Top Doctors 2007

Northern Virginia and environs could be considered an embarrassment of riches in terms of excellent medical care, yet one can be at a loss to identify physicians with superb credentials, experience and reputation when such things really matter.

 

Northern Virginia and environs could be considered an embarrassment of riches in terms of excellent medical care, yet one can be at a loss to identify physicians with superb credentials, experience and reputation when such things really matter. On these pages you’ll find 100 practitioners who excel in 33 fields of specialty. We profile seven of them. Culled by independent, physician-led research firm Castle Connolly, these physicians are not only highly regarded by their peers, but carefully vetted and selected. Come meet our top doctors. They are among the best in the nation.

By Sarah Hamaker, Sarah Markel, Brenda M. Melvin and Jan Maxwell
Photography by Anastasia Chernyavsky and Morgan Howarth

 

At The Top of His Game
Dr. Gary C. Dennis

Photography by Anastasia Chernyavsky

Surgeon. Teacher. Researcher. Policy Advocate. Dr. Gary Dennis is a veritable renaissance man. “I like to perform surgery that makes a dramatic difference for the patient,” says Dennis, Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at Howard University Hospital and Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine.

One need only peruse Dennis’s case files to see a man at the top of his game. There’s the case of the 17-year-old who, crop dusting with his father, disembarked from their helicopter, whence its propeller lopped off a third of the back of his head. Dennis and his team worked all night on delicate reconstruction of the blood vessels and cranium. The patient walked out of the hospital three weeks later.     There was the bedridden octogenarian who wanted to regain mobility, and though surgery at her advanced age is considered risky, Dennis agreed to perform the spinal procedure. The plucky 96-year-old poker wiz is eternally grateful. Then there was the man with tuberculosis of the spine who was almost completely paraplegic. Dennis operated to de-compress the spinal cord, and today the patient is fully mobile with no neurological impairment.

The list goes on.

Early Influences
Dennis’s exposure to neuroscience began with a motorcycle accident when he was 17 years old and treated by a neurosurgeon for head injury. “The tests were impressive yet rudimentary compared to today’s technology, but it was enough to pique my interest.” As a student at Boston University, Dennis participated in research involving Rhesus monkeys, where electrodes were neurosurgically implanted into monkeys to stimulate their brains. Researchers would record their responses and evaluate their ability to learn and perform tasks. The neurosurgeon made a major impact on the students, Dennis says. “When he came in, it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. I said to myself, ‘that is the person I want to be.’” Dennis chose Howard for medical school, thinking he would pursue a career in psychiatry. He delved into Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and even learned hypnosis. In the end, though, his affinity for neuroscience won out. “I found clinical work fascinating and I decided that I no longer wanted to be a bookworm. I wanted to be a clinician.”

Dennis completed a general surgery internship at Johns Hopkins and trained in neurosurgery at Baylor University, in one of the nation’s busiest trauma centers. A few years later, he was lured west for a faculty position at the University of California, San Diego.

Coming Home
Born in Washington, D.C. Dennis retained a soft spot for his hometown. When presented with the opportunity to become Chief of Neurosurgery at Howard, he says he couldn’t refuse. He moved back in 1984.

“Neurosurgery is an area that is very intricate. Many medical students shy away from it because they think it’s too hard. I wanted to give back to the community by teaching students and residents how to become successful neurosurgeons.”

Dennis is proud of his involvement in a mentoring project for gifted students at D.C.’s Benjamin Banneker High School. Those considering a career in medicine, students are paired with doctors to learn more about their fields; they sit in on medical school lectures and observe surgical procedures.

The Wonders of Technology
Dennis marvels at recent years’ major advances in neuroscience. “Neuro-imaging has improved astronomically.” We can see very clear pictures of the brain using sophisticated new diagnostic tools, and MRIs and CAT scans generate images of the nervous system that can be viewed remotely, by email, he says. “A doctor can see the problems a patient might have without actually being present.” Techniques such as real-time visualization allow operating surgeons to determine where they are in a patient’s brain compared to where they think a tumor is located.

Dennis hopes neurosurgeons will soon be able to employ three dimensional imaging technology to perform surgery remotely using controlled robotics.

