Brooklyn is celebrating some of the world’s greatest doctors and hospital personnel.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC), 121 Dekalb Avenue, will be hosting a fundraiser that includes entertainment, food and an evening with a legendary and beloved football icon.
The 19th Annual Brooklyn Hospital Founder’s Ball will be held on Wednesday, September 27 at the New York Marriott, Brooklyn Bridge, 333 Adams Street, with Joe Namath as the evening’s special guest.
The hospital, which was founded in 1845, will focus this year’s theme on “Right in your Neighborhood,” which is designed to emphasize the convenience and centralized location of TBHC, as well as the diversity of the many neighborhoods that surround them through décor and the cocktail reception menu.
The four individuals to be awarded on the celebratory night are Patrick Adams, Esq., Charles F. Modica, JD, Doctor Anders Cohen and Doctor Sai Veeramachaneni.
Cohen, who is the Director of the Neurosciences Center at TBHC, specializes in minimally invasive neurosurgical treatments and discussed his long and fascinating road to receiving one of the Walter E. Reed Medals that will be distributed that evening.
Initially, the award winning doctor was into athletics over medicine. “Tennis became my number one thing so I left college and went on the pro circuit for a while and the worst part was telling my dad, who is a physician,” he joked. “For all the things you see in the U.S. Open, there’s an unglamorous side when you’re traveling with small budgets. But it was actually romantic. You hoped you made enough from the prize money you could pay for the expenses. And I would work in the summertime and teach in country clubs in Long Island.”
Just when his parents were about to give up on Cohen getting into the field of medicine, he became inspired by the field while teaching his classes. “I had two plastic surgeons that would show up and take lessons and go to surgery centers and show up and seem happy and it seemed like they had a cool life, then I realized I wanted to go to medical school,” he said. “I always liked it.”
However, Cohen credits his mother for his ultimate decision to transition to neurosurgeon. “Plastic was one change. Then my mom, who was a neurological nurse, asked if I would do her a favor and look into a neurological case I’d find interesting,” Cohen said.
After watching a neurosurgeon operate on a brain aneurism, Cohen was mesmerized. “I walk in the room and he takes the skull off the brain,” he recalled. “It was scary and cool at the same time. It was amazing seeing a living breathing brain. It hit me at one second that this is where this is at. You are ultimately what you’re nerves are, what your brain thinks and your spinal cord sends out the information. It grabbed me that this was the center of it all. I knew that the fact that it would scare me knew it would keep my attention.”
Cohen became extremely passionate with his new field and eventually received a highly competitive residency to LIJ Northshore Hospital. His dedication was evident early on as he developed careful and meticulous way of working.
“I was the first guy in and the last guy out and I did whatever it would take to be successful,” he said, adding that the journey wasn’t always easy. “Transitions are all difficult because of that shock factor. There were times first year in residency where there’s so much adjustment and sacrifice, you question if it was the right decision. That was tough. But I think the sports especially tennis, they built me a path to win.”
Over the years, Cohen became a visionary in his craft, becoming the first New York City physician to perform the extreme lateral interbody fusion and Trans1 procedures to treat the lumbar spine. In 2005 and 2006, he was a team doctor for the U.S. Open. He has operated on athletes such as UFC fighter Nate Quarry and musicians, such as the members of the band Bush. But helping the average Brooklynite is a highlight for the doctor.
“The Walter Reed Medal has a lot of significance because he is a big figure in the history of modern medicine,” Cohen said. “He basically created the American military medical system. He did part of his training in Brooklyn Hospital. To me, it’s about perspective. He’s a very compelling figure in the evolution of modern medicine.”
He also embraces the aspects of what makes Brooklyn Hospital special.
“There are a couple of amazing hospitals that have amazing endowment or happen to be sitting in great locations but I’m also aware of a lot of hospitals that didn’t make it and we’ve seen hospitals around the corner that have disappeared,” Cohen said. “I’m very adamant about this not being one of these hospitals. This hospital should be an enduring institution and be here another 160 years from now. I just stare at the plaques in the lobby. You can’t shortcut a legacy.”
The 19th Annual Brooklyn Hospital Founder’s Ball will begin at 6 p.m.To learn more about the event, visit www.tbh.org/ways-give/