Getting the chance to chat with a doctor is rare, especially when we’re not sitting on a table wearing nothing but a flimsy gown, but a new initiative spearheaded by the Stony Brook Southampton Residency program aims to change all that. This Saturday, September 7 from 9–10 a.m., the inaugural Walk with a Doc event invites the community to join local doctors on a get-to-know-you stroll along some of the most beautiful streets in Southampton Village.
Part of the Walk with a Doc nonprofit’s international effort to put doctors and their communities together, the free walks encourage healthcare providers to practice what they preach while imparting valuable knowledge and making new friends. “We just want the community to come out—patients, physicians, anyone’s invited—and we’ll have a little talk about a topic, and then we’ll walk down to the beach and back,” third-year Stony Brook Southampton Hospital resident Maurene Hart says of the monthly event she and family physician Dr. Sabrina Trammel will launch on Saturday, thanks in large part to funding and support from the hospital’s Chief Academic Officer Dr. Shawn Cannon.
The two-mile walks will commence on the first Saturday of every month through August 2020. All will follow the same route: Starting at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital at 330 Meeting House Lane, walkers will go south on Old Town Road to Wyandanch Road and then cut back onto Old Town along the beach before returning by way of Little Plains Road and Toylsome. Participants can expect an easy pace, but a shorter, one-mile route will also be available.
“The idea is to walk the talk—that’s our motto—and to have physicians and patients get together and build community, and not only talk about being healthy,” Trammel says. “A lot of times doctors make all these recommendations we don’t necessarily follow,” she admits. “This is kind of a way to be transparent and make a commitment and promise, not only to ourselves but our patients, to actually follow through on the things that we’re doing.”
Harts adds, “We’re just like everybody else with the same struggles and the same temptations.”
Each month will focus on a different theme, starting with “Healthy Aging” on Saturday. “We’ll be covering, specifically, healthy lifestyle as well as the benefits of physical activity for arthritis,” Trammel says, though both she and Hart point out that doctors will not offer patient diagnoses or individual medical advice during the walks. “We’ll be glad to answer any general health questions, but as far as personalized questions, we will have to advise people to go to their own doctor,” Hart says. “We’re not allowed to talk about it in public because of HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which precludes doctors from discussing patient health in public], so it wouldn’t be appropriate.”
Anyone who is able to follow the route can walk on Saturday, rain or shine, and dogs are welcome. The first 10 people will receive T-shirts and pedometers, and donated items will be raffled, including two pairs of sunglasses from the Tenet in Southampton. “We spoke to [Southampton Village Mayor] Jesse Warren about our initiative and he’s supported us, and he’s going to come walk with us,” Trammel says.