Category Archives: Our office

Interview with our Wonder Woman, Lorraine!

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We thought it would be perfectly appropriate this month to interview Lorraine Ruiz-Montgomery, who has been an integral part of the SSP team for 4 years now and has just won the latest SSP award for the Core Value “Good is the Enemy of Great”!  I’m sure almost all of you have had interaction with her, whether it is when she greets you at your little one’s visit with her welcoming smile, or when she helps you with your questions on a phone call.   Let’s learn more about our wonder-woman Lorraine in this month’s interview!

Can you tell us a little about you and your family?  Do you have children?  Do you have any special interests or hobbies you can share?

I am a mom of 2 boys: my oldest is 17 years and my little one is 8 years.  I have been with my husband for 26 years.  I consider myself to be compassionate, well-organized and hard-working.  A special interest of mine is comic superheroes.  My favorite superhero is Wonder Woman.  I have always looked up to her since I was little because she is a strong and fearless woman that I thrive to be every day. My hobbies are relaxing, watching TV and designing/polishing my nails.

Congratulations on your recent award!  What does receiving this mean to you?

Receiving the award for SSP Core Value #4 “Good is the Enemy of Great” is a great honor to me because I am always looking for ways to better myself and my team members.

What is your position at SSP, and what are your main responsibilities?

I am the Practice Manager at SSP.  My responsibilities consist of supervising/organizing the team, planning the appointment schedule for our providers, reviewing the medical records and opening accounts for transfer patients and assisting with billing.

How long have you been with the practice, and what did you do prior to this?

I have been with SSP since 2013.  Prior to joining SSP I was a front desk receptionist at a Veterinary Hospital.

What would you say is your favorite part of your job, and what is the most challenging?

My favorite part of my job is being able to help parents and my SSP family in the time of need.  The most challenging part of my job is building my confidence to present projects during our team meetings.

Is there a special experience at SSP that you’d like to share, perhaps something that is meaningful to you?

My special experience at SSP that is meaningful to me is working with such amazing team members.  I also want to thank Matteo and Dr. Cao for giving me the opportunity to flourish in an amazing company.

I think patients see SSP as an extension of their own home, a place for them to feel comfortable and part of a loving and supportive community.  You are a big part of this, always helping in any way you can. How do you personally see that every patient’s needs are met?

I try hard to listen to their concerns.  Being that I have 2 boys of my own, I feel that it is easier for me to relate to their issues.  We are all human and we can connect at that level.

SSP Core Value # 7: Be Humble

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We are thrilled to share with you our Culture, Values and Promises. We want to make sure you understand what we stand for and what we promise to offer you.

So, first a little HISTORY:

Dr. Cao and Matteo opened South Slope Pediatrics in July of 2012 with the goal of offering a different patient/doctor experience and contributing to the growth of the local community.

 

OUR PURPOSE AND EVERYDAY GOALS:

At SSP we value relationships. Building strong relationships between patients, doctors and team members is at the center of our purpose and focus. We want to make sure that when you call us, come visit us or communicate with us in any way (email, social, verbal, etc.), you know that you are HOME and that we are here for YOU.

Our mission is to give you the best experience of your day. We are here to help you and most of the time we will go above and beyond what’s required or expected to do so. Our goal is to establish a strong and trusted relationship with you.

 

OUR PROMISES:

We promise to always LISTEN, be KIND, be HUMBLE and to be HELPFUL.

 

We simply ask you to reciprocate so we can work on creating a strong relationship based on trust and open communication.
 

OUR CORE VALUES:

Your SSP Team has established a set of 10 Core Values that we base our behavior and decisions upon. Every month we will unveil 1 core value to you and discuss it at the office and via social media.

We encourage questions about our values and we would love to hear your side of the story as well. Engage with your SSP team members when you see them and ask questions.

 

The February 2017 Core Value is:

BE HUMBLE

(Core Value #7).

Here is what we mean:

“At SSP we believe that no matter what happens, we should always be respectful of everyone.  While we celebrate our individual and team successes, we are not arrogant nor do we treat others differently from how we would want to be treated.”

Please send us your thoughts, questions or stories about being humble.We would love to collect them for our Culture Book and for our social media stories.

Yours,

Dr. Cao and the South Slope Pediatrics Team

Interview with Matteo Trisolini, a “Superdad”, a Culture Revolutionary and Co-Founder of SSP!

