Making a big difference in small lives Pediatrician chose community hospital

After her three-year pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Dr. Karen Deweling thought her new job as in-patient pediatric director at Carroll County General Hospital would be slow-paced in comparison.

"I was told when I came here that it can be busy, but that frequently you don't have a lot to do," said Dr. Deweling. "But I haven't found it very slow.


During her 24-hour shift every Tuesday, Dr. Deweling said, she hardly has time to sit down.

"There's enough to do to keep me interested and occupied," she said.


Dr. Deweling, 29, who joined Carroll County General's staff Sept. 1, is responsible for overseeing patient care in the maternity, nursery and pediatric wards.

She and two other staff pediatricians provide around-the-clock coverage to the hospital's maternity and pediatric patients.

Although she studied and practiced medicine at Hopkins, an internationally renowned teaching hospital, Dr. Deweling chose to work at a community hospital.

"I felt like I could make a difference here," she said. "My training gave me the opportunity to make a difference in the community.

"I'm glad I went to Hopkins and was exposed to a broad variety of things, so what I'm seeing now is not new to me."

Some of the medical problems Dr. Deweling routinely dealt with at Hopkins -- drug-addicted babies and children born with AIDS -- are seldom seen in Carroll County.

"We've had one drug baby since I've been here," she said. "That's something I'm glad not to see anymore. I find it difficult to deal with."

Dr. Deweling said one of the biggest adjustments she's had to make at Carroll County General is not having access to specialists in the same hospital. She said she frequently calls the specialists she worked with at Hopkins for advice on patient care.


Sometimes, patients who require specialized care are transferred to Hopkins or the University of Maryland Medical Center, if, for example, they need the services of a neo-natal intensive care unit or a pediatric surgeon.

"If I thought a patient would benefit from subspecialty care, I wouldn't hesitate to transfer them," Dr. Deweling said.

A career in medicine was almost a certainty for Dr. Deweling. Her father is a pharmacologist and vice dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and her mother is a former nurse.

During her undergraduate years at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, Dr. Deweling considered a career in music, working with handicapped children, but she finally chose medicine. Once she settled on a career path, she had no trouble narrowing her focus in the field.

"I never really thought about doing anything else besides pediatrics," said Dr. Deweling, who lives in Sykesville with her husband Robert, and two children, Robby, 4, and Madalyn, 1.

Dr. Deweling said her position at Carroll County General is a good professional mix. It allows her to give hands-on primary care to patients and gives her the chance to gain administrative experience.


She credits the hospital for having round-the-clock, in-house pediatric and obstetric coverage, a service that many rural and suburban community hospitals don't have.

Generally, at community hospitals, pediatric emergencies or births to mothers who don't have their own obstetricians are handled by private doctors who are on call.

"Doctors have a hard time committing to that -- to drop everything and tend to a sick baby," Dr. Deweling said. "It [in-house pediatric coverage] shows the hospital has a commitment to good pediatrics."

Dr. Deweling said she's looking forward to the renovation of Carroll County General's labor and delivery area, and would like to upgrade the nursery.

Dr. Deweling said she plans to stay at Carroll County General for a few years before opening a private pediatric practice in the county or continuing her education through a fellowship.