My 50-year relationship with one physician’s office is remarkable. You might say it is rare. Internal Medicine at East Hills has been “home” to Dr. Jack Rubenstein, family physician and family friend, since he was an extremely young physician. Regrettably, Jan. 5, 2022, will be his last official day – a mere 10 days before his 70th birthday. Our loss is his grandchildren’s gain.
No story about Dr. Rubenstein would be complete without giving a nod to his predecessor, Dr. Donald Kent. It would be an understatement to say that in his hand-picked selection of Jack Rubenstein, Dr. Donald Kent “did good.” My husband’s parents, long gone, depended on Dr. Kent exclusively for their medical care. And the good Dr. Kent introduced my husband Joe to Dr. Rubenstein some 40 years ago. From generation to generation. The passing of the torch was a sound business decision.
But more than that, it was a precious gift to Jack and the future generation of patients who would rely on his guidance. Will any of us forget our in-person visits with Dr. Rubenstein? Forever seated behind his magnificent wooden desk, surrounded by meticulously arranged family photographs and warm paneled walls, he greets you, with his clear, college professor-like voice. Friendly direct eye contact is maintained always. Except when he refers to test results.
Dr. Rubenstein was and still is a compassionate listener. The best listener I know. And the finest diagnostician I know. I remember being advised years ago by Yolanda, his trusted and never aging office manager, that my consultation would be out of pocket because of reasons I’ve long forgotten.
I have no qualms today saying what I could never have said then. I would have paid a king’s ransom for the privilege of having my scary symptoms diagnosed by this man. To be in his presence is to come away with peace of mind, clarity and, dare I say, hope. Isn’t that the wish of every frightened patient?
But Jack Rubenstein brightened the lives and lifted the spirits of his loyal office staff, too, especially when a crisis like Hurricane Sandy presented serious challenges. Brenda could speak to that. As for me, I saw a man who was beloved not only to his patients, but also to his support staff. “Old school” values were very much alive under his watchful eye.
My hope is that those medical school students, lucky enough to have found themselves under his tutelage at Hofstra Medical School, were paying attention when he explained the “fine art of listening.” I can see no better way to sign off this tribute than by quoting Stephen Schwartz’s lyrics from the Broadway musical, “Wicked.” Go in good health, Dr. Rubenstein.
“I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them…
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, But-
Because I knew you,
I have been changed for good.”
Joe and Judy Rosenthal