The medical profession has changed a lot since the days of the old family physician who not only treated, but really knew and cared about his patients. Dr. Kevin Karpowicz is a throwback, and the families of Schenectady, especially the children, are much the better for it. When he retires at the end of May and moves to Maryland, the community will have lost someone special — irreplaceable, in fact.
Karpowicz, a pediatrician, has cared for kids from all strata of Schenectady, but he has a special affinity for the poor. He was long associated with Carver Community Center, an inner-city clinic that treats patients regardless of ability to pay, becoming its first full-time physician and medical director in 1980 and staying involved even after opening his own successful pediatric practice on State Street in the Vale neighborhood. In 2005 he merged his practice with Hometown Health, Carver’s successor, before ending the relationship when the organization, hurting for money, reorganized and cut staff.
But it wasn’t just with his doctoring that Karpowicz had a big impact. He also conceived smart, effective programs that addressed the problems he saw every day with Schenectady’s poor. One of these was Healthy Schenectady Families, a county program where nurses visit and educate mothers in their homes before and after they give birth, to ensure that their children get off to the best start possible. Another such program is at St. Clare’s Hospital (now part of Ellis), where most of the city’s poor children receive emergency care; this one has doctors establish a long-term plan for each child. In keeping with his interest in the health of the whole child — physical, mental and emotional — Karpowicz has been spending a lot of time lately talking and writing about the string of teen suicides that has struck Schenectady.
Ironically, it was health problems of his own that got the good doctor thinking about retirement.
There is a Yiddish word, “mensch,” which means an admirable person with integrity, fortitude, compassion and fundamental decency, a human being. It fits Kevin Karpowicz to a T.