Our Best Doctors

Is yours on our list?



For the first time in the Coachella Valley, an independent firm has surveyed the medical community to select the top doctors in a variety of clinical specialties. Palm Springs Life commissioned New York-based Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. to study the area’s doctors and report back, providing qualified recommendations so that you can avoid picking a physician randomly from your health plan directory.

Castle Connolly’s physician-led team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select top doctors on both the national and regional levels. Using mail and telephone surveys and electronic ballots, the firm asks physicians in private practice and medical leaders of area hospitals to identify outstanding doctors. Careful screening of doctors’ educational and professional history was essential before selecting the list. Doctors may not pay to be included.

The firm has conducted similar studies for national (Town & Country, Good Housekeeping, Redbook) and regional (San Francisco, Chicago) publications. It also publishes the book America’s Top Doctors, now in its fifth edition and available in bookstores and online at castleconnelly.com, or at 800-399-DOCS.

If your doctor does not appear on this list, it doesn’t mean she or he is not worthy. In fact, some of our favorites did not make the cut, and we continue to stand by them. We hope you will use this list as one source when making your medical decisions.

 "I Know A Lot About Them"

Reza Nazemi, MD
Neurology
Eisenhower Medical Center
(760) 341-3400

To neurologist Reza Nazemi, the human brain is the most fascinating organ. “It controls how we think, perceive, develop, age, feel pain, experience emotions,” he muses. “It encompasses so much…I knew that if I studied neurology, I would learn so much.” Dr. Nazemi was fascinated by medicine since childhood; as soon as he finished high school in his native Iran, he entered medical school at age 18. He received his medical degree from Tufts University Medical School in Boston, did his neurology residency at Chicago’s Northwestern, and completed a fellowship in neurology and neuromuscular diseases at UC San Diego. He is board-certified in neurology and electrodiagnostic medicine, the specialized testing of nerves and muscles. But it is the ability to listen to patients, he says, that is vital to being a good doctor. “The night before I see a new patient, I review their chart, so I know a lot about them before I even see them,” he says. “And I can spend our time together listening and paying attention.” The best art of being a physician? “So many aspects are rewarding,” he says. “But when a patient thanks me for helping them to feel better, nothing replaces that. And it happens every day. That is fulfilling.”

"I Treat Everyone Equally"

Eric Lewis Freedman, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
(760) 342-8444

You could say that Dr. Freedman was exposed to medicine early; his father was a specialist in infectious diseases. “I like to work with my hands,” he says of his decision to pursue surgery. “I like fixing things. I’m task-oriented. If something’s broken, I want to fix it.” As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and hand surgeon, that’s exactly what he does. In private practice (Desert Hand Associates) since 1997, Dr. Freedman received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his orthopedics residency at UCLA and a hand surgery fellowship at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “I treat everyone equally and give patients the time they need,” he says. “Some patients need only a quick shot; others want to spend time discussing all their options. And I’m anal-compulsive about being organized. I get back to people as soon as possible.” He also admits,“I’m lucky that I love my job. I’m proud that my family life takes precedence over it. ‘Balance’ is a word I use regularly.”

"It Is In My Blood!"

Wendy Eileen Roberts, MD
Dermatology
Desert Regional Medical Center
(760) 346-4262

I’ve had five aunts who were doctors, so you could say it is in my blood!” Dr. Roberts says about being drawn to practice medicine. “I was attracted to dermatology because I’d been interested in skin since I was a young girl. I’d do facials on my family and friends, making up potions. [Because] I love skin, the microscope, and surgery, it all added up to dermatology.” Dr. Roberts received her medical degree from Stanford Medical School and completed a two-year residency in general surgery at Highland   General Hospital in Oakland and a three-year dermatology residency at King-Drew Medical Center (Los Angeles County). She also completed a fellowship in dermatopathology at New York University — after which Loma Linda University Medical Center recruited her to start a department in that specialty. Board-certified in dermatology, she has been in private practice in Rancho Mirage for 10 years and more recently launched a medical spa in Palm Desert. “If it’s got to do with the skin, I can help,” she says. “I really love what I do, helping people feel good. And I’m relentless. I won’t stop until I get an answer and can make a patient feel or look better.”