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We all know Matteo as the “papa” at South Slope Pediatrics, taking care of everyone on the SSP team.  Matteo is involved in all aspects of the practice – if you’re lucky he will greet you when you call and you’ll hear his charming Italian accent!   He has helped South Slope Pediatrics become fully integrated into the South Slope community, while at the same time building community within the practice itself.  Matteo has developed classes to help support our families, from breast feeding to CPR to children’s nutrition and more.  He has become a pioneer of charitable causes, supporting both local and national charities, even launching the Love in a Safety Pin Campaign, supporting tolerance, love and kindness.  He’s the Culture Director at SSP, committed to establishing and embracing core values we hold dear.  Just when you think he does it all – did you know he’s also a super talented photographer and artist?  He’s also a social media guru!  What does Matteo NOT do?   Let’s get to know the man behind the practice in this month’s interview!!!

Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood, growing up on the coast of Italy and how your journey brought you to NYC?

I was born in Bari, Italy. Bari is a small city on the coast of Puglia.  I was basically born and raised on the beach, so that is the culture I have.  Culture of family first.   Everyone there has lunch, dinner, every single meal at the table together as a family.  In my family I’m the only crazy one who at one point decided I couldn’t see myself living there.  So, I decided to pursue other options.  Initially in 1996 my mom and dad celebrated their 25th anniversary and they took us on a vacation to the US to celebrate.   When we landed in NY I could not forget the moment I put my feet on the ground and said “Wow, this is real.  This is not the movies.  This is real”!  As soon as I did that I realized that I felt like I was home,  a completely real and unexpected feeling at 22 years old.   It was incredible and weird.  So, with that – that trip opened up my eyes to new possibilities.  At that time I was studying marketing and management in Italy.  I decided to do whatever I could to live in the US as the US would be able to offer me more opportunities than I could get in Italy.  I also wanted to transition from marketing and management to photography.  I fell in love with being creative as a small child.  I looked into the Fashion Institute of Technology – but at that time the cost of school was impossible.   $21k plus boarding and everything else.   I didn’t have any of that.  Our family had spent everything on our trip to the US so there was no way to do it.  I had to look into a different way to make it happen. I found the University in Milan that only cost $5k a year, which I could afford, and it had an exchange program with the School of Visual Arts.  The exchange program was on a scholarship basis, and only one student could be awarded that scholarship each year.  By the end of 2nd year I won the scholarship and spent six months at the School of Visual Arts.

I went there for the beginning of my 3rd year, spending 6 months, and never wanting to come back.  I had no money….I had just enough money for my bagel and cream cheese in the morning and Wendy’s for my lunch.  That was all I could afford.  My family is not wealthy, but they did an amazing with my brother and myself.  Taught us that you have to go get it and make it happen!  Soon, my photography would start to help pay my rent.  From there I had to graduate in Milan.  While on scholarship in NYC I found a sponsor that would help me come back and work as a photographer.  That was back when there were no wrinkles on my face!

Not many people know that you are also a talented artist, and a very successful fashion photographer, eventually founding Matteo Trisolini Studios.   Can you tell us more about this prior life of yours?   I understand you even designed concepts for Grammy Award nominees!

Basically after graduating I told my mom that I’m leaving Milan and going to the US.  Of course she said “you’ll be back within 3 months”.  17 years ago I arrived in the US,  the year before 9/11.  I was able to thrive as a photographer working for Simon and Schuster doing covers for their books, magazines and commercial advertising.  It was a different NY. A NY were there were no limits on budgets, there were cash advances…the creativity was incredible. People who knew what they were doing and had culture in visual communication were still working and there was an incredible energy.  When I founded Matteo Trisolini Studios, I had a studio in Chelsea, on 25th between 10th and 11th.  I miss that energy.    Then…I met Dr. Cao.

How did your life take the turn to healthcare, and starting the practice we have all come to love?  How has becoming a parent affected this choice?

