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A Birthday Tribute to Dr. William Reichel

Happy 80th Birthday to Dr. William Reichel, the founding Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Residency Director at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. 

Click above to read tributes to Dr. Reichel

1969: While Family Medicine was recognized as a new specialty in 1969, Dr. Reichel served at the Gerontology Research Center of the NIH in 1966-1970. He was invited to the University of Tokyo in 1970 to discuss his research on vitamin E, premature aging, and lipid pigment formation at the Gerontology Research Center shortly after leaving the NIH Center.

1972:  Dr. Thomas Crawford, Director of Medical Education, recruited Dr. Reichel to start a Family Medicine residency at Franklin Square. Until his residency was approved, his title was Director of Outpatient Services and Director of Family Medicine and Human Development (1970-1972). In 1971 the Family Practice residency was approved at Franklin Square and in 1972, Dr. Reichel became the first Chair of the Department as well as Residency Director and Director of the Family Health Center. As a member of the Board of Directors of the American Geriatrics Society, he was appointed to lead the delegation of AGS members at an International Congress of Gerontology in the U.S.S.R. where he discussed premature aging.

1974:  Representing the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), Dr. Reichel served on the task forces/commissions that were created after a serious and deadly epidemic in a Baltimore nursing home. He testified to the Senate Special Committee on Aging on October 10, 1973, and regulations requiring that skilled nursing facilities must have a medical director were passed in 1974. And soon after the American Medical Directors Association was formed.  Dr. Reichel in 1974 was appointed a member of the Aging Review Committee for the review of extramural grants submitted to the new National Institute on Aging.  Dr. Reichel served as Clinical Professor of Community and Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He was Lecturer in Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

1971-1984 Dr. Reichel was a mamber of the Board of Directors of the AGS (1971-1984); he served as President of the Society (1979-1980) and Chairman of the Board (1980-1982). While on the Board in cooperation with Franklin Square Hospital, he conducted 21  continuing medical education (CME) courses, and then Franklin Square Hospital, Georgetown University School of Medicine and AGS, he conducted 3 CME courses, mostly at the Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, MD. These meetings attracted 200-400 participants from as far away as California and Puerto Rico. Serving as the first Coordinator of the AGS Information and Consultation Center, he helped medical schools and medical centers begin their first Geriatrics CME courses, often serving as Chairman of the courses. He published the 1st and 2nd Editions of Care of the Elderly: Clinical Aspects of Aging in 1978 and 1983. He received federal grant support for the 1st  Edition. He also edited the text The Geriatric Patient. Dr. Reichel hosted for one month a Study Group on the Diseases of the Elderly from the People's Republic of China. Most of the visit took place at Franklin Square Hospital. He also returned to Tokyo, Japan to chair and discuss geriatric education and training at an International Congress of Gerontology.

1982:  In June 1982, Dr. Reichel was invited to visit three medical centers in Spain that were in the process of establishing residencies in Family Medicine. He consulted and lectured to the three sites, and he also testified to the Spanish Senate on the benefits and importance of Family Medicine.

1984-1988   He edited the 3rd Edition of Care of the Elderly: Clinical Aspects of Aging, and co-edited the Handbook of Geriatric Assessment. Dr. Reichel served as Chair of the Governor's Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders from 1984-1985. Dr. Reichel's request to the Governor for funding for  survey research was granted and two staff members stationed at Franklin Square Hospital assisted Dr. Reichel. All the monthly meetings of the Task Force took place at Franklin Square Hospital with members coming from a number of academic centers including Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland. In 1985, the Task Force published the Maryland Report on Alzheimer's Disease. The Report received three awards from the Alzheimer's Community and the Governor. After Dr. Reichel completed his service on the AGS Board and on the Governor's Task Force, he continued to serve as speaker and chair at CME courses around the country, and continued publication of articles in the literature regarding geriatrics, geriatric education, Alzheimer's Disease, and clinical bioethics; and new editions of his text that began with Williams and Wilkins and the last two editions with Cambridge University Press. He also co-authored two editions of Doukas, D.J. and Reichel, W.: Planning for Uncertainty: Living Wills and Other Advance Directives for You and Your Family, Johns Hopkins University Press. This book like many others from the Johns Hopkins University Press was meant for the lay reader.