"Interaction Is So Rewarding"

Judith Braslow Zacher, MD
Plastic Surgery
Eisenhower Medical Center
(760) 773-6616

Dr. Zacher’s grandfather and parents were doctors, and four of her six siblings went to medical school. “We have a family joke that you can be anything you want, as long as it’s a doctor,” she says. Dr. Zacher was one of only six women at Ohio State University College of Medicine in the late 1960s, a time when pediatrics was the “acceptable” specialty for women doctors. “When I discovered plastic surgery, it was like finding religion,” she says, recalling a two-day period during her surgical rotation when she scrubbed in on procedures for a burned child, a paralyzed hand, skin cancer, and breast implants (the latter “a rarity” in 1968). “This is it,” she thought, and she never looked back. She completed a residency in general surgery at Mount Carmel Medical Center in Columbus and one in plastic surgery at Ohio State, and she is board-certified in surgery and plastic surgery. Today, she specializes in breast surgery and reconstruction. “I probably do more reconstruction than anyone else in town,” she says. “I help women understand what they want and then do what it takes to get them there. The patient interaction is so rewarding. I probably get more hugs than most doctors.”

 "A Tremendous Revolution"

Aijaz Hashmi, MD, FRCP, FACC
Pediatric Cardiology
Loma Linda University Medical Center
(760) 318-8100

There are so many recent advances in pediatric interventional cardiology,” says Dr. Hashmi, referring to his specialty in which he treats children (and adults) with congenital heart problems. “We can do many things now that at one time could only be done through open-heart surgery. With balloons, stents, and other state-of-the-art devices, we can treat very severe problems through procedures that leave no scar — and the patient can even be home the next day. There’s been a tremendous revolution in terms of treatment options,” he adds. Dr. Hashmi has a private practice in Palm Springs and is director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Loma Linda International Heart Institute. He received his medical degree from the University of Ottawa in his native Canada and completed his pediatrics residency at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where he also undertook a clinical fellowship in pediatric cardiology. He completed three additional fellowships at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, including ones in echocardiography and interventional cardiac catheterization. Dr. Hashmi’s patients range from newborns to adults their 70s. “I do the best I can for patients,” he says modestly. “It’s very satisfying to see them get better.”

"Awareness And Compassion"

Natalie K. Shemonsky, MD, FACP
Internal Medicine
Desert Regional Medical Center
(760) 320-8814

I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid,” says Dr. Shemonsky, who has been in practice for 30 years here in the desert and plans to continue for at least another 10.  “I love taking care of my patients. What’s beautiful about practicing here is that patients really participate in their care, and they’re so appreciative of being taken care of. It really fills my heart.” Board- certified in internal medicine,  Dr. Shemonsky received her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and completed her residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the Medical College of Pennsylvania, where  she also completed a fellowship  in infectious diseases. In addition, she completed a pathology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a forensic pathology fellowship at The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. “I treat my patients the way I’d want to be treated myself — with awareness and compassion. And I know how to listen.”

 

Meet Coachella Valley's Top 70 Physicians in 35 Specialties
As Chosen By Their Peers.

Allergy & Immunology

Gary Irvin Greenwald, MD
42362 Bob Hope Dr., Ste. D1
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-7105
(760) 341-9777

Cardiovascular Disease

Mohammad Abid, MD
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
81-709 Dr. Carreon Blvd., Ste. A1
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 863-4666

Robert Frank Bernstein, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
555 Tachevah Dr. Bldg. 1W – Ste. 202
Palm Springs, CA 92262-5750
(760) 327-7666

Ronald Himelman, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
555 Tachevah Dr., Bldg. 1W – Ste. 202
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-2174

Colon & Rectal Surgery

Michael David Last, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr., Ste. K-403
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-7078
(760) 346-5551

Dermatology

Timothy F. Richardson, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
36101 Bob Hope Dr., Ste. B2
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-2003
(760) 324-4400

Wendy E. Roberts, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
39700 Bob Hope Dr., Ste. 115
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 346-4262

Diagnostic Radiology

Barry Ellis Mantell, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1150 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 778-5900

Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism

Elke Jost-Vu, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3221
(760) 776-4626

Khaldoun Alnabelsi, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 773-5350

Family Practice

James Ernest Gaede, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
555 Tachevah Dr., Ste. 2L-101
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 327-1557

Sam Yi Shang Lin, MD
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
79-440 Corporate Center Dr., Ste. 110
La Quinta, CA 92253
(760) 564-3533

Gastroenterology

Anh T. Duong, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 340-3600

Jorge Guillermo Gutierrez, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1100 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 106
Palm Springs, CA 92262-4418
(760) 320-3383

Geriatric Medicine

Shehryar Mahmood, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
1180 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Ste. W208
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-3711

Geriatric Psychiatry

Richard Itorban, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
72624 El Paseo, Ste. C-1
Palm Desert, CA 92260-3316
(760) 341-8878

Hand Surgery

Stephen Joseph O’Connell, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 568-2684

Infectious Disease

Shubha Kerkar, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1180 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Ste. E-218
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 416-4831

Internal Medicine

Mary Ann Howell, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 340-3611

Robert B. Waterbor, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3221
(760) 568-6194

Peter Lipton, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
73-733 Fred Waring Dr., Ste. 204
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 776-9511

