HOW THIS PHYSICIAN CAME TO STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL AND HELPED TURN A BARE-BONES OTOLARYNGOLOGY DEPARTMENT INTO A BEST-OF-CLASS FACILITY
BY JESSICA JONES-GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPH
When David Hiltzik came to Staten Island University Hospital in 2011, he was tasked with building a stronger otolaryngology department, one that would better serve the special needs of the borough’s ever growing population.
“There was an absence of a formal otolaryngology division here, a void in some necessary ENT [ears, nose, and throat] services,” noted Dr. Hiltzik. “And that was something this diverse borough of almost 500,000 residents desperately needed. So, I was given a goal to build upon this ENT and head and neck subspecialty. It was the biggest and most positive turn of my career.”
Hiltzik, who got his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, attended the Mount Sinai School of Medicine before completing his residency and internship at New York Presbyterian Columbia/Cornell. He took a position with North well Health, working at Lenox Hill Hospital before being named the director of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery at Staten Island University Hospital.
“We started with one room, one chair, and one assistant,” Hiltzik said. “Over the past six years, we have grown to include five attendings and 14 staff members, developed multi-disciplinary thyroid and cancer programs, established a hearing and balance program, and started working closely with pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, and a variety of other surrounding subspecialists to bring our patients the most complete form of comprehensive care.”
Treating diseases of the sinus and nose as well as hearing loss, airway disorders, facial plastics, sleep apnea, and head and neck oncology, SIUH’s new ENT facility offers a range of procedures for both adults and children.
“Our new office space is still located on the Sea view Campus and is equipped with all of the latest technology needed to properly diagnose and treat sinus disorders and head and neck cancers,” Hiltzik said. “We’ve also made a recent shift, gaining the ability to perform a larger variety of procedures in the office, an increasing percentage of which are becoming less invasive and more outpatient based. More efficient technology is taking surgeries that would have normally required hospital stays into procedures that can be conducted in an office setting. The result is a quicker recovery and a better patient experience. Instead of missing a week of work, they might only have to miss a day or two.”
These procedures include treatment of the nasal airway and balloon sinuplasty (used for the treatment of blocked sinuses), as well as minor cosmetic surgeries.
The borough is home to lots of first responders, Hiltzik pointed out. As a result, they see many 9/11-related disorders. “We take care of a lot of FDNY and NYPD and other first responders who had exposure to high concentrations of irritants,” he said. “Given the number of cops and firefighters living in the borough, Staten Island has been identified by the state as an area with a high rate of respiratory issues and cancer.”
“We wanted to be all access,” he continued. “Staten Island needed a program that would take most insurances and have a solid hospital affiliation. What we’ve done here is create a high level of care in a community setting, placing all offerings under one roof. When you have something complex like head and neck cancer or endocrine issues, it’s beneficial to have all of your treatment in one place, and this staff is dedicated to carrying out the Center’s mission of comprehensive care. Together, we have been able to provide high quality services to this very deserving community. And that has been both amazing and very rewarding.”
Staten Island University Hospital / Northwell Health
475 Seaview Avenue / 718.226.9000 / northwell.edu