Crouse Medical Practice Is a Leader in Providing Patient-Centered Care in Central New York

Monday, August 23, 2021

Crouse Medical Practice surrounds each patient with team-based primary care services tailored to meet every individual’s unique needs.

Crouse Medical Practice — Monazza Ahmed, MD, Todd Lentz, MD, (seated), Seth Kronenberg, MD, Rachna Zirath, MD

Crouse Medical Practice — Monazza Ahmed, MD, Todd Lentz, MD, (seated), Seth Kronenberg, MD, Rachna Zirath, MD

When it comes to medical care, paying attention and responding promptly to clues that may hint of a potentially dangerous health condition is critical to achieving optimal patient outcomes. Primary care providers specialize in this type of powerful prevention, and thanks to Crouse Medical Practice, established in 2010 by Crouse Hospital, the Central New York community can count on a strong network of more than 220 providers to deliver attentive, high-quality primary care services.

“Primary care is the center of care for the patient, and there is a real need for this in our community,” says Seth Kronenberg, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Crouse Health and President and Medical Director of Crouse Medical Practice. “We strive to surround the patient and each primary care physician with a team-based approach to care management — when patients are in the hospital and as they transition back to their lives after discharge. Being able to provide that care in a high-quality manner is critically important for both the health of our patients and for the community.”


Monazza Ahmed, MD confers with Rachna Zirath, MD
“I want to involve my patients in their care so they can take ownership of their personal health. We work together as a team.”
— Rachna Zirath, MD, internist and integrative and holistic medicine practitioner at Crouse Medical Practice

Expanding Access to Care


Seth Kronenberg, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Crouse Health and President and Medical Director of Crouse Medical Practice.

With the addition of new providers in various specialties and subspecialties, Crouse Medical Practice has widened the breadth and depth of care it provides. Today, Crouse’s primary care network is one of the largest in the region. In fact, during 2020, more than 126,000 office visits took place at its various locations, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were founded on primary care and continue to grow those services in our offices across the area,” Dr. Kronenberg says. “We have also expanded into other specialties where we have identified a need in the community, including cardiology, neurosciences, general surgery and bariatrics.”

To achieve such a high level of growth, Crouse Medical Practice collaborates closely with the medical directors working within the different specialties, making a point to prioritize physician engagement at each location.

“We run Crouse Medical Practice according to a private-practice, physician-led model,” Dr. Kronenberg says. “That concept has been attractive to physicians, especially those with a private practice background.”

“I send all of my family members who need care to Crouse Medical Practice. I have trained with several of the other physicians and am confident in the collective commitment to provide efficient, patient-centered care every step of the way.”
— Todd Lentz, MD, primary care practitioner, board-certified in internal medicine

A Network of Support

Primary care providers under the Crouse Medical Practice umbrella have the benefit of working autonomously while still receiving support from Crouse Medical Practice’s quality experts and nurse navigators. Each Crouse Medical Practice site is certified as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This model of care focuses on ensuring that the patient is the focus of care and, according to the NCQA, has been shown to enhance quality, patient experience and staff satisfaction while also minimizing healthcare costs.

“Because we are a multispecialty medical practice adhering to the PCMH concept, we are able to better coordinate patient care among those specialties and the nurse navigators who work through those specialties,” says Rachna Zirath, MD, primary care internist, integrative and holistic practitioner at Crouse Medical Practice. “We are also all on the same electronic health record, which makes it seamless to provide and coordinate services. That collaboration truly puts Crouse Medical Practice on the forefront of team-based primary care.”

As that team-based care continues to evolve, Crouse Medical Practice is well positioned to provide more advanced care to the community in a way that is compassionate, effective and efficient.

“Crouse Medical Practice works continuously with our physicians on improving quality and shifting the focus from the old fee-for-service model to the new model of quality programs and population health,” Dr. Kronenberg says. Crouse Medical Practice actively participates in all value-based payment programs, with the goal of improving quality, lowering cost and enhancing the patient experience. Crouse Medical Practice has excelled in accountable care organizations with both commercial and governmental payers and continues to achieve excellent quality scores.

“We are seeing more and more physicians look for employment through hospital systems, and I think that our team-based approach to care will continue to be attractive to physicians in the area,” Dr. Kronenberg adds.

