Over the last 95 years, innumerable people have walked through CEENTA’s doors. Thousands of employees have provided medical care and support to even more patients. This is the latest in a series of interviews with one of these people, offering brief glimpses into our storied history.
If you were an eye patient at CEENTA between 1960 and 1995, there is a very good chance you were a patient of Martin Kreshon, MD. In addition to caring for countless patients, Dr. Kreshon had a front-row seat to the development of both the field of eye care and CEENTA itself during some of their most notable moments.
Serving his country
Dr. Kreshon first fell in love with eye care not as a student, but while in the military. The United States was involved in the Korean Conflict at the time, and after his medical internship he was drafted. At one point his colonel called and asked how much ophthalmology training he had in school. Dr. Kreshon told him two weeks. The colonel told him he was now the chief medical doctor for their eye department.
Dr. Kreshon oversaw three optometrists, where he not only examined eyes but diagnosed two brain tumors, too. He also learned how to make glasses. It was during this time that he fell in love with ophthalmology.
Dr. Kreshon’s love of eye care is still apparent, even more than six decades after he first picked up the specialty.
“As an eye doctor you can diagnose the brain, the thyroid, and anything in the retina,” he said. “You can detect viral diseases, neurologic diseases, and cancer. Looking at the retina is just amazing.”
Back to North Carolina, then to Charlotte
When his two years of military service ended, Dr. Kreshon began his residency at Duke Medical Center. He was the first ophthalmology resident who focused exclusively on eye care. Up until that point eye and ENT care were practiced by the same physicians.
He stayed on in a faculty position, but after seven months, CEENTA eye doctor Ruth Leonard, MD, called him. She was looking for residents to fill two ophthalmology positions in Charlotte.
While his residents did not want to stay in North Carolina, Dr. Kreshon took the drive down from Durham himself so he could compare the two cities. After touring Charlotte, he went to CEENTA – which at the time was located on Seventh Street – and introduced himself to Dr. Leonard. He liked Charlotte and wanted to take the job himself.
His one condition was he be allowed to go back to Duke to teach one day a month. They agreed. In 1959 his contract was signed, and in 1960 he started practicing at CEENTA.
Bringing in other talent
Maintaining a toehold in education gave Dr. Kreshon the first shot at recruiting to CEENTA some of the best ophthalmology residents in North Carolina.
“I brought back seven of the best,” he said. “David Browning, some of the best you could ever have.”
There for the growth of CEENTA
Dr. Kreshon was also instrumental in bringing CEENTA to some of the buildings in use today. When CEENTA was looking to move from Third Street, he found the building that now houses the SouthPark practice.
Moreover, he was a strong advocate for opening additional offices. He and an ENT doctor working there at the time – Richard Felkner, MD – made a strong argument for opening offices closer to their patients’ homes. They eventually convinced the other doctors to try their plan, and in 1985, CEENTA’s second office – Pineville – opened. Today CEENTA has 18 offices across the Carolinas.
A well-deserved retirement
In 1995, at the age of 66, Dr. Kreshon decided to retire.
“I had eight children,” he said. “I wanted to be with them.”
While retired, and now 88 years old, Dr. Kreshon still maintains relationships with the Charlotte medical community. He is proud of is how CEENTA has remained independent for its entire life.
“The doctors never had to answer to anyone who forced them to practice in a certain way,” he said. “We could do anything we wanted and always stayed ethical.”
On behalf of CEENTA and all the patients you cared for, thank you for everything, Dr. Kreshon.
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