During the eight years he practiced as a staff internist at Valley Medical Group in Hawthorne before he became medical director in 2006, Norman S. Penera, M.D., says he put off wanting to get involved in administrative work.
"To me, the most satisfying aspect of being an internist is being able to care for patients of all ages with a variety of illnesses and injuries,” he says. "I didn’t want to deal with the challenges of being in charge. But with a new office for our practice and a goal of reaching out more into the community, I eventually decided that here was where I wanted to be medical director.”
Valley Medical Group in Hawthorne is a primary care practice located on 1114 Goffle Road, just north of the Route 208 entrance/exit ramp. Valley Medical Group is part of Valley Health System, which also includes The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood and Valley Home Care. Before joining the Hawthorne practice, Dr. Penera was a staff internist at Valley Medical Group in Teaneck from 1997 to 1998.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, and raised in Artesia, California, Dr. Penera has lived and worked in various parts of the United States. With a mother who is a nurse and an uncle who is a general surgeon, Dr. Penera knew he wanted to pursue a career in medicine after working as a hospital orderly while he was in college at the University of California at Irvine. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences and then took a year off from school to visit relatives in the Philippines. He attended medical school there at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, where he met his wife, Teresa Rivera-Penera, M.D., now a pediatric gastroenterologist. He then completed an internship at the medical center.
He says he always knew he wanted to specialize in internal medicine, especially after working with his uncle, a police surgeon in New York City, during an orthopedic externship at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Any time a police officer is shot in New York City, it’s my uncle’s job to be there on the scene,” says Dr. Penera. "But I had to stay back and work at the hospital, so it wasn’t too interesting to me at all.
He and Teresa were married in 1989. He completed his internal medicine residency at Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan and practiced for one year at First Care Physicians in Woodside, N.Y., and North Shore General Hospital in New York City. He and Teresa then moved to Los Angeles so she could finish her training as a pediatric gastroenterology fellow at UCLA. For three years, Dr. Penera practiced internal medicine in California and was head of case management for Charter Medical Office at FHP/Talbert Medical Group, a practice with a large geriatric population.
In 1997, the couple moved back east to New Jersey, where Dr. Penera began practicing at Valley Medical Group in Teaneck, and Dr. Rivera-Penera was named chief of pediatric gastroenterology at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson. They now reside in Wyckoff and have a son, who aspires to be a doctor or a lawyer. In his spare time, Dr. Penera enjoys playing golf, watching movies, and listening to music.
In addition to his responsibilities as medical director of Valley Medical Group in Hawthorne, Dr. Penera practices the full spectrum of services provided by the practice, including urgent care for illnesses, non-life-threatening emergencies, and sports and minor injuries, including burns, cuts, fractures, and sprains; primary care, including physical examinations and treatment for acute and chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension; women’s health services; pediatric care for children over age 12; and preventive care, including immunizations, cardiovascular risk assessments, smoking cessation assistance, and screenings for cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Many businesses, both large and small, contract with Valley Medical Group in Hawthorne for comprehensive occupational health services, including physical exams, injury care, drug screenings, and alcohol breath tests. Testing provided on site includes blood tests, urinalyses, electrocardiograms (EKGs), hemoccult tests, finger stick glucose tests, rapid strep tests, and X-rays.
Valley Medical Group in Hawthorne is open every day except Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday and holidays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information or to make an appointment, call 973-423-1364 or click on Request an Appointment.