These Doctors Will See You Now

Nursing shortages. Surgical blunders. Crippling insurance costs. Healthcare is in a critical state these days. Our prognosis for the Massachusetts healthcare system — supposedly one of the best in the country — is equally grim. More than 1,100 complaints were filed against Massachusetts hospitals in 2002. That's up 76 percent from 1996. And the Massachusetts Medical Society reports that 6,601 of the state's 20,628 physicians plan to leave if the healthcare environment does not improve for them. What's the cure? In part, a new breed of physicians who are changing the way medicine is practiced here. The 21 physicians we introduce on the following pages are considered up-and-comers in 20 different specialties. They were chosen by two years' worth of previous Boston magazine top doctors as the most promising new medical talent in and around this city. Best of all, most are still taking patients, which means that when you or your loved one need medical care, you won't get a referral elsewhere. You'll get an appointment. We also provide a comparison of 40 hospitals in the city and the suburbs using information we've collected from regulators and accrediting agencies about everything from areas of specialty to patient volume. It's your guide to finding the very best hospital care. While none of us has a say in why and when we get sick, we can choose where we seek care — and from which of our community's top doctors.


James A. MacLean, physician, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital; assistant clinical professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School. On clinical staff at Asthma & Allergy Affiliates, North Shore Medical Center, and Northeast Hospital Corporation. Clinical interests: allergic rhinitis, asthma, urticaria, food and drug allergies, particularly latex allergies and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. Why he's tops: “Dr. MacLean is an extremely competent physician who understands the importance of interacting with patients,” says Dr. Johnson Wong, an allergist at the MGH allergy and immunology unit. “He also has a strong handle on identifying underlying problems in the most complicated of medical situations.”

Cardiac Surgery

Thomas E. MacGillivray, attending cardiac surgeon, Massachusetts General Hospital; instructor in surgery, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: acquired heart disease, heart transplantation, congenital heart disease, mechanical support, disease of the thoracic aorta. Why he's tops: “Dr. MacGillivray can walk into a complex situation and know exactly what to do, even when there is no one around to consult with,” says Dr. Gus J. Vlahakes, a colleague in the cardiac surgery division at MGH. “He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the medical literature, and he pours an extensive amount of time into patient care. He doesn't shy away from the tough cases.”


David Gossman, physician, Lahey Clinic; clinical instructor in medicine, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: angioplasty, coronary stents, coronary artery disease, interventional cardiology, myocardial infarction, valvular heart disease, valvuloplasty. Why he's tops: “I completely trust Dr. Gossman's sound judgment — and that is a quality you can't teach someone,” says colleague Dr. Bruce Mirbach, a Lahey cardiologist. “When it comes to cardiac procedures, there are many options available, but that doesn't mean every option is a good fit for the patient. I refer many patients to him not only because of his skills but because of his ability to make the right decisions.”


Lara Kelley, director of dermatologic surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; instructor in dermatology, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: Mohs micrographic surgery, cutaneous oncology, and cosmetic dermatology, particularly tumescent liposuction. Why she's tops: “Dr. Kelley's main focus is with people who need surgery on their faces, and these patients are often very sensitive and nervous about this type of procedure,” says Dr. Robert S. Stern, dermatology department chair at BI Deaconess. “She makes them feel as relaxed and positive as possible before going into surgery. I've seen what the results of her work are — and they're very good.”


Anthony N. Hollenberg, chief of the thyroid unit and director of clinical endocrinology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: thyroid disease. Why he's tops: “I have referred cases to Dr. Hollenberg and would always hear back that he was very willing to listen and understand his patients,” says Dr. Jeffrey S. Flier, chief academic officer at BI Deaconess. “Dr. Hollenberg has also put together a thyroid nodule clinic and was for a number of years the director of the internal medical residency program. For a young guy, he's had a lot of roles in the medical community, and that requires a unique combination of excellent interpersonal skills and academic achievement.”