With such advances, surgical procedures will become less invasive, he says, resulting in a safer patient experience, less hospital time and shorter recovery period. “It will be possible to perform major miracles without having to do extensive operations. This will be true for both brain work and spinal work,” he predicts.

Ongoing Research
Though he has taught and practiced neurosurgery for years, Dennis hasn’t lost his passion for research. Partnering with a neurophysiologist colleague, he is studying the respiratory center of the brain stem. Together they have looked at things such as the effect of cocaine use on the brain—in an effort to develop treatment that can prevent patients from dying from overdoses.

The improvement of patients with spinal cord conditions is another project to which Dennis devotes significant time and attention.

Dennis writes and speaks widely about health care disparities—the unequal access to health care experienced by various ethnic groups, minorities and social stratum.

He has secured funding for a comprehensive study on the issue; has chaired various political action committees, and has testified before the D.C. City Council on matters related to the health of city residents.

A Day In The Life
Dennis walks the talk when it comes to diet and exercise issues. The doctor’s day begins with a 5:30 a.m. workout followed by a light breakfast where he tries to fit in the first of nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables. In his office by 7:00, he operates two days a week and sees patients three days a week.

On the days he’s not scheduled for surgery, Dennis tries to spend the first two hours of his work day reading. To hear him speak of it, these hours are sacred. “I like to read when I can see the sun when it rises and hear the birds sing. I get a lot of work done during this period.”

Dennis starts seeing patients at around 9:00; a full day may consist of 25 appointments. Then it’s on to student lectures, “consults,”  committee obligations and the inevitable emergencies that arise. Dennis tries not to operate for more than eight hours and handle no more than three cases in a day. “On a good day, I’m home by six.”

So, what does the good doctor do to unwind and stay sane? “I have a strong belief in God, I love my wife, and I love music. A good jazz concert usually makes my day.” Dennis is an accomplished violin player, part of a group of doctors and other healthcare professionals who perform regular gigs at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. —Brenda M. Melvin

 


 

Steady Hand, Warm Heart
Dr. Alan Egge

In the highly unlikely event that ophthalmology doesn’t workout for Dr. Alan Egge of Dominion Eye Care in Manassas, he may well have a future in journalism. It was only when I was well into the not inherently interesting story of how I financed my education that I realized how skillful he is at putting people at ease.

Sure, Egge (pronounced Eggy) has performed over 7000 successful eye surgeries using both laser and microscopic technologies. But his real gift is in getting his patients to relax enough to forget that he is about to operate on their eyeballs.

Despite the ubiquity of modern eye surgery, Egge practices a difficult art. During microsurgery, he operates within a tiny field, using even tinier instruments, while looking through a microscope. He cuts open the cornea. Egge’s work requires tremendous concentration, which he describes as “being mentally in the room with the patient at all times.”

This intense concentration is something he honed as a coping mechanism during an emotionally brutal pediatrics residency at the University of Chicago during the late 70s.

During a subsequent ophthalmology residency at the Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California, Egge found that concentration equally useful in microsurgery.

Today Egge is a board-certified pediatrician and an ophthalmologist with a 20-year-old practice in Manassas and Warrenton.

Although he doesn’t practice pediatric ophthalmology, an advanced sub-specialty, Egge often treats children at Dominion Eye Care because the population of children in Northern Virginia is growing faster than the number of local pediatric ophthalmologists, he says.

Egge also treats uninsured children at the Manassas Free Clinic where he volunteers on Thursdays as a pediatrician. Most of his patients are there for basic primary care such as colds, rashes and flu.

The best part of his work, Egge says, is the ability to provide both ends of the spectrum of medical care. Egge relishes the opportunity to practice advanced surgery, and he clearly enjoys the patient interaction involved in primary care.

“It’s a good mix.”

He smiles easily.

Dominion Eye care has grown with the region. Egge credits his local success to the fact that two decades ago, Manassas was similar in feel to his native town of Sumner, Washington (pop. 3000). “I don’t know that I could have made it in a city,” he muses.

Alan Egge is married to Kathleen Cox, the former head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

They live in Fairfax and have four children. —Sarah Markel

 


 

When Knowing is Strong Medicine
Dr. Claudine Isaacs

Photography by Anastasia Chernyavsky

Women at high risk of breast cancer used to live under a black cloud of dread. Today, doctors are using the knowledge gained from genetic testing to fight breast cancer. And the clouds are lifting.

