May 31, 2006

What's On Your Mind

Dr. Louis Pizzarello

Occupation: Ophthalmologist

Practice in Riverhead: 26 yrs.

I've been on the staff of the Peconic Bay Medical Center and have had a practice there since the 1980s. In that context I've seen a re-emergence of Riverhead and as a property owner it's been very positive and the whole community is benefiting. There's such a change, with those that are moving here from Nassau County, New York City and Western Suffolk. We've seen an influx of East Hampton and Amagansett residents to the over +55 communities that have sprung up around the Riverhead area. So many different people are being drawn to Riverhead now…..we see it on our own patients.

The Riverhead area is growing. The expansion and mix of people coming in is good for the community. The racial groups and social-economic groups I think, have been very positive for the community.

I grew up in Hampton Bays….and I remember as a kid in the late 1950s going to Riverhead with my mother to go shopping. It was a beehive of activity and it was sad to see Riverhead go on a decline. It's beautiful what they have planned for the area. In my lifetime I've watched it go up, go down and now go back up again and return to its former splendor.

I'm positive about what's happening. The only thing that concerns me is the demise of open spaces. There are some beautiful vistas in the town of Riverhead and I hope they don't fill them all with houses.

It's a major issue that we have to resolve the hospital solvency issue. All three hospitals; Peconic Bay Medical Center, Southampton Hospital and Eastern Long Island Hospital are in financially precarious situations and all face the same issues: low reimbursement from insurance companies, provision of care to the indigent for which they're not paid at all and the difficult financial environment for all hospitals in N.Y. State.

In the late 1990s I was involved with the formation of the Peconic Health Corp and that has now fallen apart, but there's a lot of good things that were part of that, a lot of positive elements. It would be beneficial if we could resurrect a spirit of cooperation among the hospitals.

For the last six years I've been the secretary general of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and for 12 years, the vice-chairman of East End Hospice which serves all hospice needs of Eastern Suffolk. From that vantage point I can see as Riverhead grows we're providing more services there. But the challenge is the new people moving to the area who are not familiar with East End Hospice and the other institutions that require support. So we have to come up with a way of welcoming our new neighbors and informing them of the institutions that exist and the need they have for volunteers and financial support.

I'm very optimistic about the future of Riverhead and our challenge will be to preserve all the good qualities of small town life as we have this massive development—it may not be possible, but I think we need to make an effort.

If you live or work in the North Fork area and want to give us a piece of your mind about something, let The Independent - Traveler Watchman know by contacting Rick at 324-2500 or E-mail news@indyeastend.com and we'll pass it along to R.B.Stuart.

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