Sonia Friedman, associate physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital; instructor of medicine, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease; dysplasia and cancer in ulcerative colitis or chronic Crohn's disease patients. Why she's tops: “Dr. Friedman is compassionate, she listens carefully, and she has conducted outstanding clinical research.” says Dr. Peter Banks, director of the clinical gastroenterology services at Brigham and Women's. “I call her a triple threat: an outstanding clinician, investigator, and teacher — all of which are extremely important attributes for a physician in an academic center.”


Rachel K. Ashby, clinical instructor in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: infertility and in vitro fertilization, complex reproductive surgery, male-factor infertility. Why she's tops: “Dr. Ashby is the consummate clinician; she is skilled, knowledgeable, and caring,” says Dr. Mark Hornstein, clinical director of the Division of Reproductive Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. “She has a very gentle way with patients and is able to assist them in a highly personalized manner through the complexities of infertility treatment. She is a real go-getter and brings energy and enthusiasm to all her endeavors.”

Internal Medicine

Diane R. Fingold, associate physician in medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital; assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: primary care and disease prevention. Why she's tops: “Dr. Fingold is an excellent primary care doctor,” says Dr. Michael Barry, chief in the MGH general internal medicine unit. “While teaching her students, she stresses the importance of patient interaction. Her impact on her students' and her patients' lives will last for many years to come.”


Leslie Fang, assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; former chief of Walter Bauer Firm, a program for residents in the department of medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Clinical interests: acute glomerulonephritis, chronic renal disease, complicated hypertension, end-stage renal disease. Why he's tops: “Dr. Fang is one of the most careful and experienced doctors I know,” says Dr. John Niles, a colleague in the Renal Unit at MGH. “He has a great deal of medical knowledge and is extremely personable with his patients. Plus, he's a problem solver. If he doesn't immediately have an answer, he will go to great lengths to ensure he gets one.”


Kinan Hreib, director of stroke services in neurology, Lahey Clinic. Clinical interests: acute interventions for stroke, quality improvement efforts for stroke care. Why he's tops: “Dr. Hreib is really an outstanding physician,” says Dr. Paul Gross, chairman of the Lahey Department of Neurology. “He is both compassionate and competent while at the same time staying at the forefront of scientific advancements in stroke treatment.”

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Lori Berkowitz, assistant in gynecology and obstetrics, Massachusetts General Hospital; obstetrics and gynecology instructor, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: reconstructive pelvic surgery, urogynecology. Why she's tops: “Dr. Berkowitz is a kind and sensitive physician,” says Dr. Fred Frigoletto, chief of obstetrics at MGH. “Her motivation spurs her to be as good as she can possibly be — which, in my opinion, is plain excellent. Dr. Berkowitz has also been trained in a special sub-area of OB-GYN, urogynecology, which is a relatively new field of scientific research. This puts her several cuts above the average physician.”


Nasima Khatoon, physician, Melrose-Wakefield Hospital; in private practice in Stoneham. Clinical interests: blood disorders; cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, and ovaries; lymphoma; cancer research. Why she's tops: “Dr. Khatoon is a young and enthusiastic oncologist who makes a significant contribution in the lives of her patients,” says Dr. Pedro Sanz-Altamira, chair of the cancer committee at Lawrence General Hospital. “She's someone who gives of herself. She goes that extra mile to understand the concerns of her patients.”


James Umlas, Lexington Eye Associates, Concord, Lexington, and Arlington; physician, Emerson Hospital. Clinical interests: cataract surgery, general ophthalmology, glaucoma. Why he's tops: “Dr. Umlas is an outstanding glaucoma specialist and surgeon who has the judgment to handle the most difficult cases,” says Dr. Richard Rodman, specialist in corneal and refractive surgery at Lexington Eye Associates. “He is a physician I would send family members to, without a doubt.”


