Dr. Brown, center, is joined by Dr. LaVonne Ansari, Chief Executive Office, Community health Center of Buffalo, Inc., far left, and United States Congressman Brian Higgins, far right, and members of his family at the August 2020 ceremony to announce the renaming of the Community Health Center of Niagara Falls Pediatric wing in his honor.
As a pillar of the Niagara Falls community for over 35 years, Dr. Edward I. Brown is known in many ways by many people.
To generations of children who themselves have become parents, and are now bringing their children to Dr. Brown, he is a steady, reassuring healer and guide.
To members of New Hope Baptist Church where he serves as a Deacon, he is humble man of deep faith and impeccable integrity.
To public officials and his Community Health Center colleagues, he is the overwhelming well-deserved recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Medical Professional Achievement Award, and the
perfect namesake for the Pediatric wing at the Community Health Center of Niagara Falls on Highland Ave. which was dedicated this past August in his honor.
Perhaps Charles Walker, Project Manager/Outreach, put it best when he described Dr. Brown as “the ‘G.O.A.T.’, the greatest of all time!” As you might expect, Dr. Brown would never see himself this way. Rather, for him, it always has been, and always will be “an honor to serve.”
Earlier in December 2020, Charles, who is also co-host of “All The Way Live!”, interviewed Dr. Brown for the Community Health Center of Niagara Falls’ weekly Facebook Live program. The following features excerpts of that interview.
Charles Walker: In sports, we often use the terminology ‘G.O.A.T.’, the greatest of all time! So many people love Dr. Brown, and Dr. Brown is one of the greatest of all pediatricians in Western New York. Dr. Brown, talk about your background. You’re originally from Orange, New Jersey.
Dr. Brown: Yes sir. I was born in Orange New Jersey and attended high school there, and I graduated in 1967. And I did not make it into college on my first try. So, I went into the Air Force from 1968 to 1972. After I got out of the Air Force, I went to Rutgers undergrad, and then after Rutgers, I went to medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
I call myself ‘Plan B’ because I did not go straight through high school, or straight through college, or straight through medical school. There were some bumps in the road.
Charles: I think that’s very interesting when you say ‘Plan B’, because someone else may have given up.
Dr. Brown: I hope I can be an example so young people don’t give up. Not everyone is going to make it through their first time. If you get setbacks, just pick yourself up and keep going. You’ve got to keep praying to the Lord that he will give you the strength and guidance to get you through.
Charles: What drew you to the Niagara Falls and Buffalo region?
Dr. Brown: Well, I needed a job! At that time, I had a wife and three children, and I needed to feed them. So, this was a job that I applied for and got accepted.
Charles: So, you’ve been a pediatrician for 35 years or so?
Dr. Brown: Officially, 38 years. But as far as being out of any residency program, it’s 35 years.
Dr. Ansari with Dr. Brown and his wife Barbara..
Charles: Tell us about your experiences. Over the years you have seen a lot of changes in health care.
Dr. Brown: When I first started out, there was a lot of stuff that is not available now, so I’ve seen a lot of advances in the pediatric field and it’s been mostly for the good. And it’s nice to be part of the community as a Pediatrician, and of course, you become kind of like part of the family.
Charles: You have watched so many kids grow up.
Dr. Brown: I’ve watched them grow up and some of the children that I had when I first came here, they now have children and so they bring their children to me and that’s quite an honor to know that they have the trust and faith in me to bring their own children to me.
Charles: What’s your childcare philosophy?
Dr. Brown: Always make sure that they keep their Well appointments, and if they’re sick, make sure you call. Sometimes, you don’t necessarily have to come in, but at least you want to get in contact with the doctor to make sure that you are doing what is recommended to keep your child healthy. And that’s the most important thing.
Charles: How do you motivate your parents? Because when it comes to healthcare, sometimes people need that extra push.
Dr. Brown: There seems to be no problem with babies. Parents want to bring their babies in to make sure they’re healthy. It’s when they start to get older that parents can become not as concerned that there is something wrong. But, whenever a child is sick, or just doesn’t feel right, you want to make sure you make an appointment.
Charles: Research says that when you’re pregnant, that’s the time to find a pediatrician. So what is the importance of finding that doctor so early?
Dr. Brown: Well, it’s very important. Number one, you have to feel comfortable with who you are bringing your child to because you cannot have a good relationship with the doctor if you don’t feel comfortable. You got to feel that the doctor is going to do the best he or she can for your baby. And if you meet with your doctor early, you can get that feeling. If someone wants to meet with me before they deliver, I will be glad to talk to them and meet them.
