Haldane Replaces Gergely as School Physician

Appoints retired Katonah pediatrician to job

Haldane earlier this month replaced its longtime school physician, Dr. Peter Gergely, when the popular Garrison pediatrician did not respond to a request from the district to bid on the job.

Instead, at its reorganizational meeting on July 1, the school board voted to hire a retired Katonah pediatrician, Dr. Louis Corsaro, whom it will pay $16,000 annually, or twice what Gergely charged.

Gergely served as the school physician for about 25 years, said Ann Gergely, his office manager and sister. He was upset, she said, at having to “reapply for his job” and said the district should have made more of an effort to contact him. “Wouldn’t you want to speak to Dr. Gergely before you made this decision?” she said.

She conceded that while “we’re hurt by this whole thing, we bear some responsibility for not reaching out,” saying it was the first time they had received a Request for Proposals (RFP), or bids, from the district. 

A school physician can have a variety of duties but typically consults with the district on health and safety issues and may conduct physicals and advise parents.

The former head of pediatrics at West Point, Gergely opened a private practice in Cold Spring in 1990 and in 1995 moved to his location on Route 403 in Garrison.

Dr. Peter Gergely (File photo by Alison Rooney)

Gergely remains the school physician for the Garrison school district, which pays him up to $3,000 per year. The board is expected to approve his appointment for 2020-21 at its July 29 meeting, said Superintendent Carl Albano.

Ann Gergely said that, in February, her brother had asked Haldane to increase the $8,000 annually that he had received for many years to $9,000. She said the district did not respond and the RFP arrived without a cover letter or explanation. 

Philip Benante, who was been the Haldane superintendent since 2018, said that the request for an increase in pay and the RFP were unrelated. He said that while the Haldane board each summer routinely approves a list of appointees to positions such as physician, auditor, webmaster and legal counsel, he recommended periodically sending out requests for bids so the appointments are “not just rolling over year to year. You want to examine who else may be interested and at what cost and level of service.

“You don’t necessarily want change, because with a physician or attorney or architect, they are working on matters that can last for years,” he said. “But periodically examining services and costs is part of running a healthy district.” 

Benante said that when Gergely did not answer the RFP, he called his office a day or two before the vote and left a message asking if he was interested and thanking him for his long service.

Benante said Corsaro, who retired in 2013 from the Mount Kisco Medical Group when he turned 70, submitted the only bid for the job and that his references spoke highly of him. Corsaro is also the physician for the Brewster, Putnam Valley and Yorktown districts. 

Benante said Corsaro agreed to reevaluate his fee at the end of the school year but that, “in light of the current circumstances, he envisioned working closely together on matters related to opening school and the protocols and procedures, as well as how to respond if there are [COVID-19] cases in our [school] community. 

“That has proven to be true. Since his appointment on July 1, myself, the school nurse or the director of pupil personnel services has been in communication with him every day.”

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