“The two biggest challenges in working for the uninsured and indigent in our clinic are trying to locate services for patients who need special care or follow-up–such as diabetics; and understanding the needs of our patients. We have a tremendous diversity in culture and language, and we always have to remember how hard it is for some patients to make their needs known.”
Chris Van Hollen
“CHAMPION FOR THOSE LACKING ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE”
Elise Riley always loved cultural interaction and diversity, and as an undergraduate in college majored in anthropology. After college, she got a job working in a doctor's office and realized she was interested in medicine and could combine that interest with her desire to work with and help others.
"I was like a lot of young people just out of college, not sure what I wanted to do," she recalled. "Once I realized I wanted to study medicine, I came to love the problem solving aspect of it. I know it sounds kind of corny, but I love working with patients, and just trying to figure out how best to help them."
As the Medical Director of the Holy Cross Hospital Health Center in Silver Spring, MD, Riley has been a leader in providing medical care to the indigent, homeless, and others lacking healthcare, and in teaching interns, residents and nurse practitioners about the challenges and rewards of this work. Since its founding in 2003, the clinic has been instrumental in providing access to quality healthcare for many who cannot obtain medical care anywhere else.
In addition to training medical professionals at Holy Cross, Riley also assists in the management of the George Washington Medical School Internal Medicine Residency programs at Holy Cross Hospital.
"Teaching is one of my great interests. At George Washington and at the hospital, I get to teach residents, medical students and nurses. I learn a lot and love the interaction," she commented.
Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), Riley began her medical career at Washington Hospital Center as an attending physician in the General Internal Medicine Clinic.
She has volunteered countless hours to Mobile Medical Care, which provides primary health care to low-income, working poor, homeless, uninsured and underinsured residents of Montgomery County.
"I grew up in a family where community service was what we did and was kind of expected," Riley said. "My mother was a volunteer in all sorts of school activities and tutored reading; my father was a psychiatrist. He gave me insight into how different situations in life can affect people–how life had impacted his patients, and the problems that occurred."
"In our clinic we have great diversity in cultures and language. I try to put myself in the shoes of the patient who doesn't speak English and you realize how difficult it is to communicate about complex health issues."
"I'm proud of the people I work with. I found in medicine a career that gives me great satisfaction. My greatest accomplishment though is my family–my husband and three great children."
President and CEO of Holy Cross Hospital, Kevin Sexton, wrote of her: "Dr. Riley has earned a well-deserved reputation as a champion for those who have little or no access to health care. I work with physicians and nurses who do extraordinary things each and every day. Dr. Riley is truly one of those outstanding individuals."
Appointed Attending Physician, Washington Hospital Center (WHC), Washington, D.C.
Appointed Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Appointed Chair, Employee Health Committee, Washington Hospital Center (WHC)
Appointed Chair, Graduate Medical Education Committee, Department of Medicine, Washington Hospital Center (WHC)
Appointed Physician Advisor Case Management and Associate Director Internal Medicine Residency, Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, MD
Appointed Medical Director, Holy Cross Hospital Health Center
State University of New York at Buffalo Medical School, Buffalo, NY