Top Doctors: Hudson Valley’s Best-Rated Doctors in 2012
Solid credentials, proven skill, and a compassionate bedside manner — these qualities are the hallmarks of a top-flight physician. Here are 145 local doctors in 38 specialties who — according to their peers — make the grade
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Dr. Rachel Colvin
Nearly 26 million children and adults nationwide have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association; and another 79 million with prediabetes are teetering on the edge.
“The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, in particular, is increasing in the total population,” says Dr. Rachel Colvin, a nephrologist — kidney specialist — who serves as director for dialysis at Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown. “The key with diabetes is prevention and nipping it in the bud. Aggressive blood-sugar control is of the utmost importance,” says Colvin, who is also a partner in the nephrology department of the Orange County-based Horizon Family Medical Group. “Controlling blood pressure is important, too. It can’t prevent diabetes, but it can help slow the progression,” she says.
Educated at Tulane University, she originally majored in economics. “But then I had an injury that required several surgeries, and people in the medical field who helped me so much were an inspiration. That’s how I first got interested in medicine. People ask why I went into nephrology; I tell them ‘Because it’s a way I can help others.’ ”
She received a doctorate in medicine at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed her medical residency at North Shore University Hospital. Colvin went on to serve as assistant chief resident at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan; she then returned to North Shore with a fellowship in nephrology.
She notes that even though many people are being diagnosed with diabetes early, and awareness of its sometimes severe complications is increasing. “I still end up seeing some patients far too late. Diabetes is similar to high blood pressure in terms of it progressing silently. If you let diabetes go for five or 10 years, you’ll sometimes see diabetic complications that are irreversible.”
Colvin, who’s been practicing in the Hudson Valley for 11 years, works with all types of kidney diseases, including dialysis patients. “Almost 50 percent of new dialysis patients are diabetic,” she notes, and cautions that diabetes is not the only cause — though it is one of the most common — of renal (kidney) diseases. She treats kidney transplant patients, too, as well as offering preventative and nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones through dietary modification and medication. In addition, Colvin treats renal problems linked to infections and physical injury.
Nowadays, she says, patients on dialysis — those who require having their blood cleansed by passing it through a special machine because the kidneys aren’t functioning sufficiently — have more options than in the past. “There’s even a home unit available, so patients don’t have to go to a dialysis center,” she says. “But you have to be highly motivated; you need to be able to use the machine and to do the treatment daily.” Dialysis can be temporary in some cases, she notes. “Some patients do go off dialysis if it’s being done for an acute case. But in chronic cases, patients generally require ongoing dialysis.”
She also refers some patients for kidney transplant surgery. “These transplants really change lives. We’ve had cases of wives, husbands, best friends, siblings, donating a kidney to a loved one. One man received one from his sister; later he got another one from his wife. Some donors are even just good Samaritans who responded to a newspaper article about someone they didn’t even know who was seeking a kidney. I’ve had patients receive kidneys that way.”
Colvin points out one especially positive aspect of her medical field: “If a patient’s kidneys fail, there’s almost always an alternative. I can use dialysis machines that can save a person’s life. There aren’t a lot of other organs where a machine can substitute like that. It can be a real lifesaver.”