In my experience, cancer centers are not pleasant places. They are whispering, metallic-smelling other
worlds where fear lurks and mothers grow old before your eyes.

But the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University seems different somehow. Teeming with doctors and students, it seemed brighter; less a place of darkness than of possibility.

“Call me Claudine,” is the first thing the director of the Clinical Breast Cancer Program, Dr. Claudine Isaacs, says as she appears, smiling, through a passing throng of students.

Isaacs is one of those super doctors; besides being a pioneer in clinical research, she teaches medicine and oncology and sees cancer patients in the clinic two days a week.

Her office is what you would expect of an academic. Piles of documents are neatly stacked on desks and tables. An incongruous calendar of European castles hangs on the wall—a gift from her two sons, eight and eleven.

Isaacs’ work at the Lombardi Center involves using clinical trials both to study the genetics of breast cancer and to learn more about ways of treating it. She is changing the way others look at the disease.

In the 14 years since coming to Georgetown Hospital from her native Montreal, she has published over a hundred articles and papers on breast cancer, genetics testing, and counseling.

Isaacs is a tireless speaker on issues of hereditary breast cancer, and an irrepressible advocate for the power of genetic testing to transform lives.

Much has changed since the genetic abnormalities that predispose a person to breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2, were identified in the early nineties. “We used to sit across from high-risk patients and we had so little in the way of data to offer them,” she recalls, speaking of the close team of
genetic counselors and behavioral scientists with whom she works.

Isaacs describes the worry that high risk patients used to live with.

I know that black cloud of dread well.

Today people who are found to be BRCA carriers have a handful of good options for reducing their risk of actually getting cancer. And if they do get cancer, better screening has increased the chance that it will be found early and successfully treated. During those years of assessment and evaluation, relationships form. Friendships grow.

Isaacs tells the story of “Sue,” who came in for a consultation a decade ago because her sister had tested positive for BRCA1. As a young mother of three, Sue was scared, although less for herself than for her daughters’ future.

Isaacs encouraged her to undergo genetic testing. And when the tests showed that she too had the genetic mutation, Isaacs recommended removal of her ovaries, which has been found to be an effective option for reducing the risk of developing breast cancer.

Sue agreed to the surgery. Years passed. She continued to see Isaacs for follow-up and to take part in cancer studies. One such study compared the relative effectiveness of mammogram, ultrasound and MRI as screening tools for cancer.

No one expected to find anything. Sue’s chances of getting breast cancer had been reduced 50 percent by the surgery. Plus she was still young. The mammogram and ultrasound came back clear, but the MRI showed a tiny irregularity.

It was cancer. She had her chemotherapy at the Lombardi Center. Today, Sue has had five cancer-free years. To her daughters, now teenagers, and with the help of Isaacs, Sue is passing on some hard-won knowledge.

According to Isaacs, genetic testing can provide information that makes a huge difference in the types of care available to patients. And it changes families.

Sue still participates in cancer studies. She looks upon her involvement in the MRI study as life saving. “You are my guardian angels,” she tells Isaacs and her colleagues.

“A good day,” says Isaacs, “is when you make a difference in some else’s life. That was a good day.”

Near the end of the interview I tell Isaacs that my mother has breast cancer, her second relapse.

She nods thoughtfully and asks several questions about our family history. She doesn’t say “oh-my-God-I’m-so-sorry” and look at me with pity the way most people do.

Instead, she encourages me to talk with my mother about genetic testing, and to be honest with her about my fear. Basic stuff, really.

As I leave the interview and walk across the campus, my step is lighter. I kick at the fallen leaves, not just because the interview has gone well, but because she made me see that breast cancer is just a disease. It isn’t a death sentence. —Sarah Markel

 


 

Breathing Lessons
Dr. Steven T. Kariya

Photography by Anastasia Chernyavsky

Trying desperately to save patients while tuning out the constant ringing of gunfire can be a real challenge for a young doctor, a lesson learned by pulmonologist Steven Kariya during his days as a volunteer assigned to tend to Cambodian refugees. Indeed, the road from Thailand to Silver Spring, Maryland has been a storied one for this lung and respiratory disease specialist, who now runs Pulmonologists, PC, and serves as Medical Director of Respiratory Therapy at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.