Dr. James E. Phillips III, in private practice at Mount Auburn Hospital; on staff at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. Clinical interests: joint replacement, minimally invasive hip surgery. Why he's tops: “Although he's been in practice for only a year and a half, Dr. Phillips has excellent clinical skills. I respect and admire his surgical decision-making abilities,” says Dr. James Karlson, chief of the division of orthopedic surgery at Mount Auburn.


Donald Annino, on staff at Tuft's New England Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital; assistant professor of otolaryngology, Tufts University School of Medicine. Clinical interests: craniofacial disorders, facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, head and neck surgery, maxillofacial disorders, microvascular free tissue transfer, and sinus diseases. Why he's tops: “Dr. Annino is a great surgeon for two very important reasons: He has few complications and produces excellent results,” says Dr. Elie Rebeiz, director of head and neck surgery and chairman of the department of otolaryngology at Tufts New England Medical Center.


Mitchell Feldman, private practice at Patriot Pediatrics; on staff in the Medical Informatics Department of Massachusetts General Hospital. Clinical interests: adolescent medicine, general pediatrics, preventive health. Why he's tops: “Dr. Feldman's dedication to his work is second to none,” says Dr. David Geller, a fellow pediatrician. “As a colleague, I couldn't think of anyone else better to work with. He inspires the rest of us to work harder. He makes an impact on each and every patient he encounters.”

Plastic Surgery

Christian Sampson, on staff at Brigham and Women's Hospital; surgery instructor, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: hand surgery and vascular surgery in the hand and fingers, reconstructive trauma surgery. Why he's tops: “Dr. Sampson is a specialist in the area of hand reconstruction — and in this day and age when most plastic surgeons choose to focus on cosmetic procedures, he truly is a rare breed,” says fellow plastic surgeon Dr. Julian Pribaz. “Only a very small percentage of surgeons in this country are trained to do what he does.”

Pulmonary Medicine

Muge Erkan, private practice at Pulmonary Associates of Greater Boston; clinical instructor in medicine, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: asthma, pulmonary critical care, transbronchial needle aspiration. Why she's tops: “Dr. Erkan is a specialist in lung disease, and patients who have this disease are a challenging group. You have to be skilled at alleviating fear and anxiety,” says Dr. Donald Kaplan, medical director of Whidden Memorial Hospital. “Dr. Erkan eases them through what often is a very difficult time in their lives. She never lets the pressure to rush through a day interfere with patient care.”


Peter Merkel, assistant professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; physician in the rheumatology department, Boston Medical Center. Clinical interests: complex autoimmune diseases, novel therapies in the areas of vasculitis and scleroderma. Why he's tops: “Dr. Merkel is recognized as being an expert in vasculitis,” or inflammation of the blood vessels, says Dr. Robert Simms, clinical director of rheumatology and professor of medicine at BU. “Because of his unique interest, he is seen by others in the medical community as an up-and-comer, someone who is on the brink of being very well established in a particular field of medicine. Dr. Merkel approaches everything he does with an energetic and enthusiastic attitude.”


Joseph Grocela, physician, Massachusetts General Hospital; instructor, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: female urology, incontinence, pelvic reconstruction, prostate cancer, prostate cancer treatment with brachytherapy. Why he's tops: “Dr. Grocela is one of Boston's best representatives of the new breed of young surgeons,” says Dr. Anthony Zietman, professor of radiation oncology at MGH/Harvard Medical School. “He is a real communicator who spends time with patients and recognizes that they require compassion and information in plain language, not orders. The days of surgical autocracy are ending, and it is thanks to self-critical and open-minded surgeons like Dr. Grocela.”

Michael Malone, in group practice at Urology Practice Associates; on staff at Faulkner Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; clinical instructor in surgery, Harvard Medical School. Clinical interests: renal transplantation, renovascular hypertension, urologic oncology. Why he's tops: “Dr. Malone is a very accomplished surgeon,” says the Lahey Clinic's Dr. Leonard Zinman. “He was board certified in general surgery before he went into urology. Not only is he a highly skilled surgeon, but he'es terribly nice. That combination is tough to beat.”