Donald Preate, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., could have practiced anywhere in the country upon completing his medical training.


For him, though, the decision was easy. He would return to his hometown of Scranton to work alongside his father and fellow urologist, Dr. Donald Preate, Sr., at Delta Medix, the multi-specialty medical practice co-founded by the elder Preate.


Nearly two decades later, the younger Preate has no regrets. In fact, he’s more passionate than ever about the Delta Medix mission.


“Now, I am my father,” Dr. Preate said on a recent day. “I have been given the task of leading us into the future and continuing the fabulous care that we have here. And having people realize they can get great medical care here and not have to go to Philadelphia.”


These certainly are interesting times for Dr. Preate and Delta Medix, which recently moved into its new offices at the Marketplace at Steamtown, putting all of its specialties under one roof for the first time. However, that triumph recently came up against a significant challenge when five of the six physicians in its Urology department departed for Geisinger.


For Dr. Preate, though, leaving wasn’t an option, given the monumental strides Delta Medix has made in recent years. And, of course, there’s the legacy issue.


“I didn’t want to let that go,” said Dr. Preate, who lives in Roaring Brook Twp. with his wife, Karen, and their three children. “Delta Medix is not just a doctor’s office -- it’s a monument to 45 years of specialized medical care. Our whole office, if I had decided not to stay, the ripple effect would be even more than it is. Delta Medix is in my DNA, so it would be different than any other associate leaving. Scranton has always been my town, and our name means something here.”


Dr. Preate isn’t just charged with leading the urology department through this time of transition, but also the entire Delta Medix operation. Recently, he was elected president of its board – “a great honor,” said Dr. Preate, who also serves as chief of urology at Moses Taylor and Regional hospitals in Scranton.


Meanwhile, Delta Medix is now part of the Integrated Network Cancer Program (INCP), which also includes Commonwealth Health System and Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. The program is currently in the process of receiving national accreditation.


“We’re now affiliated with Jefferson as a partner in cancer treatment, which is huge,” said Dr. Preate, the program’s medical director. “This brought everything together -- the ability to look at statistics, the ability to do clinical trials, the ability for patients to do telemedicine with experts in Philadelphia. Patients can be on the phone or webinar with a specialist at Jefferson while talking to people up here. People can have first-class cancer care here without having to go to Philly or New York.”


In addition, Dr. Preate cited other recent milestones, among them the recent welcoming of Drs. Joseph Leo and Diane Ciaglia into the practice. They are Delta Medix’s first internal medicine and family practice physicians.


“These are changing times for medicine, and being surgical only doesn’t work anymore,” Dr. Preate said. “You have to adapt.”


As he sees it, Delta Medix’s continued growth and evolution perfectly aligns with the ongoing renaissance taking place at the Marketplace at Steamtown and in downtown Scranton as a whole. And it allows Delta Medix to continue maintaining its autonomy during these changing times for the healthcare industry.


“We’re here to collaborate with hospitals, and take care of patients, no matter what hospital they go to,” he said. “You can work with hospitals, but you don’t have to be owned by them.”


All in the family

You could say Dr. Preate was destined for a life in medicine, given his genes.


In 1974, his father, Dr. Donald Preate, Sr., started a practice with brothers and fellow Old Forge natives Drs. Gino and Hugo Mori.


“To me, the beginning of this story is three boys from Old Forge with an idea and a dream,” Dr. Preate said.


In 1994, their practice merged with Surgical Group Inc. to become Delta Medix. For its guiding principle, the physicians came up with the Latin phrase “pro vobis optimum,” which translates to “for you, the best.”


Growing up in Waverly Twp., Dr. Preate initially had dreams of becoming a paleontologist. Eventually, though, dinosaur bones took a back seat to medicine.

Still, his father didn’t push him.


“He didn’t say, ‘I want you to be a doctor.’ He said, ‘Think about what you want to do, because being a physician is a dedicated position,’” Dr. Preate recalled. “I almost feel as if he was being dissuasive. Or, he was making sure I really wanted to do it, that the epiphany came to me by myself.”


While a student at Scranton Preparatory School in the mid-1980s, Dr. Preate went to work as an orderly at Moses Taylor and Mercy (now Regional) hospitals. The job proved to be a terrific early education and solidified his resolve to follow in his father’s footsteps.


