The best in 10 specialties.
No one likes being sick. But as residents of the Main Line and the western suburbs, we have something to feel good about: our first-class doctors, who can treat anything from annoying allergies to life-threatening diseases. We surveyed more than 1,000 physicians in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, asking them to name their doctors of choice in 10 specialties. Those profiled on the following pages may fall under different areas of expertise, but they all see the health of their patients as a No. 1 priority. And you can’t ask for much more from a Top Doctor.
Dr. Richard Tipperman: Ophthalmology
40 Monument Road, Fifth Floor, Bala Cynwyd, (610) 664-8880
Education: University of Rochester School of Medicine
Residency: Wills Eye Hospital
Though he’s never ridden a horse competitively, Dr. Richard Tipperman has a blue ribbon from the Devon Horse Show hanging in his Bala Cynwyd office. It was a gift from a teenage patient who suffered a traumatic cataract when her eye was hit by an air bag in a car accident. Other ophthalmologists told the girl she’d be blind in one eye and never ride horses again. Then she came to see Tipperman.
The rider’s cataract surgery was a success, and she regained 20/20 vision. She then went on to win her first blue ribbon. “When I received this in the mail from her, that’s the best thanks I could’ve ever received,” says Tipperman.
It’s just this sort of happy ending that encouraged Tipperman to choose ophthalmology as a specialty. “When I was in medical school, I considered neurosurgery,” he says. “Ophthalmology is just a happier field. I love seeing patients get well again.”
Tipperman’s practice is primarily surgical, with a focus on repairing eye injuries, cataract surgery, correction of complications from cataract surgery and refractive surgery (LASIK). He encounters many anxious patients—and he understands their fears. “Our eyes are how we react and relate with the outside world,” he says.
Although most of Tipperman’s cataract patients are older, you can develop the condition at any age. The good news is that ultrasound technology and smaller incisions are enabling patients to recover faster. Laser vision correction still remains extremely popular, and LASIK technology has improved remarkably since Tipperman started doing refractive surgery in 1991.
Whether it’s necessary or elective, no surgery is minor for Tipperman. “I never take for granted that patients put their trust in me,” he says. “I want the surgery to be perfect so their vision is the best it can be.”
Dr. Donna Marie Reed: Cardiology (TIE)
915 Old Fern Hill Road, Suite 5, West Chester, (610) 696-2850
Education: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Residency: Jefferson University Hospital
More than one cardiologist influenced Dr. Donna Marie Reed’s decision to specialize in the field. “My mentors in medical school were simply brilliant,” says Reed. “It was an honor to work alongside them and learn from them.”
The science behind the heart has always been as fascinating to Reed as those who inspired her. “The field of cardiology has an abundance of evidence-based medicine,” she says. “In clinical trials, we apply theories to a patient and we see an outcome come back. There’s a lot of cause and effect. We have great scientific evidence to back up what we’re doing.”
And Reed believes a big part of her job is spreading the word about heart disease. “Patients often don’t think it can happen to them,” she admits.
Heart disease doesn’t discriminate: Reed has a 27-year-old female patient who’s had four heart attacks. “I try to be blind to age,” she says. “You have to look at the risk factors and symptoms and go from there.”
One of the things Reed loves so much about her patients is their willingness to be active participants in their own care. “They’re reading and researching topics related to heart disease,” she says. “They’re coming in with questions. They try and stump me, but that hasn’t happened yet.”
After a patient has a heart attack—or if a patient is at risk for heart disease—often a change in lifestyle is part of the prescription for staying well. “No one wants to have heart disease,” says Reed. “Patients are always really surprised when they hear they have it, and they’re really motivated not to be sick. They want to get better. You’d be surprised how many people stop smoking after their first event.”
Reed forms partnerships with patients, setting attainable goals and offering ongoing positive reinforcement. “I consider it a team approach,” Reed explains. “I can’t be dogmatic about it—it’s not in my personality. My patients and I are in this together.”
Dr. Michael Yow: Cardiology (TIE)
One Medical Center Blvd., Suite 224, Upland, (610) 876-2400
Education: Medical College of Georgia
Residency: Grady Memorial Hospital
After a male patient in his early 40s suffered a heart attack, Dr. Michael Yow had a lengthy discussion with him about what he needed to do to avoid another one. Then it was off to the waiting room to talk with the man’s wife and two sons.
“I explained to those two boys—ages 14 and 16—that because of their father’s condition, they should never look at a cigarette,” says Yow, who also stressed to the family the importance of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. “I take advantage of whoever’s in that room to spread the gospel.”
