The mind contributes a huge amount to the healing process, says Jodie Katz, M.D., staff physician at the Waldwick office of Valley Medical Group. That's why she helps her patients reconnect with their bodies by incorporating a technique called mindfulness-based stress reduction into her practice of medicine.
"The mind does not focus well," explains Dr. Katz. "When we are involved in a task, our mind is most often thinking ahead to another task or another subject. We miss a lot from life with this wasted energy. Mindfulness-based stress reduction enables us to be present to our own lives by bringing us back to our own actual experiences at the moment. It enhances the enjoyable events and allows patients to live as fully as they can within their illnesses."
In addition to her responsibilities as staff physician at the Waldwick office of Valley Medical Group - a primary care practice owned by Valley Health System, which also operates The Valley Hospital and Valley Home Care - Dr. Katz teaches courses in yoga and an eight-week program on mindfulness-based stress reduction to patients at the hospital's Robert and Audrey Luckow Pavilion in Paramus and to physicians and other staff at the hospital. Patients come to the courses seeking help to cope with a variety of medical problems, including pain from cancer, fibromyalgia, and arthritis; anxiety or depression; or a host of other chronic medical conditions. She is certified in yoga teaching and completed a practicum in mindfulness-based stress reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
"Yes, there is going to be pain when you have a chronic pain problem," explains Dr. Katz. "But, your assumptions and life attitudes can be limiting in helping to reduce this pain. We don't expect people to throw away their medications, but through the practice of mindfulness they can learn to access an inner strength that is healing, even when cure is sometimes impossible."
As a family practitioner at Valley Medical Group, Dr. Katz says applying mindfulness-based stress reduction to her practice of medicine helps her consider different ways to treat patients.
"Western medicine is very useful, but I find that using mindfulness adds to the way I treat patients in positive ways," she says.
At the age of 19, Jodie Katz moved to Israel to attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, from which she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry in 1976. She eventually changed her career goal from biophysics researcher of chemotherapeutic drugs to a physician after she realized she wasn't as much interested in developing new medications as she was in working directly with patients. She completed a rotating internship at the Sha'are Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem and graduated from the Hebrew Medical School/Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1986. She returned to the United States to complete a three-year family practice residency at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, N.J.
After residency, she practiced at Northern Bergen Family Practice in Ramsey until 1992 and then joined U.S. Healthcare, where she held the positions of associate medical director, Northern New Jersey, and then medical director of government programs and patient management. She helped U.S. Healthcare grow their programs in northern New Jersey and New York from 3,000 to 150,000 patients. After these positions in administration, she chose to return to practicing medicine. From 1998 to 1999, she practiced at Pomona Family Practice in New York State.
From 1997 through 2000, she also worked in search and rescue with her yellow Labrador retriever, Bailey. She is certified as a SARTECH II by the National Association for Search and Rescue and in wilderness EMT. She and Bailey participated in search and rescue missions in the Delaware Water Gap area and the Ramapo Reservation in Bergen County, and in search and recovery at the Fresh Kill landfill in Staten Island, where she and others helped to recover remains of persons who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Dr. Katz was medical director of Valley Medical Group in Teaneck from 2000 until September 2008. She recently joined the practice at 140 Franklin Turnpike in Waldwick. The practice provides comprehensive primary, preventive, urgent and occupational health services.
Valley Medical Group in Waldwick is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday and holidays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information or to make an appointment, call 201-447-3603 or click on Request an Appointment.