I met Dr. Cao when he had just started working as an attending doctor at Methodist Hospital.  He was done with residency.  That is a big deal, as during residency you do not have time for a social life and cannot settle down.  So he was done with that and had been working for a year and half as an attending doctor at Methodist.  We actually met because we lived in the same building in Battery Park. We both had gotten into this building because of the grants after 9/11.  We were both able to live in this beautiful landmark building.  We were also coincidentally playing volleyball in a gay volleyball league.  We didn’t know this until one time we saw each other in the building as we were on our way to volleyball.  We didn’t know we lived in the same building.   We didn’t know we played in the same league until that morning.  That morning in this big grand hall with big arches – he looked at me and because of what i was wearing and my mohawk….he asked if I was going to play volleyball in the league.  That was the beginning.

From there, we were married and had Isabella.  That’s when I transitioned. When I had her I realized I had to make a choice.  I could still be a photographer in the fashion industry.  In order to be successful in that industry you have to have a big ego. That also means not a lot of family time, and having to go to parties, travel here and there, working weekends and surrounded by a certain type of people.  I made a decision to put on the brakes until Isabella was about 16 months. When I was ready to go back to work, I decided that I wanted to be behind the scenes instead of at the front.  Still working in the photography industry but as a producer.  With this in mind, I was putting my resume together when Hai said that he always wanted to open his own practice.  He said “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.  Do you want to do this together”?  I said OK!  I had zero experience in healthcare but did have experience creating a business from the ground up, and running a business marketing wise. I knew what he wanted to be seen as – not a big doctor with a big fancy office and five thousand locations…but a small town doctor.  That is what we first told everybody.  You will always have a chance to see your doctor.  It’s nice to see people and know their names and remember their names.  The fact that they know that I’m married to him and this is our family business.  It’s very unique.  From the very beginning our motto was “Family First” and when people try to take us down, we said: let’s put our heads down, think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to give our patients.  Let’s focus on all the good we can give to anyone we interact with, one patient at a time.  This is still a rule that applies today.  We have a lot more patients and attention that we used to have – but the message is still here.  Think about what good things you are accomplishing every day with our patients, and always giving them the greatest experience of their day.  That’s our goal.  Always go above and beyond to help and give them the most pleasant experience of their day.

Having Isabella helped me understand being successful in the arts wasn’t so important to me,  because that was all about me.  When you have a child you exist but it’s not all about you anymore.  This venture was more about making it about me AND my family.  Having a family and staying in the fashion/commercial photography industry didn’t work together for me.  Family comes first, then everything else.  I learned that when having Isabella.

We all love South Slope Pediatrics for many reasons.  It has that old-school “small town” doctor feel.   Parents develop real and trusting  relationships with the doctors.  How do you maintain this close-knit environment in a fast paced city like Brooklyn?

We invest so much time and energy on this.  This is why company culture, which is something we work on every day, is really important.  We have to walk the walk.  We are not interested in opening many locations nationwide. This is not who we are.  We opened this office in 2012 because Dr. Cao wanted to focus on building relationships.  Still to this day building relationships is the most important thing.  Relationships are not only between the doctor and patient.  It’s between anyone on this team and anyone else.  It is between two SSP members. Between any SSP member and a patient – whether face to face, on the phone, on email or on social media.  With any encounter we focus on that relationship.  We promise that we are here to listen and we promise to always be kind to you.  We promise that we will always be helpful and we will always strive to go above and beyond what is expected and required.  Patients know that when they call they don’t need to scream at anyone.  They know they can count on us listening to them and helping them.  That is very important.

The trick is that we ask each individual on any media to reciprocate that behavior. To be kind, to be helpful, to listen and be humble so we can establish that relationship with them.  When you have a baby you go to the pediatrician in the 1st few years a lot.  When you come here, you should feel like we are your extended family and you are home.  We are here to help you.

The close relationship with the practice is not only experienced at doctor appointments.  You offer ongoing support for the parents, offering free courses in the office and sharing helpful and engaging articles and posts on social media.  Why do you think this is so important?

