East End Pediatrics Marks Milestone


In the 40 years since she founded East End Pediatrics, Dr. Gail Schonfeld has pioneered needs-based community programs in the East End to help families access “dental and mental” care. .

“I met a woman, Emma Bellows, a family doctor who was 70 when I arrived 40 years ago. She started practicing here in or around 1915 and she was the first female doctor in the Hamptons,” recalls Dr. Gail Schonfeld, the East Hampton pediatrician who founded East End Pediatrics in 1982. a recent phone call, she remembered her. four decades of service to the community and having seen everything from advances in medicine and technology to one of the greatest health epidemics in history.

Dr Bellows, his pioneering predecessor in the East End, wrote “Memoirs of a Town and Country Physician”, which Dr Schonfeld read. “It opened my eyes to what wasn’t there when she was working here and how different it was to practice without all the things we have now. There were no antibiotics, there were no “There was no oxygen, there were no intravenous fluids. There wasn’t much. So it was much more difficult to try to save lives without tools. And so, even if there was there are many and many things we have the right to complain about these days, at least we have these tools and we can be successful in what we do so I can look at the things that make life difficult and be angry, frustrated and resentful. Or, I can look at what more I have to offer and what more I can accomplish, and be grateful for that,” she said.

When she arrived in East Hampton in 1982, she said it would be another five years before the type b (Hib) flu vaccine was licensed. The vaccine, different from the flu shot, is usually given to protect children under 5 against diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough and poliomyelitis. So the doctor said, “We would see meningitis.” We would see epiglottitis. I had to pat everyone. I used to get up in the middle of the night – night after night – to see kids with croup to make sure it wasn’t epiglottitis and they wouldn’t be dead in the morning,” she said, with the kind of eyebrow-raising candor that some parents of children in her practice have become accustomed to, while others have not.

On Healthgrades, an online resource that provides information and consumer ratings on hospitals and healthcare providers, Dr. Schonfeld gets a one-star (poor) or five-star (best) rating, and nothing. between the two. Reviews shared by customers range from “Would leave 0 stars if possible” to “The entire team at East End Pediatrics have been incredibly caring and supportive in their approach to practicing medicine”.

However she is at the bedside, her concern for the health and well-being of the children in her care cannot be disputed. Over the years, she has started needs-based community programs in the East End to help families access “dental and mental” care. Dental care came first, in the early 2000s, through his non-profit organization, the Pediatric Dental Fund of the Hamptons. She helped raise awareness for families in the East End who could not afford dental treatment, as well as fundraising to help pay local pediatric dentists to provide necessary treatment for children in these families.

Then, in 2013, Dr. Schonfeld opened the South Oaks Child and Adolescent Center of East Hampton, a satellite clinic offering mental health care from donated office space inside the East Hampton Healthcare Center on Pantigo. Square, where his practice is also located. According to the website, East End Pediatrics has “received National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home, Level 3 designation, the highest level attainable. This award was given in recognition of our efforts to integrate and coordinate care between specialists, mental health and dental providers, hospitals, emergency rooms and your child’s school.

She is clearly passionate about tackling the widely reported fact that depression, self-harm, and suicide are on the rise among American teens. “I was trained to recognize and treat infections. I am now retraining myself to recognize and treat mental health. Previously, we went from crisis to crisis, dealing with injuries, accidents, illnesses and urgent emergencies that arose every day. Most of that is preventable these days.

So now we can really focus on growth and development, as well as mental health. Turning children into healthy adults,” she said in the phone call.

Growing up in upstate New York, she said her call to join the medical profession came when she was 15. With a conditional acceptance to medical school right out of high school, she was able to combine undergraduate studies at Boston University and Boston Medical School. University School of Medicine, accomplishing in six years what normally takes eight medical students.

After her residency, she was hired to work in the East End because there was no pediatric practice in the community. Then: “The community has grown, so the practice has developed itself. I made no effort to try to recruit patients. I’ve always had more patients than I can handle,” she added.

However, no amount of practice or training could have prepared her for the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. While she had long been accustomed to the seasonal influx of children and parents to the Hamptons, the pandemic meant a an almost overnight increase in the number of patients, as families from all over have chosen to quarantine themselves here. In a blog for the American Academy of Pediatrics, she detailed how her practice found ways to cope by staggering appointments, doing morning-only wellness visits, and seeing sick children in the morning. afternoon. As a result, she had to rent additional offices in the complex to effectively keep visitors away. But, telemedicine, she noted, has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic.

His predecessor, Dr Bellows, lived through the 1918 flu epidemic – incomprehensible to Dr Schonfeld, who said coping with a pandemic in the East End even in the 1980s would have been a challenge. “I do PCR tests at the office every day. There was no PCR in 1982,” she said.

At 67, the doctor is far from ready to hang up her stethoscope for good. Additionally, East End Pediatrics, with three busy physicians, is a vital part of the East Hampton community. “I think there are a few more years to come,” she said.


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