“One of my duties was putting catheters in. And if I couldn’t get it in, they would call my dad. I thought, ‘I better get good at this quick,’” Dr. Preate said. “I did enemas, I helped get patients out of bed. And that’s how I got started. … It’s very humbling. Not many people start off as an orderly and come back to be president of the medical staff.”


After majoring in biology/pre-med at the University of Scranton, Dr. Preate embarked for Jefferson Medical College. Initially interested in cardiothoracic surgery, he reconsidered after testing exceptionally high in urology on his med school boards.


“Then it kind of hit me – it was a revelation,” he said. “I thought, ‘You know, my dad is a urologist and he kind of has a nice lifestyle. He’s a nice guy, he works hard every day, he comes home to his family, spends time with his kids. His patients love him. He gets to do office procedures. He gets to treat all aspects of medicine. He does surgery. That’s a pretty cool lifestyle. Maybe I should do urology.’”


So he did, doing his surgical internship and urologic surgery residency at his father’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where he trained with physicians who had worked with or trained his father.


Completing his training in 2000, he returned to Scranton to work with his father at Delta Medix. They spent five good years together before the senior Preate decided to retire in 2005.


For Dr. Preate, it was a joy to be mentored by his father – and, as a result, they became closer.


“When I was a kid, and my dad wouldn’t be around, I didn’t realize at the time that he was busy building a practice,” Dr. Preate said. “Then, when I came back, that’s when he and I played ball together. We removed kidneys, we took out prostates. We did surgeries together. That’s when the father-son bonding really came to be. And that’s when I got to appreciate him much more.”


Their personal and professional relationships collided three years ago when Dr. Preate diagnosed his father with kidney cancer, among the very cancers the elder Preate had dedicated his life to treating.


Upon his dad’s insistence, Dr. Preate performed the surgery to remove the tumor.


“How many sons get to say they got to operate on their own father?” said Dr. Preate, noting his father has been cancer free ever since.


Because of deeply personal experiences like that, and the continuing influence of his mother, Alberta Galardi, a longtime nurse at Regional Hospital, and his past life as an orderly, Dr. Preate takes great pains to bring ample amounts of empathy and compassion to patient care. In this day when patients are increasingly treated by a litany of unfamiliar doctors, he insists on being with his patients throughout the entire experience, from the initial examination to the operation to the follow-up appointment.


“With me, they get their doctor,” he said. “The first thing I try to do when I come through the door is make a connection. When my patients come in to see me, we’ll talk about the Yankees, or about their interests, or about their families. Then they automatically think, ‘He doesn’t just know me as a patient, he knows me as a person.’ People want to be treated like they’re people. It’s funny, I often get chided by my colleagues about how much time I spend with my patients.”


Take that humanistic approach and combine it with state-of-the-art medicine, and it’s easy to believe Dr. Preate when he expresses confidence in Delta Medix’s long-term outlook.


“I choose to be where I think I can make the most effect in the community,” he said. “I’m proud to see dad’s three-man group has grown into this. I just feel it’s my turn now to make my contribution to the next generation. I want to polish that monument. I want to make that monument accessible to everyone.”


“It’s just living up to what we said we would do in our mission and continuing to do it in the future,” he continued. “We are the doctors you know, and we are the name you trust. … For you, Scranton, the best.”

Meet Donald Preate, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.

Residence: Roaring Brook Twp.


Family: Wife, Karen; children, Sabrina, 12, Jace Donald, 5, and Chloe, 2


Education: A graduate of the University of Scranton and Jefferson Medical College, he completed his surgical internship and urologic surgery residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


Professional: A longtime urologist at Scranton’s Delta Medix, he currently serves as president of its board.


Other affiliations: He is the chief of urology at Moses Taylor and Regional hospitals in Scranton. And, he was recently elected to serve another term as president of the medical staff at Moses Taylor, where he’s also a member of its board of trustees. In addition, he is a member of the medical executive committee at Northeast Surgery Center, an attending and teaching physician at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, an assistant teaching professor at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, a member of the board of trustees at Moses Taylor Hospital, a board member for Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a board member for the United Way, and president of the recreation committee for Roaring Brook Twp.