Milford OB/GYN to close womens health care practice after over 30 years – Milford Daily News

Posted: March 24, 2021 at 12:49 pm

MILFORD Pelvic exams, in vitro fertilization and childbirth typically aren't comfortable procedures for any woman, but Dr.Mitchell Bellucci seeks toensure that patients are secure and that he is positive but especially calm.

So calm thatpatients sometimes askhim if he'sabout to head out for vacation after work.

Everyone would always say, Well, geez, you look like youre going on vacation, said Bellucci during an interview in his office on Friday afternoon, wearing a loose-fitting button-up shirt withthe top fourbuttons undone. For me, it was convincing myself that everything was cool, even if sometimes it wasnt.

Hes been the doctor to more than 10,000 patients and has helped deliver more than 3,500 babies in his career, he said.Known for his cowboy boots, Bellucci, 66, also frequently wore flip flops and casual Hawaiian shirts.

He has a faded 1988 newspaper clipping from the Daily Newsof himself wearinga pair offull-quill ostrich boots. Those cost him around $400, he said. He wore cowboy boots so much, he ended up developing plantar fasciitis, which causes a lot of pain in the heel.

Thecowboy boots have been retired, and Bellucci is poised to do the same.

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Bellucci is retiring next month after 40 years as an OB/GYN. He'splanning to close hiswomens health care practice at 192 West St. after opening it 33 years ago. He's selling the space, which is part of the Westview Professional Building.

Over four decades, Bellucci has made his mark in advancingwomens health care, including setting up the first bone density unit at Milford Regional Medical Center, bringing womens health innovations to local television, patenting medical devices for newborns, training medical doctors on advanced laparoscopyand establishing scholarships for nurses and pre-med students.

He's gone from the swimming pool into the delivery room a few times, too.

Ive delivered no less than two dozen kids in my Speedos... well, they were swim trunks, said Bellucci, who moved to Milford to be close to the hospital (and his practice) if he was needed immediately. He has a pool athome, and has raced from there to Milford Regional several timeswith just enough time to towel off.

It's a career field he never intended to enter, but he's glad he did, he said.

Training as a medical studentwas a pivotal time for Bellucci. While growing up onLong Island, New York, knew he wanted to be surgeon, but didn't want to docancer surgery, which he thought was depressing.

From there, it was process of elimination. He thought he would be an orthopedist performing bone surgery, but found most of his time would be spentdoing hip surgery for elderly patients who stayed at the hospital for weeks, he said. Hand surgery was too long to train forand general surgery seemed too boring, he said. He considered urology, but "didnt want to look at penises and prostates all day."

Then he tried obstetrics and gynecology.

Reproduction and bringing new life into the world especially intrigued Bellucci, who has a daughter, Laura, who's 33 and a bartender in New Orleans. But on abulletin board in the hallway of his office, she's a child, peeringinto the lensof anunderwater camera. Surrounding her are photos of dozens of other babies Belluccihas helped deliver, some also now in their 30s.

Youre there at the most important timeof their lives, man. And youre part of it, he said. What other doctor gets to be with a woman in pain for eight hours, she pushes for two hours, you catch the baby, and youre the hero?Its such a neat thing to experience.

Plus, most if not all of the patients he sees are healthy and have insurance.

I like explaining things, and you have to be direct and have to not overreact, he said about making patients feel comfortable and reassured. The office even has a therapy dog "Charlie," a cockapoo who comes in occasionallyand is adored by patients, said Bellucci.

He also has aletter froma patient, written in 1994, that still makes him smile.

Hehelped a woman deliver her first baby, but she moved and delivered her second baby elsewhere. That experiencewas very upsetting, she wrote him, and said her doctor lacked a sympathetic bedside manner.

But her experience with Bellucci in Milford,by contrast, was wonderful, she wrote.She said he remained positive throughout the ordeal and joked with her to make her feel more relaxed. She wrote that she and her husbandstill laugh years later recalling when a nurse in the delivery room strapped a maxi pad to Belluccis forehead to soak up some of his sweat.

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When I went into it, there were five guys to one woman. Now theres five women and no guys, said Bellucci.

In the 1970s, about 7% of American gynecologists were female, according to the American College ofObstetricians and Gynecologists.Today, about 82%of OB/GYN residents throughout the nation are women.

About a decade ago, Bellucci wasapproached by Bryant University in Rhode Island to teach male physician assistant students who weredenied access to learn inside other women's health care practices. For about nine years, he taught one student a month.

Moremen are turning away fromobstetrics and gynecology, said Bellucci, and its still difficult for them togain accessinto that space. The upside is that physician assistants aren't going into delivery rooms anymore with positions like midwives and nurse practitioners. Rather, male physician assistants today are going into settings like emergency rooms or family practices, he said.

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When most women hit age 50 many of his patients are about thatage their estrogen drops, he said. He realized bone density was an important component to womens health, because while estrogenis the key regulator ofbonemetabolism in both men and women, menopause leads to decreased estrogen, which is associated with decliningbonemineraldensity.

Milford Regional Medical Center didnt have a bone density unit at that time, so he helped create one, he said, and he taught primary care doctors the value of testing for it.

He also helped developthe CO2 Surgical Laser,designed to treat pre-cancerous conditions like warts and lesions, and is known for his Mona Lisa Touch.

That machine, created inItaly, is a laser treatment for symptoms somewomen experience after menopause, such as painful sex. It's an alternative to hormone treatment, which can be risky for some.

A lot of women who have these problems have had breast cancer, and what do (many doctors)do? They put you on anti-estrogen and they save your life, he said. But then you say, 'Well, what about my sex life?' I think we should address that.

If you didn't see "Dr. B" at his medical practice, you might have seen him on "Pasta Playoffs," a cooking show that aired on community access television.

I used to say, If you think you can cook good food, you should go one-on-one against Grandma," said Bellucci, who enjoys cooking Italian food. "And that was the premise of the show."

Various "grandmas" competed against Bellucci in making a pasta sauce, which was thenjudged by three randomly selected customers at Caff Sorrento in Milford, said Bellucci. The showlasted five episodes, and eventually morphed into "Cooking Against Cancer," specificallybreast cancer.

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Bellucci isexcited aboutretirement and has had a rewarding career, but said itll be a tough goodbye to his practice. After closing and selling it, he's moving toRhode Island to be with his girlfriend Mary, where hell spend most of his time boating, fishing, possibly offering consulting services in the medical device industry and writing screenplays drawing from his medical knowledge.

And finally, the next time he wears a Hawaiian shirt and pair of flip flops, he really will be on vacation an extended one.

Lauren Young writes about business and pop culture. Reach her at 774-804-1499 orlyoung@wickedlocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurenwhy__.

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