Written by medmonthly on July 2, 2012
By Leigh Ann Simpson
Martin Fried, MD, is a gentle spirit who posses many talents both as an artist and as a physician. In addition to his impressive career as a pediatric gastroenterologist and board certified physician nutrition specialist, he has also been creating abstract art since 2005. And, according to his patients, his heart has as much depth and breadth as his intellect. For over the past 30 years Fried has made groundbreaking scientific discoveries in pediatric gastrointestinal infectious disease and has been an advocate for children and the advancement of his specialties. He founded and served as the director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the Jersey Shore Medical Center where he has been able to improve the lives of thousands of children with the same abstract thinking that he utilizes in his art. “When I first started at Jersey Shore Medical Center in November of 1992, and for the enduring 13 years, I was involved in caring for patients with Lyme disease and gastrointestinal symptoms,” Fried says. “Using the same creativity I use in art, I became the first physician to confirm (with published research) that Lyme occurs in the Gastrointestinal.” Fried investigated this new area of knowledge and published five papers related to tick borne diseases including Lyme, Bartonella and Mycoplasma infections.
Many of Fried’s patients claim that he has a rare sense of compassion for children and an extraordinary ability to connect with them on a personal level to correctly diagnose even the most complex illnesses. Most of his patients attribute his uncanny level of skill in diagnosis to his understanding of how important it is for a physician to be a good listener. Fried’s empathetic ear has allowed him to diagnose his patients’ complaints from the symptoms they describe with minimally invasive procedures. “As a result of being a good listener, I am often able to diagnose conditions such as Lyme disease which may have a negative lab testing in light of serious symptoms,” he says. “I also am able to begin treatment and not wait for a positive lab test because I listened and believed what the patient was telling me and didn’t need a test to confirm what they said.”
In the fast-passed world of medicine today many patients, especially children, are confused and often scared of their diagnosis, or lack of one. Fried understands the importance of relating personally with a child to help them overcome their illness. Hundreds of patients have provided personal testimony that Fried’s genuine presence and understanding played a large part in the success of their treatment.
Fried credits much of his ability to truly connect with children to his long time mentor, Marcella Vitulli. Vitulli was the principal of an elementary school in Yonkers, New York where Fried volunteered long before he went into medical school. “From the moment I met her, I admired her ability to talk to children,” Fried recalls. “In my third year of medical school, I decided to become a pediatrician because of her role model. I felt helping children who have the rest of their life to benefit from my positive intervention was the best gift I could give to medicine.”
Throughout his career, Fried has also published research papers on nutrition in Cystic Fibrosis, feeding handicapped children and the energy requirements of handicapped children. He continues to go above and beyond for the sake of pediatric health as an avid voice in the fight against childhood obesity. He frequently gives presentations at the local YMCA and other community events on the importance of healthy eating habits. “My devotion and dedication to my patients comes from an honest and sincere caring for them and their improved health,” Fried says. “I would do whatever it takes to see that they have healthier days.”
Fried’s art is just another facet of his tremendous contribution to society. “My art is abstract and meant to be interpreted by the person looking at it in a favorable light. It is meant to enhance their life,” he says. “I believe there is a piece of artwork out there for everyone, it is up to the individual person.” Recently Fried has started to experiment with mixed media combining oil pastels, chalk pastels, and acrylic paintings in his creations. Many of Fried’s paintings can be found on display at his private practice in Ocean, New Jersey. In addition, Fried has displayed his art at the annual Jersey Shore Medical Center Photo and Art Exhibit for numerous years and several galleries in Asbury Park, N.J. have featured him as a new and emerging artist.