When I had isabella in 2010 I was a first time parent.  Dr. Cao went back to work right away.  I was home with Isabella, and as you might know – that can be both the most fantastic and also the most isolating thing that can happen to you, especially true if you don’t have family around and your close friends are working.  It was wintertime, and it was a hard winter.  I didn’t go out, and I didn’t have a network.  I’m hoping today it’s different but at that time there weren’t any daddy groups, only mommy groups.   It’s very hard to make connections and do something social.  By the time my husband was home at night, I wanted him to take the baby.  “Let me sleep”!  I would say.  Social interaction was so difficult to find.  When we opened the office we thought it would be great to help bring our families together.  Maybe we can help them go get a coffee together, start new friendships.  Two main goals of the classes we offer are to provide tools to new parents that they wouldn’t necessarily acquire during the doctor visit (CPR for example), and the 2nd goal is to get people together with the same age children and understand they are not alone, and what they are experiencing is normal.  You can go crazy when your 2 month old is screaming at you.  Then you see that mom or that dad is going through the same thing!  We offer the skill and let them get to know each other, building community in a small but important way.

As for social media, that is today’s hangout.  It’s the new park or where you go with your stroller. It’s where we meet together.  You want to provide a service to your patients in any way you can.  It’s a new way to reach out.  It’s not a place to answer medical questions, but we can offer tools, advice or stories where we can all connect.

Another reason we love SSP is how the practice goes BEYOND just being a doctor’s office.  You are fully committed to the South Slope community, from ongoing fundraising for Jonah’s Just Begun to supporting our local schools.   Can you please tell us more about what SSP does here in the Slope?

First of all, we would like to do more than what we do.  With a small office, it’s not always easy to coordinate and to deliver.  Its most important that you pick what you do well and do that thing well.  We want to do it the right way.  There are some organizations that we work with, like Jonah’s Just Begun,  which is close to our hearts.  Jonah has been a patient of Dr. Cao’s since he was just one year old.  Dr. Cao helped in diagnosing him, and we want to always continue to support him in any way we can.  The schools are important as that helps our children have more tools in their hands.  There are other projects that I’d like to tackle and local organizations that help kids who aren’t as lucky as our kids.  I hope that we are able to get involved with more projects soon.   We are here to create community, it all goes back to the fact that we are part of the community and want to help it grow.

Your email signature says “Father and Culture Revolutionary“.  Can you please explain what “culture revolutionary” means to you?

Everyone here on the SSP team has in their email signature who they are (mother or father for example).  Most of us are parents.   We always say who we are first.   Then, the second part is what we are passionate about.  For me, it’s being a culture revolutionary.  I’m interested in culture.  I am a revolutionary because I understand there is a need to express who you are and what you believe in as an individual and as a company.  Company culture is a relatively new concept.  Let me give you an example.  At SSP we come together as a team and share core values.   We have a set of 10 values that we share, being humble being one of them.  It’s something we all believe in and can relate to.  We follow this every day, being on the phone scheduling appointments or helping someone who wants to transfer with an insurance we are not contracted with.  We help them find a new doctor within their insurance.  I’ve always been interested in investing in the people that make SSP.  Everyone who works here understands that  no one works FOR someone, but that we all work WITH someone.  It’s important that our team members are happy.  You can’t deliver a great experience if your team members are not having a great experience.  It’s something everyone here understands and appreciates.  It’s how we are able to go above and beyond in our day to day.  I pushed myself to save money and attend the @Zappos culture camp last year.  When I sat in that room for those 3 days I felt at home.  They spoke my language. They helped give me the tools for what I needed to accomplish.  I’ve been incorporating what I’ve learned here.  We have a culture team at SSP that makes sure our culture is clear to everyone who works here, our patients who come here, and anyone who is interested in joining our family.

I think the great love and compassion you show the South Slope Pediatrics families starts with the love you have at home with Dr. Cao and your beautiful daughter.  Any words of advice to all of us, trying to be as hopeful and positive as we can when looking at the new year? 

We know that we might be looking at difficult times ahead but we also need to focus on the good that we do every day, one person at a time. That’s how you continue, not listening to the noise around you.  Focus on the good that you do, one person at a time, every day – then you don’t lose the focus.

 

 

 

Interview with Dr. Danis Copenhaver

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Interview with Dr. Danis Copenhaver

 

For those of you who have not heard the exciting news…South Slope Pediatrics has now added a fantastic new full time pediatrician to the growing team!  Let’s get to know Dr. Danis Copenhaver, a new mother herself!

 

SSP: Welcome to South Slope Pediatrics!  Where did you practice prior to joining SSP and what brought you here?