Charles: What’s your views on vaccinations because a lot of times we know parents are concerned about vaccinations?
Dr. Brown: They are very important. Vaccinations have helped save millions of lives. And I always tell my parents, I wouldn’t give your children anything that I won’t give to my own children and grandchildren.
I tell them if I feel comfortable giving them to my children and grandchildren, I think you should feel comfortable giving them to your child. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stuff on the internet on why you should not give a child immunization and that’s a problem because they read that and think it’s correct because it’s on the internet, but that’s not necessarily the case. So, I just try to convince them by saying ‘look, I gave it to my children, I gave it to my grandchildren, and I would like you to let me give it to your child as well.’
Charles: So, when you see people are trying to educate themselves on the internet, do you see that as a big challenge?
Dr. Brown: It’s a really big challenge because once they become the expert from the internet, they are going to challenge you on everything. There’s nothing wrong with being challenged when it’s legitimate. But when it’s not legitimate. Unfortunately, they can’t control what’s on the internet. People put stuff up that’s not true and people believe it which makes it harder on you to get them to do what you want them to do.
Charles: As we are talking about vaccinations, so many people of color are concerned about the vaccines for COVID-19, what’s your thoughts?
Dr. Brown: Well, I think it’s a blessing from God that the vaccination has been warp speed. And it’s now ready to be distributed. And that’s wonderful. We have to prioritize it so that people who need it the most will get it first.
I don’t want anyone to be afraid to get this vaccine, especially if you are in a high risk group. If you are more than 65 years old, you definitely should be one of the first ones to get it. If you’re in a nursing home, or you work in a nursing home or a hospital, or work in the health field, you should be the first one to get it. And I hope that by you getting it, will set the example for other people because not everyone is going to be able to get it all at once.
They haven’t done trials on the children. Most of the trials have been done on the adults. But they are working on that too, and hopefully eventually everyone will get it. And if everyone gets it, then we are going to be able to get control of the virus and lead to more of a normal life that we had before the virus.
People want to know if the vaccine is safe. Well, according to information I have, the vaccine is as safe as possible. We’re never going to get 100 percent, but these vaccines are made to be distributed between 94 and 95 percent effective. So, that’s very good.
Charles: Originally, they were talking about maybe 60 percent, 70 percent effectiveness.
Dr. Brown: That’s too low. You’ve got to have it in the 90’s, and the mid 90’s is very good. There are different vaccines. The first one’s are Pfizer and Moderna. And Johnson & Johnson also has one. Three companies producing the vaccines. It should be enough for everybody to get vaccinated who needs to be vaccinated.
Dr. Brown with family members from left including his son Isaiah, wife Barbara, daughter Nicole and Nicole’s boyfriend Steve.
Charles: So, let’s go back to your work as a pediatrician. How often should children see their pediatrician?
Dr. Brown: In the first year, there really should be nine visits. They see the doctor within one week of being born. Then, they should be seen at one month, two months, six months, nine months, and then when they are a year. So, a lot of visits. And most of the time, they are going to be healthy visits. You follow a table when they are supposed to get their vaccinations. And even without vaccinations, you want to make sure everything is good. Sometimes the mother may think
everything is good, but when they come in, they will say ‘what’s this?’ or ‘what’s that?’ So, it’s always important to keep your regular appointment. And at any time, if something doesn’t feel right, or sound right, you should always call a doctor and make an appointment.
Charles: How long does the typical appointment last?
Dr. Brown: In the beginning, they last longer than when they get older. So, a typical visits lasts about a half an hour when they are young. And then later on, maybe 15 to 20 minutes. It depends on of course whether there’s any complications other than a regular checkup.
Charles: It’s important that parents understand that that half hour is about the life of your baby, the life of your child. And that they should be willing to spend that half hour with your doctor. Do you discuss issues such as parenting strategies?
Dr. Brown: Sure! And there’s no wrong answer, and there’s no one answer that fits all. You have to just go by how the parent feels about their baby. And a lot of parents are blessed to have their father and mother with them, so the grandparents’ experience can help them take care of their baby better.
Charles: As children get older and begin to develop socially and emotionally, do you continue to give strategies?
Dr. Brown: Oh sure. And a lot of it is going to depend on what kind of family life that they have. If they are stressed out, it’s going to be a lot harder to keep them mentally healthy. But if you give them an environment that’s good, and that they know they are loved, they know that you will do anything for them, that makes a difference.
You can tell when they come in sometimes even by the way the child acts towards other people in the office. If they are terrified of the people who are setting them up for me to see them, you’ve got to wonder if something else is going on. Maybe they are terrified of anyone who is not part of their family. And that can be a real problem. And always you want to keep them healthy.