Kariya received his Bachelors degree from Harvard College and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. “I think of myself as an applied physiologist, one who thinks about how the body works overall and uses this insight to educate and treat patients,” says Kariya. His decision to specialize in pulmonary care was the result of having asthma as a child and having mentors during his training years who were pulmonologists. “The practice of medicine is an honorable profession that allows me to help people in spite of the bureaucracy that is often involved. Sadly, [respiratory disease] is a growing problem. People are sicker, smoking is on the rise among many groups, and patients often suffer from chronic illnesses as they age.”

Kariya’s cases run the gamut from common sleep disorders to some of the rarest forms of lung cancer. While many of us take a good night’s sleep for granted, people who suffer from a condition known as sleep apnea actually stop breathing, or underbreathe, in their sleep several times in a night.

Kariya has apnea patients go through a lab-based sleep study to observe their sleep patterns and confirm the diagnosis. A typical treatment requires the individual to wear a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask that blows air into the nose to keep the windpipe open—an effective, fairly simple remedy for a serious problem. Non-treatment of sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke.

One of Kariya’s more complex cases involved the decade-long journey of a patient to whom he recently had to bid farewell—in a good way. Kariya met the woman ten years ago and diagnosed her with cancer of the windpipe, right where the right and left lungs divide. He consulted with a thoracic surgeon who performed a unique operation to remove the cancer and repair the windpipe. Following surgery, the patient literally had her chin sewed to her neck for a week to restrict movement and ensure proper healing. Thereafter, Kariya saw the patient annually for ten years to perform a broncoscopy, a procedure in which a fiber optic tube the diameter of a pencil is inserted into the windpipe to look for signs of cancer. Happily, the patient reached her ten year mark with no signs of cancer, and she was officially “fired” by Kariya.

Despite the long hours required by his critical care practice, Kariya manages to find time for community involvement. He helped establish the nonprofit Northern Virginia-based Campbell Hoffman Foundation, which seeks to increase access to healthcare for the underserved.

When he’s not on call, look for him on the soccer field where he is likely putting his son’s team through the paces for their next big match: “It’s hard work, and I can’t bill the hours, but I enjoy it!” —Brenda M. Melvin

 


 

Guts and Glory
Dr. Fredrick Brody

If Top Gun had been about gastrointestinal surgery, it would be easy to see Dr. Fredrick Brody of George Washington University in the role of Maverick.

Brody’s handsome, self-confident and smart as, well, you know.

At 40, he has already published a mountain of articles on gastrointestinal surgical procedure. He has contributed to books, starred in educational films, and is at the forefront of cutting edge research to unravel the science behind chronic obesity. He doesn’t go in for small talk.

“I have four favorite types of surgery,” he says at a clip, as soon as we begin the interview, “but I really like to do foregut.”

It’s late afternoon and Brody’s been in surgery since dawn. He’s blowing on a cup of tea and talking fast.

Foregut is stomach and esophagus, he explains.
Now he’s describing his other favorite surgical procedures: “Achalasia, esophageal or GERD, and gastric, especially when it’s gastro-peresis and we have to use electrical stimulation.”

I can’t spell half of what he’s talking about and he knows it. He slows down and explains that 75 percent of his work involves laparoscopic surgery: “Big surgery, small incision.” The benefits of laparoscopy are less pain for the patient and faster recovery time. The rest of his surgical time is divided between big incision gastrointestinal surgeries, and bariatric work, which includes any kind of surgery to treat obesity.

The bariatric work, he says, is a very small part of any given day, but it’s hugely important because of a project he’s spearheading. It’s called the Bariatric Surgery Program.

Brody isn’t just interested in solving obesity problems, he and a close team of three surgeons, several nurse practitioners, plus a host of other physicians, including cardiologists and pulmonologists, are working together to try to figure out the genetic mechanisms behind the condition.

This intersection of the academic and the clinical is called Translational Medicine. But call it what you will, it is a tough business—fighting for funding, collecting and analyzing data, and publishing findings.

This is in addition to seeing patients, teaching, surgery, and managing a practice. Members of the medical faculty are not employed by the university and are essentially independent contractors. That’s why Brody has an MBA and no time for hobbies.