Thank you! I am so happy to be a part of the South Slope Pediatrics Family. For the past two years I have been practicing pediatrics in Brooklyn. After living and working here, and starting a family of my own, I knew I wanted to put down strong roots and South Slope Pediatrics was the practice to do that. Dr. Cao is an institution in Brooklyn–he is a skilled pediatrician with years of experience dedicated to family and community health; Dr. Wilson-Taylor actually taught me pediatrics at Weill Cornell in medical school, and I have always admired her intelligence and approach to medicine. And then I met Matteo and the rest of the team! I have never met a more competent and friendly group of people committed to going the extra mile for their patients. I knew that joining the practice and working alongside these amazing people would be the right fit for me.

 

SSP: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where you are from? Do you have a family of your own?

I am a Southern woman, who has found a home in Brooklyn. I was born and raised in a small town in South Texas, and moved to Conway, Arkansas when I was ten. I attended the University of Arkansas where I majored in Biochemistry, rowed crew, and met my future husband, Drew. After graduation, we spent a year living in Belize partnering the University of Arkansas with the nonprofit organization Peacework to create a service-learning study abroad opportunity for students at the University. After Belize, I moved to New York City to start my medical training at Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed my residency at the Children’s Hospital of New York – Columbia University. Drew and I were married in 2011 and we just welcomed our son, Elo, in 2016.

 

SSP: It must be invaluable to relate on a personal level to new moms and dads. Do you have any advice for new parents that you wish someone had shared with you?

So many of my patients would comment during my pregnancy about how being a pediatrician would affect being a new parent, but it was another pediatrician/father who told me, “Being a pediatrician won’t make you a better parent, but being a parent will make you a better pediatrician.” And I have totally found that to be true. I have such a deeper understanding and empathy for the struggles of new parents–this is really hard work! While I still consider myself to be a novice parent, my advice-though not novel-would be, take a deep breath, trust your instincts, and everything will be better after a nap.

 

SSP: Do you enjoy any special hobbies or activities during your “down time” (if there is a such thing with a newborn)?! Any special interests?

You are right about lack of “down time,” but thank goodness for a Kindle for middle of the night feeds! I love to read and have been able to do quite a bit of it during my maternity leave and now commute to and from work. I also love listening to podcasts. Any interesting information outside of medicine and parenting these days comes straight from a podcast.

Drew and I love traveling, cooking, and bike riding. I also enjoy camping and hiking and hope to take Elo on his first campout in the Spring.

SSP: What led you to decide that you wanted to study pediatric medicine?

Since I was four-years-old I have been drawing pictures of myself with a stethoscope, and that desire to be a doctor stayed with me throughout my education. I have also always taken care of children in some capacity. I watched my younger sister and cousins growing up, started babysitting in my neighborhood at 11 after getting Red Cross Certified, nannied in high school and college, and was the president of Camp Phoenix, a camp for pediatric burn survivors, in medical school. Kids bring me such joy! But I knew I wanted to practice pediatric medicine when I met the doctors, nurses and patients during my pediatrics rotation at Weill Cornell Medical School. I fell in love with the idea of taking care of not only the patient but the whole family. I was engaged with pediatric disease processes, unique and distinct from adult medicine, and I was awed by the dedication and care of the people who practiced pediatric medicine. Within a week on that rotation, I knew I had found the field of medicine I was going to dedicate myself to.

 

SSP: What do you find most fulfilling as a pediatrician? Can you please share any experiences you’ve had that has helped shape you as a person and as a doctor?

I find the continuity of care the most fulfilling part of my job–getting to know a patient from birth and following them through adulthood is incredibly rewarding. This sense of dedicating myself to a family likely stems from growing up in a small town with a general practitioner who took care of my whole family. From the everyday colds, to treating me for burns after an accident I had when I was 7, he was a constant in the care I received in my childhood. He even threw a big Halloween party every year that the town went to! Even though we live in a big, bustling city, I hope to bring some of that small-town medicine to my practice and my patients.

Interview with Dr. Wilson-Taylor

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From the moment I met Dr. Wilson-Taylor I knew she was a perfect fit for the practice.  So warm and personable, caring and kind.  A smile that welcomes us and makes us feel confident that we are in the best of care.  A presence that makes us feel safe and calm.  Many of us have gotten to know her as the awesome doctor our child is lucky enough to see, but we ALL want to know more!!!!  Let’s learn about her in this month’s interview.

SSP:  Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and your path to becoming a pediatrician?

