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Delivering Kindness and Self-Empowerment with Urology Care

2/2/2023 - Dr. York P. Moy, urologist in Middlebury, Connecticut. Photographed at St. Mary's Hospital, Waterbury, CT. Photo by Stan Godlewski

By Steven Blackburn  /  Photography by STAN GODLEWSKI


Leading a rewarding career as a urologist, York Moy, M.D., admits urology is not often the top choice for many in medical school or the path he himself anticipated taking. Once known primarily as a specialty dealing with urinary tract infections and cancers, urology was not a subject on top of mind for most people. However, with the advent of new medications and therapies advancing physicians’ abilities to treat common men’s health concerns, urology is now recognized as having a significant impact on everyday issues that affect quality of life.


Performing surgery and forming strong ties with patients

Like all medical students, Dr. Moy had to choose between medicine or surgery at a certain point during medical school. He eventually chose the latter since he enjoyed the more hands-on aspect of surgery. He also found specializing in urology provided a more unique experience not found in other surgical professions, and it’s one that’s important to him.

“You get to form relationships with your patients as a urologist. You may be with them throughout their lifetime, which is unique to surgery,” said Dr. Moy. In fact, he is starting to see and treat more than one generation from the same family. “After 25 years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients come to me and say, ‘I’m going to you because you saw my dad.’ You really feel like you know every member of that family.”

The longtime relationship and the impact he has had on so many of his patients shines through in the gratitude they show for him, in the form of thank you notes, and in many cases, especially at the holidays, with gifts.

“Some of my patients, especially in Waterbury where there are many Italian families, say, ‘We have baked some cookies that we are giving out to family members. Have some!’ Or ‘Here is a bottle of Italian wine’ or ‘olive oil.’ Or ‘Here is your Christmas gift.’ I have one patient in their 90’s who loves baking chocolate chip cookies for me and knows I have a sweet tooth. They are actually quite good.”

Urology is especially fulfilling for Dr. Moy, who entered the profession because he wanted to help people and make a difference. One reason is that most of the illnesses and conditions that urologists treat are curable. For example, even though prostate cancer, a urological condition, is the second deadliest cancer, it can be prevented and treatable.

“We have some very good treatments and survival rates, and, at the end of the day, you drive home feeling like you did some good. It’s very rewarding,” Dr. Moy explained.


Empowering patients to avoid surgeries

A major part of Dr. Moy’s job description involves treating and curing various urological conditions, such as chronic urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones, prostate health, and cancer. He uses minimally invasive urological surgical techniques; robotic surgery; prostate-specific antigen tests; ureteroscopy with small scopes; and lithotripsy with lasers, focused ultrasonic energy or shock waves.

But many of the patient’s conditions can be prevented or managed by the patients themselves. In taking a patient-centered approach to care, Dr. Moy and the urology team provide education to ensure patients are as informed as possible about their condition. For those prone to kidney stones, the goal is to avoid increasing the patient’s medications. Instead, the clinical team take the time to share how to combat stone formations by increasing hydration and moderating their diet, for example, which can even prevent the need for future surgeries.

“Patients who are prone to kidney stones are often told to stay hydrated by drinking two gallons of water a day. Well, if I tell you to do that, you are going to stop drinking altogether,” said Dr. Moy. He always remains cognizant of what patients usually consider to be reasonable or even possible. “So, I encourage patients to look at their urine whenever they go to the bathroom. If it is light yellow, you are perfectly hydrated. If it is clear, you are overhydrated and can cut back on the amount of water you’re drinking. But if it is deep yellow, you are actively forming stones. When this happens, I recommend that when you get back to the kitchen, just drink a glass of water or more if you can.”


Customized program eliminates industry wait times 

At most hospitals, kidney stone patients who don’t require urgent/emergent care are advised that their stones will naturally pass. Typically, these patients are given pain medication and a phone number of a urologist they can call in the morning. Since most patients don’t already have a urologist, they can wait up to 10 days until their first appointment. But the urology team at Trinity Health Of New England believed their patients deserve better and sought to make this process easier.

“When you have a stone, it’s not just a little pain. Many women say that the pain is worse than childbirth,” stated Dr. Moy. “Patients shouldn’t have to deal with that kind of pain for so long.”

The Trinity Health Of New England’s team of urologists, who are part of the Men’s Health Institute, developed a more patient-centric approach with their innovative Emergency Department Stone Program. After a patient is told they must pass the stone naturally at home, Trinity Health Of New England’s nurse navigator will follow up with them the next morning and provide them an appointment with one of their urologists within 24 hours. If the patient’s condition is exceptionally bad, the nurse navigator will alert the Emergency Department of the patient’s arrival.

“We like to think of ourselves as our patients’ partners, providing patient-centric care,” said Dr. Moy. “Our patients are our number one priority.”


Helping the whole patient beyond urology

This patient-centric mindset is exemplified at Trinity Health Of New England’s Men’s Health Institute. The Urology Department established the institution based on the goal to make care easier to navigate and as a means to centralize all possible afflictions that a male patient could be experiencing, including those beyond urology. This is meant to ensure every possible condition is identified.

“In general, we know men may not seek important medical help until much later down the line,” mentioned Dr. Moy. “With that in mind, urologists can sometimes be the gatekeepers towards identifying other problems that need to be addressed; by creating an institute, we have made that practice part of our department’s culture.”

As an institute, Men’s Health has the capacity to connect patients who initially came to them for something related to urology—like erectile dysfunction (ED), for example—to other departments should they have a more complex issue. This is much more difficult for other hospitals to achieve without a specially established institute, which naturally possesses the resources to connect the numerous and normally siloed departments together.

“If a patient comes to me about ED, they may be experiencing cardiac issues that need to be identified, so we will connect them to cardiology while still attending to their urological needs,” said Dr. Moy. “The whole concept of the Men’s Health Institute is changing the culture of urology. Yes, we can still perform our specialties, but we are responsible for the whole patient.”

For Dr. Moy and his team, it’s not necessarily about the size of the organization, but rather the quality of care and level of compassion provided that makes the biggest impact. “It’s just about giving good care. I like to think that the culture of the Men’s Health Institute is really that of kindness. You can make a difference in someone’s life that way,” he continued.


Going above and beyond

Sometimes Dr. Moy and his team come across patients who can’t afford their medicine, are underinsured or uninsured. In these situations, Dr. Moy goes out of his way to provide assistance to these patients so they can receive the treatment they need.

“I just had a patient who suffers from an overactive bladder with an associated potential risk of dementia if left untreated, but the medicine he needed wasn’t covered by his insurance,” explained Dr. Moy. “He said, ‘I guess I have to live with diapers for the rest of my life.’ I said, ‘No, we will find a way to get you that medicine, so you don’t have to worry about the cost.’” And Dr. Moy did.

“It’s important to help the patient with even the little things,” Dr. Moy concluded. “It’s about going that extra mile to get patients the care that they deserve. We are partners with that patient. It is about delivering kindness that is personal.”


Steven Blackburn is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of journalism experience in various fields, including U.S. education and Connecticut community interest stories. He lives in Winsted.

Stan Godlewski is an editorial, corporate and healthcare photographer based in Connecticut and working primarily between Boston and New York City.