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GBMC Announces New Physician Titans of Care

November 13, 2017
The first physician to open a pediatric practice at GBMC, John Boscia, MD, served the community’s children for more than 20 years: treating extended families, children of parents he had also treated in their youth, and some folks well into their 20s, because they just didn’t want to go anywhere else. John dedicated his career to caring and advocating for some of the most medically-challenged patients in our area. He did it because of his sense of fairness. Dr. Boscia had also experienced some physical challenges in his youth and had a special place in his heart for these patients.

John Boscia, MD
Dr. Boscia was a deeply compassionate pediatrician with outstanding clinical skills and an impeccable character. He was loved by his patients and deeply respected by his peers. He was known as a “true pillar in the department of pediatrics” and “a fountain of knowledge" when it came to pediatric medicine.

“John exemplified the best qualities of the pediatrician you would want caring for your child. His compassion, kindness and devotion to his patients were unmatched. He is famously remembered by one family for calling while he was on vacation, immediately after their child had received a life-threatening diagnosis in the ED. The family was so touched.”
Dr. Boscia served as vice-chair of pediatrics from 1993 to 2013, and also served as acting chairman following Dr. Stephen Amato’s retirement in 1998. Dr. Tim Doran – current chair of the department, who took over after Stephen – said he thought Dr. Boscia would have been given the seat had he advocated for it at the time, but he was a humble man who didn’t want the spotlight. Patient care was his focus and his passion.

John Boscia was respected throughout the hospital for his ability to work with other departments in a positive and collaborative manner. Colleagues said he was always composed, no matter the level of chaos. His sign-off on emails was “peace in the Middle East.”

Dr. Boscia had to leave his practice prematurely because of an illness, and unfortunately he passed away earlier this year. Patients continue to ask about him daily. His GBMC colleagues and the community he cared for miss him terribly.

Dr. Theresa Nguyen, whose first interaction with John was her phone interview with him 17 years ago, while he cooked and played music in the background, said, “John exemplified the best qualities of the pediatrician you would want caring for your child. His compassion, kindness and devotion to his patients were unmatched. He is famously remembered by one family for calling while he was on vacation, immediately after their child had received a life-threatening diagnosis in the ED. The family was so touched.”

Dr. Boscia was also fiercely loyal to his colleagues. Dr. Doran remembers when he let some members of the team go after becoming chairman of the department, he received a strongly-worded letter from Dr. Boscia, voicing his displeasure. Months later, Dr. Doran would receive a second letter from Dr. Boscia retracting his reaction and complimenting Dr. Doran on his decision-making, but his initial reaction to defend his colleagues speaks volumes of Dr. Boscia’s personality.

Dr. Boscia was chosen as a Titan for being the embodiment of GBMC’s vision of treating every patient, every time as you would your own loved one; for being the kind of physician every parent wishes for their child. His legacy can best be expressed by a story from one of his families:

“I began taking my kids to Dr. Boscia in 1996. I was recommended to him by a friend of my sister’s, who went to high school with him. I had a set of 2-year-old twins and a 1-year-old daughter, and I was pregnant with twins. My kids fell in love with him on the first day because of his funny Donald Duck voice. One day, my son asked about Dr. B’s “funny hand” and what a great opportunity it was for me as a mom to explain to my kids that, despite a physical disability, he became a doctor. He did not let that hold him back and that was only one of the many reasons we came to respect him as a doctor and a man.

My second set of twins ended up having some issues and he again showed compassion and wisdom. He was humble. He also never made me feel as if my questions were dumb. I trusted him immensely.

After he retired, he sent my two youngest daughters birthday cards every year. My one precious daughter passed away this past December due to pneumonia and Dr. Boscia sent me the kindest note, which I have framed. After my divorce in 2007, my kids told me I should marry Dr. Boscia, which just goes to show you how much respect and love they had for their awesome Dr. Boscia.” - Cherie Valentine

GBMC suffered a great loss earlier this year with John's passing but I would like to invite Doctor Boscia's husband Gary to the stage to accept the award on his behalf

Next is Doctor Karl Diehn

Karl Diehn, MD
Karl Diehn, MD, is a man with a soft voice and a gentle demeanor. Many times he has been called to our pediatric emergency department to see a patient and he always finds a way. So too, anytime a physician calls Dr. Diehn to see a patient in his office on an emergency basis, he makes room. Dr. Diehn has been a cornerstone of the GBMC otolaryngology department for more than 30 years. After graduating from the University of Maryland medical school in 1975, and finishing his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Diehn became one of the earliest members of Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, and helped to forge the practice’s reputation as the preeminent provider of pediatric otolaryngology care. His partners were George C. Alderman, MD, Samuel M. Lumpkin, MD and J. Dennis Branger, MD, and together this group defined excellence in otolaryngology throughout the region. During his tenure at GBMC, Dr. Diehn has also served on the GBMC medical board and the GBMC HeathCare Board of Directors.

