Dr. W. Anthony Riley
Chief Medical Officer
The wisdom of older patients has always inspired Dr. Anthony Riley, who joined Gilchrist when it started in 1994 as the founding medical director of Gilchrist Hospice Care. He has also been a member of the medical staff at Greater Baltimore Medical Center since 1983 and is a division head in its geriatrics department.
Riley started his career in internal medicine and found in working with older patients that they had lessons to share about their illnesses and medical care.
“Older patients typically challenge their providers to think beyond the usual risks and benefits of treatments,” Riley said. “These patients wish to understand the benefits, risks and burdens for individuals in their particular state of health and how a treatment would affect other aspects of their lives. They see themselves as people, not just as patients.”
Treatment requiring weekly clinic visits might be acceptable for younger patients, but older patients may find it burdensome to spend precious time every week in a clinic in exchange for modest benefit, Riley said.
“In addition, we are learning every day about how the risks and benefits of treatments are different for older patients versus younger ones,” he said. “To this day, I find it gratifying to find treatment options and to help patients make decisions about medical care that serve them best.”
Gilchrist’s elder medical care practice focuses on the frail elderly and those with serious illnesses, Riley said, and is integrated with the many other services Gilchrist and GBMC offer so it can remain a resource and source of continuity for patients as their needs change.
“Always keep the voice of the patient at the forefront of your work,” he said. “The potential distractions are numerous. Staying focused on the needs and perspectives of your patients will always serve you well as you navigate the increasingly complicated world of medicine.”