Board-certified internal medicine physician Todd Lentz, MD, is one of those physicians. After working as a hospitalist for 10 years, Dr. Lentz was seeking a transition to primary care. A native of the area, he was excited to practice in a familiar community and was drawn to Crouse Medical Practice because of its reputation for excellence and collaboration.

“Crouse has always been renowned, so joining the Crouse Medical Practice team was an easy choice,” Dr. Lentz says. “I got my start in the Syracuse/Downtown location and was excited when the opportunity presented itself to help develop primary care at our Camillus location.”

A Community of Care


Elizabeth Riccardi, MD

Primary care providers with Crouse Medical Practice focus on preventing manageable conditions through early intervention. By equipping patients with knowledge about their personal health and the tools they need to maintain or improve it, their physicians can promote health for entire families.

“Primary care is the backbone of medicine that provides a strong baseline and foundation of health care to our patients,” says Dr. Zirath, MD, “We establish a rapport with our patients that can extend to other family members. It becomes one helping the other as a team to make the community very strong.”

Specialized Services, Conveniently Located

As Crouse Medical Practice has expanded, so has the scope of specialized services offered at its various primary care locations.


Stephanie St. Denis, RN and Barabara Clayton, MD

In response to community needs, cardiology is one area that continues to grow significantly. Crouse Medical Practice Cardiology provides everything from diagnostic and interventional cardiac services to electrophysiology, all to optimize the heart health of each individual patient.

Crouse Medical Practice has also become a strong support network for stroke care provided at Crouse Hospital, the first in the region to earn Comprehensive Stroke Center dual certification from DNV-GL Healthcare and New York State Department of Health.

“Comprehensive Stroke Center designation is a prestigious honor for Crouse Hospital and one that is difficult to achieve,” Dr. Kronenberg says. “Because we strive to maintain the Comprehensive Stroke Center program, we need physicians in neurosurgery, neurology and neuroendovascular care, and we have expanded into that area at Crouse Medical Practice.”

Providers at Crouse Medical Practice locations offer other types of specialized care, including endocrinology, pulmonology and surgery, making it easy for patients to access the care they need quickly and easily.

“A lot of older female patients want the convenience of seeing one doctor,” says Monazza Ahmed, MD, women’s health and primary care provider at Crouse Medical Practice’s Syracuse/Downtown location. “We can provide the complete spectrum of care for these patients. We do everything from bone density screenings to pelvic and breast exams. We offer same-day mammograms and send biopsies to our surgical group. Primary care is the captain of the ship.”

Primary Care in the Midst of a Pandemic

When COVID-19 struck the region, the team at Crouse Medical Practice had the technological infrastructure in place to manage patients’ health while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“During the early stages of the pandemic, we saw significant utilization of telemedicine,” Dr. Lentz says. “Our EHR provided a strong foundation for the robust telemedicine operations we needed to conduct exams virtually. Moving forward, telemedicine will continue to be prevalent at levels that are much higher than they were prior to COVID-19.”

However, Crouse Medical Practice also kept offices open, and providers were available to see patients who needed in-person consultations. In addition, COVID-19 units were set up to care for patients who had the coronavirus.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nurse navigators provided invaluable support to patients and clinicians. Their guidance will continue to be of critical importance as Crouse Medical Practice continues to help patients make choices to improve their overall health.

“COVID-19 taught everyone how important it is for patients to focus on living healthier lives,” Dr. Ahmed says. “The healthier a patient is, the higher the chances to beat infection. We were focusing on this message prior to the pandemic by highlighting the value of managing weight and blood pressure and staying up to date with vaccines. COVID-19 has made this correlation even more obvious.”

A Holistic Approach to Patient Care

As an internist and integrative and holistic medicine practitioner at Crouse Medical Practice, Rachna Zirath, MD, provides guidance to patients that is focused on more than physical health.

“I look at a patient’s physical ailment, but I also try to assist them with their mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health,” Dr. Zirath says. “Taking this holistic approach brings out the best in the patient.”

Dr. Zirath’s approach to health blends effortlessly into the Crouse Medical Practice primary care space.

“As a multispecialty practice, Crouse Medical Practice is dedicated to providing the best supportive care for each patient, whatever that may look like,” Dr. Zirath says. “It is a very integrated approach for the patient. They are not being seen for just one problem.”

Patients managing various health challenges that affect overall wellness and quality of life can find the support they need from Dr. Zirath.

