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Holistic, barrier-free care for patients, thanks to donor support

“I’m going to get you the best medical care you’ve ever had in your life.” 

That’s a lot to promise. But, fortunately for Colleen O’Neill, the person making that bold statement was Jane Friedman, president of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman New York Foundation for Medical Research. 

“And, by God, she did it,” says Colleen. 

Her appointment with Dr. Leonid Poretsky, chief of Endocrinology at Northwell Health’s Lenox Hill Hospital, led to the discovery that her pain came from hip issues and would require double hip replacement surgery.

quotation mark I’ve never had medical care like this in my life.
Colleen O’Neill

“Colleen is a good example of what we call holistic care,” said Dr. Poretsky. “She doesn’t have diabetes. She came to us with other issues, and we referred her to the best doctor for her problem. Now she’s a new person basically.” 

“Dr. Poretsky came to the hospital to check on me himself,” Colleen remembers. “Doctors don’t do that. I was dumbstruck. Dr. Poretsky completely turned around my health. I’ve never had medical care like this in my life.”

Compassionate care at the Friedman Diabetes Institute

That compassionate, holistic care Colleen received is a hallmark of the Friedman Diabetes Institute. Named for Gerald J. Friedman, a pioneer in clinical nutrition, the institute was established 10 years ago by the Friedman Foundation and moved to Northwell Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in 2014, through a $6 million grant. 

While other diabetes centers are closing, partly because insurance doesn’t reimburse doctors for time spent teaching patients about diet and exercise, the Friedman Foundation’s support allows doctors and staff at the institute to take time teaching patients and the larger community how to prevent diabetes through nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. There’s even a demonstration kitchen and a gym within the institute for one-on-one patient instruction.

The institute also stands apart for its efforts to provide care without barriers, including lack of insurance. The Friedman Foundation is now working with Dr. Poretsky to provide barrier-free holistic care to the transgender community. An initial $362,000 grant has enabled a pilot Transgender Health and Wellness Program to begin meeting medical, social and legal needs.

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