Valerie Zarcone, DO
Specialty: Internal Medicine
Hospital Affiliation: NYU Langone Medical Center; NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital
Back in the 1970s, Valerie Zarcone, DO, was inspired to become a doctor by watching her own father diligently care for his patients as a general practitioner with a small but thriving practice in Putnam Valley. But that was during a simpler time in primary-care medicine — decades before the majority of independent primary-care practices had turned into the mega group practices of today. But Zarcone is following in her dad’s footsteps, working as an internist in Putnam Valley, where she’s committed to providing her patients with a small-practice experience. “It’s very difficult to balance the business of medicine and the practice of medicine,” says Zarcone. “Even though I now work for a large tertiary center, NYU Langone, I still maintain a small-practice feel. I still intake my own patients in the hospital, and I try to give each patient my time when they need or ask for it. I don’t want to be a patient mill, rushing patients in and out; I want to take the time to listen to them and really find out what’s going on.”
What should people look for when choosing a primary-care physician?
The last thing a patient should try to find is a doctor who sees a patient every 10 minutes, or who has one hand on the doorknob as soon as he or she walks into the room. The doctor-patient relationship is a partnership, so find a doctor who really listens to you. In addition to the doctor, I also feel the office itself and staff make a huge difference. My staff is friendly, courteous, and always willing to help patients, from scheduling an appointment to lending an ear.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a primary care doctor in the Hudson Valley?
After 32 years of practicing medicine, it’s getting more and more difficult to practice the way I want. We are regulated more than any other profession. I work closely with my patients to navigate this challenge so they still get the medical treatments they need, but it can be very difficult when, for example, the insurance companies regulate the drugs I can prescribe, and when every test has to be approved.
What’s the best advice you can give your patients when it comes to preventing major illness?
Preventative health is exactly that. Many of the disease processes — diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers — can be avoided or overcome by a healthy lifestyle. My best advice: Diet, exercise, and live in the moment to keep stress at a minimum!