Career in medicine a lifelong goal for Western Maryland Hospital Center chief

October 26, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - The new chief of staff at Western Maryland Hospital Center in Hagerstown said she has wanted to be a doctor since elementary school.

"In fourth grade science, I got a microscope," Dr. Monica Stallworth said. "That tipped me over."

Now in her 50s, Stallworth describes herself as an Army brat who modeled her medical career after a respected family physician in Washington, D.C.

Stallworth came to Hagerstown in September from the faculty of the Harvard Teaching Hospital in Boston. She is a geriatrician - a physician who specializes in the treatment of people 65 and older.

"There are only 9,000 geriatricians in the country and there is a need for 36,000," she said.

The field is low on technology but high on clinical competence with strong communication skills and the ability to work with patients and families in crisis.


"You need to be a good listener," Stallworth said.

For a time, Stallworth was a family doctor in Houston. She completed her three-year residency at Baylor University and a one-year Medicare project fellowship at Georgetown University.

"In that one-year project, I was training doctors in the fine art of treating the elderly," she said.

Stallworth was on the faculty at Georgetown for four years before going to Harvard in 2002 to teach on a geriatric fellowship.

Stallworth has master's degrees in both public health and health care management.

"I seem to have a knack for management issues," she said.

Stallworth said she can use both her management and public health skills at Western Maryland Hospital Center.

She also is able to be near her parents' home in Washington, D.C.

"This better fits who I am now," she said.

Stallworth said she was impressed by the hospital CEO - Cynthia Pellegrino - for her dedication to quality and competency as well as patient-based care.

"There are top-notch people here," Stallworth said. "All the doctors here are board-certified ... they are extremely good at what they do."

In her first two months, Stallworth said she has been very impressed with the staff and volunteers, all of whom are very patient-driven.

Western Maryland Hospital Center has three full-time physicians and several on-call physicians who serve approximately 100 patients.

"We see motor vehicle injuries, strokes, etc.," Stallworth said. "We are the last stop for traumatic injuries."

Describing typical patients at Western Maryland as "tough birds," she said the hospital cares for people with the goal to return them to their homes.

"I am also a Harvard-trained ethicist for patients and families," Stallworth said.

That expertise would be called upon in cases where the wishes of a patient's family might conflict with the patient's advanced directive.

When not on duty at the hospital, Stallworth enjoys golf and is a published author and poet.

Her husband, also a doctor, is in Texas but they are hoping that he can work his way east in the near future. Their daughter is a student at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

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