Dr. Gabriella Bene

Newsletter - Dec.13 Dr. BeneRadiating integrity, kindness, and empathy, Dr. Bene is quick to smile and laughs often, surely a sign that it’s not only the smallest patients who instinctively trust her ability to brighten their day. She has a comforting air about her that naturally puts both parents and children at ease.

Born in Budapest, and raised around the country in the footsteps of her father’s medical career in the military, today Dr. Bene is both a Hungarian and US board-certified pediatrician. Having received her medical degree from the University of Pécs in 1986, she practiced as a pediatrician until 1997, when she married an American and relocated to the United States. After doing clinical research at the prestigious Stanford University in the United States, Dr. Bene retrained as a pediatrician, and completed her residency at the College of Medicine at the University of Toledo. She found it a great and worthy challenge to provide creative, meaningful care for the wide variety of medical concerns she encountered there.

After residency, she went on to practice at a small town hospital near Cleveland, where she continued to deal with difficult issues like childhood obesity, and various other medical and psychosocial issues. “It was a great experience, providing medical care for these children, and it was particularly gratifying to be able to help and be there for them.” In 2006, a combination of homesickness, and family issues convinced her it was time to return home.

Dr. Bene has always been a very welcome addition to FirstMed’s team of pediatricians and family practitioners who provide a range of primary, emergency, and preventive care. Ever since joining FirstMed in March of 2009, her love of newborns and young children, as well as her genuine ear for teenage issues have won her many fans.

“We’re very lucky here at FirstMed to have an hour for well-child checks, instead of 20 minutes like in the US, to examine a child and discuss any questions with the parents. I like to see infants quite often: at two weeks, one month, two months, four, six, nine, twelve, fifteen, 18 and 24 months. During these visits, we always measure the developmental milestones that are so vital to a baby’s health. I love the babies, I really do. That first time they smile at me in recognition is so precious.”

For all children over the age of two, Dr. Bene strongly suggests annual physical exams focusing on general health, and screenings for obesity or underdevelopment. “Regardless of why a child is brought in for a visit, I always make sure to check the whole child; preventing illness is vitally important.”

“Teenagers are a whole other world. With them, I try to shine a spotlight not only on their growth but on their psychological issues, and screen them for any risk-seeking behavior like smoking, sex or drugs and alcohol, as well as depression and eating disorders. Teens need respect, openness, and a nonjudgmental, supportive attitude; this is the environment I provide when discussing any of these sensitive issues. I always encourage open conversations. I am not a parent, peer, or teacher– I am your doctor, and I am always here to help.”

Like several members of medical and administrative staff members previously interviewed, Dr. Bene delights in the unique family environment of our clinic. “The way colleagues from different departments get along makes working here so pleasant. It also creates the conditions of my favorite type of work: the most challenging, and most gripping cases are the ones where I get to work together with nurses and other physicians to provide the multi-faceted care the patient requires. For example, I may be working alongside the gynecologist and an internist or family practitioner as well as maintaining my close connection with a newly pregnant mother whose first child is already in my care. It is great to know that the bonds I develop with parents of the children I treat are just as important to them. A patient of mine once said, “We could never leave FirstMed. We have been to other private clinics in the city– other places may feel like a golf course, but FirstMed feels like home.”

I am grateful to be working at a place like this, where both my patients and co-workers are like my second family.