Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Neighborhood Character: Dr. Iorio

During the late sixties, Doctor shows on television were all the rage. Maybe the most beloved of them all was "Marcus Welby, M.D." If Dr. Welby was a TEN on the Doctor's Rating Scale, then my doctor would have been a ONE. He was the anti-Welby. Dr. Iorio had his office on Eastern Parkway. His waiting room bore little resemblance to today's spiffy suites. Ratty leather chairs, ash trays full of cigarette butts, faded prints on the walls, and to read, old National Geographics and medical journals....that's what I remember. Not that we got to his office all that much; those were the days when doctors actually made house calls.

If his waiting room could be transformed into a human being, it would look like Dr, Iorio. He was a rumpled man, probably in his fifties but looked 20 years older. Sagging jowls, a bushy mustache, and slicked-back, iron-grey hair. He dressed professionally in a three-piece suit that that rarely made the trip to the dry-cleaners. I think what I remember most about him most was that he smoked like a chimney; as he examined you, a cigarette with an ash about an inch long always dangled from his mouth, precariously poised and about one puff away from dropping into your pajama top.
The fifties didn't feature many fancy medicines. Penicillin was still being eyed suspiciously. It seems to me today that no matter what ailed you, from migraines to malaria, Dr. Iorio prescribed Cheracol, a cherry-flavored syrup that could give you a real buzz, or Musterole, an ointment that smelled ungodly, but when rubbed on your chest and covered with a warm flannel cloth probably could cure malaria.

These were the dark days before health care insurance and filling out six forms in triplicate before you got anywhere near the doctor. He didn't send you for five different tests because he was getting a kickback from the labs. There were no knockout female drug company reps to hand out free TVs to doctors for over prescribing their medications. Dr. Iorio charged you what you could afford, which I promise you was not much. I'm sure he treated patients who never paid him at all...maybe bring in a bushel of tomatoes from their yard.

As I reflect, I want to revise Dr. Iorio's rating. Maybe he didn't have a fancy office or miracle drugs, but somehow after one of his visits, you knew you would soon be better. What he brought to the table was a genuine caring attitude for his patients and a brisk, efficient manner that no childhood disease could stand up to.

Take that, Dr. Welby.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association

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