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JFK Johnson Magazine

JFK Magazine Winter 2019



video pregnancy

Congratulations to JFK Family Medicine Center: Center for Pregnancy for being selected as a 2015 Community Leader of Distinction!

JFK Physician Spotlight: Spozhmy Panezai, MD

Meet JFK Staff

JFK Medical Center is proudly affiliated with more than 900 physicians representing every major medical and surgical specialty. Along with their expertise, each brings a unique background, perspective and approach that contribute to JFK's longstanding hallmark of excellence and personalized care.


This month, we're pleased to introduce Dr. Spozhmy Panezai, attending neurologist and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at JFK Medical Center's New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, as well as associate professor at Seton Hall University School of Graduate Medical Education.

Office Location: JFK New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, 65 James Street, Edison, New Jersey

Area of Specialty: Stroke & Neurological Diseases

Medical Certifications & Training: Board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, and Vascular Neurology; Fellowships in Neurovascular Medicine and Neurophysiology, SUNY- Stony Brook; Chief Resident in Neurology, SUNY-Stony Brook; Internship, Jersey Shore Medical Center; Medical Degree, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I was raised in Matawan, New Jersey, though I spent many summers in Pakistan with my extended family. Those experiences not only broadened my view of the world, but also taught me a great deal about patience, strength, compassion, personal interaction and other values that have helped me become a better doctor.

Q. Do you speak other languages?

A. Yes, I speak fluent Pashto, or Afghani. There are a few other languages I understand though my speaking is limited, such as Hindi and Urdu.

Q. Why did you decide to become a doctor?

A. My father was a cardiologist. In fact, he practiced at JFK Medical Center for many years. There were always medical books and stethoscopes around the house, and he sometimes took me to work with him. So I guess you could say that medicine has always been a part of my life and I knew early on that I wanted to follow in my father's footsteps.

Q. What attracted you to neurology?

A. While I enjoyed all of the sciences, I took a special interest in my neuroscience course in medical school and had the opportunity to shadow some of my father's colleagues in this specialty. Ultimately I felt that neurology was the field of the future because there is so much yet to be discovered.

Q. What is the biggest misconception about your field?

A. People often ask why I chose a specialty where there are so few treatments and cures. While it is a true that we have a long way to go in terms of research and intervention, it is important to recognize how far we've come – especially with regard to stroke care. There was a time when we couldn't offer any treatment to stroke patients. Now we have clot-busting drugs, like tPa, that can dissolve blood clots and minimize brain damage when administered quickly. Imaging innovations also provide more information than ever before, telling us when a stroke occurred and which parts of the brain may be saved through surgical procedures. As research continues, we're close to some exciting breakthroughs, including medications that target clots in the brain with fewer risks and better outcomes.

Q. What do you find most challenging about being a doctor?

A. That's hard to answer. I'd have to say the biggest challenge I face as a doctor is the same challenge faced by every working mother: how to balance my time between career and family – and how to be excellent in both facets of my life. I need to keep up with all the latest medical information and provide the best possible patient care... and then go home and help my children with their homework.

Q. What is most rewarding?

A. The best part about being a doctor is making a difference... helping my patients feel better – not just physically, but also emotionally and psychologically. Taking the time to explain an individual's illness and treatment options while also listening to his or her concerns can mean a lot. Being a doctor isn't just about medicine; it's about people and improving their quality of life.

Q. What makes JFK a special place to practice?

A. First, I have a history with JFK. I grew up in the area and my father practiced here, so the hospital has always felt like home. I feel especially privileged to work at the Neuroscience Institute, which provides the unique combination of a community hospital and an academic institution. It gives me the opportunity to experience both settings while collaborating with some of the top physicians in the country, including neurologists in every subspecialty. I also appreciate that we offer rehabilitation right here, so I can follow my patients through the entire continuum of care.

Q. If you couldn't be a physician, what career would you have chosen?

A. I'd probably be in the art field, since I've always loved drawing, painting and interior decorating. I hope to rekindle that interest with an art class.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do when you're not working?

A. Being with my kids. I have three young children – all under the age of five – and there's nothing that compares to their unconditional love and our time as a family, whether I'm teaching them how to play soccer or tucking them into bed.

