Top Doctors

No one looks forward to getting sick. But isn’t it nice to know that when you do, you’re in a town filled with highly qualified health professionals?

By Danielle Sweeney. Edited by Hannah Feldman. Research Assistance by Quinn Tyler. Photography by David Colwell. -

Top Doctors

No one looks forward to getting sick. But isn’t it nice to know that when you do, you’re in a town filled with highly qualified health professionals?

By Danielle Sweeney. Edited by Hannah Feldman. Research Assistance by Quinn Tyler. Photography by David Colwell. -

Putting together one of our Top Docs features is always a daunting task, made more so by living where we do. Sure, in a normal city it might not be so tough to round up the handful of doctors with national reputations in their fields. But here in Baltimore, we’re faced with a wealth of candidates with international reputations. Between the University of Maryland’s shock-trauma unit, the women’s health specialists at Mercy and GBMC, Union Memorial’s hand center, St. Joseph’s cardiologists—to name just a few examples—and, of course, the medical behemoth that is Johns Hopkins, how is a magazine supposed to narrow the field down to just a few stellar practitioners in any given specialty? It’s enough to make an editorial staff feel, well, a little ill.

This year, we got help, enlisting the aid of Best Doctors, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in surveying doctors on who they consider the best in various specialties. This list is the result of thousands of surveys and phone interviews, with a little tweaking from us to weed out doctors not accepting new patients, making the list a little more user-friendly. And we compiled interesting facts and quotes from a survey we sent out to those on the list. We think the result is our most comprehensive list of top doctors ever—369 of them, to be precise. Get well soon.

Elizabeth Kingsley, cardiologist

Originally, Elizabeth Kingsley thought she’d practice internal medicine with a special focus on cardiology. “But to keep up and be involved in the field, I had to focus on cardiology exclusively,” she says. “The heart is a fascinating organ, from its molecular biology to its mechanics, to its pathophysiology. Even now, the science is very attractive to me.”

Cardiology is what challenged and stimulated her the most. “It also gave me a little fear,” says the 51-year-old, “because there was often very little time to make decisions.”

Kingsley is the fourth partner in Cardiology Associates, a 23-physician cardiology practice with offices in Annapolis and the Washington, D.C. area. The practice treats the full range of cardiovascular diseases and conditions from palpitations to rhythm disorders to three-vessel coronary artery disease, says Kingsley, whose own areas of special interest are women’s health, cardiac catheterization, and transesophageal echocardiography. The practice also runs clinical studies of drugs and devices, such as aortic stents.

Kingsley graduated from Goucher College and the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed her residencies at the Boston V.A. Medical Center.

The Arnold resident is a member of the Board of Trustees of Anne Arundel Medical Center, is part of the hospital’s active staff (and an ex-officio president of its medical staff), and also serves as a senior attending physician at Washington Hospital Center.

Kingsley says that her own heart is in good shape, but only because she takes care of it. She follows a low-calorie “Mediterranean” diet—with a weekly dispensation for chocolate cake—mountain bikes, kayaks, sails, and tries to minimize her stress by listening to and playing music. She’s a classical pianist, and her husband—fellow cardiologist Stephen Valenti, with whom she has two children—is a guitarist.

Kingsley entered the specialty of cardiology when very few women were in the field. In 1982, she was Harvard’s first female cardiology fellow at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital.

“I can remember attending meetings of 300 to 400 cardiologists and there being maybe five women,” recalls Kingsley. “Let’s put it this way: There was never a long line for the ladies’ room.”

Kingsley says that working in what still is a male-dominated specialty has many upsides. “One is that people, both patients and colleagues, remember you,” she says. “If you develop a positive reputation, you’ll become known quickly.”

Stuart Grossman, Neuro-oncologist

Each day, the patients in the oncology units of The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins think about how much they hurt.

They’re supposed to; it’s part of how they determine their “pain score,” a way to measure how much they have hurt in the past 24 hours, and the primary way that the doctors know their patients are getting adequate pain relief.

To come up with their pain score, patients use something called the Johns Hopkins Pain Rating Instrument, which Stuart Grossman, who is 55, devised about a decade after joining Hopkins in 1981.

