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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Bilha Fish, M.D.

Picture of Bilha Fish
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Bilha Fish, M.D.

“What counts is being good at what you do.”

NOMINATING CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Carolyn McCarthy

“TOTAL COMMITMENT AND A PASSION FOR DOCTORING”

BIOGRAPHY

From empowering women with information through complimentary seminars and free support groups for coping with cancer, to creating a Wellness Program that facilitates both physical and emotional health, Bilha Chesner Fish has often been referred to as a "Renaissance Woman."

As Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4) remarked in nominating Fish to be a Local Legend, "It is nearly impossible to list her numerous accomplishments, but her innovative and creative approach to women's health and her use of multi-modalities within her practice are exceptional."

Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, Fish says, "My greatest achievement was becoming a physician in a foreign country. I went to medical school in Italy, and learned Italian while learning medicine. It was an incredible experience." More than 50 percent of medical students today are women, but in the early 1970s (when she completed a straight pediatric internship) female physicians were a minority. "To be accepted into medical school or a residency program was difficult then. They expected women to get pregnant and out of commission."

Despite a system designed to work against women, Fish always has persevered, observing "I felt that what counts is being good at what you do." She is convinced that her success stems from total commitment and passion for her profession.

After completing her residency at North Shore-Cornell University Medical Center, Fish tackled back-to-back radiology fellowships at New York Hospital and The Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, then went on to supervise the computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound department in Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.

In 1987, she embarked on a "major journey" when she founded Manhasset Diagnostic Imaging, becoming one of the first female radiologists on Long Island to open such a practice. It was a calculated risk because she was unable to afford a business manager ("I had to become a businesswoman as well as a physician," she recalls) and she used her home as collateral to outfit the 600-square-foot clinic. But her timing was perfect because newer diagnostic technologies such as CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were just becoming widely available and as their capabilities rapidly advanced, the field of radiology exploded.

Today she has 100 employees and Manhasset Diagnostic Imaging offers MRI, CT, ultrasound, mammography, nuclear imaging, bone-density testing, and x-ray. Nearby is Pathways Women's Health, the center Fish opened in 1995 for wellness exams, ultrasound, bone-density testing, and mammography. There are also yoga classes, lectures, community education programs, programs for teens, and a support group for women with cancer.

In addition to running her extensive medical practices, Fish also is the founder and president of the Nassau Women Physicians Foundation and serves on the boards of the NY Women's Forum, the Beth C. Tortolani Foundation, the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and the American Friends of Rabin Medical Center.

Renowned throughout Long Island and New York State for her medical accomplishments, Fish also has earned two master's degrees in art history and studio art, and divides her creative time between organizing art shows for teens and seniors, and painting in her studio.

MILESTONES

1987

Opens Manhasset Diagnostic Imaging offering state-of-the-art diagnostic procedures such as MRI, nuclear medicine and ultrasonography.

1995

Founds Pathways Women's Health offering a multi-disciplinary approach to women's health, including a variety of health education and wellness seminars.

BORN

1946

MEDICAL SCHOOL

University of Bologna, Faculty of Medicine, Bologna, Italy

SPECIALTY

Diagnostic Radiology

LOCATION

New York