Top Doctors 2010
From surgeons to psychiatrists, meet the Hudson Valley’s top 101 medical specialists — as reviewed by their peers and fellow physicians
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Photographs by Chris Ware
Daniel Goldman, M.D.
Not every physician can say he played jazz piano to help earn his way through medical school. “My father was a pharmacist in Long Island, so I knew a lot about medicine,” says Dr. Daniel Goldman. “But I also loved music. I was torn for awhile about which I wanted to do.”
In fact, Goldman initially pursued a musical career, studying at the Manhattan School of Music, then playing piano professionally for nearly a decade at supper clubs and venues around the New York area. “Then, in my 30s, I decided that I really wanted to go to medical school,” he says. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine, did his residency at Montefiore-Einstein Medical Center in the Bronx, and served as assistant professor of surgery at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.
A board-certified general surgeon, Goldman also works extensively in the expanding field of wound care; he serves as medical director of the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.
“In the past 10 to 15 years, more medical attention has turned to wound care,” Goldman notes. “Wounds have become a sort of silent epidemic, and I became very interested in that. A lot of patients with wounds that won’t heal are elderly or diabetic, or both. It leads to a lot of pain and suffering.”
Basic understanding of wound healing hasn’t changed in the past 5,000 years, he says. “The idea of cleansing and treating a wound, and applying a bandage — these principles have been used throughout the ages. But the science of wound healing has really gone through a revolution. We now study the biochemistry and physiology of what’s going on when a wound won’t heal. And we have advanced modalities to stimulate cells, to ‘kick-start’ the wounds into healing; some involve cells that are applied like a skin graft but are more effective in stimulating the cells.”
Another method to treat some nonhealing wounds: the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Some people, Goldman says, think of the technique as a fad, largely due to publicity when the late pop star Michael Jackson would sometimes use a hyperbaric chamber for its health benefits.
“A lot of people think it’s smoke and mirrors and witch oil,” says Goldman of the procedure. “That’s because it’s not understood.” Hyperbaric oxygen therapy actually dates back to at least the 1600s, he says, and pressurized operating rooms were used in the 1800s. Studies of the effects of rapid decompression on coal miners led to using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for their treatment. And, Goldman adds, during the days of building the first rail tunnels under the Hudson River around the turn of the 19th century, the effect of decompression sickness on workers became an issue. “That’s when people really began to understand the effects of oxygen, of air pressure, on physiology. Later on, the Navy and Air Force, too, got tremendously interested in the effects of pressure on pilots and divers.”
Nowadays, he says, there are 40 to 50 conditions for which hyperbaric oxygen treatments can be effective — including treating brain injuries, gangrene, bone infections, radiation exposure, and profound anemia.
Patients generally sit or lie in a large chamber during treatment (which lasts about 90 minutes on average), during which time pressurized oxygen is pumped into the room. The patient breathes 100 percent pure oxygen, which delivers concentrated amounts into the bloodstream — or, in the case of a nonhealing wound, into the wound bed — which speeds up the healing process. Vassar Brothers
Medical Center now offers three state-of-the-art chambers. “They’re very comfortable. Patients can even watch TV during treatment,” Goldman says.
“Hyperbaric oxygen can also be used to treat problems like carbon-monoxide poisoning; we had a case of that recently. And it doesn’t happen often, but we’re also prepared to treat divers, such as police searching in the Hudson River, should they ever need help,” says Goldman, who recently became certified in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, making him one of only 490 doctors nationwide to receive that title.
Goldman, who has four grown children, lives in Poughkeepsie. He enjoys golf — and yes, he still plays piano sometimes. But only for pleasure, he says.