Q. What is the most important piece of advice you have for patients?

A. Be your own health advocate, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Understanding your disease is the first step toward healing.

JFK Physician Spotlight: Brian D. Greenwald, M.D.

Meet JFK Staff

JFK Medical Center is proudly affiliated with more than 900 physicians representing every major medical and surgical specialty. Along with their expertise, each brings a unique background, perspective and approach that contribute to JFK's longstanding hallmark of excellence and personalized care.

Dr. Greenwald

This month’s Spotlight features Dr. Brian D. Greenwald, who was recently appointed as Medical Director of our Center for Head Injuries, and Associate Medical Director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. He is a national leader in Brain Injury Medicine and Rehabilitation, and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Office Location:  JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, 65 James Street, Edison, NJ 08818

Area of Specialty:  Brain Injury Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Medical Certifications & Training: Board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Fellowship-trained in brain injury rehabilitation at Virginia Commonwealth University. Completed residency training in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at New Jersey Medical School. Former Medical Director of Brain Injury Rehabilitation at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center in New York City, and former Medical Director for the New York Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems. Member of the Board of Trustees for the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey since 2002.

Awards: The Kristjan Ragnarsson Angle Award, from the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, 2012; Physician of the Year Award, Mount Sinai Medical Center, 2009; one of the Top Doctors in the New York Metro Areas, as recognized by peers through a Castle Connolly survey; Arnold P. Gold Foundation Award for “Humanism in Medicine.”

Q.  Where did you grow up?

A.  I come from a long line of Brooklynites who lived in a rough and tumble middle class neighborhood. I’m proud of where I come from, and I’m proud to be where I am now as a Medical Director at JFK.

Q.  Who or what inspired you to become a doctor?

A.  When I was a kid my mother had a lot of health problems, and because of this I learned about the kind of character and empathy that’s required to be a good doctor. I also saw firsthand how a physician can make a big positive impact on people’s lives. As a high school student I spent time doing volunteer service at Coney Island Hospital; it became clear to me that the field of medicine suits both my personality and my desire to help people.

Q.  Why did you choose Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation as your specialty, and why focus on brain injury?

A.  When I was in my third year of medical school, a family friend who is a physiatrist recommended I do a rotation is this specialty. I had always enjoyed neurology, and internal medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation was a good fit. When I was in residency I decided that pursuing fellowship in Brain Injury Medicine would be a good sub-specialization for my interests. Helping people regain maximum function is tremendously rewarding. This is the right specialty for me.

Q.  What do you find most gratifying about being a physician in your field?

A.  So often, people with brain injuries are unable to advocate for themselves, and their family members are overwhelmed by the situation. Physiatrists, medical doctors with specialized training in physical and rehabilitation medicine, have a great opportunity to be an advocate for these people and their families when they need it most, while helping patients to regain and achieve everything they can.

Q.  Share a fact about brain injuries that few people know.

A.  Something that even some health care providers don’t know is that there are people who, with appropriate rehabilitation from professionals like our team at JFK, can improve dramatically even after a severe brain injury. For example, a study published about a year ago indicates that more than 20% of people with the most severe brain trauma are eventually able to live independently and return to employment. It’s a long-term challenge, but if you think about it, aren’t most conditions? If you have high blood pressure, you treat and manage it over time – not in a few quick doctor visits.

Q.  What advice would you want families to keep in mind when suddenly faced with a loved one’s catastrophic brain illness or injury?

A.  Very few places in the country have all the resources needed for complex cases all under one roof, the way we do at JFK. At JFK we have acute rehabilitation care attached to an acute care hospital with expert specialty physicians to consult if complications arise. JFK continues to care for people, if needed, in sub-acute rehabilitation, home care and outpatient services. We have it all, so we can address everything from the early acute care needs of patients to their long-term rehabilitation needs.

Q.  What attracted you to taking on such important leadership roles at JFK?

A.  JFK has a long history of commitment to people with brain injuries. There is an enormous depth and breadth of rehabilitation and medical resources with an administration that is committed to keeping the brain injury program strong and growing. JFK is also committed to being advocates for the patients and families we serve and advancing care on state and national levels. This passion for excellence comes from the top of the organization, and I found it inspiring. I knew this would be the right place for me.

