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Politics

N.Y. Magazine Names Dr. George Kofinas Among “Best Doctors”

NEW YORK – Dr. George Kofinas, founder and medical director of the Kofinas Fertility Institute, was named one of the New York metro area’s top doctors for the 18th year in a row, in the June 8-14, 2015 issue of New York Magazine. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Kofinas also serves as chief of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Both of the aforementioned medical facilities are considered among the world’s finest in treating infertility issues. Dr. Kofinas is widely recognized as one of the most prominent figures in the medical world and Greek-American Community in the New York tristate area. The most recent demonstration came at The National Herald’s centennial anniversary celebration at the New York Public Library this past May, when Dr. Kofinas was awarded as a distinguished scientist, doctor, and prominent Greek-American by TNH publisher/editor-in-chief Antonis H. Diamataris However, the list of awards that Dr. Kofinas has earned thanks to his brilliance, hard work, and creative talent do not stop there. The list goes on and on, but the aforementioned distinctions are indicative of his accomplishments and multifaceted work. As he often says, however, the greatest honor he receives comes from the couples from all over New York and throughout the world who are faced with the desperation of not being able to start a family and come to the Kofinas Fertility Institute in Brooklyn in the hopes of fulfilling their dream and leaving with a healthy baby in their arms. Among his patients is a 59-year-old woman and her husband, whose lifelong dream of bearing a child Dr. Kofinas helped to fulfill, while setting a new personal record. The finest recognition comes in the form of the letters that he routinely receives from the proud parents of the children he helped bring into the world, sharing family joys and milestones with him, like graduations and marriages. The title of Best Doctor is considered a major honor, especially when it has been conferred upon the same person for 18 consecutive years. The list of Best Doctors in the New York Metropolitan Area is compiled by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. and updated annually. It includes the top 10 percentile of doctors from every specialty. The prestigious list’s official title is “Top Doctors: New York Metro Area,” and includes 6,497 doctors from all different fields. The company then publishes a short list in New York Magazine that includes the “best of the best,” under the heading “New York’s Best Doctors.” This year’s magazine lists the names of 1,282 doctors, including George Kofinas. The headquarters of the Kofinas Fertility Institute are located on the fourth floor of the New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. The Institute also has an office under the same name in Staten Island and will soon open a new ultra-modern medical facility in Manhattan. Although TNH has covered Dr. George Kofinas and his wife Dr. Miranda Kofinas for many years due to their active engagement in charitable causes, the interview that was held on site at the Kofinas Fertility Institute was impressive on all counts due to the sheer size of the facility, as well as the service offered by doctors and other personnel. This was not the first time TNH has run an article about fertility centers in the New York metropolitan area, however, the story behind Dr. Kofinas’ institute is truly one-ofa-kind. This facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and the instruments are replaced every four to five years. Due to the fact that in addition to a medical office it also operates as a research center, the latest equipment is tested on site and Dr. Kofinas’ labs illustrate the remarkable technological progress that has taken place in recent years, with new equipment becoming ever smaller, faster, and more effective. Dr. George Kofinas founded his Institute in 1987, around the time that the first breakthroughs in in vitro fertilization were achieved. He was one of the pioneers in this field, in his capacity as director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brooklyn Hospital. In 1996, he became director of the Obstetric Gynecology Clinic for the hospital’s residency program. Speaking about his practice, he noted that although his headquarters are based in Brooklyn, it is well-known throughout New York City and the entire world. “We have patients visit us from all over the world. They come here to undergo procedures and become pregnant. Of course, we come highly recommended for difficult cases because we have an exceptionally strong surgical team. The latest statistics that are available are from 2013, because it takes two years for them to be certified, and I can tell you that our results are better than those of Cornell, Columbia, and NYU.” When asked to what he attributes this astonishing success rate, Dr. Kofinas responded “there are no coincidences in life and everyone is the master of their fate. That’s the first thing that my father ever taught me. I have surrounded myself with incredible associates, and I have personally trained half of them. I have personnel at every level – especially in our lab – who are exceptional scientists and wonderful people. Our nurses and administrative assistants are equally fantastic, and they all form an exceptionally good team.” Dr. Kofinas added that “our motto is that we care for our patients and give them all the time and effort that they require. Furthermore, we don’t follow protocol, because protocols are generalized and follow a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality. Here, we engage in individualized medicine, and we apply medicine to fit the needs of the patient, both medically and personally.” There is much to be said about the taboos that still exist when it comes to the problem of infertility, and in most cases the blame is laid on women. Dr. Kofinas pointed out that this is a misconception. “Forty percent of infertility is due to problems in the female reproductive system and another forty percent is