Michael C. Luciano, D.O.
by Linda Herman
Let me start by saying, I come from a family of doctors. Never really thought that was the case until my nephew, Josh, graduated and started practicing this year. My father, Josh’s grandfather, was a family physician back in the day when physicians were sometimes reimbursed with tomatoes, fresh baked bread and handmade quilts. Doctors then definitely made house calls! My brother, Josh’s father, is a practicing physician in Kansas City, Kansas. And Allen’s son, Eric, is a doctor in Seattle, Washington. On some level, I guess you could say we’re a family of doctors even though each doctor is practicing his “medicine” differently. So when I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Michael Luciano, I went with some familiarity of his chosen profession and its evolution.
Dr. Luciano’s office is located on Jacksonville Road in Ivyland, in what’s becoming a favorite area spot, The Courtyard at Ivyland. His offices are bright and open, helping whoever enters feel relaxed and welcomed. Inna Luciano, the doctor’s wife and office manager, works behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly. I barely had to wait while the doctor was finishing with a patient when she offered to give me a tour of the examination rooms, etc. finally leading me to her husband’s office. Clearly this is a husband and wife team, working together, building a practice and their future as equal partners.
Inna left us to talk and I was quickly taken by Dr. Luciano’s gentle manner…….. perfect for the family doctor he is! He also comes from a family of doctors. His grandfather is a retired family physician and his father is an orthopedic surgeon in California. We talked about his choice of family medicine. “I really wanted to be involved with my patients. As a family physician, you follow your patients through an entire life cycle. You need to be almost a ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ I like the relationship-building that occurs between patient and doctor and believe it helps with the healing process… especially if you’re in private practice.”
Before “going solo” in Ivyland, he had been involved in a practice in Roxborough, treating patients at Roxborough Memorial and Chestnut Hill Hospital. He commented that the cross coverage of patients that occurs in group practices doesn’t always foster the relationship-building he was seeking. And therefore, he opened up his private practice just a short time ago. Already he’s steeped in patient studies and more importantly, patient lives.
We talked about his training and if there was any one experience that may have had the greatest impact on his practice of medicine. “I did my residency in a clinic serving an underserved community in Southern California. I treated a diverse population that included many Hispanics. One day an older woman came in diagnosed with cryptogenic liver disease, i.e. cirrhosis due to unidentified causes. She was placed on a liver transplant list but was unable to get one because of the long waiting list. She was so kind to me. She showed no anger about her condition, and with each visit she showed her appreciation for all my efforts by bringing me gifts of all sorts; shoes, a special tie, etc. It’s actually become my good luck tie! When she died her family paid their respects and commented on how safe their mother felt with me.”
It was clear how, even now, he remains affected by knowing her. “This whole episode really toughened me to some of the potentially sad consequences of medicine. It also taught me compassion and the importance of family communication. It reminded me how critical it is for a doctor to listen to a patient and to address their needs. And it taught me the joy of having a happy, secure patient. That’s why I chose osteopathic medicine because it offers a more holistic approach to the practice of medicine. It integrates hands-on therapy with medicine and treatment.”
And what about the difference in the doctoring of his grandfather and himself? His father and himself? His colleagues and himself? “The practice of medicine takes you to many different situations and experiences. I believe it’s those experiences that eventually help sculpt a doctor’s approach to his practice and his patients. Sure, some physicians become desensitized. Others not so.”
“Today’s practice of medicine is going electronic… in ways that I believe are beneficial for patient and doctor alike. In my practice, all records are electronic making it a lot easier to understand and maintain a patient’s long term history. And no deciphering required with regards to the lamentable doctor’s ‘chicken scratch!’ It’s also easier for a pharmacy, as all prescriptions are emailed with ease and clarity!”
(And as he talked I was thinking of my father’s handwriting and how it was definitely off the scale when it came to penmanship. I’d say it was almost unintelligible for everyone except the pharmacist, Harry Muderick, who filled all his prescriptions!!!)
I wanted to see if there were any differences between a West Coast Patient and an East Coast patient. Interestingly, Dr. Luciano finds his East Coast patients much more open about their aches and pains. “They are more direct in telling me their problems. My West Coast patients needed some coaxing. Regardless, the ‘practice ‘ of what I do is consistent. Patients still need a listening, attentive ear. And they still need good medicine.”
Yes, he did share what he shares with his patients: Preventative medicine is the best medicine. “Among the most important things I can do with my patients is guide them towards a healthy lifestyle. Family practice is all about the total picture and
good health is attained by treating the whole and not just the part.”
I commented about his sign inviting walk-in appointments. I had never heard of a doctor being so forthright in saying it was okay to just “walk-in.” “We always leave space in our daily schedule for the occasional walk-in. After all, you can’t always schedule when you get sick, and there are people who don’t have a primary care physician. That’s why I became a doctor – to treat people.”
So what does this busy doctor do on his free time? He smiled, “Free time? I spend whatever time I can with my family. Inna and I have a daughter, Milana. She’s only 11 months so she’s just figuring out how far she can move! I do work out. It clears the mind and keeps me in top form for my long hours at the office. And I guess I try to practice what I preach.”
I had a great time meeting with Dr. Luciano. I liked his calm, gentle approach and could see how patients would find comfort talking with him. It was wonderful sharing his enthusiasm for treating the person and not just the “symtoms.” Today’s doctors aren’t necessarily interested in treating the full spectrum of life cycle events. He is – and he does. He reminds me of those physicians of long ago who made a difference in the lives of the patients they treated. And that’s good for us!
Thank You Dr. Luciano!
– The Uptight Suburbanite