Q.  What do you most enjoy doing when you are not working?

A.  When I’m not working I spend time with my children and I enjoy them so much! I talk to them about work, but from the aspect of how fulfilled and excited I am about what I do – I’d like them to make that connection, to have the same kind of zest for whatever professions they enter. Oh, we have a new dog who seems to keep us all in the same room at the same time, playing. She brings us a lot of happiness!

Q.  When it comes to technology, outside of work do you stay plugged in or do you prefer to unplug?

A.  I’m plugged in all the time. I’m involved in so many projects and organizations; I feel like if I unplug I’ll get too far behind. Plus, I receive emails from families and from people all around the world who are in desperate situations. I like to be responsive in a timely manner.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is considering entering your field?

A.  It’s a great field and a little different from a lot of other specialties. You have to be willing to think “long term,” because you spend a long time guiding your patients toward their rehabilitation goals. You have to be willing to embrace families that have been shaken to their cores, and who play an integral role in their loved one’s rehabilitation. You have to be receptive to collaborating as part of a team, as our dedicated experts do here at JFK; this is not a field for solo practitioners. If all that appeals to you, know that you will make a positive difference in the lives of patients and families forever; I now have a lot of patients who followed me here from New York, our relationship is that long and strong. It is very rewarding.

Phone: 732-321-7000 X62018

JFK Physician Spotlight: Gary Miller, M.D.

Meet JFK Staff

Physician Spotlight

JFK Medical Center is proudly affiliated with more than 900 physicians representing every major medical and surgical specialty. Along with their expertise, each brings a unique background, perspective and approach that contribute to JFK's longstanding mission to provide of excellent, high quality care.


Dr. Miller is an Assistant Professor at JFK Neuroscience Institute.  He specializes in Neurology, Headache Medicine and Neuromuscular Medicine. He is board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, Headache Medicine and Sleep Medicine.

Office Location: JFK Neuroscience Institute, 65 James Street, Edison, NJ

Q. Who or what inspired you to become a physician and, in particular, a neurologist?

A. What led me to medicine and specifically neurology was a combination of personal history and intellectual curiosity which led to an intense interest in the mechanisms of neurological disease and therapy.

Both of my parents faced significant neurological disease and its impact. My father had polio at the age of four, and my mother had epilepsy and severe migraines. My personal history of living with the effects of neurological disease helped shape my interest in neurological disease and gave me a personal perspective that translated to understanding what my patients and their families were facing.

Neurology is also an area of medicine that involves detective work. We use a patient’s history and details in exam findings as clues in solving the mystery of their disease and final diagnosis. The intellectual pursuit of the diagnosis is both fascinating and personally rewarding.

Q. What do you find most gratifying about being a physician in your field?

A. There are multiple levels of gratification in my field. There is the desire to help people who are faced with a life-changing neurological illness. Having been through this with my parents, I can relate and understand what they are going through. There is also the intellectual pursuit of getting to an answer from what might appear to be minor details in the patient’s history and exam.

Perhaps of most importance is the opportunity to help my patients face life changing neurological disease with both understanding and compassion.

It is both an honor and a humbling experience to work with my patients-- and to witness the heights of human dignity and courage when they are faced with a life changing neurological disease.

My role is to help them understand what we know about the mechanism and characteristics of their disease, but they teach me far more about the human spirit.

Q. Share a fact about neurology that few people know.

A.  Many sinus headaches are likely migraines. If the sinus headache begins with a headache that leads to congestion, it is highly likely the patient is suffering from migraine rather than a sinus headache.

Q. What are your areas of interest in the practice of Neurology? 

A. Headache Medicine and Neuromuscular Medicine. Headache Medicine gives me  the opportunity to provide effective treatment to help patients manage their migraines and other headache disorders. Neuromuscular medicine is intellectually stimulating in that it involves the investigation of a potential neuromuscular disorder by sifting through clues provided by the history, examination and other studies to arrive at a long sought after diagnosis. With the diagnosis comes understanding for me and my patient and, if not a resolution of disease, a therapeutic plan that can lead to a greater quality of life for the patients and their families.

