It's time for golf

Dr. Alan Harawitz retires from Monroe Pediatrics after almost 40 years of taking care of thousands of children


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  • Photo provided Dr. Alan Harawitz, who retired from Monroe Pediatrics on June 30, meets with Owen Ferrigno and his mother Adele during one of the last days he saw patients.



By Nancy Kriz

— After almost 40 years as a pediatrician, it's time for Dr. Alan Harawitz to be spending more time on the golf course.

Harawitz, one of the partners in Monroe Pediatrics on Gilbert Street, retired from the practice on June 30, leaving the care of patients to doctors Nilufer Clubwala, Danielle Dziedzic, Evan Harawitz, Stacy Rosmarin and Jamee Goldstein.

"I'm getting to an age where it's time for the younger guys to do it," said Harawitz. "I've done it for 40 years and it's time to enjoy life. I enjoyed what I did. I had a lot of fun, but medicine has changed."

Change and advances
Like others, Harawitz has seen huge changes in the medical profession since he first became a doctor.

"When I got here, Arden Hill was the quintessential community hospital," he said. "Now, Orange Regional Medical Center considers itself a true medical center. Hospitals have changed."

And then there's advances in medicine over the past 40 years.

"There's so many things that run through my head," he said. "When I first started, there were illnesses that when a patient got them, it was difficult to get them better, like leukemia. Now, almost every kid who has leukemia survives and is cured. Cancer itself is getting to be more curable in kids than it ever was. I like that a lot."

He's also a staunch supporter of immunizations.

"The more immunizations we give out, the less illnesses we see," he said, reminding people to get flu shots this year. "I'd like to see immunizations for everyone so we don't have to put sick kids in the hospital."

Office practice management has changed as well. Insurance companies have more rules, regulations and requirements to follow; technology has advanced, including electronic medical records replacing bulky patient charts; and the availability of online information offers parents the ability to have more information about medical issues.

Even the Monroe area is different, too.

"The whole area has changed, it's grown, it's more sophisticated," added Harawitz.

Open to questions

But what hasn't changed is a parent's desire to make sure his or her child gets the best care possible.

"I think parents are more aware of what's going on," he said. "They are more apt to question. It's your child and you should know what's going on. I would tell people to keep on top of everything with your children, make sure everything they need medically is taken care of."

Harawitz always welcomed questions, even if those questions were asked of him outside of an office visit.

"When you practice in this type of community, you have to understand that's what's going to happen," he said. "People will see you and ask you questions."

As word spread about Harawitz's pending retirement, parents and patients would tell him how important his care was to them.

"People kept coming in and talking to me about it, and how I dealt with their kids and how much I meant to them and that made me feel really good," he said. "To understand that you had a part in their children's well being, you take it for granted, as that's what you do. But when someone comes in and says you meant a lot to their family, it means a lot to you."

What also meant a lot to Harawitz was watching newborns grow into adults. It was quite common for those adults - as new parents - to bring their own newborns to Harawitz for care.

"To me, the main thing was to make sure kids stayed healthy and to watch them grow," said Harawitz. "That's why I went into general pediatrics because you can follow families, people, and watch them mature and change. Kids bring their kids here. It make you feel good when someone who was once your patient have enough confidence to bring their kids here."

'It was great taking care of them'

And while some pediatric ailments will always be around, there's new issues that are more noticeable.

"Strep is always going to be there, as will viruses, stomach aches, flus," he said. "But there's a lot more stress and anxiety in kids. But that's understandable, as the world has changed. We have older parents, too, and that gives a different perspective on things. There's working parents also. When I started, most people were one income families. Now, it's different. And parents do have a attitude about things. But parents are still parents. They still have concerns. They want their children to be healthy. They want them to do well. We try our best to make that happen."

While Harawitz is not going to miss the need to keep up with medical advancements, he will miss the patients and the staff he's worked with for those many years.

In fact, three of his former patients are now physicians in the practice: his son Evan, Goldstein and Dziedzic.

On her Facebook page, Goldstein spoke of how Harawitz encouraged her interest in medicine and gave her a job while in high school.

"I was fortunate to have him believe in me and encourage me and most importantly to train me in more than just the technical part of being a physician - he modeled for me how to be a caring individual," Goldstein wrote. "Alan Harawitz, MD your legacy will live on in not only the generations you helped but in the generations I will watch grow. I will never be able to fill your shoes but I'll certainly try. Thank you ... for everything you've done for me in the last 39 years."

Harawitz also wanted the thousands of patients he cared for to know how important they were to him.

"It was great taking care of them," he said. "I hope they have good memories of what we did and I wish them well in the rest of their lives."

Question

For parents, Harawitz offered this one last bit of advice.

"If you have a question, always make sure that every question you have is answered, because there's no such thing as a stupid question," he said. "Even if the doctor has heard it 2,000 times, make sure you have the answer before you leave the office. It's your child and you should know what's going on."

And what's next for Harawitz?

"Tomorrow I'm going to play golf," he said, knowing people will still be stopping him around town and asking him questions. "I'll be able to play more, so my game should get better."


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