He got his start with CRS

As chairman of the hospital's emergency room, Kotch spends a lot of time there

As chairman of the hospital's emergency room, Kotch spends a lot of time there

August 07, 2007|By JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Dr. Stephen Kotch

Age -37.

Occupation - Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine at Washington County Hospital.

Hometown - Born in West Point, N.Y. Now calls Hagers-town home.

Where would you see Kotch? - With any luck, you won't see Dr. Kotch at work - in the Emergency Room at Washington County Hospital. Kotch has worked there for six years and has been the chairman for the past year.

He considers Hagerstown his hometown, even though he grew up in a military family that moved up and down the East Coast. His family settled in Hagerstown in 1984, when his father was transferred to the former Fort Ritchie Army base.


Kotch's interest in emergency medicine began in 1986, while he was still in high school. He worked as an emergency medical technician at Community Rescue Service.

"That was my first taste of things. I kind of always knew I'd head that direction," Kotch said.

Kotch graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 1988, then earned a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University in physiology. He worked as a flight paramedic in Washington, D.C., before deciding to go to medical school 2 1/2 years after completing his undergraduate degree.

After medical school at the Medical College of Virginia and a residency at Christiana Care Health Systems in Newark, Del., Kotch joined the Department of Emergency Medicine at Washington County Hospital.

By then, he was married and had twin sons. He said his wife, Karen, was supportive of him finding a job wherever he wanted.

With both sets of grandparents in the area, the decision to return home was easy. The couple, who lives in Black Rock Estates, now have a third child, a daughter.

For Kotch, not going to medical school until out of college several years worked in his favor.

"It was advantageous. I had a real vested interest in doing well. I put in more time and effort," Kotch said.

Education and injury prevention are key issues for Kotch. He said there are many preventable accidents, especially swimming, ATV, hunting and car accidents.

"There are a lot of resources to protect the community available through the hospital, like bike helmets," said Kotch, who acknowledges that one of his twins has been to the ER on numerous occasions.

The emergency medical concerns change with the seasons and right now they relate to the summer heat, including staying hydrated and using sunscreen, Kotch said. He added that Washington County Hospital will provide emergency care this year to about 95,000 patients.

In addition, Kotch is director of the paramedics program at Hagerstown Community College, is one of the deputy medical examiners for the county and along with two other doctors, helped start the Lend a Hand dinner. The dinner is now a partnership between the Washington County Emergency Physicians and Washington County Hospital, an outreach program where meals are delivered within days of Christmas to about 1,300 elderly and underprivileged residents in the community.

Kotch also provides medical coverage as a volunteer at Antietam Battlefield's Fourth of July fireworks display and the JFK 50-mile run.

Hobbies - "I am an outdoor person," said Kotch, who adds running has become a big hobby of his.

In the fall and winter, he enjoys hiking and hunting. In the summer, he likes to go boating and fishing.

"Anything that keeps me out of the hospital," said Kotch, who admitted he puts in a lot of hours at work.

What does Kotch like best about Washington County? - Kotch appreciates the diversity of outdoor recreational activities that are available, from skiing to hunting. He said he likes living in a more rural environment near a suburban area, with shopping close by.

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail

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