March 24, 2016

Interview with Pediatrician Dr. Jay Mayefsky

Dr. Jay Mayefsky joined Heartland Health Centers in 2015. He is board certified in general and emergency pediatrics and comes to us after practicing medicine at Stroger Hospital for many years.


Why do you decide to become a doctor?

I come from a family with a strong commitment to serving the community. My father was a rabbi, my mother a Chicago public school teacher, and my siblings are all active in their communities. I combined my heritage of community service with my love for science and went into medicine.

You worked at Stroger Hospital for many years. What did you learn from that experience?

The population that uses the county hospital is a transient population and many families are not intact. Dealing with daily life is a chore for them. I learned that you can’t just prescribe treatment. You have to look at everything and adapt the treatment plan to their life. There are other issues that always compete with the child’s health making it difficult for that to be at the top of their list. I sometimes had to send patients to outside specialists and a lot of them wouldn’t work with my patients because it meant they would have to do more. They even would get mad at me for how much I did for my patients but I was just being a realist.

The other thing is that Stroger has a dedicated population that appreciated the care we gave them.  I saw two generations of families. When my patients grew up and became parents they would bring their children in to see me too. One family has even followed me to Heartland Health Centers.

Why did you choose to come to Heartland Health Centers?

I was eligible for early retirement at Stroger Hospital and I was doing a lot of administrative work and wanted to do more patient care. I also wanted to continue working with an underserved population as I find that the most rewarding. I knew about Heartland and that it focuses on underserved populations. I also like that I live in the neighborhood. Sometimes, I run into my patients at the grocery store and I really enjoy that.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments?

I’d have to say teaching. I taught third year medical students at Rosalind Franklin University and physician assistant students at Malcom X College.  In fact, I taught some of the Heartland Health Centers physicians.  Marcia Katz, David Freedman, Mary Dudek, and Carla Grossoli were all my students. There is something special about being able to play a role in a person’s development. It makes me feel proud when I see one of my students get published or I hear about how well they are doing in their career.

What is Your Role at Heartland?

I am the pediatrician at the Devon health center which I love. Prevention is my passion and pediatrics is mostly preventive. I am also the director of the school-based health centers. It is a good opportunity to work with teenagers and there I mainly see the more complex cases. I also hold educational sessions for the medical assistants and nurse practitioners at the schools every two months. That allows me to use my teaching experience. What I like so much about these sessions is how much I learn from them. For instance, when we discussed dating violence everyone had something to share.

What do you like best about working at Heartland Health Centers?

One of things I like best is my co-workers.  It can be difficult to find places where you enjoy your colleagues both personally and professionally.  Everyone’s heart is on the right place here. People don’t watch the clock. Patients come first. I never hear a medical assistant say this is not my case so I can’t help.  We consult each all the time and not just the physicians and providers but the whole team.

Do you have a final thought you’d like to share?

Prevention and health maintenance is so important. It is part of my fabric. So many things are out of our control so it is important to be good about those things we can control like eating right, making sure you have working smoke detectors, and wearing seat belts and bike helmets.