By Chris Taydus
For Dr. Lynne Diggs, Riderwood’s new Medical Director, medicine wasn’t always her intended path. “It was a decision I made when I was about 12, but it was by accident,” Diggs says. “Prior to that, I wanted to be a Broadway director.”
However, like many parents, her mother needed a bit of a respite during summer months while Lynne was on break from school. So, she called up Lynne’s cousin, an internist in Baltimore, to ask if the young girl could shadow him for a couple of days.
“I loved it,” proclaims Diggs. “One day, I came downstairs and proudly announced to my parents that I wanted to become a physician.” Lynne recalls the shocked look on her parents’ faces when she told them, but the surprise eventually led to joy at the sudden change of planned profession.
But the medical field may have been in her genes, as her grandfather, George S. Allen, had been a doctor in Baltimore City, opening his practice in East Baltimore in 1925. As a general practitioner, affectionately known as “Doc Allen,” he treated trauma patients, made house calls, and delivered babies, a personal favorite duty of his.
She speaks highly of her grandfather and how other more prejudiced physicians in the
city led her grandfather to discover a new group he could help. “Because it was an immigrant community, one of the groups that came were gypsy families, and people had a lot of fear [about them] because they were large and they had unique religious practices and unusual dietary habits…and none of the doctors would take care of them.” She continues, “My grandad was the only doctor in the neighborhood that would take care of the gypsy families…he got a good reputation for being open to taking care of anybody.”
As for Lynne, after graduating high school in Baltimore, she began her healthcare career by earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, followed by her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She headed to New York for her internship, before returning to the Delmarva area for her residency. Lynne eventually opened her own practice in the Silver Spring area while working out of various local hospitals for the last 20 years. She continued until an opportunity at Riderwood presented itself.
Because of her extended tenure in the medical field, Dr. Diggs, like other physicians in Montgomery County, had an aging population of patients. While she didn’t intend to move into the field of geriatrics, she discovered she had a real knack for it. “I had developed a rapport with these older patients,” she recalls, “so when the Riderwood opportunity presented itself, it seemed like a natural next step.”
According to Riderwood Practice Administrator Laura McCormick, Dr. Diggs was a natural fit for Riderwood too. “We interviewed several highly qualified candidates, but none had that wow factor. Dr. Diggs did,” says McCormick. “She was excited and passionate about senior care. She shared her values and philosophy regarding her practice that mirrored our Erickson values. I felt her dynamic and energetic attitude would be a perfect fit to Riderwood and the Medical Center.”
Medicine wasn’t the only aspect of her life into which Dr. Diggs stumbled unexpectedly. She is a certified scuba diver and an amateur beekeeper, both of which she also found “by accident.” She got interested in scuba diving after overhearing some friends at a college reunion who were discussing diving. In the four years she’s been diving, her favorite dive spot so far has been Belize. She finds diving to be like medicine in that they’re both continually changing ecosystems, saying, “External changes affect the ocean just as external changes affect medicine.”
She found the beekeeping hobby after attending a fair in Virginia and finding a booth that sold the hives to start beekeeping at home. The first year she tried it, she wasn’t too successful. “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and all the bees died,” Dr. Diggs admits. “However, I later went to a bee club…and I took a six-week bee class, and, since then, things have been successful so far.” She draws more similarities to Riderwood with beekeeping. “We’re a colony here.”
Having just started her fifth week at the community, Dr. Diggs still has plenty to learn about the way Riderwood and the Erickson Health Medical Group operates. She will not only see patients, but will be a leader in the Riderwood community by participating in and being an active member of the Executive team. She will also serve as the Medical Director of Arbor Ridge, working closely with Continuing Care Administrator Lori Hamilton and Director of Nursing Peace Oke.
Whether it was medicine or the lights of Broadway, Lynne knows her parents would have been proud. “They would have supported me no matter what way I went,” says Diggs, “but they would have had their eyebrows raised if I’d chosen the theater.”
Dr. Diggs was formally introduced to the community at the Conversation with Administration meeting on August 22 in Maryland Hall, and a Meet and Greet with the new Medical Director will be held on Friday, September 20 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the first floor lobby of Village Square.