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The Work We Do: Dr. Lawrence Shiff, Eastern Long Island Hospital

I’m Dr. Lawrence Schiff. I’m the chairman of emergency medicine at Eastern Long Island Hospital. I’m also the regional medical director for EMS on the North Fork of Long Island.

I’ve been here for the last 15 years as head of the department.

Well, one of the things that drew me towards emergency medicine is that we don’t have a normal day. We actually see any patient at any time with anything. That’s one of the things that helps keep us on our toes, but also allows us to see patients, treat them appropriately and then admit them to the hospital, send them home or transfer them to another hospital where they may need further care. We make that decision here with the tools that we have and the skills we were trained with.

We can do a lot of things here, but the care the patient may require may be more than the hospital can provide. We may need to transfer those patients to another facility in order for them to get optimal care. We assess the patient with whatever they may have, and then determine if they can stay or need to be transferred.

That uncertainty factor really drew me towards emergency medicine. If I was a surgeon, I would be doing hernias every day, or if I was an anesthesiologist, I would be administering anesthesia all day. I’m going to see a pediatric case here, a belly pain there, a laceration, or a headache.

When you’re here by yourself, that’s it. That’s it, it’s just you and nobody else. At Eastern Long Island Hospital, it’s only single-physician coverage.

Dr. Lawrence Schiff. (Credit: Rachel Siford)
So, you pretty much have to have these skills updated and really know how to assess the patient quickly and accurately to make sure they’ll get the most appropriate care that they need.

This is a team effort. I really, really like the people that I’m working with, which is why I endure the long, arduous days because I do know that we can do better.

We serve the public and the community at large, and we really do strive to give patients optimal care.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See photos on Instagram @thesuffolktimes.