Doctors of Distinction 2017

Dr. Jennifer DeFazio


According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be more than 87,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed across the country in 2017. That makes it the fifth most prevalent form of cancer.
“Given the increasing need for skin cancer prevention and treatment, it is critical to have dermatologists, such as myself, who are committed to addressing this,” said Dr. Jennifer DeFazio, a board certified dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Hauppauge location. DeFazio, who received her medical degree from SUNY Buffalo and completed her dermatology residency at Stony Brook, focuses on diagnosing and treating skin cancer and conditions relating to cancer care. Working at MSK allows her to utilize the most innovative and cutting-edge technologies, including 3-D total-body photography and confocal laser microscopy.

After 10 years at MSK, DeFazio continues to be, “constantly amazed by the complexity of our skin and the many functions it serves in our interactions with the environment.” She uses that passion to forge new research as well as educate medical students and residents through lectures and journal review.

Dr. Matthew Goldstein

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The human body is an intricate machine, requiring not just specialized fields of medicine but also sub-specialties. Dr. Matthew Goldstein, a board certified orthopedic
surgeon, focuses on one: management of spinal disorders.

The spinal cord is the lifeline connecting all our parts. But it’s exactly this detailed, high-stakes work that appeals to the Cornell and SUNY Downstate College of Medicine graduate—that and the immediate results. “The patient experience and surgical outcomes are unbelievably gratifying. A patient can start the day in pain, weak or numb and wake up after surgery with resolution of these symptoms. This can be life changing for many.”

This was on display last year when a patient had been suffering from acute quadriplegia for 24 hours. It was discovered that she had a cervical tumor compressing her spinal cord. Goldstein performed surgery throughout the night and today the patient has movement in all extremities and her cancer is in remission.

Spinal surgery is a rapidly growing field, as specialists like Goldstein are faced with a population that lives longer and remains active into later years. “As a specialty, we continue to improve our understanding of and improve our ability to restore anatomical alignment. This is leading to consistently better outcomes and faster recovery times in our patients than spinal surgery results in the past.”

Dr. Jeffrey Schor


Few physicians are able to impact not just the lives of their patients, but also the healthcare system as a whole. Yet Dr. Jeffrey Schor has done just that. The Amherst and New York Medical College graduate grew disillusioned with parts of the healthcare system after working as the director of the Pediatric ER at New York Hospital Queens for more than 10 years. “Many of the sickest patients I saw in the emergency department were amenable to treatment that could have been delivered in an alternative setting…However, there were no other options…when their pediatrician was not available or when the scope of care was beyond what they could provide.”

To solve this, he cofounded PM Pediatrics in 2005. The business, which has grown to include 20 locations throughout New York, New Jersey and Maryland, acts as a strictly pediatric urgent care provider. Schor and his colleagues, all experts in pediatric health, have delivered first-class care to more than one million patients since opening and plan to treat 400,000 children this year alone.

The high number of patients doesn’t deter Schor, who also earned an MBA from New York University. He is motivated by his young patients’ eternal optimism. “As a medical student, I took care of some very sick children, many with terminal illnesses. I was always struck by the positive attitudes… a joy of life that was so evident, which gave some reprieve from the reality of what was going on.”

Dr. Ronda Bachenheimer

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Like every aspiring doctor, Dr. Ronda Bachenheimer knew she wanted to help people. But after witnessing her grandparents fall ill, and ultimately pass away from the side effects of traditional medical intervention, she knew she had to help people achieve optimal health without the use of drugs and surgery.

Now in practice for 31 years, Bachenheimer stays true to the values that led her there. “I am very holistic. I always encourage my patients to stretch, exercise and eat better food. And I always remind people that healing comes from the inside, not the outside. Drugs just alter our body’s chemistry.”

From a scientific standpoint, Bachenheimer employs a “whole person approach,” in which she looks for any causes of disturbance or disruption (which may or may not be causing symptoms
at the time). From there, using the latest chiropractic equipment and technology, she makes interventions to optimize the conditions for normal function. Her success has often led specialists like neurologists and orthopedists to refer their patients to her. And those patients come in all sizes, spanning the age spectrum from babies to seniors, an additional challenge but one that
fuels Bachenheimer.

Dr. Thomas Pappas

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Nearly three decades ago Dr. Thomas Pappas attended the wedding of a close friend when suddenly the bride’s mother suffered cardiac arrest. As a second year resident in internal medicine, Pappas began CPR and continued to resuscitate the woman for approximately 20 minutes until EMS arrived and escorted her to the hospital in stable condition. Moments like this are what brought Pappas to cardiology. “There is no greater feeling than successfully stopping a heart attack and literally saving a patient’s life.”

Pappas, who specializes in interventional cardiology, is equally devoted to preventing heart attacks from occurring. “The field of interventional cardiology is unique in that it gives us the ability to identify which patients are at greatest risk for developing heart attacks while at the same time allows us to intervene and interrupt heart attacks as they occur.” St. Francis Hospital, one of the leading cardiology hospitals in the country, ensures Pappas has access to the latest interventional techniques and research. “We are involved in many clinical trials utilizing the newest equipment and we have become nationally known in the interventional cardiology community.”

Ten years after that wedding, the same woman came to St. Francis needing a stent placed into her major coronary artery. Pappas successfully performed the operation. At age 92, she remains his patient today.

Dr. Jeffrey Martin


As a child, Dr. Jeffrey Martin would ride his bike to his father’s ophthalmology office, sit back, drink a Coke and watch his mentor. Years later, the two would work side-by-side at the practice his father founded. These days, Martin is focused on growing that practice while maintaining an intimate, small-town feel. “When I joined, we had one small office and I was the third ophthalmologist. Now we are going on twenty-five offices and sixty physicians, but that relationship of that one patient with that one doctor still drives me.”