Carlos A. Lopez, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 773-9750

Hugh S. Nasr, MD
1401 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 101
Palm Springs, CA 92262-4434
(760) 320-6027

Natalie Shemonsky, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
275 N. El Cielo Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 320-8814

Peter St. Louis, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3221
(760) 568-9831

Vinita Elizabeth Verghese, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
340 S. Farrell Dr., Ste. A-210
Palm Springs, CA 92262-7921
(760) 864-6566

Interventional Cardiology

Puneet Kumar Khanna, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 346-0642

Maternal & Fetal Medicine

Steven J. Thomas, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1150 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-6436

Medical Oncology

Elber Samuel Camacho, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1180 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Ste. E218
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 416-4880

Philip Brien Dreisbach, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39800 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3920
(760) 568-3613

Nephrology

Abraham John Lo Jr., MD
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
1180 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Ste. W303
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 416-4819

Richard Alan Stone, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr., Ste. P316
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 568-0383

Neurological Surgery

Alfred Shen, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 346-8058

Shahin Etebar, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 346-8058

Neurology

Mark Clayton Jones, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
74-900 Hwy. 111, Ste. 212
Indian Wells, CA 92210
(760) 836-0860

Reza Nazemi, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 341-3400

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Elliott Edes, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
69265 Ramon Rd., Ste. B1
Cathedral City, CA 92234
(760) 770-5880

Ophthalmology

Bernard J. Hodgkinson, MD
1700 Tahquitz Canyon Way, Ste.10
Palm Springs, CA 92262-7158

Gerald R. Schultz, MD
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
81893 Dr. Carreon Blvd., Ste. 2
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 342-9991

Leonard Schwartz, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-7033
( 760) 340-4700

Orthopaedic Surgery

Eric Freedman, MD
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital
81-812 Dr Carreon Blvd., Ste. D
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 348-444

Adrian S. Graff-Radford, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3221
(760) 568-2684

Amir David Tahernia, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Otolaryngology

Stuart Barton, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
Desert Ear Nose & Throat
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 340-4566

Quinten M. VanderWerf, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 340-4566

Pathology

David Barry Kaminsky, MD
1401 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 203
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 969-1380

Pediatric Cardiology

Aijaz Hashmi, MD
Loma Linda University Medical Center
555 Tachevah Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 318-8100

Pediatrics

Carl Raymond Reller Jr, MD
275 N. El Cielo Dr., Ste. B4
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-2661

Earl Lawrence Semones, MD
275 N. El Cielo Dr., Ste. B4
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-2661

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Jay D. Roberts, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
69844 Hwy. 111, Ste. C
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 321-0042

Plastic Surgery

Scott M. Aaronson, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1221 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262-4870
(760) 325-5255

Robert Hardesty, MD
Loma Linda University Medical Center
4646 Brockton Ave., Ste. 302
Riverside CA 92506
(951) 686-7600

Mark Vincent Sofonio, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 341-5555

Judith Elizabeth Zacher, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
43585 Monterey Ave., Ste. 7
Palm Desert, CA 92260-9400
(760) 773-6616

Psychiatry

Leslie Haco Alhadeff, MD
41-865 Boardwalk, Ste. 204
Palm Desert, CA 92211
(760) 674-0331

John Menelaos Aliapoulios, MD
41865 Boardwalk, Ste. 200
Palm Desert, CA 92211
(760) 776-1277

Sean Arthur Barlow, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
72-624 El Paseo, Ste. C-1
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 341-8878

Pulmonary Disease

Ronald Edward Sneider, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-7027
(760) 346-7336

Ziad Tannous, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1180 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Ste. W208
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-4416

Shahriyar Tavakoli, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 674-4846

Rheumatology

Joel Mark Hirschberg, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 340-6660

Surgery

Delmar R. Aitken, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1180 N Indian Canyon, Ste. E-419
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 416-1976

Frank Robert Ercoli, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1180 N. Indian Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-6316

Thoracic Surgery

Steven Gundry, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
555 Tachevah Dr., Bldg. 3W – Ste. 103
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 323-5553

Surindra Nath Mitruka, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 568-4330

Urology

Jeffrey H. Herz, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39000 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3221
(760) 346-1882

Brad Alan Wolfson, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
555 Tachevah Dr., Bldg. 2W – Rm.101
Palm Springs, CA 92262-5750
(760) 320-6005

Vascular Surgery

Mark Allan Smith, MD
Desert Regional Medical Center
1100 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 208
Palm Springs, CA 92262-4426
(760) 320-9019

Alan Edward Williamson, MD
Eisenhower Medical Center
39300 Bob Hope Dr.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3203
(760) 341-7088

Palm Springs Life

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