WHENEVER SOMEONE RELEASES A LIST OF THE BEST PLACES TO LIVE IN AMERICA, access to top notch health care is among the criteria determining the rating. Long Island often winds up on such lists, in part because of our comprehensive and diverse array of hospitals, doctors, surgeons and specialists. It’s a good thing too, because choosing the right doctor is the most important decision anyone can make.
Pulse’s extensive database of medical professionals enables us to conduct a peer review of the region’s top physicians to make that important decision a little easier. This wholistic system invites professionals in specific areas of medicine to recognize peers who are leaders in their fields—experts choosing other experts. Participants nominate those whose practices were so outstanding in 10 specified areas, they could be considered the best. Months of online voting concluded and we tallied the results to form a composite of seasoned professionals who strive for excellence, set the standards for their fields and give back to their communities.
Many wait until a health problem is just that, a problem, before seeing a doctor. This is particularly true when it comes to the heart. But seeing a cardiologist early can get patients ahead of symptoms. “There are several heart conditions that can be managed through lifestyle modification or medication that will greatly diminish the likelihood of developing a serious problem,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, one of the leading cardiologists on the Island.
Bernstein was drawn to the field at an early age because of a strong family history of heart disease. His focus is on the management of hypertension, coronary disease and cardiovascular disease prevention. He utilizes many web-based programs for continuing education, and as a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, has access to the latest studies and guidelines on heart disease diagnosis and management.
Professional athletes require a team of medical professionals to keep them moving forward: orthopedics, cardiologists and physical therapists are just the start. But when it comes to hockey, one doctor trumps them all: the dentist. As the team dentist for the New York Islanders, Dr. Michael Lazar has repaired more than his fair share of chipped and missing teeth.
Away from the ice, Lazar’s private practice focuses on implant tooth replacement, prosthetic and cosmetic dentistry. This area of practice utilizes both his technical and artistic skills to improve both appearance and function, something patients have come to rely on. “Most people expect that all dentistry should be cosmetic in nature. No patient wants to be seen with dental work that might be technically sound but is aesthetically unappealing.”
State-of-the-art techniques, like digital dentistry, enable Lazar to fabricate a crown or bridge with a high degree of exactitude. When he’s not taking courses on the latest dental practices or replacing a hockey player’s missing incisor, he provides treatment and develops scholarships for underprivileged community members.
For some, the word “dentist” immediately conjures the shrill sound of a drill, sending shivers down the spine. But patients of Dr. Steven Feigelson don’t have these concerns. As one of the few general dentists on Long Island certified in the two-year instruction of using intravenous and oral sedation, Dr. Feigelson can safely perform all aspects of dentistry while his patients are anesthetized.
Sedation isn’t the only advancement Feigelson uses to create perfect smiles. Even with 25 years of experience, he continues to find ways to improve his treatments. “I believe in being at the forefront of technology, such as being able to fabricate all porcelain crowns and veneers in a single visit and taking 3-D radiographs for more accurate diagnosis.”
When not practicing, Dr. Feigelson is on the staff of Stony Brook’s School of Dental Medicine, as well as being on the board of directors with the Suffolk County Dental Society and a fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry.
For a physician, there may be no better compliment, or recognition of his or her expertise, than when other doctors choose them to care for their medical needs. This is the case with Dr. Marc Singer, whose clients range from colleagues to fellow members of his synagogue.
Singer has practiced internal medicine with a focus on cardiology for more than 25 years. He remains one of the rare physicians in his field that follows his patients in the hospital as well as in the office, a point he feels is important for the continuity of care. He credits his success in part to his attention to medical care, but also to his focus on building quality patient rapport, approaching every situation with dignity. “To me, it’s about the relationship I have with the people who are my patients, and taking care of them over years and decades.”
GARY M. LEVINE
In recent years, the OB/GYN has become the primary care physician for many women, a welcomed transition for Dr. Gary Levine, who thrives on the positive outcomes in his area of practice. “[OB/GYN] is one of the few fields of medicine where more often there is a positive experience between patient and physician, [such as] ‘you’re pregnant,’ or ‘you and your baby are healthy and doing great.’” He has even delivered the babies of the same women whom he himself delivered decades earlier.
The Chicago Medical School graduate is an assistant clinical instructor at Stony Brook University and attending physician with Winthrop-University Hospital. Yet even after accumulating more than 20 years of experience, Levine continues to seek out instruction. He has trained in robotic surgery and participates in medical courses and conferences throughout the country. Another point of pride for Levine is his focus on his private practice setting and providing individualized care for patients around the clock.
DR. TIFFANY A. TROSO-SANDOVAL
It is said that cancer touches everyone. When the disease strikes, it is crucial to find a physician that is not only experienced and well educated, but also one who sees the patient as a person and not an illness. That is one of Dr. Tiffany Troso-Sandoval’s foremost principles. “I seek to know the whole patient—who they are, what is important to them. This helps them feel that I understand them and not just their disease.”
It was the science that got Troso-Sandoval into oncology—she was fascinated by the genetic and cellular mechanisms that caused cancer. But it’s the ability to treat and heal her patients and form long-term relationships that she finds most rewarding. That bond is strengthened through her specialty in breast and gynecological cancers, where she can relate to many problems that are specific to women.
When it comes to treatment, the Princeton and Cornell-educated doctor is fortunate to work for Memorial Sloan Kettering, one of the leading cancer care institutions in the world. There she and her colleagues have access to cutting-edge programs that continue to improve in efficacy to cure patients, particularly with early diagnosis.
RICHARD G. DAVIS
Dr. Richard Davis never planned on being an eye doctor, cardiology was what he had his heart set on. But during a fateful ophthalmology rotation in medical school, Davis fell in love with the field’s blend of technology and medicine.
