Committed to Treating PATIENTS AND EDUCATING the PUBLIC
This month Twip interviews Derrick M. DeSilva, Jr., MD. Dr. DeSilva is a practicing internist at the Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He is on the teaching faculty at JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey. He has lectured on various topics in medicine, nationally and internationally, and is a member of the following associations: The American Medical Association, The Society of Internal Medicine, Past President of the American Nutraceutical Association and Chairman of Age Management Medicine Conference.
Dr. DeSilva has a radio talk show called “Ask the Doctor,” which airs on WCTC Radio in New Jersey (1450 AM), as well as his own television show, “To Your Health,” which airs on News 12 New Jersey.
TWIP: Dr. DeSilva, welcome. Please share your philosophy with our readers.
DeSilva: Many people come to see me because they are told there is no more that can be done. There’s no question, and I say this all the time, there is a role for pharmaceuticals in clinical practice. I believe that is a very important piece of what I do and what physicians need to be doing today. I also think there is a real role for us as healers to sit with patients, develop a degree a trust, and let them know we really care. I had a patient I had been seeing for five to eight years and she came to me and when I looked at her I knew she troubled, I asked if something was going on—she looked at me and started crying. I needed to allow her to express her emotion, her feelings, and she said to me, “I’ve always felt very close to you, in the sense I could tell you anything and you’d never judge me.” I said “of course I wouldn’t judge you.” She told me she had “a very serious drinking problem that nobody knows about. I know I can share this, and you will listen and help me.” I said that “of course I would.” This was probably three months ago. I saw her recently, and she said she was a new person. She said her life had changed dramatically since she told me about her drinking. This is the type of stuff we physicians need to become more aware of. We need people to know we give a damn. That is my goal; to sit with people, let them open up to me so I can help them feel better from the inside out, instead of from the outside in.
TWIP: That’s interesting. How do you or the other doctor’s develop the ability to enable the patient to sit down and open up to you? For example, many doctors if you don’t see them before 10:30 a.m. have five people in the waiting room with aches and pains that have to be taken care of who did not have an office visit scheduled. How does a doctor conquer those circumstances and be the kind of doctor you are talking about?
DeSilva: It comes down to planning; to tell your office staff they can not schedule three people in a 15-minute block. That’s called double and triple booking. I avoid that completely. I make it very clear I leave my schedule open so I can spend the necessary time with each individual. And you know what? I am far from being perfect. But I sure as hell am trying to give people the time they need so that they can really be healed, instead of putting a band-aid on. I’m very fortunate because I have a busy practice but it’s the type of practice that isn’t about running the numbers. There are days I see a lot of people, but I still make the time my patient’s need.
TWIP: You are committed to your practice, but you are also committed to helping the general public with nutrition, or any part of the wellness mileu that translates into being a healthy individual. Tell us a little about the media you are involved with and how you incorporate that with you busy practice.
DeSilva: I’ve been very fortunate with my media schedule. I’ve been on WCTC radio in New Brunswick, New Jersey for twenty years. I have a very loyal audience. The show is a live call-in show I do every Saturday—and I don’t see patients on Saturday. I’m the medical correspondent on News 12 New Jersey. We tape that show every Wednesday between 11 and 12 a.m. and it airs six times over the weekend. On Wednesdays I begin seeing my patients at 1 p.m. and finish around 7 p.m. My Internet show is a daily show that I do on www.healthradio.net. I tape it from my office from noon to 1 EST. After the show I have a little lunch and get back to patients. I have everything set up in my office for that show. I make it work because I feel it’s imperative people hear about the importance of pursuing and achieving optimum health.
TWIP: You pay a lot of attention to your local community, which has been recognized by the national media, who notes you as one of the top practitioners in the country. Please tell us why that is so important to you.
