Celebrated Physician: Linnea Pepper, MD
When Linnea Pepper, MD, decided to become a physician, she knew she’d forever be associated with the famous soft drink. Having chosen geriatric medicine as a specialty, however, she quickly learned to embrace the advantages such a familiar name offered.
“Introducing myself as, ‘Dr. Pepper, like the soda,’ is also a quick test of a patient’s cognition,” she explains. “If they don’t get the connection right away, it may be a sign that there are some cognitive issues I need to be aware of.”
An attending physician in Geriatric Medicine at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Pepper also knows well how a bit of humor can go a long way in helping patients and families deal with the multiple, often emotionally charged challenges of aging. Growing up in Alabama, she helped care for her mother’s aging parents—one physically frail, and the other diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Why Geriatric Medicine?
After graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Auburn University with degrees in Molecular Biology and French, Dr. Pepper enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, where the school’s geriatrics physicians provided “transformative experiences that sharpened my career path,” she says. It was then on to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for a residency in Internal Medicine, and a fellowship in Geriatric Medicine.
Dr. Pepper came to the area earlier this year, when her husband, Jay Morris, MD, began a neonatology fellowship at Children’s National Hospital . While searching for the ideal place to apply for her training and personal commitment, Dr. Pepper discovered the nationally recognized MedStar House Call Program, which provides routine and specialty care to elders in their homes, as well as valuable access to a wide range of social and support services.
“Everyone in the House Call program is truly passionate about caring for older adults who are often marginalized, and are often dealing with multiple chronic medical and cognitive issues,” Dr. Pepper says. “We’re almost like a family in ourselves, because we help and support each other.”
The MedStar House Call Program helps reduce the cost of providing quality care, by eliminating situations that prevent unnecessary ER visits, hospitalization, or nursing home care. “Most elderly patients are simply happier to be at home, regardless of their condition,” Dr. Pepper adds. “Delivering medical care in the home can make a major difference in their overall well-being, and in their families’ ability to support them.”
Outside the Hospital
As newcomers to the area, Dr. Pepper and her husband are exploring the area’s many outdoor recreational jewels, such as Great Falls and Shenandoah National Park. Both Auburn graduates, they are also avid college football fans.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised to find so many other Auburn alumni in the area,” she says. “Though we’re hundreds of miles from Alabama, we feel right at home.”
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