I was born and raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was in elementary school. I did a few science programs in high school and only became more fascinated in the sciences and health professions. Even though I felt passionate about being a pediatrician, I kept my mind open throughout medical school. I always found myself playing with children of my adult patients, or taking care of the newborn after a delivery and knew that providing care for children was my true passion.

SSP: Tell us a little about your family, I understand you are a mom of 2?

I am a first-generation American born. My parents are from the West Indies. My son is 9 and my daughter is 7. They are the reason I switched from academic pediatrics at Cornell to private practice here at South Slope. I wanted to be closer to home so that I could spend more time with them during their formative years. I have been married for 12 years to my childhood sweetheart.

SSP:  As parents we are always striving for a somewhat unattainable word “balance”.   How do you try to maintain balance as a doctor AND mom?

This “balance” is very tricky for working families. A couple of years ago, I made a list of ALL the activities that I do, their importance and how much time I spend on each one. It made me re-prioritize different aspects of my life, which led me to join the SSP family. It allows me a chance to be a professional and still make time to get home each night and spend time with children, finish up homework and still take them to activities on the weekend.

SSP: How has being a parent affected your perspective on being a pediatrician?

I know many great pediatricians that don’t have children, but being parent does give me a chance to take a step back and put myself in the shoes of the families of my patients. I realize the way pediatricians talk with families and patients is just as important as the diagnosis being made. I try to take my time and make sure parents understand why I am prescribing a specific treatment and are able to make informed decisions to best take care of their child.

SSP:  When you aren’t busy being a mom and a pediatrician, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

Spare time…I like to cook and am working on my gardening skills. I enjoy fitness and try to get to a cardiokick class once a week and do workout videos at home.

SSP: What is the aspect of being a doctor that brings you the most happiness?

Whether its an infant with a cold or more life-altering moments, to be a constant support and sounding board for a family brings great joy. As a pediatrician, in just a few minutes, I can tell whether a child is really ill and to be able to tell a parent that their child is “fine” can put them at ease.

Taima Lopez: Super Mom, Super Nurse, Super Human!

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written by Jen #supermom

Anyone who is a patient of South Slope Pediatrics is surely familiar with Taima Lopez, the most nurturing and kind nurse that greets us at our appointments.  Whether it be weighing our babies or administering those dreadful shots, she does it all with a smile while keeping our nerves at bay.  Her genuine compassionate nature and strong work ethic make her such an invaluable part of our practice.   Lets get to know her a bit more in this month’s interview!

SSP: We all know you as the most gentle and caring nurse at South Slope Pediatrics.  Can you share a little more about yourself and your family?

I am a nurse at South Slope Pediatrics. I consider myself to be a self-motivated and compassionate person. I have 3 kids: my oldest is 19, my second youngest is 13, and my baby is 19 months.

SSP: Can you tell us about your job and what you do?

My job here at SSP is to obtain and document vitals, do eye and hearing exams, and lead and hemoglobin tests on the children. I obtain basic patient information and transmit this information via an electronic medical record for the doctor to perform his medical assessments.

SSP: How long have you been at the practice?  What were you doing before coming to SSP?

I have been with South Slope Pediatrics since 2013.  Before coming to SSP I worked in a private school, training nursing students.

SSP: What led you into the medical field and why did you decide to become a nurse?

What led me to this field is that I enjoy helping people in need. This is my biggest satisfaction.

SSP: What interests you most about nursing?

What interests me most about nursing is how a simple act of kindness can make a change in someone’s day.  For example,  just holding a persons hand and letting them know it’s going to be OK.  Just being there for them makes a difference.

SSP: What is the most challenging part of your job?  Why?

The most challenging part of my job is vaccinating children. At the moment of injection it is painful for them.  They don’t why we are doing it and that it’s for their own benefit.

SSP: Do you have a special experience that has helped shape you as a nurse?

My special experience  that has helped me as a nurse is having kids of my own. I can relate to parents and their concerns.

SSP: You are always smiling.  You are full of positive energy and it helps each of our little ones (and us parents) when we have to come in for shots.   What’s the secret??? 🙂

My secret is that I enjoy and LOVE what I do and knowing it’s for a good cause. My positive attitude I thank God for.  My kids and my family are my inspiration, my strongest motivation to strive for continuous improvement. Also, working with Dr. Cao, Matteo, Dr. Wilson-Taylor and the whole South Slope Pediatrics team has been a very rewarding experience, one which has promoted professional growth.

