Interview: Anthony Cerabino, Wellness Practitioner

By Shoshanna McCollumIt was Anthony Cerabino’s birthday when we sat down to talk with him. The Bay Shore native has just turned 57 years old. He has much to celebrate. As the founder of Healthcare Wellness Center, his practice on Main Street is flourishing. Acupuncture, allergy elimination, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, medical massage, vitamin and mineral therapy, and Reiki, along with nutritional counseling are among the services his dedicated staff offers. If you think this is “new age” medicine with crystals and pyramids, guess again. This is the story of a man who has established himself on Long Island, and has earned the respect of his medical peers and patients alike. Fire Island News (FIN): Can you tell me a little bit about your training?Anthony Cerabino (AC): I’m not considered a medical doctor, but I do have a Master of Science in Acupuncture, am board certified, and hold a massage therapy diploma. I studied message therapy at New York College of Holistic Health Research, from there acupuncture was a natural transition, and I obtained my masters at the New York College of Health Professions. To maintain my certification I have to earn a certain number of credits in continuing education every year, and I always exceed the minimum. I am also a certified NAET practitioner, which stands for Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique, this reprograms the nervous system to overcome allergy symptoms.FIN: How many years have you been in practice?AC: I’ve been in practice for 24 years on Long Island, with the past 10 years being located in Bay Shore. I’m well acquainted with the Long Island healthcare practice infrastructure. I work with oncologists, chiropractors, physical therapists, as well as many other medical specialists in the region. We are kind of like the bridge between Eastern and Western medicine, and I like to think we set the standard. It’s not about the numbers in my practice; it’s about quality treatment. On average we see only about 12 patients per therapist, and I have 12 people working for me in my practice – that’s a one to one ratio – so everyone gets the time and attention they need.FIN: What attracted you to this type of healthcare?AC: Before entering this field, I was a professional studio musician – a jazz percussionist. However I became frustrated with my career, and went back to school and fell in love with Chinese medicine. It too is a creative art. In massage and acupuncture I still work with my hands, it was a natural progression. I have a passion for it, and have developed a passion for the administration of this practice as well – playing my part to integrate it into the medical mainstream. I believe our lives are comprised of three factors: personal, professional, and planetary – the planetary being your higher purpose. While the practice is also my purpose, I consider it my good fortune to be of service to and help our patients.FIN: Why did you choose Bay Shore to set up your practice?AC: One of the reasons that I came back is I used to keep two practices – one in Bellport, the other in Commack. When I decided to make the move, I was looking for a midpoint between the two locations, which just so happened to be Bay Shore. It seemed meant to be. I am a Bay Shore native and know what the people who live here are all about. I know the psychology and climate of the people. I know the restaurants and the area. Sometimes I prescribe a day at the beach, or a couple hours at Bayard Cutting Arboretum to my patients as part of their treatment, and because I’m from the area I know what I’m talking about.FIN: I was surprised to see that so many kinds of mainstream health insurance plans are accepted by your practice. Can you tell me a little more about that?AC: We have been in practice well over 20 years, now. NYSHIP – the healthcare program that insures the civil service employees in the state of New York, accepted me as a participating provider two years ago. Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Empire, Cigna, United Healthcare, Aetna, and Oxford – the good guys recognize my services as well, so we can accept them all. There is a demand for our kinds of services, often made by the employers themselves, because they know it works and has been proven effective. I also work regularly with Northwell Health, as well as Catholic Health Services employees. Ninety-eight percent of our services right now are insurable. We still don’t accept Workers Compensation or Medicare – but we are working on that.FIN: Let’s talk a little about the opioid crisis. We have become a medicated nation. How does your practice address that?AC: I am actually working with New York State Senator Phil Boyle on an initiative concerning this, as he is deeply committed to this matter. Everyone I know has someone close to them who is suffering with this problem. The heroin problem has gotten a lot of national attention, with prescribed pain medication often being the gateway. Acupuncture offers pain management and a way to break that cycle. We follow the National Acupuncture Detoxification (NADA) protocol in treating such patients. Also there are some people who cannot stomach prescribed pain medication to begin with, and acupuncture gives them choices.FIN: I have suffered from migraine headaches since the age of 12. Are you able to help someone like me?AC: We treat migraines all the time, often with good results. People suffer from conditions in which the cause was sometimes triggered years ago. Maybe you were exposed to mold or a chemical decades ago that disrupted your nervous system, or perhaps your monthly cycles have never been right – that happens with women all the time. Sometimes an allergy can mimic other conditions. So we check your nervous system to see if we can find and treat the cause, not just the symptoms.FIN: Why do you think people suffer from the afflictions that bring them into your office?AC: Lack of knowledge, lack of balance, issues from within. What happens is the perfect storm; they try everything else and then they come to me. Environmental stress, the water quality on Long Island, GMOs, and other contamination in our systems. Our bodies are amazing, and resistant, but sometimes our protective armor can break down. There are so many factors involved. We no longer have close-knit families that support each other, families these days disperse across the country and isolate themselves. This can be a factor too.FIN: How can people live better?AC: There is that old saying “know thy self.” Slow down, know what makes you tick, and know what makes you happy. Live clean, keep it simple, and move onto a better life. We overextend ourselves. It is also important to get involved. Join a book club, take up racquetball, or go to the beach. People are longing for connection. Right now I am on social media, but sitting in a room alone, and in our society there is a lot of that. People longing for attachment, we are social creatures. If you want to be happy engage yourself with life. Creativity in your work, that is also huge, and don’t live a lie – if you have a problem, get help.FIN: I’ve noticed throughout this interview, that you never once used phrases like “alternative healthcare” or “holistic medicine.” Why are they not in your lexicon?AC: Because acupuncture is mainstream now. Those phrases change all the time, and bringing those words up have become a bit passé. Healthcare is integrated now. Acupuncture is flourishing. I am considered primary healthcare provider. You don’t need a note or referral to come and see me.FIN: Is there anything else you wish to discuss that my questions have not touched on?AC: I am the guy who keeps his hair short, with no earring. In another time, maybe hundreds of years ago, I might have been that guy with the medicine bag, long hair to my butt, living among the flames. But it’s not about me, its’ about getting the word out there, and helping people. If you are in a crisis, or need another way to look at things, that’s where we come in. That’s my motivation, and I’m grateful.