First Female Surgeon General to the United States of America.

Dr. Antonio Novello has been at Dr. Bob's clinic since Monday July 20th. "Toni" is an extraordinary person whose skill, experience, and most of all, compassion make her a special gift to Dr. Bob's mission. Toni has set out to make a difference during her time here at the clinic. Her purpose is to help Koinonia become a full service clinic, and to make a lasting impact in the community. 

Since Dr. Novello has been at the office, she has been working long hours to complete grants, investigate funding opportunities, and assist with the Electronic Medical Records implementation.

  Dr Novello "multi-tasking", speaking to contacts in an effort to help the clinic.

The friends of Dr. Bob have witnessed Dr. Novello as a good woman, genuine in her concern and committment to helping our country. She is not arrogant and demeaning to those around her. On the contrary, she goes out of her way to make people around her, superiors and employees, feel very comfortable. Those who know her enjoy her energy, confidence and her wonderful sense of humor.  It is unfortunate that she experienced personal issues in the past that led to a dependence on others, and this crossed boundries in her position with the State. A criminal record, however,  is completely inappropriate.

Her career work has been exemplary and benevolent.  She led the Health Department of NY during Sept 11 ,SARS, and many other health crises.  Up until this past year, her career has been unmarked, showing one accomplishment after another to help the sick and suffering.

It is very unfortunate that such an extraordinary woman, who overcame social and physical limitations, obtained numerous degrees, served in the military,and held one of this country's highest positions as Surgeon General, has to live with a criminal record scaring her lifetime career. 

We feel the public should be made aware that Dr .Novello is a kind, giving woman.... and one of our "Friends".

May God show the world who she truly is.

Read more about Antonio's accomplishments:


Novello to serve neediest

Term of ex-top state aide's plea deal includes treating Albany's poorest patients (Koinonia Primary Care)
By PAUL GRONDAHL, Staff writer
First published in print: Saturday, June 27, 2009

ALBANY- Dr. Antonia Novello will work at a busy health clinic that serves poor, uninsured and chronically ill patients in West Hill, one of the highest-crime areas of the city, as part of her court-ordered 250 hours of community service.

The former state Health Commissioner and U.S. surgeon general pleaded guilty to a felony under a plea deal that included $22,500 in restitution and a $5,000 fine but no jail time for forcing state employees to handle her personal chores while she was commissioner.

Even though she hasn't seen patients in many years, Novello, 64, holds a medical license and trained as a pediatrician. A specialty was treating children diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.

Novello will be assigned to Koinonia Primary Care at the corner of Clinton and South Lake avenues. The clinic is a block from where 10-year-old Kathina Thomas was killed by a stray bullet just over a year ago.

"These are our must vulnerable citizens and it's important that a person of her authority get a dose of the real world," said Dr. Bob Paeglow, founder and director of the clinic, which sees about 6,000 adult and pediatric patients each year, many of whom are indigent.

Novello is no stranger to adversity. She grew up in the small town of Fajardo, Puerto Rico and her father died when she was eight. Her mother, Anna Flores, worked as a school principal there into her 70s.

"She taught me that education is the way out. My mother made me who I am. I'm a workaholic and very competitive," Novello told the Times Union shortly after she became Gov. George Pataki's surprise Republican appointment as health commissioner, a post she held from 1999 to 2006. Her final salary was $256,000 a year.

Novello's childhood was made more challenging by congenital megacolon, a condition that left her without normal nerve cells that signal the brain to move the intestines. She spent weeks hospitalized as a child and endured numerous procedures and tests. She suffered the humiliation of having to wear diapers to high school, trying to mask a distended belly and making frequent trips to the bathroom.

Instead of the planned corrective surgery at age 8, she had to wait until 18 to receive proper medical care. She learned to cope by using humor.

"I fell through the cracks of the health care system," she said. "When we talk about the underinsured and uninsured, I didn't just study that in a textbook. I had that experience growing up."

Paeglow has been in discussions with Novello's attorney E. Stewart Jones and District Attorney David Soares about Novello's assignment, but no specific start date has been set.

"We're working out the details, but she'll be seeing patients and working with our staff," said Paeglow, who has one other full-time physician, four doctors in supporting roles, two medical students, nurses and clerical workers on staff.

Novello enjoyed a luxurious corner executive suite on the 14th floor of the Corning Tower as health commissioner. At the clinic, she'll be tightly packed in a cramped office shared by two other doctors and filled with secondhand furniture.

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