Over the past few years, Yow has been pleased to see so much emphasis placed on increasing public awareness in regards to reducing the risk factors for heart disease—rather obvious but crucial things like not smoking cigarettes, exercising on a daily basis and eating a healthy diet. And when prevention isn’t enough, recent technological advances in cardiac care certainly come in handy.
“There’s a lot being done acutely in regard to intervention,” says Yow. “There’s also a lot now that wasn’t available before in the management of heart failure. We can’t even begin to
imagine what technology will give us in the next 10 years.”
A number of sophisticated imaging techniques allow cardiologists to collect detailed information about the heart without having to resort to an invasive cardiac catheterization procedure. Promising research is also being done in gene therapy—much of it surrounding efforts to use genetic material to help patients develop new heart muscles and blood vessels.
Still, Yow believes the fight against heart disease is going to be won or lost in the area of prevention. An example of a change for the better: Females are finally getting the message about cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 killer of women.
“There had been a tendency to discount women’s symptoms, and I don’t think that’s the case now,” Yow says. “There’s a lot more awareness today. Doctors recognize that women’s symptoms are unique, and they have to be interpreted differently and looked at with a different lens.”
Dr. Richard Schmidt: Orthopedics
15 N. Presidential Blvd., Suite 300, Bala Cynwyd, (610) 667-2663
Education: Penn State College of Medicine
Residency: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
It took breaking both arms at 5 years old for Dr. Richard Schmidt to realize that he wanted to be a doctor. At his young age, he didn’t know how to spell orthopedics, but he knew he wanted to be just like the person who helped him through his injury. “I was so impressed with my doctor,” says Schmidt. “I wanted to care for patients the way he cared for me.”
That doctor would be proud of his protégé. In 1987, Schmidt gained international attention when he performed the first successful total knee transplant. The procedure was highlighted in several media outlets, including the New York Times.
Twenty years later, Schmidt, chief of orthopedics at Lankenau Hospital, is internationally recognized for his expertise in orthopedic cancers—in particular, bone reconstruction and limb-saving surgery. He’s one of a select group of surgeons in Pennsylvania who is fellowship trained in orthopedic oncology.
Schmidt specializes in bone tumors (both benign and cancerous), soft tissue sarcomas and metastatic bone cancer. “Chemotherapy and radiation are allowing patients to live longer with cancer,” says Schmidt. “Due to advances in orthopedic oncology, people are leading more productive lives.”
Whereas before, the prognosis for bone cancer was often amputation, now tumors are removed and bones reconstructed so patients can have full mobility of the limb. “We have the patient up and moving as soon as possible, which helps to avoid complications from prolonged bed rest,” says Schmidt.
While hip fractures—especially in elderly patients—continue to come into the ER in record numbers, there have been
tremendous advances in non-cancer-related orthopedic surgeries. Metal implants and rods continue to get better as time goes on, says Schmidt.
And while Schmidt’s busy practice doesn’t give him much time to reflect on his career, when he does, he admits the number of patients he’s helped by saving their limbs—and lives—is dramatic. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” he says.
Dr. William Greer: Internal Medicine
21 Industrial Blvd., Suite 200, Paoli, (610) 651-0370
Education: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Residency: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
After majoring in English at Yale University, working as a reporter for the New York Times seemed like the perfect first job for Dr. William Greer. “I was really taken with writing,” he says. “It’s what I wanted to do.”
But after six years at the Times, Greer realized his true passion was in medicine. “For me, there was such a sharp contrast between newspaper journalism—where, if you do your job right, the reader benefits but the subject of the article may not,” he says. “In medicine, if I do my job right, I have the ability to improve the life of the patient sitting right in front of me. They will achieve a higher quality of life or they’ll live longer. That’s what’s so compelling to me about medicine.”
At first, Greer’s inquisitive nature led him to medical research; he completed a fellowship in clinical epidemiology and worked in genetic epidemiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “But what I really enjoyed most was the time I spent with patients,” says Greer. “I found the patients to be much more compelling than the research.”
As an internist, Greer enjoys the variety of challenges he’s presented with. “The next patient will present me with something the last patient didn’t have,” he says. “Everyone is different.”
Greer says one of his strengths is taking a patient’s “confusing complaints, then mapping out a strategy for making a diagnosis—either a treatment plan or a referral to a sub-specialist.” Now president of the medical staff at Paoli Hospital, he initially was more familiar with university medicine, so coming to the suburbs was a big change.