Dr. Miller works closely with his patients through a great deal of communication to determine the best treatment approach for migraines. “Practicing a combination of neuromuscular medicine and headache medicine is very rewarding because I can help patients combat this debilitating condition,” explains Dr. Miller. “To diagnose and treat headaches takes communication, through a careful evaluation of their medical history and understanding of my patient. Paramount to treatment is the development of trust between me and my patient.   This, together with the ability to recognize the clues that can lead to a diagnosis, allows for optimal patient care that will have significant impact on their quality of life.”

The JFK Neuroscience Institute offers diagnosis, management and treatment options for headache, and migraine headache sufferers, by using a "Whole Person" approach. It is also a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of brain and spine disorders. The Institute offers extensive clinical care programs, research, and education in neurology and neurosurgery. Our highly-trained specialists provide consultation and evaluation services with recommended courses of treatment.

Breast Cancer Q & A

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MALANTIC-LU WWWJFK Medical Center Celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month with an informative Q&A with Board Certified Radiologists, Grace Malantic-Lu, M.D.  Dr. Malantic-Lu is fellowship trained in breast imaging and the lead interpreting physician for breast imaging at The JFK Breast Center.

What does "dense breast tissue" mean and how do I know if I have it?
There has been much in the news lately regarding "dense breast tissue" and the concerns regarding risk of breast cancer as well as the inability of routine mammography to detect breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue.

First of all, it is important to understand what is being discussed when you hear the term dense breast tissue. Breast tissue is considered dense if it is comprised of more connective tissue and less fat. The concern with dense breast tissue is the associated increased risk and masking which occurs when dense tissue obscures a cancer. New Jersey's breast density law (which went into effect May 1, 2014) encourages dialogue with your physician regarding your breast density and whether further testing may be beneficial. Your mammogram report will include your breast density level.

Should I still have mammograms if I have dense breasts?
Yes. A screening mammogram is shown to be effective in decreasing breast cancer mortality for all breast densities. It is the best test that can reliably detect suspicious calcifications.

I've heard it isn't necessary to have mammograms every year, is that true?
No, the American Cancer Society and American College of Radiology (among others) recommends that all women have yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. Mammography is still the gold standard screening test for detection of breast cancer for women of all breast densities.

What do I do if my mammogram isn't normal?
The JFK Breast Center offers a Certified Nurse Navigator to assist a patient through the mammography process. She helps each patient schedule their biopsies, discuss each step along the way, and gives personal attention to each patient. For women dealing with breast cancer, Navigator support at JFK's Breast Center can help alleviate much of the anxiety and uncertainty that accompany the diagnosis of what is, after non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common women's cancer in the United States.

No one in my family has breast cancer, why do I need mammograms?
Family history is only one risk factor for breast cancer. Other risk factors – besides simply being a woman - are age and genetics. About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

I'm afraid it's going to hurt!
As a Soft Touch Provider, the JFK Breast Center uses a Mammopad® cushion on all of our patients to decrease discomfort during the mammogram. Some other suggestions are to avoid caffeine products for 24-48 hours prior to the test, scheduling the exam toward the latter part of your menstrual cycle. If it is ok with your physician, taking a mild pain reliever prior to the test may also help.

What specific breast services does JFK Medical Center provide?
The JFK Breast Center offers "one stop" services all under one roof @ the JFK Imaging Center for your entire breast healthcare needs. Digital mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI and core biopsies under all the imaging modalities are available at one site. We are certified by the FDA and accredited by the American College of Radiology in mammography and breast MRI and Stereotactic biopsy. The JFK Breast Center prides itself on excellent patient satisfaction scores and is a designated Soft Touch Provider facility.

In addition, The Nurse Navigator is designed to reduce the amount of time, anxiety and inconvenience a woman may experience from the moment she discovers a breast abnormality to diagnosis and follow-up. The nurse will serve as patient advocate and educator; She will provide information and reassurance during the treatment decision process, identify hospital and community resources, and coordinate appointments among numerous specialists.

Questions & Answers: My Healthy Heart

Meet JFK Staff

feingold qaJFK recognizes Heart Month with an informative Q & A from Board Certified Cardiologist and Director of JFK’s Department of Cardiology, Aaron J. Feingold, M.D. Dr. Feingold is an elected Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and has practiced cardiology in the community for more than 33 years.