“Seventy to 80 percent of cancer patients will have pain, and we have excellent treatments for it,” says Grossman. “But the treatments are not always used in the right way. Doctors and nurses are good at treating things that they can see or that are associated with hard numbers—we’re not so good at subjective complaints. Pain is highly subjective.”

To come up with a way to quantify pain, Grossman—who now co-directs the Oncology Center Pain Team—and his staff created a slide-rule-like device with a scale from zero (no pain) to 10 (the worst pain patients could imagine). If patients have a pain score of four or higher, they get a visit from the Pain Team, who will consult with their doctors to help get their pain under control.

This fall, Grossman and his colleagues at Hopkins’ Center for Cancer Pain Research released a software program that teaches health-care providers how to determine the dose of pain-killing drug they should prescribe when switching a patient’s medication. The Center for Cancer Pain Research is also training physicians around the world in cancer pain management.

Aside from the pain research, Grossman directs the Kimmel Center’s neuro-oncology program, and also conducts brain-tumor research for a consortium funded by the National Cancer Institute. Grossman also attends on the solid-tumor and neuro-oncology consultation services at Hopkins and spends a few days a week seeing his own brain tumor patients, many of whom travel fair distances to take advantage of his specialized knowledge.

Grossman graduated from Harvard College and the University of Rochester Medical School. He completed his first residency, in internal medicine, at Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital and his medical oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He lives in Towson with his wife, University of Maryland Medical Center pediatrician Linda S. Grossman, and their three daughters.

Mary Anne Facciolo, OB/GYN

To hear Mary Anne Facciolo talk, you’d think labor is easy. “I can get anyone through labor,” she boasts. “That’s the easy part. The hard part comes later—after you leave the hospital and start raising the child.”

A mother of two, she knows of which she speaks—both personally and professionally.

Facciolo is a partner in Charm City OB-GYN, which is located in the O’Dea Medical Arts building at St. Joseph Medical Center. She co-founded the practice in 1985 with fellow Baltimore Top Doc Ruthann Zern. Today, Charm City has five partners—all of them female—and Facciolo says she can’t imagine working without them.

“I know that in my absence my partners will take care of my patient the same way I would,” she says. “We all have the same practice philosophy. We don’t have widely different opinions on the management of labor or gynecology, and we’re all a little obsessive-compulsive.”

Charm City OB-GYNs offers a full range of obstetrical and gynecological services to patients from teenagers to women in their 90s. “Our patients are great,” Facciolo says. “We have a broad mix: white-collar, blue-collar, stay-at-home moms, single parents. Most have been referred by other patients.”

In fact, Facciolo says, some of her patients are second-generation: “I’m starting to see babies that I delivered years ago come in as teenagers. They want me to be their gynecologist.”

Facciolo, 49, attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and did her residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She lives with her husband, Michael X. Repka, an ophthalmologist at the Wilmer Eye Institute, and their two teenage children in northern Baltimore.

In the 19 years that Facciolo has been practicing, she’s seen trends and preferences in child birth evolve. “When I first started out, more women wanted natural childbirth and vaginal births after Caesareans,” Facciolo says. “Today, I get fewer requests for natural childbirth and more for epidurals. More women are also becoming comfortable with repeat C-sections. I think they like the idea of knowing when they will deliver.”

Facciolo works to accommodate patients’ birth plans—detailed lists of what they want (classical music, gathered family) and don’t want (drugs, epidurals) during labor. “I go over the plans with them point by point,” Facciolo says. “I say, ‘Yes, we can do this. Maybe we can do this. And no, we can’t do that.’ Depending on the patient, we can usually do most of what they want, but I tell them that there is ultimately only one birth plan—the plan for a healthy mother and a healthy baby.”

“Once we have that,” she adds, “the adventure of parenthood can begin.”

Leslie Matthews, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Les Matthews doesn’t play lacrosse anymore.

But at 51, the former Hopkins varsity lacrosse team captain and National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee is still an athlete. He swims, bikes, and runs. He even competes in triathlons, such as the Columbia Half Ironman 2000.

This helps him identify with the many patients of his who are athletes themselves. Matthews is an orthopaedic consultant to Johns Hopkins, Morgan State, Villa Julie, and Goucher. And together with his partners—Greater Chesapeake Orthopaedic Associates—he provides sports medicine coverage for all of St. Paul’s School’s sports as well as sideline coverage for its football and lacrosse teams.