due to problems in the male reproductive system. The other 20 percent is due to irregularities in both sexes.” When asked which of the two sexes are inclined to make the greatest sacrifices in order to start a family, he replied that “throughout all these years, I have found that despite what public opinion says, women are more supportive than men. I see this in many couples. When a man has a problem, a woman will do everything in her power to help him, while when a woman has a problem, men are supportive in most cases, however there are some men out there who aren’t. Women are nobler by nature.” Discussing the age groups that seek his assistance, he noted that “there is no distinction age wise. Young people rely on help from this field of medicine much less, and naturally, older couples make up a much larger percentage. However, there are young people who are not able to have children because they suffer from issues that require treatment. And these issues are many in number, starting with low sperm count, genetic issues, ovulation issues, psychological issues, stress, etc. Anyone runs the risk of encountering a problem when it comes to having a child, but younger people face these problems much less frequently.” When asked about the oldest couple that he has ever assisted to have a child, he responded that “the record is age 59, and it was a wonderful couple that had come to visit me. They had tried to adopt and were denied because of their age. Both of them were completely healthy, very well off financially, but they had gotten married late in life and wanted a child. When I examined the woman, I found that she would be able to undergo, not one, but even two or three pregnancies without any complications, and so we helped them and they are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy. I have no doubt that these folks will lead a lengthy life and get to see their child go to school, graduate college, get married, and even see their grandchildren.” Still, Dr. Kofinas explains that every case is unique. “We look at every case on an individual basis and study all the parameters to make sure that our decision is fair and safe. There are people whom we must refuse. A few weeks ago, we had to tell a woman that we could not help her, because if we helped her become pregnant, not only would the pregnancy not go to term, but her very life would be at risk. We suggested other methods that would allow that couple to have children without requiring the mother to bear the child.” Major breakthroughs have taken place in the fertility field over the past few years. When asked about whether couples should consider in vitro fertilization as a first or last option, Dr. Kofinas explained that “IVF was designed to solve issues that other simpler methods could not. There is a huge difference in cost between the other methods and IVF. Under normal circumstances, it should be a last option.” Dr. Kofinas went on to say that “there are a lot of fertility centers out there that suggest IVF from the very first minute that a couple set foot into the clinic and they never bother to examine the reasons why a particular couple could not conceive. We operate differently. When a couple comes to us, we examine the nature of the problem or problems first, because they might be easily treatable and allow the couple to achieve a pregnancy with inexpensive treatments. If a woman cannot become pregnant with the help of simpler treatments, then we proceed to IVF. We conduct IVFs only on about 20-30 percent of the couples who come to us. Everyone else becomes pregnant after the existing issues are addressed. This approach also provides us with an advantage in regards to IVFs, because before we exercise this option we have addressed all the other existing issues affecting fertility.” Explaining his philosophy, Dr. Kofinas noted that “for us, it is very important to first know what we are treating and then proceed with the treatments. That’s our philosophy.” Dr. Kofinas went on to describe some of the issues he encounters. “A large percentage of the problems require surgical intervention. They call for specialized surgeons to treat existing issues, such as fibroids, pubic symphysis, endometriosis, and irregularities of the womb. If these issues are treated, then the chances of becoming pregnant automatically become about one in two. Otherwise, someone could try 100 IVFs, spend an entire fortune, and still never become pregnant. For us, we strongly believe that under no circumstancesshould we proceed with a treatment if we do not yet know the cause of the issue.” In terms of insurance coverage, Dr. Kofinas explained that “there is a wide array of instances, starting with people who are uninsured and have to cover all expenses out of pocket. There are other people who are covered only for the diagnostic portion, but cover the treatments on their own. Almost all insurances cover the surgical procedures, and then there are insurances that provide limited coverage for the IVFs. The group that we are most concerned about are the patients who do not have any coverage at all. There is an issue there, because treatment is expensive when you pursue excellence. In order to handle this issue, we created treatment packages, so rather than pay for every treatment separately, these packages help make patients’ lives easier. This is yet another service we provide to the community.” Discussing the demographics of his patients, Dr. Kofinas noted that “in the past, 95 percent were non Greeks. Over the past three years, I have seen a major rise in the number of Greeks who come to seek our assistance. The number of GreekAmericans has risen very quickly. We helped bring 6,000 children into the world and there are 6,000 families out there that send us letters and photos of their children. Each time they reach some sort of milestone, they always send us their news.” Drs. George and Miranda Kofinas have one son, Jason, who is a gynecologist and is now working on his subspecialty fellowship in fertility. His choice of study was entirely his own. He is married to Dr. Antonia Fthenakis, a dermatologist.

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