 

This is NICOLE BLOCK, Founder OF TYLES.CO

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Photo by Lindsey Turner (Lindsey Victoria Photography: https://www.facebook.com/LindseyVictoriaPhotography/timeline)

A few weeks ago I came to South Slope Pediatrics’ offices for a meeting with Matteo, and he showed me around the new lower level of offices.  Bright and cheery, the space is beautifully laid out and decorated (as the entry level is)!  Immediately what I noticed was an accent wall…this amazing repeat-pattern of wallpaper in bright pops of color.  Then again in the kitchen as a backsplash…another modern and funky design.  Matteo proceeded to tell me all about his good friend, Nicole Block, and the product line she designs, Tyles.  Not only is she an innovative, smart and driven entrepreneur, she is a mom of 2 and patient of Dr. Cao’s!

SSP:  How did you get inspired to start Tyles and what is your background?

First and foremost, I’m an artist. I am an illustrator by training — I graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in illustration. Since then, I’ve been doing graphic design and illustration in tandem, and finally started working for myself some years ago. I own and run The Nic Studio, which specializes in stationery, graphic design, and illustration.

My family moved into our apartment 3 years ago, which needed some renovations. When we finally finished the kitchen a year later, our backsplash was still bare. We were hosting family and friends at our home for our son’s 1st birthday, and I just wanted the kitchen *finished* by then! But we had run out of time, and funds, for tiling. I tried to find a temporary solution that would look great and would also come off without ruining the walls, but I couldn’t find anything that suit the bill. At 2am, an idea came to me (because all great ideas come to you at 2am). I drew out a pattern that resembled Moroccan mosaic tile, and then contacted a vinyl printer to ask if we could make it into a cut-vinyl backsplash for the kitchen. Within a week I had the backsplash pattern in my hands. When it was up, it looked so great that I posted a how-to and sent it over to Apartment Therapy, who ran it on their site. When I realized how many people loved the project and needed this as an option, I decided to make it into a product. And so Tyles was born!

SSP:   What exactly are Tyles, and how/where are they made?

Tyles are a completely unique vinyl product designed in the spirit of tiles. They are not faux tiles, they aren’t meant to fool anyone — they’re a versatile, removable alternative to tile or wallpaper. I hand-draw every pattern myself, mostly inspired by Moroccan and traditional tile design, as well as otherwise mundane elements such as utensils or plates. It’s very important to me that the patterns have maximum visual impact. I want them to be original, I want them to feel stylish and upscale, and I want them to transform a space. After the patterns are complete, I convert the drawings to vector files and choose the colorways. And then I send them off to my production team in California.

Tyles are a cut vinyl product. It’s the same material that most wall decals are made from, but they are assembled in a very different way. Because it’s important that they are in a size and shape that is easy to handle and easy to apply, Tyles are cut and then assembled by hand onto individual 8×8″ square sheets. It’s actually quite a laborious process, so I’m grateful to have found a production team that’s able to make them for me. That was very hard to find!

SSP:   Your designs can truly transform and re-energize a space.  I LOVE how they look in South Slope Pediatrics’ new lower level.  What are the most popular uses for these Tyles – is it a particular room or tending to a particular need?

Thank you! I love how they look at South Slope Pediatrics too!
Like in the staff space at SSP, Tyles were originally intended for use on a kitchen backsplash. It’s an area that’s so very lacking in beautiful, temporary, removable options that can still withstand grease, dirt, and cleaning. A few of my patterns are clearly geared towards use in the kitchen or another food-centric space, like a dining room. But when I made the original sets, i heard from several people that they would love Tyles for other rooms, such as bathrooms, entryways, bedrooms… really, any space where someone might want to change their style and environment, but may not want to — or be able to — commit to a long-term option. Of course, renters and business-owners are natural clients, but there are plenty of homeowners like myself who would want a designer temporary option.

SSP:  How easy are these Tyles to apply (and how does one remove)?