That passion has propelled the UPenn grad through a 25-year career during which he has made critically important diagnoses that have uncovered significant medical problems and even saved lives. As the medical director of Island Eye Surgicenter, he has access to some of the most influential ophthalmologists in the world and helps work through specific patient problems.
Above all else, Dr. Davis prides himself on improving his patients’ lives in noticeable, everyday ways. When a recent patient developed such severe cataracts that he was no longer able to watch his beloved Yankees, Dr. Davis and his staff soothed the man’s anxiety, performed the surgery and fully restored his vision. Now he doesn’t miss a single pitch.
DR. STEVEN J. LUCCARELLI
Sometimes it helps when you know what you want to do at a very young age. Dr. Steven Luccarelli knew he wanted to be a dentist, like his father, and worked in a dental lab starting in high school. It was just a matter of finding a specialty that was a perfect fit: orthodontics.
Luccarelli has been a clinical professor at Columbia University, where he received his DDS degree and orthodontic certificate, for more than 25 years. “[Teaching] helps me to stay up to date on the recent literature and new technology in our field…it forces you to stay current.” He also lectures throughout the country, is a consultant for 3M and Sybron technologies in orthodontic research and development, and has been awarded a patent in orthodontic instrument design. Ultimately though, his greatest successes are his patients.
“I get to do something that I love, doing it with people that I love doing it with, making beautiful smiles for our patients, and feeling rewarded every day with the results we have achieved.”
An injury doesn’t simply take an athlete away from the sport they love, it can have serious repercussions on their lives—like when a high school football player’s torn ACL jeopardized his chances of receiving a college scholarship. Dr. Jordan Kerker has seen many cases just like this, but he has the tools and training to get athletes back on the field as quickly as possible.
After graduating from medical school, the Long Island native completed a fellowship at the prestigious Southern California Orthopedic Institute, where he learned minimally invasive surgical techniques that allow for shorter rehabilitation and a quicker return to action.
Kerker also specializes in non-operative treatment and stresses the importance of injury prevention. As a former athlete, he understands the psychology of injuries. “I can empathize with this and I form a powerful connection with my patients that allows them to believe they will return to that sport as quickly as possible.”
STEWART M. SAMUEL
The age-old adage that those who can’t do, teach, is proven false by the work of Dr. Stewart M. Samuel. As a clinical assistant professor at the Hofstra School of Medicine, Samuel imparts the knowledge he has gained in his 20-plus years of pediatric experience to hundreds of second-year medical students. And he is more than qualified for the position.
Samuel is one of the founding partners of Pediatric Health Associates, where he chairs the Clinical Technology Committee for Allied Physicians Group. Previously, he spent four years in the US Army at Fort Knox, serving as chief of pediatrics, medical director for the Early Intervention Program and coordinator of services for child abuse victims.
Samuel’s passion for pediatrics revolves around his ability to care for patients from birth until adulthood. During that time, he is able to prevent problems, provide education and promote healthy behaviors that will benefit his patients long after they are in his care. “Opportunities to share patients’ successes and help during the most devastating times, especially for children with special needs, have made practicing pediatrics rewarding and deeply meaningful.”
Medical procedures don’t typically conjure images of works of art, but Dr. Anthony Taglienti sees things differently. As one of the Island’s top plastic surgeons, each procedure he undertakes requires a constant balance of problem solving and creativity. It is this connection between artistry and science that drew Taglienti to the field.
The Yale grad and University of Pennsylvania-trained surgeon specializes in a wide array of surgical procedures including general body contouring and liposuction, and cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery. The effect of his work goes far beyond the physical transformation. “Surgery and psychology are intimately linked. And it’s imperative that patients know these procedures go well beyond the physical change, they are truly transformative.” From corrective surgery due to breast cancer treatments to restoring a patient’s self-confidence by making them more proportionate, the psychological results are immeasurable. Never did Taglienti experience this more than when he traveled to the Philippines with Operation Smile during his residency training. He assisted in cleft palate repairs, a simple procedure that forever changed the lives of many local children.
DR. BRUCE ROSEN
The mind does affect the body and it’s more than just a hokey cliché. This aphorism is a truth witnessed firsthand by Dr. Bruce Rosen over his four-decade career in psychiatry. “Patients with anxiety or depression have a higher rate of serious medical problems and do worse medically than those who do not. Good mental health benefits physical health.”
Rosen creates strong bonds with his clients to treat their psychological symptoms, which is what initially drew him to the field. “Psychiatry is one of the few branches of medicine where the doctor-patient relationship is still intact. I get to spend time with every patient and get to know them well.” Rosen even welcomes family members to join visits so they can be included in a patient’s care.
When not in private practice, Rosen is an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Stony Brook University. He was director of psychiatry at St. John’s Episcopal and St. Catherine of Siena Medical Centers for over 25 years, a past president of the Suffolk County Psychiatric Society and was recently named Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
There are specialists and then there are “super-specialists.” Dr. James Marotta is the latter. By focusing his practice solely on facial plastic surgery—coupled with an education and training from Columbia University, Stony Brook School of Medicine and Yale University—Marotta has risen to the apex of his field.
Marotta began his career with the motivation to help others. But plastic surgery’s ability to heal a patient long after the scars fade is what appealed to him most. “Plastic surgery and anti-aging medicine can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives. When people feel better about themselves and the way they look it can affect all areas of their lives for the better.”
In addition to his clinical practice, Marotta is a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Stony Brook School of Medicine. He also volunteers his time and expertise with the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery’s FACE to FACE program, which helps victims of domestic abuse as well as veterans who have received face or neck injuries while deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.