the facts and information, we usually approach this with a team that includes a urologist, endocrinologist, psychiatrist and, at times, a geneticist. We tell the families what the prospects for growth and development are, and then we make a decision about the sex of the child.
Where is pediatric urology headed? I see a continued refinement of surgical techniques, a simplifying and lessening of the recovery time after surgery, better imaging techniques, surgery using smaller instruments, and even organs you can just take off the shelf and transplant into patients.
Michael Mandel, MD
pulmonary and critical-care
2003 Best Doctors:
George A. Ubogy MD
Kathryn E. McGoldrick MD
Virginia D. Wade MD
Joel M. Blumberg MD
Martin B. Cohen MD
Cardiology Consultants of Westchester, WMC
David Cziner MD
White Plains, 914-948-3630
William H. Frishman MD
Rosenthal Professor and Chairman, Department of Medicine, NY
Medical College; Director, Department
WMC, NY Medical College
David A. Rubin MD
White Plains, 914-428-3888
William H. Frishman MD
Rosenthal Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine, NY Medical College, Director of Department of Medicine, WMC, NY Medical College
Yehuda David Eliezri MD
Edward R. Heilman MD
Port Chester, 914-934-9739
Director, Dermathopathology, State U Hospital
Downstate Medical Center Kings County HC
Rhoda S. Narins MD
White Plains, 914-684-1000
Surgery and Laser Center
Clinical Prof., Dermatology
NYU Medical Center
Heidi Ann Waldorf MD
Mt. Sinai, Nyack, Good