They are super easy to apply! Each one comes in an 8×8″ square, and most are divided by “grout” lines into a pattern of four 4″ squares. Almost everything you need comes in the package — twelve 8”x8” Tyles, instructions, a plastic smoother for application, and a small test sample of the vinyl material so that you can make sure it sticks to your walls. As long as you have a smooth, clean surface, Tyles should stick without an issue — though, if your walls are painted, please make sure that the paint had been able to cure for at least 2 weeks before applying Tyles. The only other things you will need for application are blue painter’s tape to line up the Tyles, and scissors to cut the Tyles for tough areas, like in corners or around outlets.

To remove them, simply pull the vinyl up at the corners. They’re easy to remove, and don’t damage your walls — which is key! If you have any trouble pulling up the vinyl, simply use a hairdryer on hot for a minute or so, and that will loosen up the adhesive so that they pull up without issue.

SSP:  I understand that they are temporary.  How long should one expect the Tyles to last?

With proper care, they should last at least 3 years, if not more. I can tell you that the original Tyles have been up in my kitchen for just about 2 years, and they still look great.

SSP:  Do you have a few designs that are top sellers, and can you share those with us and why you think they perform so strongly?

The same pattern that SSP chose for their staff kitchen, Renovated Souk, is currently my best seller. I think the colors and the impact of the pattern make it very popular. It’s cheery, feels a bit exotic, and just brings life to the space.

Citrus Plates and Marbled Starburst are also big sellers. I think they have broad appeal and work for a number of different home furnishing styles. But my personal favorite is the Utensils Cascade pattern. It’s just so much fun! It’s a little 70s, it’s a little bold, it’s more than a bit tongue-in-cheek… I just think it’s fun.

(see all Tyles patterns here:  http://tyles.co/collections/tyles-patterns)

SSP:  What do you hear most from clients as feedback?

Just how quickly it changes their space. The reaction is immediate. It takes very little time and effort, and even very little product, to make a huge impact.

SSP:  Where does one purchase these?  

Right now, they’re available exclusively online. You can shop directly from the website,http://tyles.co. They can also be found on amazon.com.

SSP:  I understand you are part of a contest on Martha Stewart!  How does one learn more and vote for Tyles?

Yes!!!! I’m very proud to say that Tyles is a 2015 Martha Stewart American Made finalist! The American Made contest recognizes businesses that cares about well-designed goods being made in America. Voting is currently underway for the Audience Choice Award, and I need your vote! You can vote up to 6 times a day. Just go to my finalist page at:  thttp://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/104192/design/tyles-by-the-nic-studio

SSP:  What is the future for Tyles?  Anything else you’d like our readers to know about your company?

Oh boy… I don’t know. I’m just really excited to be making a new and totally unique product that’s really useful for people! And I’m doubly-excited that I can get to draw these, by hand, and that my drawings translate into this final product. I would love to grow Tyles as much as I can — make a lot more patterns, maybe employ a few people, and continue to make a difference in someone’s home or professional space. There aren’t a lot of options out there that cater to life as we know it in NYC — there are a lot of people who are lifelong renters, who move a lot, or who lease an office/storefront, and they deserve a space they can be happy in and proud of. I’m glad to provide a means to that end. =)

I personally could always find a reason to spice up and rejuvenate my apartment.  I get so bored looking at the same thing, day in and day out, every day.  Until now my solution has always been “buy new throw pillows for the couch”!  Not a big investment, can be temporary and a way to introduce a new color or add energy into a room.  Tyles seems to deliver the same thing but with a much larger punch.  A new accent wall, a new backsplash, a new decoration for your (until now) uninspiring work space!  For us NY’ers, especially renters, this is a super exciting new option.  I know I personally cannot wait to see how I can introduce Tyles into our home!

http://tyles.co/

Enjoy Your Family BBQ! (and the Fireworks)

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Happy 4th of July!!

We are celebrating too! The office will be closed on Friday, July 3rd and will reopen on Monday, July 6th at 8AM. If you need to schedule a NEWBORN appointment for Monday, please email us at info@southslopepediatrics.com, we will email you back during the weekend.

If anything happens while we are closed here are two Urgent Care centers that are open:
  • NYM Pediatric Urgent Care at Methodist: 263 7th avenue on the 3rd floor (great for infants)
  • CITY MD: 418 5th avenue (for 6 months old and older)

Enjoy your time with your Family!

Happy ‪#‎BBQ‬! ‪#‎pediatrician‬ ‪#‎brooklyn‬