R5 Editor's Memo, November 2012: Our Top Doctors Issue

My father, Lipot Davidowitz, died while I was working on the issue you hold in your hands. He was nearly 89 years old. I am not going to use this space to eulogize him. (My husband, his six adoring grandchildren, and I said what we wanted to at his funeral—and I hope we managed to say some of that to him before he died and while he could still understand.) I am going to use this space instead to talk about health, the major subject we explore in this issue.

My father had Alzheimer’s and a slew of other ailments—emphysema, “superficial” bladder cancer, psoriasis. He also had a wonderful sense of humor. As his eldest grandchild recalled at the funeral, once when an emergency room doctor asked, “Do you have any medical conditions?” my father, smiling, answered, “Most of them.”

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Yet, my father lived a long life. Of course, much of the reason for his longevity was his good luck: Lipot Davidowitz, a Holocaust survivor, must have inherited good genes. But not all of it can be credited to good fortune. Medicine and good doctors (and, yes, nurses), I believe, played a role, too. It’s no secret that we live longer and longer. The expected lifespan of an American male born today is 76.2 years; for a female, it’s 81.1. When my father was born, the expectation was just 56.1 years for males and 58.5 for females. I’m grateful for the medicines and the doctors that helped my father to go far beyond that and reach nearly nine decades of life.

A rheumatologist friend once told me that 97 percent of the time, the body heals itself. Doctors are necessary only 3 percent of the time, he said. But, oh, to have a good doctor when you’re facing that 3 percent.

Which brings me to our cover story: “Top Doctors.” For the ninth year, we asked the venerated data research firm Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. to give us the cream of the crop of men and women practicing medicine in Westchester today. The list of names begins on page 130.

This year, we also invited half a dozen nurses to our offices to tell us how to get the best care possible when we find  ourselves, or our loved ones, in a hospital. It was a spirited eye-opening discussion. I learned lots, but what perhaps shouldn’t have surprised me, yet did, was their unanimous answer to the question: “What is the most important health advice you offer your patients?” Care to guess? Turn to page 138 to find out…

When my father began to experience more and more health problems, whenever he was asked, “How are you?” he would respond with a litany of complaints. “My stomach hurts. My sinuses are infected. I have a bad rash. My emphysema is terrible. My back is no good.”  And then he’d add, “But at least, I have my health.”

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Funny, yes? But, the truth is that until his eighties, he mostly did. And our health is crucial, which is why good doctors are crucial. I hope that this issue helps you and your family stay healthy–or, if need be, find good medical care.

Photo by Cathy Pinsky

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