There’s a set of tiny pink albums on his desk. I ask if he gets tired during surgery.

Nope.

Lose your concentration?

Nope.

He follows my gaze to the albums. “She’s a good baby.”

He describes how during surgery the adrenaline surges through you with such force that no matter how tired you may be, concentration is not a problem. Then when you go home, you crash.

So surgery is a Zen-like experience?

His eyes roll upward behind the still steaming tea. Nope.

For crying out loud, Maverick, help me out here, I wail inwardly.

And at this point, Brody seems to understand that I am just not getting it. How can he lead such a grueling and intellectually demanding professional life and remain so cool?

Leaning forward, he says, “to excel at anything, you have to love what you do. Sure, it’s a constant juggling process—the phones, the papers, pre-op, post-op, patients, residents, students…. But, it’s a dynamic field. There is always something to learn.” He gives the tiniest of shrugs and grins. “And it’s really fun.” —Sarah Markel

 


 

The Art of Neurology
Dr. Ruben Cintron

The mysteries of the human brain have fascinated scientists for centuries.  Although it weighs only a few pounds, the brain contains over 100 billion cells that process and transmit information, controlling everything from breathing to vision to thought. Unlocking its secrets can lead to medical breakthroughs, and one of the people most interested in doing that is Dr. Ruben Cintron of Reston.

Cintron is a neurologist, a doctor who diagnoses and treats nervous system disorders, including diseases of the brain, nerves, muscles, and spinal cord.  As part of his daily practice, Cintron tests muscle strength, balance, speech, and other cognitive abilities in patients who suffer from a wide variety of these disorders. Once a diagnosis is made, he sets about finding the right mix of drugs and therapy for each situation.

A normal day may find Cintron treating patients with a range of illnesses, from migraines to brain tumors to degenerative disorders such as Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s.  Although multiple patients may suffer from the same disease, each case is unique.  “You can’t write a computer program to evaluate a neuro case,” says Cintron. “They are all different.”

Cintron received his B.S. degree from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1986. He went on to Wake Forest’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine, where he graduated in 1990. It was during those four years of medical school that Cintron developed interest in neurology.

“I read the book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which was written by a neurologist named Oliver Sacks. In the book, Sacks described some very interesting cases, and I became absorbed by the unknown territory of the brain.” Cintron began to pay close attention to the neurosciences and realized he had found his niche. “It’s a great specialty, as we see a large variety of disorders and no two patients are the same.”

When he completed his internship at Washington Hospital Center in D.C., Cintron moved to Georgetown University Hospital, where he began a three-year residency in the Department of Neurology. There he was involved in Parkinson research, testing a new synthetic drug that gave extended relief to patients. The study was a success, the drug received FDA approval, and it has been on the market for several years.

After completing his residency, Cintron felt that he had not had sufficient exposure to neuromuscular disorders, so he stayed at Georgetown for another year as a Fellow in Neuromuscular/EMG medicine. One of the neuromuscular diseases that fascinates him is Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease that attacks muscles and creates weakness. It can be hard to detect since screening tests are often normal.

“Sometimes you have to treat the patient to make a diagnosis,” says Cintron. A woman suffering from Myasthenia Gravis came to see him after a major university program had told her that her symptoms were psychological, rather than physical. After examining her, Cintron disagreed and treated her with a therapy that slowed down her immune system. She had dramatic improvement.

Cintron sees many patients who have chronic, ongoing diseases. These illnesses take a toll on the whole family, not just the patient and Cintron sees his role as supporting the entire group. “When people develop a chronic neurological problem, I get to know the families as well as the patients. I have the opportunity to help them all as they struggle over many years.”

Carol Welsh is one such patient. She is a six-year survivor of an adult ependymoma, a rare brain tumor, and has been with Cintron throughout most of her disease. “Dr. Cintron is terrific, kind and generous. I wish all doctors could be like him,” she says.

Raised in Northern Virginia, Welsh was looking toward a bright future until the day in 2000 that doctors discovered her brain tumor. Unfortunately, the tumor was attached to several cranial nerves on her brainstem. These nerves are the source of a person’s ability to see, chew, move and hear, among other vital processes. Three brain surgeries left her cranial nerves damaged. She now faces problems with headaches, balance, swallowing, double vision, and debilitating pain.

