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Orthopedist to retire from Hagerstown clinic

November 30, 1999|By TARA REILLY

"What's your favorite subject?" Dr. Charles Silberstein asked 8-year-old patient Zakary Newberry of Smithsburg.

"PE", Zakary replied, meaning physical education.

"What's your favorite activity in PE?" inquired Silberstein, a Johns Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger Institute orthopedist.

The soft-spoken Zakary responded that it was a game called "four corners," which he said involves students running to one of four corners before the teacher blows a whistle.

Several years ago, Zakary's parents weren't sure whether their son would be able to participate in such activities.

At 4 months old, they noticed Zakary hadn't been using the right side of his body. The condition progressed, and later, he was diagnosed with right spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy, which affected his muscle movements.

"We weren't sure how he was going to walk or run," said Zakary's mother, Laura Newberry.

Her son now is "doing great," and credits Silberstein with playing a large part in helping Zakary walk and run, she said.

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Silberstein, 73, plans to retire in April from a pediatric orthopedic clinic he has been providing at the Washington County Health Department since March 1976. He also is retiring from a clinic he has held in Allegany County since June 1982. Silberstein decided to step down from the clinics because of his wife's health issues, but he plans to remain with Johns Hopkins and Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Silberstein inherited the Washington and Allegany clinics from his predecessors, who included Dr. E. David Weinberg, Dr. George Bennett and Dr. George Eaton, he said.

He expects to miss the people he has met and treated at the clinics.

"The people that I've had the privilege of working with over the last 31 years ? they've become like family," Silberstein said.

He has watched Zakary, who's been his patient for seven years, grow from a toddler.

"I like him, and he's been my doctor for a while, so I've kind of grown on him," Zakary said.

Newberry said Silberstein would be missed.

"He's been a gift. He's been such a gift to our family," she said. "We would not be able to get this kind of care without traveling."

Drs. Arabella Leet and Catherine Sargent of Johns Hopkins will take over the Washington County clinic, Silberstein said.

He travels to the Washington County Health Department one Friday per month to treat his patients, clinic Secretary Audra Nichols said. The clinic currently has 20 to 30 patients, she said. In addition to visiting with the doctor, patients are able to have X-rays done and be fitted for braces.

"Everything is done here, which makes it nice," Nichols said. "He definitely did a good service to the county."

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