The Instagram bio for Ronit Sukenick’s @privatepartspt page reads “straight-talking pelvic floor therapist,” which gives you an idea of what to expect from this baked-goods loving, quite humorous doctor of physical therapy. Ronit explains: “I mean, can you really talk about your genitalia and your bowel, sexual, and bladder habits without laughing a bit?” Since she’s about to expand her office hours at HudCo to four days a week, we wanted everyone to get to know Ronit a little more … intimately, so we asked her a few questions.
What were you doing before opening your own practice? How did you decide to take that risk?
I was working at New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH) at Columbia, and I had started the pelvic rehabilitation program there. I was astounded by how many patients there were who needed our services and that program continues to run and grow at NYPH now. At some point, I decided that I could see patients on the side in Westchester and very tentatively started treating a handful of patients here and there out of a physical therapy clinic in Irvington. It grew faster than I thought it would, and about a year before the pandemic started I decided I could leave NYPH financially … so I left to focused my attention on my practice.
Right before the pandemic hit, I was exactly where I had wanted to be, seeing the number of patients I wanted to see and having the work-life balance I was looking for by working closer to home and making my own hours. Then the pandemic hit, and that was terrifying and for a brief moment I returned to NYPH to work per-diem … I just wasn’t sure if I could ever build back what I had just achieved and who knew what the “new normal” was going to look like.
At the time, I was wondering if we would ever see patients in-person ever again! Thankfully, I am back working solely at my practice and even expanding my hours to accommodate more patients with HudCo’s help!
OK—tell us all about the pelvic floor. What brought you to that specialty? How do you help people?
I was a physical therapist for about 5-6 years before I decided to specialize in pelvic floor PT. In general, my favorite population was patients with neurological disorders or strokes, but my focus changed when I got pregnant with my first child. I experienced an injury while pregnant called pubic symphysis diastasic—a separating of the pubic symphysis joint, the front joint of your pelvis. This joint does widen when pregnant and with childbirth, but mine went a bit further than necessary, and I was very debilitated. Despite being a physical therapist in a large New York hospital, I couldn’t find anyone to help me.
After that pregnancy, I finally found a pelvic floor physical therapist at Cornell who was phenomenal. I sat in the waiting room that first day, feeling such relief to have found someone who could help me, that I decided I was going to specialize in this area of PT that I had such a hard time finding. I started taking continuing education courses and then basically started telling urologists at Columbia that we could treat their patients.
I hope I help people in the same way that my pelvic floor PT helped me—filling a need in the community for a type of rehabilitation that can help so many people that don’t know where to turn or haven’t found the answer to their problems. I treat men and women with pelvic floor dysfunction, which manifests in many different ways—bowel, bladder, sexual dysfunction, and/or pelvic pain. I treat patients with incontinence, urinary frequency, urgency, constipation, pain with sex, pain in their hips/backs/lower abdomen/tailbone.
How have all of these people found out about you? How do you reach new clients?
People find me via a lot of different ways—physician referrals are a big source, as well as word-of-mouth from previous patients or from health and wellness practitioners in the community. I always encourage my patients to talk to their friends about their issues—often those issues are considered taboo or embarrassing—but I think people will find a lot of people are suffering from similar issues and just not talking about them and they may have no idea there is help out there that doesn’t involve medication or surgery.
Now let’s get a little more personal than pelvic floor talk. What made you decide to move to the Rivertowns? What are some of your favorite shops/restaurants/things to do here?
Back in 2010 or so, my best friend from South Africa (who I grew up with) came to Manhattan to visit, and I had a 2-year-old at the time. Trying to navigate Manhattan with a suitcase, a stroller, and a toddler was miserable, and she looked at me and said, “You have to get out of here!” The realization that she was right and that this was not a normal or necessary way to live, plus the fact that we were facing preschool in Manhattan, quickly made us think about getting to Westchester as soon as possible.
We knew we had to be close to the city for both of our jobs, and we also loved the city and wanted to be close enough that we could get in easily for the fun things the city had to offer. We moved to Hastings for the proximity to the city, the cuteness of the town—I went to the farmers market and loved it—plus the good schools for our kids.
I am a fan of walking on the aqueduct or in Hillside woods with my dogs, I love a good evening of drinks and small plates at Boro6, I enjoy grabbing a coffee at Climbing Wolf and Antoinette’s, and I make way too many trips to By The Way Bakery that my cardiologist would probably frown upon.
I think you’re very funny. How does humor factor into your work with patients?
I have to talk about some very intimate things and people need to feel comfortable—so for some people humor is helpful…plus you are spending an hour a week with me in a room, one-on-one, so I do hope it is enjoyable and not a painful social experience. Of course there are times when humor is not the way to go … but some of those times, it is even more important to a have a little laugh.
What do you do to support your mental and physical health?
Still trying to figure that out. But I will say, leaving my house is very important and seeing patients makes me much happier than not. I exercise pretty regularly and eat a lot of baked goods … don’t hear that often as a healthy thing right? But I do love a good brownie. And I love baking them too. Sometimes, I try to eat better… occasionally. I spend a lot of time walking and hanging out with my dogs with my husband, and I recently started taking tennis lessons which has been feeling great. I guess answering this question makes me realize I should try to eat better … but there’s a lot of Halloween candy around here right now.
Any last thoughts you want to share?
Um… I am excited to hang out at HudCo for 4 days a week starting in December, and I have asked Shannon to look into a bakery coming to HudCo. She said she is working on it, but I think she is just saying that to shut me up.
Find out more about Ronit’s practice at www.rspelvicpt.com.