“I really enjoy practicing in a community setting where I can take care of my patients here in the office, run into them at the grocery store and see them at my kids’ sports games,” he says. “It’s what I envisioned it would be like as an internist practicing in a community.”
Dr. Kurt Muetterties: Radiology
300 Evergreen Drive, Suite 210, Glen Mills, (610) 579-3500
Education: University of California Davis School of Medicine
Residency: University of Washington Medical Center
As an interventional radiologist, Dr. Kurt Muetterties finds himself explaining what he does quite frequently. “Although the field has been around for decades, it has evolved exponentially in the last 20 years,” he says.
Muetterties is trained in both diagnostic and interventional radiology. In the former, he uses many different technologies—including CAT scan, MRI, X-ray and ultrasound—to visualize all aspects of the body and disease process. The radiologist is responsible for reviewing the imaging data and helping to identify diseases, along with directing and monitoring therapy and response to therapy.
With interventional radiology, “we perform minimally invasive procedures to help diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of diseases,” says Muetterties. “We use image guidance to manipulate a variety of specialized devices throughout the body—both to diagnose and treat diseases and offer alternatives to much more invasive conventional surgeries.”
Less invasive treatments reduce the chances of serious complications, shorten recovery time and lessen scars from procedures. One example Muetterties cites is the treatment of uterine fibroids. For years, the traditional therapy was a hysterectomy. Now an interventional radiologist can perform a uterine fibroid embolization that is less invasive with a shorter recovery time and less complications. Even better, it gives a woman the option to keep her uterus.
With new technologies constantly evolving, Muetterties’ specialty is never boring. “Part of what I love about the job is the challenge,” he says. “With both interventional and diagnostic radiology, we’re at the cutting-edge of medicine. Every year, there’s the task of both understanding new technology and applying those technologies to identify and treat diseases.”
Dr. Becky Souder: Family Practice
701 Main St., Phoenixville, (610) 935-7300
Education: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency: Crozer-Keystone Center for Family Medicine
When she thinks back on her education, Dr. Becky Souder remembers the professors and coaches who were the hardest on her. “They were tough, but they were always fair,” she says. “I knew they wanted the best for me and that they cared. That’s the type of doctor I try to be.”
In her practice, Souder cares for generations of families, from newborns to seniors—though she once considered specializing in emergency medicine. “What I didn’t like about it was that, after I took care of a patient, I never had interaction with the patient again. So I was always left wondering how they were doing,” she says. “The best thing about being part of a family practice is being able to follow my patients’ care.”
Though she sees a variety of ailments come through her door, diabetes is affecting a growing number of adults and children. “Childhood obesity is definitely a health concern,” Souder says. “I’m seeing many more pre-diabetic children and adults. They’re not diabetic now, but they will be with another 10-20 pounds.”
Better eating habits and increased exercise are key components in stamping out diabetes. “I had a 65-year-old woman who lost 40 pounds, and she is no longer diabetic,” Souder says. “I was also able to allow her to go off of her blood pressure medication.”
Ultimately, it’s about healthy lifestyle choices. “Patients know that I will scold them if they’re not doing what I told them to do,” she says. “It’s crucial that it’s a team effort between the doctor and the patient.”
Still, Souder believes it’s her responsibility to help patients take responsibility for their own health. “I’m my patients’ biggest advocate,” she says. “But overall, it’s the patients who need to take the best care of themselves.”
Dr. Thomas Graham: Neurology
11 Industrial Blvd., Paoli, (610) 644-6251
Education: Penn State College of Medicine
Residency: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
When Dr. Thomas Graham was in medical school, his classmates couldn’t understand why he chose to study neurology. “They would say, ‘Sure, you get to make clever diagnoses. But you don’t get to do anything. There’s nothing you can do about the diseases you see,’” recalls Graham. “That’s certainly not the case now. There are many thing we couldn’t treat before that we can now.”
Graham entered the field at an exciting time. In 1978, the year he graduated from medical school, CAT scans were a new entity. “The ability to look inside a skull relatively easily was a dramatic advancement,” he says.
Other advancements also have dramatically altered his field. “We have more and different medications to treat things that weren’t treatable once upon a time,” says Graham. “If a patient had Alzheimer’s disease 20 years ago, I couldn’t do anything. I’d tell the patients that I’m sorry—that they have a progressive disorder that’s going to get worse and there unfortunately wasn’t anything I could do about it.”