Greater Chesapeake is a 14-physician practice located in Union Memorial Hospital’s Johnston Professional Building. Matthews specializes in knee and shoulder surgery, but the other 13 members of the practice have various specialties. “As a team, we cover all aspects of orthopaedics except orthopaedic oncology,” he says.

Matthews attended Hopkins as an undergraduate, Texas’s Baylor College of Medicine for med school, and then returned to Hopkins for both his general and orthopaedic surgery residencies.

In 1982, he became assistant chief of Union Memorial’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; he was appointed chief in 1992. Matthews is also an orthopaedic consultant for Good Samaritan Hospital and is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Johns Hopkins.

Even with all of these commitments, Matthews still spends the bulk of his time seeing patients. “Sixty percent of my time is spent in the office, and 40 percent is in surgery,” he says. Those patients include couch potatoes, athletes of all ages, and everyone in between, with everything from sports injuries to arthritis. But in every case, he concentrates on trying to get in and out of the joint with the least amount of trauma.

“Our practice does more arthroscopic surgery than anything else,” Matthews says. “We’ve been able to find new applications and technology to treat an ever wider array of orthopaedic problems. Just five years ago, we treated all rotator cuff injuries with big, open surgical procedures. Now, we treat them with minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.”

Matthews had an experience of his own with arthroscopic surgery last fall, when he stepped into a hole while running and tore cartilage in his knee. “I called my partner John O’Donnell and told him what happened, and he operated on me the next day,” Matthews recalls. “I was back in the operating room doing surgery within 12 hours.”

After his surgery, Matthews had to lay off running for a while, but the athlete in him wouldn’t be sidelined for long. “Not only is running my favorite form of exercise, it is also my greatest source of stress relief,” he says. It wasn’t long before Matthews was back to his 25-30 mile-a-week regimen.

After all, he’s got to keep in shape for the next triathlon.

Thomas Finucane, Geriatric Specialist

According to Thomas Finucane, a geriatric specialist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, all medicine is to one degree or another a combination of science and social work. “With geriatrics, it’s about fifty-fifty,” he says.

Finucane runs a 65-bed nursing home unit of the Johns Hopkins Geriatrics Center at the Bayview Medical Center, which provides long-term, chronic medical, rehabilitation, and outpatient primary care to the elderly. He also co-directs the hospital’s Elder Housecall program, which brings in-home medical care to housebound elderly in the Bayview community.

Finucane says that treating the elderly is different from treating younger people—in a way that has nothing to do with common stereotypes. “In a lot of medicine, doctors are doing something to people,” he explains. “In geriatrics, there is often more collaboration between the doctor and the patient.

As an example, Finucane says, when doctors find a spot on a young person’s lung, they generally try to find out what it is and take it out. “Treatment is aggressive. There’s not a lot of ambiguity there,” he says. “But if the patient is 85 and in poor health, you might not be able to diagnose or remove the spot without killing him—sooner than the spot on the lung would.

“In this case, the patient and doctor can choose to do one of several things: keep an eye on the spot; opt for palliative treatment; or decline treatment and choose to die with comfort and dignity,” he says. “There are many possible futures.”

Finucane graduated from Harvard College and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and completed his residency at George Washington University Medical Center. Aside from his clinical duties, Finucane is also a professor at both the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bioethics Institute. The 53-year-old Finucane is married to Robin McKenzie, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The two have five children and live in Howard County.

One essential lesson he tries to teach his medical students is the never-ending value of each elderly patient.

“Doctors in training often only see the elderly at their worst—when they are demented and delirious and very sick,” he says. “It is important for young doctors to have more perspective, to get to know the elderly who are living valuable and pleasurable lives.”

To ensure that medical students get this exposure, Finucane takes them on home visits and to the outpatient clinic to meet Bayview’s elderly patients who are well and active.

Finucane points to an 88-year-old patient of his with breast cancer, a bad heart valve, diabetes, and low vision. Depressing? Far from it: “All of these conditions are stabilized, which allows her to provide daycare for her great-grandchildren,” Finucane says. “She enjoys it very much. Her grandchildren rely on her. She feels useful.”

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