A perennial member of Baltimore’s “Top Docs,” Dr. Diehn is admired for his consistent availability, his accountability, and his kindness. His skill, thoughtfulness and calm demeanor have inspired physicians, students, patients and families throughout his professional career. When the GBMC medical board was asked for nominations for the titan award, Dr. Brian Kaplan, the current chair of otolaryngology, wrote me back the next day and said, “if anyone ever embodied the values of GBMC, it’s Dr. Diehn.” Dr. Diehn also embodies humility. When I first spoke to him about this award he was hesitant to accept it. He said. “I am not special and I do not deserve an award. I just try to do the best job I can.” His response speaks to the true difficulty and complexity of selecting physicians to receive the Titan award. The greatest physicians are often those who simply do their job – in all its manifestations – to the best of their capacity, and do it marvelously well.

“He was the best dad -- I’m 37 years old, and we have our own lives, but I still look to him for advice and support.”
Dr. Diehn lives in Towson with his wife Catherine; together, they raised 4 children, Megan, Karl, Kate and Kevin. Medicine is all-in-the-family for the Diehns. Catherine was a pediatric intensive care nurse when they met. She resigned when their second child was born so that Karl could devote more time to his practice, and she could devote her time to being a mom. Karl and Catherine’s love of medicine will be carried forward by their two daughters, one a physician and the other a nurse practitioner. The Diehns also have two grandchildren, who are the apples of their eye.

Megan Diehn Wood, MD, said she and her siblings had an idyllic childhood, “just growing up around my parents-- him being a doctor and her a nurse -- was incredible. Our up-bringing definitely influenced my sister, Kate, and me going into the medical field.” Megan also spoke of her father’s work ethic, “he made a lot of sacrifices and spent of long hours at work over the years. But we all knew it was for good reason.” Despite Dr. Diehn’s complete dedication to his professional life, Megan had this to add: “he was the best dad -- I’m 37 years old, and we have our own lives, but I still look to him for advice and support.”

When speaking to Dr. Diehn’s myriad patients, one often hears, “he took care of my kids too,” and “he’s such a wonderful doctor.” Really it seems that almost anyone you ask in the community knows of Dr. Diehn, a quiet and humble hero, and now a GBMC Titan.

And last but not least … Doctor Alan Tapper

Alan Tapper, MD
Alan Tapper, MD, a founder of GBMC’s Ob/Gyn department, has been a physician of remarkable vision and foresight. In the 1970s, he sensed the changing demands of obstetrics in the region and began advocating for family-centered obstetrical care long before that approach was acceptable or popular. In 1978, against very strong objections, Dr. Tapper established the first birthing room at GBMC, and subsequently the first maternity facility in the state of Maryland to have one.

His unique character, affability, trustworthiness and sense of humor make him one of the outstanding physicians in our community.
Dr. Tapper’s children describe their father as truly the most dedicated and committed doctor. Amy Tapper recalls the many nights he would receive calls from patients at home and without hesitation offer to meet them at the hospital--- regardless of how serious or minor the symptom. “I believe my father truly enjoyed waking up in the middle of night to see a patient or respond to a call—he was perfectly suited for the job—on call 24 hours a day ready to help someone. Scott Tapper, now a vascular surgeon, wrote, “anywhere we went in Baltimore, women would come up to us and tell their stories of childbirth or surgery and how wonderful dad was sitting at the foot of their bed or in chair next them, being super patient with them, taking time to talk to them, answering all their questions, all the while also watching football on TV with their husband!”

According to his partner of 22 and a half years, Dr. Emma Zargarian, Dr. Tapper was also well known for consistently promoting progressive changes that improved patient care. Together they elevated GBMC’s position as the preeminent institution for women’s healthcare. Dr. Zargarian also describes Dr. Tapper as being ahead of his time in the way he treated women physicians entering the profession as complete equals. Not everyone would have been able to welcome a woman physician partner in the 1970’s in the way that he did. She states that Dr. Tapper loved the profession and thought of his patients as people first, patients second. From simply asking questions to get to know them better, to attending funerals for patients and their families, he invested in their lives. Dr. Tapper’s family echoes this sentiment: Amy writes: “even today, some years after his retirement, wherever he goes, he takes great pleasure in running into former patients, their children and grandchildren--—and dare I say great-grandchildren. I learned early on that whenever I went anywhere with my dad, even to Graul’s, i needed to look presentable—because no doubt we would hear a ‘hi Dr. Tapper’ . . . And the introductions and stories would begin.”

Dr. Tapper is known by the community to be a brilliant, gregarious, extremely funny, and profoundly dedicated individual and we are so lucky to have been the hospital where he chose to dedicate his work. Once when Amy Tapper asked her father why he chose obstetrics, he said it was one of the areas of medicine that was happy and that he was bringing joy to people’s lives. Dr. Tapper slept night after night after night at GBMC delivering babies, his son remembers, and established a work ethic that he now tries to uphold in his surgical practice today. Dr. Tapper’s focus on patient and family-centered care was a clear representation of GBMC’s vision long before it was established. His unique character, affability, trustworthiness and sense of humor make him one of the outstanding physicians in our community.
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