A full commitment to provide his patients with the best care requires Martin to stay constantly up to date on the latest technologies. “We are able to care for our patients in the office with high tech diagnostic testing and cutting edge technology.” Martin has used one such method at the Northport VA hospital for 18 years. “Teaching cataract surgery instills the need to always know what is most current in surgical technique and technology, and also drives me to know what is next.”

The Smithtown native continues to expand the reach of his practice to be able to deliver high-quality care to patients across the region. His new practice Sight MD, a merger of North Shore Eye Care and Long Island Eye Surgical Care, has locations throughout Long Island, Queens and Manhattan.

Dr. Collin E.M. Brathwaite

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New York City is one of the nation’s epicenters of world-class healthcare. In U.S. News and World Report’s most recent list of the country’s top 20 hospitals, three were in Manhattan. Yet patients continually leave New York City to travel to Dr. Collin E.M. Brathwaite’s office at Winthrop-University Hospital.

One such patient was a woman suffering from abdominal pain after a bariatric surgery performed in New York. “After being turned away by two different hospitals and prominent surgeons, she searched us out. She had a complex problem, had not been able to eat properly and suffered with pain for years, but we were able to help her.”

Brathwaite is the chairman of surgery, chief of the division of minimally invasive surgery and director of the bariatric surgery program at Winthrop. His focus is on bariatric surgery, which has risen in prominence with the country’s current obesity epidemic. But the Howard University College of Medicine grad views his work far beyond the limited scope of weight loss surgery. “It is not just about weight loss. There is an increasing body of scientific evidence that the procedures we do for weight loss have extensive metabolic consequences beneficial to people.”

Brathwaite is often asked to test some of the newest technologies and witness the latest developments, allowing him and his colleagues to offer state-of-the-art procedures and take on the most challenging of cases. “Some procedures involve a simultaneous combination of endoscopic and robotic surgery. In collaboration with our GI colleagues at Winthrop, we really do offer procedures that are not offered anywhere else in the United States.”

Dr. Lydia Valderrama
Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Dr. Lydia Valderrama was drawn to obstetrics and gynecology for the ability to care for patients from adolescence to elder years. “There is a continuity of care not only with my patients, but also within their families. It is very rewarding that I now am delivering to the same woman I delivered years ago.”

That personal, familial connection showed itself early on in Valderrama’s career. More than three decades ago, the Stony Brook Medical School grad diagnosed a patient with an early stage ovarian cancer. Afterward, she brought in several of the patient’s sisters, one who turned out to have the same cancer. “I operated on her sister four weeks later. Both sisters underwent chemotherapy together. Over the last thirty-five years, both women are still alive and still see me each year. The first patient’s daughter began to see me several years ago.”

At Long Island Women’s Health Care Group, Valderrama values her role as both a women’s physician and an OBGYN. “This area of medicine is important because there are still so many women out there who do not have a primary care physician. Even though we are taking care of them as a gynecologist, we also screen our patients to ensure they receive the proper care in all areas of health and we are a liaison to other specialty physicians.”

Dr. Gerald Grossman


Forty years ago when Dr. Gerald Grossman was entering the field, dentistry was more about relieving pain than creating aesthetically pleasing smiles. But Grossman’s career coincided with an “aesthetic dentistry revolution,” in which new restorative and prosthetic techniques and procedures could literally reshape a patient’s smile, creating healthier and eye-appealing teeth.

Grossman has been practicing comprehensive restorative implant and cosmetic dentistry for more than 40 years. More than just a tooth doctor, he is extensively trained in the proper functions of the jaw, ensuring precise functionality. Staying up-to-date is another passion. “Keeping knowledgeable and current has been a life-long journey. I have traveled extensively all over the world. I studied at the best centers of continuing education, where complex esthetics and functional implant cases are dealt with.” He also remains a member of several of the leading dental organizations and is a diplomate with the American Board of Aesthetic Dentistry and a fellow with American Society for Dental Aesthetics.

And Grossman loves the life-changing effect his work has on patients. “There was a grandmother…[whose] granddaughter knew her as, ‘the grandmother with the brown teeth.’ She is now the grandma with the great smile…I have positively changed the lives of young adults going off to college, business people with cracked, broken and missing teeth and so many other people.”

Dr. Lisa Sclafani


The idea of building relationships within a hospital may seem foreign, but when your life is on the line, a trusting physician is a sight for sore eyes. As the attending surgeon for breast service and director of surgical services in MSK’s LI Regional Network, Dr. Lisa Sclafani develops long-term relationships with her patients, which drew her to the area of practice. “The surgery and management decisions are well thought out compared to the quick thinking required in trauma. I find these long-term relationships with my patients very satisfying.”

It’s not just the patient-doctor rapport that fuels the NYU Medical School grad, it’s the opportunity to surround herself with the region’s best, which she is able to do at MSK, one of the world’s leading cancer medical institutions. “After nine years of private practice, I missed the academic environment…The give and take with my colleagues enables me to stay current with new advances in the field. I enjoy passing on my knowledge of breast cancer to my patients because an educated patient can make informed decisions and feel empowered to face their cancer with confidence and grit.”

MSK is also an early adopter of recent clinical trials that have changed the treatment paradigm. Sclafani is dedicated to bringing
those techniques from MSK’s home base in Manhattan to Commack and the new, soon-to-be opened Nassau County location.