This Doctor Defies Conventions

My 36-year-old daughter Simone needed a physical and blood workup, so I wanted to find an internist for her who practices near my home in Brooklyn, where she’s been staying. Ever since our beloved internist, Stan Mirsky, died seven years ago, Simone hasn’t properly taken care of herself. I found Dr. Roger Boyce on the United Healthcare website, who accepts Simone’s insurance and has an office about two miles from my house.

One of the reviews mentioned that Dr. Boyce doesn’t take appointments (unusual, but interesting, I thought), so I called the office to find out when he sees patients. The doctor answered the phone (unheard of in this part of the world), and told me his office hours, which include Sunday (this is getting more interesting by the minute, I thought).

“I’m curious why you don’t make appointments,” I asked Dr. Boyce.

“It’s not my style,” he plainly responded.

Hoping to avoid a lengthy wait, Simone and I arrived at Dr. Boyce’s office precisely at 11 a.m. yesterday, when he told me he begins seeing patients. Although only one person was in the waiting room, about 10 people had signed in before us, many of their names already checked off.  A tall handsome man at the front desk told us to take a seat near the water cooler.

“Are you Dr. Boyce?”  I asked.

Of course he was.

Within 10 minutes of sitting down,  Simone was called into a room where the doctor’s assistant took down all her info, while I watched Dr. Boyce rotate through his three examining rooms, where patients waited who had arrived earlier. When the assistant got what she needed from Simone, and took her blood pressure (which was excellent), she escorted Simone to the first examining room. By this time the waiting area was starting to get crowded!   

Dr. Boyce spent about 25 minutes with Simone. When I was invited into the room after her exam, it gave me the chance to ask the doctor if he’d elaborate on his reason for not taking appointments.

“You told me it’s not your style. What is your style?”

“I’m from Barbados, where we always keep the door to our home open. Neighbors and relatives come in when they want. That’s how I grew up, and that’s the way I’ve always run my office.” Dr. Boyce explained. Simone had obviously told him she’s in a recovery program for drug addiction, because he made a point of telling us that he doesn’t believe in therapy and recommended a self-help book for her to read about overcoming fears and gaining confidence. (If only it were that simple, I thought. We’ll stick with the therapy).

Unlike countless doctors’ offices I’ve visited, where patients are anything but patient while they wait for their appointments (I’ve often had to wait 90 minutes for doctors who do make appointments!), the crowd that had by this time stuffed into Dr. Boyce’s waiting room seemed as if it had gathered at a club. Lots of camaraderie. The office, by the way, is in a handsome old Brooklyn building that the doctor owns, and it has all the original 19th century woodwork. It seems to be meticulously maintained. (I’ve been in many Park Avenue offices of hoity-toity doctors in Manhattan that looked like they were last renovated in 1920, although the doctors’ fees are out of sight and many of them don’t even accept insurance.)

Simone is seeing Dr. Boyce again tomorrow to review the results of her blood workup, and although she and I question the necessity of an in-person meeting for this, I understand it’s his “style.” We still wish Dr. Mirsky was our doctor, but I’m glad Simone is having herself checked out.  It’s high time she gives herself the care she deserves.