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The history of Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics

Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics had its beginning shortly after World War II with Dr. Wendell Davis joined Dr. P. Kingsley in and office on East State Street.  In the mid-1950's, Dr. Davis and Dr. Kingsley decided to end their partnership and Dr. Davis moved his office to 401 S. Albany Street, a large gray building across the street from Beechtree Care Center.  In 1960, Dr. Roger Perry joined Dr. Davis, marking the real beginning of Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics.  Dr. Perry had trained at the New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center then spent two years as a pediatrician in the US Navy at the submarine base hospital in New London, CT before his arrival in Ithaca.  In 1963, Dr. L. Anthony Speno, a native Ithacan, decided to return home and join Drs. Davis and Perry on S. Albany St.  He had just completed a pediatric residency at the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI.  Dr. Speno’s residency father practiced medicine and surgery for many years in an office on N. Cayuga Street.  In 1981 Dr. Davis died, thus closing this chapter in the life of Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics.

Because the practice had grown so much with Dr. Speno’s arrival, it was obvious that a larger office was needed.  In 1981, an old farmhouse on W. Buttermilk Falls Road was purchased and renovated into a pediatric office.  The building was a handsome Greek Revival structure with spacious grounds and beautiful trees.  Although it was quite old, circa 1850, our patients became very attached to the place.

The year 1984 saw Dr. Mary Anne Kiernan joined the practice following a residency in Boston, MA.  Dr. Kiernan was also returning to her childhood home, Cortland.  So, now Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics was once again a three-person pediatric practice and growing.

In 1989 Dr. John Y. Lambert, again a long-time Ithaca resident, decided to return home.  He had joined a pediatric group in Bangor, ME following his residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  During his time in Maine he completed a fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology, so he brought a much needed pediatric specialty to the area when he joined the practice.  Dr. Lambert is a graduate of Ithaca High School, Syracuse University and the University of Buffalo Medical School.  Now, with a four-person group and a growing practice, Buttermilk Falls had again outgrown its office space.

In 1991, in an effort to be closer to the hospital, which was thought to benefit both the doctors and their patients, Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics decided to move to the Tompkins County Professional Building in Trumansburg Road.  There the practice would be minutes from the hospital with its laboratory and x-ray facilities.  The name Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics was retained for both sentimental reasons and to maintain continuity.

In 1991, Dr. Speno retired and moved to South Carolina and Dr. Nancy VanKeuls joined the practice, having completed a pediatric residency in Syracuse.  Her time at Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics was brief, only two years, while her husband finished his studies at Cornell.

The year 1992 brought three very significant changes to Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics with Dr. Kiernan leaving the practice and Dr. Vasanti Rao and Dr. Helen Stiles.  Dr. Kiernan, after long and hard thought, decided to return to the world of academic medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.  Dr. Rao had been in solo practice for many years with and office on E. State Street, but her practice grew to the extent that she felt a group practice would offer many advantages.  Her extensive training in India and the US was a strong addition to the practice.  Dr. Stiles came to Ithaca after several years of practice in Kansas and training in pediatrics at the University of Kansas; she was with the practice until 1995.  In 1993, Dr. Van Keuls and her husband moved back to Cleveland and Mary Bucknam, a Physician’s Assistant, joined the practice.

1994 also brought many changes to the practice; Dr. Perry retired after 35 years in practice and both Dr. Janusz Sendek and Dr. Amit Shrivastava joined Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics.  Dr. Sendek brought many years of experience in pediatrics both in his native Poland and in the US.  Dr. Shrivastava went to medical school in his native India and completed his pediatric residency at the University of Iowa.

In the summer of 1996 our east office was opened on Arrowwood Drive in the Parkview Health Care Campus.  The office was opened to make it easier for patients living on the east side of Cayuga Lake to be seen.   More than a decade later the Arrowwood Drive office is a busy, integral part of Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics.

In 2000, Dr. Rao left the practice to take a position in administration at Cayuga Medical Center.
Carolyn Koppel, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner joined the practice in 1999.  Carolyn received her Bachelor Degree of Science in Nursing from Syracuse University, Master in Public Health from Tulane University, and Master of Science in Nursing from University of San Diego.  Since coming to Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics Carolyn has become a lactation counselor and she will soon be starting a fellowship in Integrative Medicine.

In 2002, Dr. Jessica Casey joined the practice.  Dr. Casey did her residency at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey in Newark, NJ.  As a native of upstate New York and having attended Cornell University as an undergraduate, Dr. Casey was thrilled to be able to come back to Ithaca to practice pediatrics.

Mary Bucknam left the practice in 2010 to pursue an opportunity at Cornell University.  In 2011 Andrea Sharkness, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner, joined Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics.  Andrea is an Ithaca Native who graduated from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.  She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Rochester.

There have been many changes through the years, but our mission remains the same.  Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics is a group of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and administrative staff who strive together to provide age-appropriate preventive care, developmental guidance and to treat illness from birth through the transition to adulthood.  The practice focuses on the growing child and we work to support and educate families in promoting healthy and safe growth and development.