By Genia Gould & Alyssa Pagano
It wasn’t long ago when going to a weekly therapy appointment, or having a suspicious mole checked out, an allergy shot, or getting pretty much any simple medical procedure, meant a trip into “the City.” Some residents even returned to their hometowns outside of New York, for simple procedures, even for having their teeth cleaned.
But increasingly, medical services are becoming a part of the Williamsburg fabric. It’s possible to get all of the above mentioned services, and even see a heart specialist, get an X-ray, have a mammogram, or receive physical therapy.
Following the tsunami of new galleries, restaurants, bars, housing developments, like clockwork the next step in the growth of the neighborhood are the offerings of professional services—doctors in private practice and hospital satellites.
Many doctors are arriving and setting up their first practice and are happy for the opportunity to be on the ground floor with an expanding population that needs their services.
Dr. Konstantin Rubinov, 30, a resident of the neighborhood for a number of years, was employed by a busy Manhattan dental office, but felt he could give more personal care in his own practice. “They cared more about production at the end of the month,” he said.
Rubinov contracted an independent company to write up a demographic study of the area, confirming his belief that there were not enough dentists for the 120,000 residents living on the Northside.
He located his practice in a building on North 6th Street and Wythe Avenue, which houses several other health-related practices as well, including medical massage and chiropractic services. In keeping with the neighborhood vibe, his office also features curated artwork.
Rubinov is interested in a holistic approach to dentistry and offers his patients nutritional counseling. He also believes all major diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, manifest in the mouth first, so focuses on what’s known as the “oral-systemic connection.”
Allergist Cascya Charlot, 36, and podiatrist Giznola Charlot, 39, who are sisters, decided to team up and opened an office at North 9th Street. Two months ago they moved into a space they designed with an upbeat chartreuse color scheme.
Cascya Charlot already runs a busy practice in Park Slope, and Giznola Charlot works full time as an attending podiatrist at Kings County Hospital, so while they are establishing themselves in the community, the office hours include weekend and evening hours.
When I arrived to speak with Cascya Charlot, a handful of twenty-something men and women were waiting to see the doctors, including a young woman waiting for an allergy shot. “My boyfriend,” she said, “lives in the area, and it’s very convenient.”
Giznola Charlot’s services run the gamut of medical foot care, but also include medical-grade cosmetic services for people who shouldn’t go to a salon, like those with diabetes. “But it can be for anyone who would prefer a medical pedicure,” she said.
Another doctor following the trend of opening second offices in the area is Bobby Buka, 30, a dermatologist who opened his new office on Broadway near Bedford Avenue. His first office is at the South Street Seaport.
TriBeCa Pediatrics began in 1994 in Lower Manhattan. Since then they have followed the baby boom around the city. A few years ago they opened an office on Berry Street and now have a total of nine locations and are affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College/New-York Presbyterian Hospital. Their offices are cool places for both adults and kids to wait. Their philosophy is one of low intervention, as they believe that, “most childhood illnesses are simple and self-resolving.” “We should be vigilant in monitoring symptoms, but we also must respect the body’s natural defenses and avoid unnecessary, possibly detrimental interventions.”
Every new business adds a new dimension to the community. That was the case when the well known Four Blood Types Diet doctor Peter D’Adamo who recently opened an office on Metropolitan Avenue specializing in diet, health, and allergies. His original intention was to be close to the Hassidic neighborhood but found the Grand Street location accessible to the whole community.
Seeing a therapist in Williamsburg when it was still an industrial neighborhood was unheard of. Heading into the city was a form of sanity in itself. But in the last few years several psychologists have opened private and group practices in the area.
Services now include Leslie Seligman, specializing in marital therapy; Lyn Solomon, who has an art and analytic psychotherapy practice; and Nadia Jenefsky, who, since 2005, has operated the New York Creative Arts Therapists / Art Spa on North 10th Street, a group practice offering several therapy modalities, including art, play, and drama.
Psychologist Daniel Selling, Director of Mental Health for the NYC jail system and in practice on the Upper West Side, has opened a full service mental health care office Williamsburg Therapy Group, with both psychologists and psychiatrists on staff. He currently sees patients in an office on Grand Street near Wythe Avenue.
“Finally, residents of Williamsburg no longer have to travel to Manhattan to find quality mental health care,” said Selling.
Health Care institutions make their presence known, not to be outdone by small practitioners, NYU Langone, Beth Israel, Quest Diagnostics, and New York Eye and Ear have all also made their presence known. The services that these institutions now provide includes internal medicine, gastroenterology, orthopedics, bariatric surgery, cardiology, wound care, vascular medicine, and diagnostic testing.
Andrew Brotman, senior vice president and vice dean of clinical affairs for NYU Langone, said the hospital is aware of the huge draw from Williamsburg to Manhattan.
“So for us it was more about trying to serve the community that we already have a relationship with [on their side of river],” he said.
NYU Langone occupies space at two locations, a floor of a medical building at 168 Havemeyer Street, and at 101 Broadway, home to several other practices, including New York Eye and Ear, Quest Diagnostic laboratory, and a midwifery practice.
While some of these institutions have been in the neighborhood for some time, they have primarily targeted ethnic populations including Polish, Orthodox Jewish, and Hispanic communities. Beth Israel opened a cardiology office on Greenpoint Avenue that is attracting a new group of patients, while the hospital’s other long-time outreach offices on the far Southside have mainly served the Hassidic community.
Last but not Least—Hospitals
Hospitals are the last piece of the puzzle and are still a sticking point in the community because there are no acceptable emergency or critical care facilities that serve the neighborhood, let alone offer hospitalization.
The closest hospital is city-owned Woodhull Hospital, which recently affiliated with NYU Langone. According to Brotman, NYU got involved two or three years ago and took over the contract to manage the medical staff. “We’re committed to upgrading and recruiting high grade, board- certified staff to that facility,” he said.
He also explained that they have significantly expanded the cancer program and are in the process of upgrading the emergency department, as well as adding a new pediatric program.
Until Woodhull improves significantly, a resident can request that an ambulance go to a particular hospital (See “Emergency Exit” in this issue).
Like schools, health services have an important impact on the community, and we will continue following the story.