What causes cardiovascular disease?

Dr. Feingold: There are many risk factors that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Some people are born with conditions that predispose them to heart disease and stroke, but most people who develop cardiovascular disease do so because of a combination of factors such as poor diet, lack of physical activity and smoking, to name just three. The more risk factors you expose yourself to, the higher the chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease cause problems because they lead to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the narrowing and thickening of arteries. Atherosclerosis develops for years without causing symptoms. It can happen in any part of the body. Around the heart, it is known as coronary artery disease, in the legs it is known as peripheral arterial disease.

The narrowing and thickening of the arteries is due to the deposition of fatty material, cholesterol and other substances in the walls of blood vessels. The deposits are known as plaques. The rupture of a plaque can lead to stroke or a heart attack.

What is cholesterol?

Dr. Feingold: Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance used by the body to build cell walls and for making several essential hormones. Your liver produces cholesterol and you absorb it from the animal fats you eat. Cholesterol is carried through the blood by particles called lipoproteins. There are two types: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). The former carries the cholesterol around the body in the blood and the latter transports cholesterol out of the blood into the liver.

When cholesterol is too high, or the levels of the two types are out of balance (dyslipidaemia), the cholesterol can clog the arteries affecting the flow of the blood.

What are triglycerides?

Dr. Feingold: Triglycerides are fats found in the blood that are important for muscle energy. They travel through the blood in lipoproteins. As triglyceride levels rise, HDL cholesterol levels fall. High levels of triglyceride increase the risk for heart disease. In rare cases, very high levels can lead to pancreatitis. Conditions that may cause high triglycerides include obesity, poorly controlled diabetes, drinking too much alcohol, hypothryroidism, and kidney disease.

What is the connection between high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease?

Dr. Feingold: Blood moving through your arteries pushes against the arterial walls; this force is measured as blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs when very small arteries (arterioles) tighten. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the smaller space and the pressure inside the vessels grows. The constant excess pressure on the artery walls weakens them making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis

How is coronary heart disease diagnosed?

Dr. Feingold: There are a number of ways to diagnose coronary heart disease. Your physician will probably use a number to make a definitive diagnosis. A coronary angiogram uses a dye inserted into your arteries and an x-ray to see how the blood flows through your heart. The picture taken, the angiogram, will show any atherosclerosis. Another test is an electrocardiogram. This test records the electrical activity of your heart. An electrocardiogram measures the rate and regularity of heartbeats, the size and position of the heart chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart, and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart. It is a non-invasive procedure.

How are smoking and heart disease linked?

Dr. Feingold: Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels, increases fatty deposits in the arteries, increases blood clotting, adversely affects blood lipid levels, and promotes coronary artery spasm. Nicotine accelerates the heart rate and raises blood pressure.

Does diet play a part in the development of heart disease?

Dr. Feingold: Diet plays a significant role in protecting or predisposing people to heart disease. Diets high in animal fat, low in fresh vegetables and fruit, and high in alcohol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

Adopting a diet low in fat and salt has a protective effect over the long term. This means whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Aren’t women protected from heart disease because of estrogen?

Dr. Feingold: Estrogen does help raise good HDL cholesterol so protecting women, but once through the menopause as many women as men are affected by heart disease: but if a woman suffers from diabetes or has raised levels of triglycerides that cancel out the positive effect of estrogen.

How do the symptoms of heart attack differ between men and women?

Dr. Feingold: The symptoms of heart attack in a man are intense chest pain, pain in the left arm or jaw and difficulty breathing. A woman may have some of the same symptoms, but her pain may be more diffuse, spreading to the shoulders, neck, arms, abdomen and even her back. A woman may experience pain more like indigestion. The pain may not be consistent. There may not be pain but unexplained anxiety, nausea, dizziness, palpitations and cold sweat. A woman’s heart attack may have been preceded by unexplained fatigue.

Women also tend to have more severe first heart attacks that more frequently lead to death, compared to men.

Is heart disease hereditary?

Dr. Feingold: Heart disease can run in some families. But even if you inherit the risks factors that predispose you to heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or being overweight, there are measures you can take that will help you avoid developing cardiovascular disease.