568 Broadway, near Prince Street
Practice: Birth through adolescence
HMOs: Oxford, Cigna, PHS, PHCS Hospital affiliations: St. Vincents Hospital, Beth Israel
House calls: No
Partner: Dr. Rob Saken
Bribes: Stickers, tattoos, bracelets
The birthday party for a 2-year-old named Nina is just getting under way in the parenting center at Soho Pediatrics, which means it's going to overlap with the childbirth class at noon, but Marie Keith takes it all in cheery stride. There is a turtle sculpture on the floor that the children use for a slide, paintings on the walls of the examination rooms courtesy of some artists in the 'hood, and some terrific photos on the walls of the large, bright reception area, courtesy of Keith, who with her dangling purple earrings and purple jumpsuit looks like the cool mom we all wish we'd had.
"My philosophy was shaped by living downtown," says Keith, 52, the mother of two grown children. "When I started 21 years ago, it was a very artsy area and people were interested in doing things in nontraditional ways. What I realized in taking care of children is that there are a lot of different ways that the care could be approached. Let's say you had a child with recurrent ear infections. The teaching I had was to use antibiotics, but a lot of parents here weren't in favor of that. They might suggest homeopathic medicine. I'd say, 'I'm not very well versed, but we can try it, and please keep me apprised.' I obviously wouldn't let anyone do anything bad for their child, but I would allow for some flexibility."
It seems an effective prescription. "Dr. Keith's a modern-day version of the old-fashioned pediatrician," says Jeannie Park, the mother of two young children. "She's warm and kind and gentle and remembers previous illnesses and problems you've had. And when I'm there with one child, she'll ask about the other one."
"She really listens," says Shanthi Karamcheti, the mother of a 4-year-old and 10-month-old twins. "With doctors I saw in the past, you would tell them something and they'd pretend to listen, or you think they're listening but they're not."
When Karamcheti was in the delivery room with the twins, Keith came by on rounds and, knowing of the severe food allergies of Karamcheti's 4-year-old, made certain the twins were immediately put on a special formula. Two months later, when the twins were unable to keep food down, Keith sent them to specialists who diagnosed pyloric stenosis (a blockage between the stomach and intestines). The twins had surgery and are doing fine, and through it all, "Dr. Keith has been such a wonderful support," says Shanthi.
"When you take care of kids, there's something you get that's different from other fields," Keith says. "They're growing and dynamic. Most often their illnesses get better. I saw a 19-year-old today whom I'd seen since infancy. You see how well they do, and you know that you took care of them along the way."
44 Eighth Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn
295 Clinton Street
718-636-0999 (both offices)
Practice: Birth through adolescence
Hospital affiliations: Long Island College, NYU
Partner: Dr. Philippa Gordon House calls: No
Recently, when a little girl came to Amy Glaser's office for a urine culture, she just wasn't hearing the call of nature according to everyone else's schedule. "So," says Glaser, 48, "I set her to work behind the desk, stamping forms. That's the kind of office it is."
Which is exactly the way her patients like it. They talk about Glaser's calm, her warmth, her reassuring manner, her inspired goofiness with the kids. When 2-year-old Owen Sullivan was diagnosed with asthma a few weeks ago, his mother, Laura, figured the little boy was condemned to a future of hospital stays and the sidelines of sports. "As a parent, you think the worst, and Dr. Glaser said that with proper treatment that didn't have to be the case. She said, 'So what sports do you want Owen to play?,' and that's exactly what I needed to hear.
"She was trying to teach Owen to use the inhaler, so she started with 'And now you're going to play fireman and you have to put on the mask,' and she starts saying 'Ding, ding, ding.' She said, 'Oh, we have to put out the fire,' to get Owen to inhale the way he needed to."
"There is no set model of treatment," says Glaser, who had considered a career in child psychiatry before determining there were more chances for happy outcomes in pediatrics. "Every kid is different. Every family is different. We try to individualize care to what we're dealing with."
David Belt knows from different and individualized. His wife, Antonia, had given birth to their daughter Stella seven weeks early by emergency C-section. Then Antonia developed a blood clot that sent her back to the hospital, and the jaundice Stella was born with was getting worse. "Dr. Glaser was very calm and very respectful of what we were going through and didn't want to rush Stella back to the hospital to have her go under the lights for her jaundice, even though that's what most doctors would have done," says David. Instead, she kept doing tests for the infant's bilirubin level (a screen for liver function) and suggesting the family alternate between breast milk and formula. When Dr. Glaser ultimately decided hospitalization was necessary, she called ahead to make sure the doctor she knew and trusted stayed beyond the end of his shift; and she herself transported Stella and stayed around to make sure she got put in the right hands. Even though she was supposed to be off the next day, she came to the hospital to examine her. Stella was able to go home two days later. Mom and 7 1/2-month-old daughter are both doing just fine.