1985:  In 1985, Dr. Reichel received the Malford Thewlis Award for Outstanding Contributions to the American Geriatrics Society, and in 1986 he received the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine's Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Contribution in Education for Family Medicine. 

1992:  Dr. Reichel spoke about Family Medicine at the St. Petersburg Institute of Advanced Medical Studies in St. Petersburg, Russia, and he received a Medallion of Appreciation. 

1998:  Dr. Reichel was appointed Clinical Scholar at the Center for Clinical Bioethics (CCB),Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), Washington, D.C., 1998-2000, Faculty Associate, CCB, GUMC, 2000-2002, Affiliated Scholar, CCB, GUMC, 2002-2013, Affiliated Scholar, Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics (PCCB), GUMC, 2013-current time.  At the CCB, Dr. Reichel participated in regularly scheduled conferences and seminars, and he himself would present Works in Progress on a number of subjects including assisted suicide and euthanasia, confidentiality, ethical issues in the new genetic testing, and ethical issues in caregiving.

2011:  In 2007, the American Medical Directors Association named five Pioneers in Geriatric Medicine including Dr. Reichel among the five. In 2011, the Maryland Medical Directors Association granted to Dr. Reichel the Joseph Berman Award for Physician Lifetime Service.

2016:  In 2016, the 7th Edition of Reichel's Care of the Elderly was published by Cambridge University Press. The publisher of the 5th Edition chose to name the book after Dr. Reichel.



“I would like to express my gratitude for Dr. Reichel’s support over the years that I served as program director.  He always offered encouragement and praise for all that we tried to accomplish.  Knowing that he believed in our work and our success, made them all the more real, especially during difficult times.  Always the gentleman and scholar, the founder of this program should know that his legacy lives on.”

 Sallie Rixey, MD, MEd, Vice Chair, Dept. of Family Medicine, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

“Dr. Reichel has been so generous to me with his time.  When I first became Director of Geriatrics at Franklin Square, Dr. Reichel reached out to me and introduced me to several senior geriatricians on Franklin Square’s staff. He also gave me the opportunity to edit two chapters in the textbook that bears his name.  Over the next decade, we met several times a year to talk about our work, interests, and the residency program.  In between our visits, we stayed in touch via phone, email, and Christmas cards.  Two years ago I left Franklin Square and accepted a primary care position with Kaiser Permanente. I have continued to stay in touch with Dr. Reichel, and I still look forward to his Christmas card every year. I could not have asked for a better mentor.” 

Veronica Deza, MD, Former Faculty, Family Medicine, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

“Bill has been a teacher, mentor and friend since I came to Franklin Square in 1981 as a 1st year Family Medicine Resident. Before you get to know Bill you’re immediately impressed by his academic background and scholarly achievements but then this gives way to admiration of someone who is truly kind, sincere and thoughtful in everything he does. He has been able to make a meaningful impact in the lives and careers of hundreds of physicians- whether it was taking an entire residency program to see the film Gandhi in 1982 to inviting all his past graduates and friends to his 80th birthday celebration. I can think of few people who have been as great a role model of a life well spent in medicine and so giving of themselves to others.” 

Michael Niehoff, MD, Faculty, Department of Family Medicine, Director of Musculoskeletal Programs, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

“I would like to thank Dr. Reichel for his efforts in establishing the Family Medicine Residency program at MedStar Franklin Square.  When family medicine was recognized as a new specialty in 1969, he was recruited to Franklin Square to develop a new residency program.  Through his vision and leadership he succeeded in creating an excellent training program that has been extremely successful for the past 45 years.  I am proud to be a graduate of his program and even more excited that I have been able to spend my entire professional career working there.  On behalf of all of the hundreds of graduates of the program, happy birthday and thank you for your vision, leadership, mentorship, and dedication to the training of family medicine residents.  You have had a great impact on all of our lives.”  

Michael Dwyer, MD, Program Director, Family Medicine, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

“I can’t thank Bill enough for his longstanding vision for our department and residency program and for his tireless support of our team. He has always been very supportive of me personally as well. He is a selfless, generous, kind, and thoughtful friend and mentor and I wish him the happiest of celebrations on this milestone! Thank you, Bill, for all you have done, and still do in support of me and our department! “ 

Melly Goodell, MD, Chair, Department of Family Medicine, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center