By Lena Basha
Volume 141, No. 3, May/June 2007, Page 4
Are you ever curious about what the latest medical breakthrough means for your health? As the health and medical correspondent for CBS News’ “The Early Show” for the past 10 years, Dr. Emily Senay helps the morning show’s almost 3 million viewers make sense of health-related news, from the recent FDA advisory on heart stents to the latest on hormone replacement therapy.
“I stay away from the single case of the day, like the person who has a giant tumor removed,” she says. “They’re fascinating stories, but they don’t help anyone. I’ll only cover it if it can have a real impact on a great number of people and help them make healthy decisions.”
When she’s not on the air, you can find Dr. Senay at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she earned her M.D. in 1988. Last year she earned a master’s degree in public health from the school, and now directs the program, which she says enhanced her ability to do her job at CBS. Dr. Senay also has worked as a physician in underserved settings, making house calls to elderly, homebound individuals and working in HIV/AIDS and methadone clinics on the city’s Lower East Side and in Harlem. She has even worked at Rikers Island, New York City’s largest jail.
“I never saw myself hanging up a shingle and making lots of money as a doctor,” she says. “I didn’t want to have a business like that. I’ve chosen to work in underserved settings because those populations are in desperate need of medical attention. It’s also very gratifying because you can really help people directly in those settings.”
Working with the underserved, she says, also provides the opportunity to educate patients about a topic Dr. Senay is passionate about—preventing diseases instead of treating them after they become big problems.
“Heart disease, diabetes and obesity are all problems that are tremendously difficult for people to live with, but in most cases these problems are preventable if people do the right things to take care of their health,” she says. “If we don’t help people get out of these unhealthy situations, the expense to treat these conditions is going to crush our medical system.”
She was initially drawn to women’s medical issues, but she recently became interested in men’s health, co-writing From Boys to Men: A Woman’s Guide to the Health of Husbands, Partners, Sons, Fathers and Brothers (Fireside, 2005).
“The book helps overcome the inequities in men’s health: Men are naturally predisposed to being more vulnerable than women to disease and injury, and they’re just not as good at taking care of their own health as women are,” she says.
Although she is proud of her professional accomplishments, her No. 1 priority remains with her family. She and her husband, Avery Seavey, have three children: 10-year-old Harry and 7-year-old identical twin daughters, Ruby and Lucy.
“I always try to be there when they come home,” she says. “My family has to come first.”
She considers attending soccer practice with her son and figure-skating lessons with her girls just as much her day job as “The Early Show.” As a Daughter and member of the Peter Minuit Chapter, New York, N.Y., Dr. Senay also finds time to instill a sense of history in her children, who are all members of the Children of the American Revolution.
“I want my kids to have a sense that nothing is as it is today without history,” she says. “The DAR is one of the few organizations that helps promote history and preservation, which is why I got involved.”
Dr. Senay jokes that she wishes there was also a place for her husband in the DAR. “He’s a history buff. If we pass a plaque on the highway, we have to pull over to look at it,” she says. “The DAR would be right up his alley.”
Credit: Photo by Bill Cardoni