Today, Graham may be having the same discussion with his patients, “but at least there’s Alzheimer’s medication that will extend the process and possibly slow it down,” he says. “We also have medicine to halt multiple sclerosis—or at least slow it down substantially.”
Now that we’re living longer, more of us are being diagnosed with neurological diseases. “People used to die from heart attacks before they would get a neurological disease,” says Graham. “The brain is a complex organ. There’s still so much we don’t know about it.”
Since many of the diseases he treats don’t have a cure and are progressive, Graham works to keep patients functional—doing what they want to do for as long as possible. “That’s something I couldn’t offer 20 years ago,” he admits.
Graham sees many positive things on the horizon for neurology. Since quite a few of the diseases he treats are genetic, gene therapy has the potential to profoundly affect the field. And in 2009, several new drugs for Alzheimer’s will hit the market that can actually treat the disease.
In the meantime, Graham will continue doing what he’s best at—listening to patients. “I have to hear every detail of what’s wrong and their symptoms,” Graham says. “When the day is over, it’s about the time I give the patient.”
Dr. Amy Jane Cadieux: Obstetrics & Gynecology
799 Gay St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-2440
Education: Dartmouth Medical School
Residency: Pennsylvania Hospital
After delivering hundreds of babies, it seemed a cruel twist of fate when Dr. Amy Jane Cadieux had difficulty conceiving with her husband. Even so, she says, “My infertility was the best thing that ever happened to me. I went on to adopt two beautiful daughters from China—Tessa and Paige. Your own life adventures can really help other people.”
Having been in the same situation, Cadieux has the utmost empathy for her infertility patients and openly shares her own experiences. “I understand that the tests really hurt, and I know how much of a financial burden it can be to couples because the tests are really expensive,” says Cadieux. “They appreciate hearing my stories and knowing that I lived through the same thing they’re going through.”
And Cadieux celebrates with patients when treatments are successful. For those who don’t have success, she mentions her daughters, explaining that there are other ways to build a family.
“I think some of the most powerful experiences are during the bad times,” says Cadieux. “That’s when my patients need me the most. And after the bad times, it makes you appreciate the good times even more.”
An always-on-call commitment makes obstetrics a demanding specialty. “Babies like to come after midnight and during snow storms,” says Cadieux, who once delivered 14 babies in 24 hours during a winter emergency.
Cadieux was just 4 years old when she chose her career. People would always try to correct her, saying, “Oh, you mean you want to be a nurse.”
But Cadieux definitely wanted to be a doctor—and she never wavered from her lifelong goal, which makes the specialty she chose that much more precious to her.
“Obstetrics and gynecology are amazing,” says Cadieux. “I have the privileged opportunity to have relationships with 40-50 women a day. Getting to know them, loving them and going through celebrations and crises with them is wonderful.”
Dr. Joel Noumoff: Oncology
One Medical Center Blvd., Suite 441, Upland, (610) 876-9640
Education: New York University School of Medicine
Residency: New York University Medical Center
As Dr. Joel Noumoff interviewed for his fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he couldn’t help but wonder why the words “Cancer Center” were featured so prominently on its doors. “I thought it was a harsh reminder every time a patient walked through the door of why they were there,” he says.
Now a seasoned oncologist, Noumoff understands that words on a door aren’t going to make cancer patients feel any better or worse about their diagnosis. “As an oncologist, I have the responsibility to provide information and answer any questions my patients have about their cancer,” he says. “They want to know the truth, and they can handle it. I’m very honest and straightforward. They know that when it comes out of my mouth, they can take it as gospel.”
Noumoff’s specialty is gynecologic oncology, and he has served as chairman of the Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology and chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Crozer-Chester Medical Center since 1997. “Cancer care has changed drastically over the past several years,” he says. “As we’ve learned more about the disease process, we’ve learned where we don’t have to be as aggressive with treatments and operations.”
Oncologists are also attuned to combining treatments to achieve better results. “You can have two patients on paper with the same disease entity and the same pathology, but who use different types of therapy. We tailor treatments toward what’s best for the patient,” Noumoff says.
Sophisticated technology now aids in catching pre-malignant or early-stage cancer in patients. Risk assessment also plays a major role in identifying those who may contract certain cancers. At Crozer, the Prevention and Risk of Cancer Assessment program helps to identify those factors and dictate preventative measures.
When it comes to cancer, many people view it as a black or white subject. “People see it as cured or not cured,” Noumoff says. “The best scenario is always a cure. But sometimes enabling a patien
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