“I take the time to listen to my patients’ concerns and provide a comprehensive plan,” Dr. Zirath says. “I offer simple ways to deal with the problem, which may be physical, mental, spiritual or social, so patients can change their attitudes and look at things in a different way.

During COVID-19, Dr. Zirath found the focus on positivity to be especially important for patients facing pandemic-related stress. She encouraged her patients to engage in exercise routines that they enjoy, eat nutrient-rich foods in appropriate portions, and stay connected with themselves, their families and their community.

“Focusing on personal responsibility is a much better approach to improving a patient’s health outcomes,” Dr. Zirath says.

The Healthcare Team at Crouse Medical Practice

Primary Care

Monazza Ahmed, MD
Paraskos Araouzos, MD
Soubhi Azar, MD
James Blanchfield, MD
Debra Buchan, MD
Barbara Clayton, MD
Victor Croglio, MD
Erik Daly, MD
Mark Erlebacher, MD
Andrew Hathaway, MD
Caroline Keib Cramer, MD
Todd Lentz, MD
Martin Noonan, MD
Elizabeth Riccardi, MD
Eileen Stone, MD
Hnin Thandar, MD
Albert Tripodi, MD
Christina Walton, DO
Rachna Zirath, MD
Douglas Zmolek, MD
Dawn Cassell, DC, FNP-C
Amira Goldberg, MSN, NP
Jeffrey Lape, PA-C
Jamie Mangovski, PA
Ashley Maxam, MS, PA-C
Beverly Mosher, RN MSN FNP
Dylan Rodner, RPA-C
MacKenzie Renee Rotella, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
Danielle Ryan, FNP, MSN
Stephen Senenko, PA-C, RD, CDN
Andrew Snider, PA
Teri Strine, RN MSN FNP-C
Corissa Tefft, PA-C
Kelly Woods, MS, RN, FNP-C

Bariatric Surgery

Jeffrey Desimone, MD, Medical Director
Kenneth Cooper, DO
Taewan Kim, MD
Catherine Huss-Johnson, PA
Michael Merola, NP
Melinda Shaw, PA
Kathleen Tindall, NP
Tracy Walker, NP

Cardiology

Nishith Amin, MD
Jeffrey Ascenzo, MD
Joseph Battaglia, MD, Medical Director
William Berkery, MD
Anil George, MD
Matthew Gorman, MD
Joshua Harrison, MD
Nikhil Joshi, MD
James Longo, MD
Charles Miller, MD
Tristan Petrie, MD
John Ulahannan, MD
Erin Bahamonde, NP
Anna Buckman, NP
Meghan Maynard, PA
Lindsey Oltz, PA
Jeanne Pietrzak, NP
Chistopher Souza, NP

Endocrinology

David Di Cesar, MD
Steven Zygmont, MD
Nola Gardner, FNP-BC
Kristy Ventura, FNP-C

General Surgery

Akbar Ahmed, MD
Tammy Congelli, MD
Steven Gelb, MD
Thomas Hartzheim, MD
Herbert Mendel, MD
Benjamin Sadowitz, MD
William Schu, MD
James Sartori, MD, Medical Director
Tanveer, Zamani, MD
Heidi Huddleston-Cross, PA

Interventional Spine & Pain Management

David Moorthi, MD

Neurology

Sami Abdul-Malak, MD
John Cullen, MD
Vikas Gupta, MD
Richard Jackson, MD
Natan Khishchenko, MD
Konstantin Timofeev, MD
Michael Vertino, MD
Meredith Chesare, PA
Tabatha Jorgenson, PA
Colin Maloney, PA
Alyssa Seldes, PA

Neurosurgery

Gregory Canute, MD
Ross Moquin, MD
David Padalino, MD, Medical Director
Raghu Ramaswamy, MD
Clifford Soults, MD
Evan Belanger, NP
Corrie Burgess, NP
Linda Casey, NP
Reggie Cayetano, PA
Jameson Crumb, PA
Sara Finney, PA
Joshua Hennessy, PA
Timothy Ko, PA
Nura Jaber, PA
Gregory Pier, PA
Dipendra Sah, PA
Robert Sawyer, PA
James Shuler, PA
John Stulb, PA
Gregory Verway, PA
Laura Vogt, PA

Psychiatry

Kevin Johnson, MD
Mallory Connor, NP

Pulmonology

Stephan Alkins, MD, Medical Director
Viren Kaul, MD
Emily Weston, FNP-C