DeSilva: I think we need to begin working locally, as once you start working locally people start thinking locally. We have to start by paying attention to our own communities, paying attention to what is happening around us. It’s wonderful to try and help people in California, but if I’m in New Jersey I need to start here. There is so much media, the Internet, and so many other opportunities to get the word out there, even my local show is carried on the Internet. Even though I’m speaking locally, people can hear me globally, which is what I really love, which is where my Internet broadcast comes in. I’ve had the fortune to be recognized by the United States Congress for the community service I’ve done over the past twenty years. I was very flattered by that and this month I am going to be recognized in Las Vegas as one of the leaders in age management medicine in the country. Particularly with recognition from your peers—that is very special. Having also been recognized as one of the best doctors in the New York area for the past ten plus consecutive years. It is nice to be noticed for your efforts.
TWIP: Can you talk about your career, and what you see regarding people’s needs. You have designed some supplemental products, and how are they distributed?
DeSilva: I’ve designed various products for both national and international companies. The main distribution right now is through the Internet. I think it is imperative people understand what they are purchasing. You can not go out and buy garbage and expect those supplements to work. If you are going to spend $5 for a CoQ10 product and expect it do what it is suppose to do when there are other products that are in the $20 to $30 range. I think it is the responsibility of the dietary supplement industry and the media to educate people on why it may cost more to manufacture a product that is unique and better quality. This is where people should understand you may need to spend a couple extra dollars, for efficacy in medicine and products that work.
TWIP: It’s all going to break down to establish something that helps people become well from pre-conception to death. What does that do for the individual coping today with all the things going on around them? How important is it that we have a basic program that we know what we are consuming?
DeSilva: It is critical to have a basic program. I’ll give you an example—non-medical people should not be reporting medical news. It’s like me trying to do a financial program. I know the basics but I don’t know the intricacies. So why are people who know nothing about medicine reporting about medical news? What happens is they take the headlines, read them, and they don’t read the rest. An example, vitamin E is one the most potent antioxidant supplements available and has one of the most unbelievable therapeutic profiles out there. For people to say vitamin E doesn’t work just confuses people. Because vitamin E does work. In the right form if all eight forms were studied we’d see how beneficial it is. Using a synthetic form of vitamin E does absolutely nothing. This is where education comes in, you talk about conception to centurions and what we need to do. If we start with a good foundation, a good probiotic, a good multivitamin, start with good nutrition we know that outcomes in morbidity would be increased significantly. People are not going to get sick as often. Simple things like vitamin D and probiotics could significantly reduce colds and flu’s in this country. Why aren’t we doing it? Because people don’t know. My goal is to educate people and with education they will start doing the basics that are available to them. This is what I’ve been trying to do over the past many years in broadcasting.
TWIP: Education is imperative. We’ve talked about seeing a program put together that people can rely on. I think a perfect example of the confusion is last year when it came time to take the flu shot—every two years we are told there is a new terrible strain—half the people were saying the shot will kill you and the other half are saying it will kill you if you don’t take it. It’s tough for people to know what to do in that situation.
DeSilva: I think the one thing is my message — we MUST make sure the media message people are hearing is the right message. The right message is people must start making better food choices. The right message is people must start living healthy lives. The wrong message is before you go out and eat your burrito take an antacid. To sum up. (And this is what I want to get across in this interview). The message that needs to come across to the American population is we must start making better food choices. We’ve got to start living a healthier lifestyle. You change the message in your brain; you are not going to change their response to what is going on out there. We have to react and respond to the right thing, and medical people must be the ones reporting medical news, not some reporter who has no background in the medical field.
TWIP: Your message reinforces the importance of being cocaptain of your healthcare. Thank you for your time today. Please give the readers the titles of your books and share with our readers how they can access your Internet show.
DeSilva: You’re welcome. I’ve authored two books. One is Herb, Supplements and Vitamins for Better Health and the other was Coping with Lyme Disease. I’ve done other small publications but these are the two major ones. They can visit my Web site, www.askdrdesilva.com or the Internet broadcast Ask The Doctor Saturday mornings from 8am to 9am EST at www.wctcam.com