Cintron helps her make it through each difficult day. At a typical appointment he will do neurological testing and then decide on the optimal blend of drugs that will make Carol the most comfortable and give her the highest level of functionality. He also helps her translate the highly technical reports she gets from her neurosurgeons. Welsh appreciates the fact that Cintron does not sugar-coat the truth. “He is low-key and realistic about things. I really appreciate his empathy and good sense of humor.”

As we begin the 21st century, Ruben Cintron sees breakthroughs ahead in neurology. He is impressed with the work being done in genetic engineering, where infusions could help genes make proteins that might correct a variety of disorders. Cintron is also an advocate of stem cell research, where healthy stem cells could be programmed to replace diseased cells in patients who suffer from diseases such as Parkinson’s. In both areas, critical work is now underway in research centers around the world. “The future is already here,” says Cintron, and he’s excited to be a part of it. —Jan Maxwell

 


 

Nurturing the All of Them
Dr. Elizabeth Anderson

Photography by Anastasia Chernyavsky

Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Anderson is so well-liked in her internal medicine practice that a patient once wrote a poem for her. “I’ve been very fortunate to have lots of patients who have touched my life,” she says.

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember,” says Anderson. “I simply never wanted to do anything else. That single-minded desire and true passion for caring for the sick has sustained me through many obstacles—be it histology lab, which I hated, or managed-care restrictions, which drive me nuts!”

Her background includes degrees from Emory University (BA) and East Carolina University School of Medicine (MD), as well as residencies at both Georgetown University Medical Center and George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C, and a research fellowship at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Anderson first had a surgical residency and then transitioned to an internal medicine residency for a total of seven years’ worth of post-medical school training. She met her husband, got married and gave birth to her two children while doing her residencies. “Residency was probably the toughest part of my preparation,” she says.

Anderson’s medical focus these days involves the development of atherosclerotic [a degenerative disease of the arteries] complications affecting two specific patient populations: individuals affected by diabetes mellitus, and women. In particular, she focuses on how cardiovascular risk factors are different in a female population, how that difference puts women at risk and what needs to be done to assess and to reduce risk to women’s health.

“When I first started in medicine, I did two years of bench research looking at why specific complications develop in patients with diabetes,” she says. “That, and seeing women with risk factors for heart disease that remained unrecognized and under-diagnosed, sparked my interest in this area.”

Most studies done in this area were conducted on a male population, and some of the guidelines and risk factors that contribute to the development of heart disease and diabetes that came out of these studies may not apply to women, she says. “Our bodies just work differently than the typical male pattern. For example, the typical risk factors are high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol problems, and those are very important problems for women as well, but there’s also something called syndrome X. That means, because of estrogen loss, there’s a change in the character of blood vessels that puts women more at risk. That’s why you see women develop heart disease a few years after men.”

In her current practice at Internal Medicine Associates in Centreville, Va., Anderson strives to catch potential problems in patients before they can develop into established diseases.

Her physician philosophy revolves around her desire to create relationships with her patients. “If you establish a relationship with people, you have a shared partnership working toward a specific goal. That’s much more effective in the doctor/patient relationship because you can work together to accomplish things,” says Anderson. “Some of that has been lost with the way that managed healthcare has developed. I have a very stable patient population—I know them, I know their kids, their jobs, etc…I think patients respond much better to a relationship approach than to the old paternalistic model.”

This has led Anderson to consider many of her patients as friends as well as clients. Two of her patients—a retired husband and wife—ended up with various illnesses that required one or the other to see her once a week for an entire year.

“The thing that so impressed me was they never got depressed about their situation,” she says. “We got to be very good friends throughout that year.” Anderson even ran interference for them to get a test scheduled when the couple encountered roadblocks with their insurance company and the testing facility. The husband, who writes poetry for fun, penned her a poem entitled “Don’t Mess With Beth” in gratitude for her assistance. “It was all about if you ever needed anything, I was the one you could go to,” she says, and smiles.

She says when she addresses residents, she tells them: “Remember, you are the patient’s advocate. You have a huge gift and responsibility in terms of their most basic needs. It doesn’t take that much time to help them out and people are so grateful when you do.” —Sarah Hamaker

 

(February 2007)

X