And now of course going to school with COVID-19 is a problem because you’re being exposed to a lot of people you wouldn’t normally be exposed to, and people could have the virus without having any symptoms and pass it to you. That’s a problem, so hopefully we will get the vaccine to almost everybody. And people won’t be forced to take it, but hopefully almost everybody will get the vaccine so the chances of the Corona virus being as bad as it is now will be much much less.
You still should wear your mask. You should still social distance and you should still wash your hands as often as possible. But, wearing the mask is probably the single most important thing that you can do.
Charles: Doctors use to make house calls. Have you ever made house calls before?
Dr. Brown: Never! (laughs) And it’s interesting that you should ask me that because when I started my medical training which was in the late ‘70s, at that time, they had probably stopped doing the house calls on a major basis about five years before that.
But a house call saved my sister’s life. The doctor made house calls after finishing office hours, and my sister was very sick and the doctor came to the house after he finished office hours and he called the hospital and told them what he needed and he said, ‘I’m bringing her in right now’, and he brought my sister to the hospital and got her better. And when I saw that, I said ‘wow!, I think I might like to do something like this!’
The house call that helped my sister really kind of inspired me to want to be a doctor myself.
In addition to family members, Dr. Brown is joined by New York State Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello (145th District); Dr. LaVonne Ansari; Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino; Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Thomas Licata; and Niagara County 4th District Legislator Owen T. Steed in the Pediatric wing named in his honor.
Charles: You were awarded the 2020 Distinguished Medical Professional Achievement Award at the Community Health Center of Niagara. Also, the pediatric wing at the Community Health Center of Niagara on Highland Ave. was dedicated this past August in your honor. How do you feel about all that recognition?
Dr. Brown: Well, it was just totally overwhelming. I just did not expect anything like that. Usually, you don’t get those kinds of awards when you are still alive. … It’s just overwhelming. I didn’t think I deserved anything like that, but I am definitely honored and humbled to accept it.
Charles: I think it speaks to your positive attitude about the work that you do. Sometimes, you don’t pay attention to how people are seeing you. How do you encourage the young people that come into your office as far as their relationship with others?
Dr. Brown: I always tell, put God first because if God is first, everything else is going to be second which means that with God first, everything else is going to be good. Now, does that mean that everything is going to be without any problems? But, putting God first will always always put you on the right track. He’s blessed me. He’s blessed my family. He’s blessed so many people that I know. So, give him a chance. Don’t try to do it by yourself.
Charles: We can see that you are a very strong man of faith. What is some of the work that you do within your church?
Dr. Brown: I’ve been a Deacon for about 20 years now. And it’s a very very good experience because you get a chance to serve. And that’s what the Lord wants us to do, He wants us to serve. And people may put you on higher than you should – being a Deacon. But I always tell them, I’m a Deacon, I’m not the Pastor! Don’t try to elevate me to that level. Let me stay within my role of what I’m supposed to do. But some people may still try to elevate you higher than what your office title is, but I always try to tell them, put God first and everything else will fall into place.
Charles: That’s awesome testimony. I’ve read the accolades you’ve received from being a doctor, and being a Deacon and still being able to maintain that humble spirit.
Dr. Brown: It can be taken away from you in a second. (Laughs) So you have got to stay focused. You don’t want to ever think that you are better that what you are.
Charles: You also sing a little bit, right?
Dr. Brown: I’m in the Male Chorus – if that’s what you mean! (Laughs) I don’t know how good I’m singing. My voice kind of blends in with the other ones. I could never do a solo.
Charles: Talk a little about the connection you see between faith and health.
Dr. Brown: It’s strong, it’s strong. I mean how many examples have you seen in the Bible where Jesus healed people right on the spot. You can’t get any faster than that.
But also, you want to make sure that you go to people who have been blessed to help you out. You can’t help them instantly like Jesus did, but of course, with the knowledge that you have and your experience, you should be able to help them out. You should never be afraid to see your doctor or your healthcare provider. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late. Sometimes you get a diagnosis and there’s nothing you can do because it has gone too far. So, you always want to make sure that you keep your Well visits and that you always see the doctor when you feel something is wrong. And we have a lot of doctors here. A lot of different services here. Hey, call us! We will try to help you out.
Charles: I saw you walking out one day and you had a Bills hat on, are you a fan?
Dr. Brown: Absolutely! It looks good. I like them. I like the attitude and the whole philosophy about them.
Dr. Brown joined members of the Niagara Falls team in showing their Buffalo Bills’ spirit before the team’s recent playoff game.