Dr. Anil Britto
by Gerri Lewis
››Wearing his colorful dinosaur tie and carrying his ever-ready stethoscope, Dr. Anil Britto smiles at his tiny patient, Catherine Cyr, who holds up her fingers and declares in a determined voice that she is “two and a half.” Leaning over, Dr. Britto matches her serious expression and hands her a stethoscope. He asks her to help him by listening to his heart, and that’s when the fun begins as her eyes widen in fascination when she hears the beat. Dr. Britto laughs and soon she is gleefully giggling along with him. The stage is now set for Dr. Britto to take his turn at listening to little Catherine’s heart. And so, the well-visit goes.
In July, Dr. Britto celebrated twenty-five years with Ridgefield Pediatrics, treating children like Catherine with the same steadfast passion that brought him to his profession in the first place. The father of two grown children — who now finds himself treating children of former patients — says that his compassion for kids was no doubt influenced by his own childhood. As a ten-year-old refugee, he relocated from his home in East Africa to India, and he remembers this period as a “very difficult time.”
“When you are healed and can feel secure and happy, it opens up everything,” he says. “That’s really what made me want to do the most fulfilling thing I could do.”
The most fulfilling thing turned out to be studying medicine so he could help others and pediatrics was a natural fit. Dr. Britto graduated from St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India. From there he trained in pediatrics at the University of London in England. His desire to travel ultimately brought him to New York where he completed his residency training in pediatrics at St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1996.
Dr. Britto’s wife, Pia — who he met while in New York — refers to him as a “four-continent doctor,” living in Africa, Asia, Europe, and finally in North America. All those places aside, Dr. Britto knew he found home the first time he came to Ridgefield for a job interview.
“I felt like I belonged,” he says. “I knew straight away, it felt like a calling.” Even his first harsh New England winter didn’t deter him, although it certainly gave him second thoughts. He and his wife settled into the Twin Ridge neighborhood, a place they treasure. As for the town they love, they take advantage of all that Ridgefield has to offer. Together they support countless young people; Dr. Britto as a pediatrician and Pia who works for UNICEF in New York City.
Dr. Britto gives thanks for his good fortune by sharing his pediatric experience and knowledge with medical students at Quinnipiac University. He also volunteers with RVNAhealth as pediatric medical director for Well Child Clinics where they give physicals and vaccinations to uninsured children.
During early pandemic days, Dr. Britto says his practice was determined to keep the doors open and to treat patients without hesitancy, even as they adjusted for protocols. When COVID testing opportunities were scarce, they installed the best testing machines available. “We did not want to see any children suffer,” he says.
With the rise in anxiety rates due to COVID, Dr. Britto again worries about the children and urges parents to get rid of screen time and “find something they like to do outside, like hiking or camping.” Dr. Britto practices what he preaches with a daily hike at Weir Farm, which is only steps from his home.
As for his job, he remains passionate because he gets to be with children every day and he chuckles when he says, “but I don’t have to do diaper changes.” For Dr. Britto, children’s health is a priority and adds, “if you don’t have your health, what is the point?” n