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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Jose Sotolongo, M.D.
“Like father, like son,” might seem a natural career path if you grow up with a dad who’s a doctor.
“But it was never assumed that I’d automatically become one, too,” recalls Dr. Jose Sotolongo, whose father was an internist in Cuba, where Sotolongo was born. “Sometimes I would go with him to the hospital where he worked, and I became very comfortable with the ambience, the atmosphere.”
But, adds Sotolongo — whose family moved to the U.S. when he was a child — as a youngster “I toyed with the idea of going into the arts; later I decided, after all, that I did want to study medicine.”
He graduated from medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico and did his residency and fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. During clinical rotation, where med students get a glimpse of various medical specialties, Sotolongo decided to focus on urology, which deals with the male and female urinary tract, as well as the male reproductive system.
“When I was a med student,” says Sotolongo, “the people who seemed happiest with their work were the urologists. And they told me their field doesn’t involve a lot of hectic emergencies, so you could have a reasonable lifestyle. Also, you see a variety of patients: men and women, adults and children. I thought, ‘This makes a lot of sense.’ ” Sotolongo practices general urology at Hudson Valley Urology P.C. in Kingston. He deals with prostate problems, as well as incontinence and other bladder malfunctions, kidney stones, and related conditions.
Some patients have bladder injuries due to accidents; in other cases, urinary problems are related to neurological conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease to multiple sclerosis and diabetes. “You might not think of diabetics as neurological patients. But in fact, they sometimes have neuropathy (the nerves aren’t working properly), which can affect the bladder,” Sotolongo says. Treatment of urinary problems can vary. “Sometimes medication, and retraining of the bladder using certain exercises, is required. And in certain cases, surgery is sometimes indicated, especially in women.”
Sotolongo urges anyone who experiences that “gotta go” feeling to a noticeable extent to have it checked out medically. “If your bladder is impacting the way you lead your life, go for a consultation. It’s not about just a little bit of leakage. If your bladder doesn’t work properly, it could lead to something very serious, such as renal failure — a breakdown of kidney function.”
Some patients are skeptical or embarrassed about getting help for urinary problems, especially incontinence, notes Sotolongo, who is affiliated with Benedictine Hospital. “Some have had symptoms for months or even years. They basically adapt and just live with the inconvenience. Their lives revolve around a constant ‘Where’s the next bathroom?’ But after proper treatment, they come back and say, ‘I got my life back. I’m like a new person.’ That’s very gratifying to hear.”
Out of the office, Sotolongo, who lives in Ulster County, hasn’t given up his childhood love of the arts. He’s a photography fan and takes photo courses in Woodstock. “I also think it’s important to keep in shape, so I exercise regularly, usually three times a week,” he says.