Internal Medicine Physician Marisa Friscia, MD, takes pride in learning everything she can about her patients.
For more than 16 years, she provided medical care to people in rural Vermont. “I had more than 2,500 patients and I probably know every detail about their children and grandchildren. I love learning about families. I love it,” she said. “I love the stories because, to me, if you know people and know who they are, then you know how they got there or what’s going in their lives that makes it difficult for them to eat properly or exercise and what hardship they have.”
Dr. Friscia is excited to get to know families in the Mattoon/Charleston area after recently joining the medical team at Sarah Bush Lincoln Family Medical Center in Mattoon. She has taken over the practice of Family Physician Douglas Kabbes, MD, who is now caring for people at the newly opened SBL Effingham Walk-In Clinic.
Dr. Friscia was born and raised in New York City, where she lived a fast paced life and cared for people as a pulmonologist and critical care specialist in the heart of the city until her early 40s. She credits her grandmother for her early interest in medicine. “My grandmother came from Italy and her entire life, she doctored us. We went to the doctor intermittently, but she doctored us and she really knew about the body,” Dr. Friscia said. “I thought medicine was the only thing where you learn something new every day and it’s forever changing, and you meet all kinds of people.”
Dr. Friscia earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, completing one year in Grenada, West Indies, and the remainder in the New York area. She served an internship at Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, and competed her residency in internal medicine in Metropolitan Hospital Center in the heart of New York City.
Dr. Friscia then went on to earn fellowships in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. “I did a rotation in the ICU and I thought it was so exciting. I wanted to save lives,” she said. However, after 10 years in practice and having a daughter, she decided to switch gears.
“I started seeing things that could have been prevented and I thought I needed to start from the beginning and help keep people out of the ICU,” she said. She spent three years providing primary, pulmonary and critical care in the Chesapeake Bay area, where she moved with her husband and daughter.
In 2003, Dr. Friscia and her family moved to Vermont in search of a more relaxed lifestyle and she went into private practice. “I loved the change. I was really a country doctor. I went out to houses and made house calls,” she said. “I loved being a jack of all trades – doing a little bit of everything. Having a pulmonary background really helps me a lot because there’s so many respiratory conditions that a lot of times I can do things myself without needing a specialist.”
With her daughter now in college, Dr. Friscia is excited to move to the Midwest for the first time. She especially enjoys educating people to help them stay well, and she still shares some of her grandmother’s wisdom. “My grandmother felt that food, sleep and exercise were essential…and I remember her dancing every day at 98 and she didn’t suffer from pain like arthritis and I thought ‘I think she’s right.’”
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Friscia, call 217 234-7000. Her office is located at SBL Family Medical Center, 200 Richmond Ave., East, Suite 1, Mattoon.