GENEVA — Shortly after Dr. Peter D’Silva came to New York from India, he did something on many people’s Empire State wish list.
“When everybody comes here they want to see Niagara Falls, right?” D’Silva Peter D'Silvasaid during a recent interview at his office on the Geneva General Hospital campus. “That is one of the first things I did.”
Rather than drive the Thruway, D’Silva — who was doing his medical residency at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany — decided to take his time on Routes 5&20. That’s when he realized the Finger Lakes was a place he might like to practice someday.
“I always wanted to practice in a small town, so I took the back roads and came 5&20. I went through Skaneateles, Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Geneva,” he said. “I was struck by the beauty of this place. I just loved the Finger Lakes, so I decided to come here.”
Thirty-seven years after starting a general surgery practice in Waterloo and moving to Geneva in the early 1980s, D’Silva is retiring May 7. In January, he moved his practice from his longtime site on Pre-Emption Road to the Geneva General Surgical Associates office.
“Our community has been very fortunate to have had such a dedicated and committed general surgeon for so many years,” said Dr. Jose Acevedo, president and CEO of Finger Lakes Health. “Dr. D’Silva has provided the highest level of safe, quality and compassionate care to our community and he will be missed and we are grateful he will be staying on with Finger Lakes Health assisting with administrative responsibilities.”
D’Silva grew up in Belgaum, India, where his father was a doctor and his mother a college professor who taught English and French. While he attended medical school at St. John’s Medical College in Bengaluru, India, he knew he wanted to practice in the U.S.
“The practice of medicine and surgery at that time was far different here than in India. Everything was far more advanced here,” he said. “It was difficult to get meds and good equipment in India.”
D’Silva did his internship at St. Peter’s in Albany and his residency at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Conn. That was followed by a year of fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford.
He started his practice in Waterloo in 1980 and lived there for a couple of years before moving to Geneva. He has lived on Seneca Lake in the town of Geneva (Kashong area) since 1983.
“I never imagined staying for so long. I told myself if I liked it here, I would give it three to five years to see if things would work out,” he said. “It took awhile to establish the practice, but it picked up over time. After three years I realized I was going to make it.”
As a general surgeon, D’Silva has done numerous hernias, gall bladders, intestinal surgeries and thyroid procedures. Over that time, many of his patients who have undergone several procedures became friends.
“I believe the doctor-patient relationship is a commitment on both parts. That relationship grows, especially in the long-term,” he said. “That is what gives me the most satisfaction — those relationships, and I had a lot of them. That is what I am going to miss the most.”
As many of his patients can affirm, D’Silva took pride in telling it like it is when it came to a surgical procedure — but with a calm, soft-spoken demeanor.
“One of the first things you have to do is be up-front with your patients. Health care is a two-way street,” he said. “I must do my part and the patient has to do their part before and after the procedure. If either of us slacks off, the result is not good.”
“I believe half the outcome of any surgery is the trust the patient develops with his or her doctor ... and you have to have that trust prior to surgery,” he added. “I like to put myself in their position. If you are going to make an informed decision, you need to knows the pros, the cons, the do’s and don’ts. If you do that, you have a successful practice.”
D’Silva, 67, said the time is right to retire. He also credits his wife, Linda (a nurse who works per diem for Hobart and William Smith Colleges), for his practice longevity, noting she assisted him with in-office procedures.
“My wife and I have always been a team. My mentors always told me you will know when the time is right. There is no other way to describe it,” he said. “It’s time for me to totally close this chapter in my life and open a new one. I can’t give you one reason I decided to retire, or two reasons or 10 reasons. It’s just time.”
Dr. D’Silva’s patients may continue their care through Geneva General Surgical Associates by calling (315) 787-5383.