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Mary Englerth, PA, Clinical Hero in Pennsylvania, Retires

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MCN's Dr. Laszlo Madaras with Mary Englerth
[MCN's Dr. Laszlo Madaras with Mary Englerth, PA]

After over three decades of service of farmworkers in rural Pennsylvania, Mary Englerth, PA, is retiring.  “Hermana Mary,” as many know her in the farmworker camps, is a Maryknoll Missioner and, until very recently, the long-time Pennsylvania State Director of the Migrant Health Program at Keystone Health. In that role, Mary has worked directly with farmworkers across the state, hosting evening clinics, traveling to remote farmworker camps, and coordinating clinics with partner hospitals and health centers across the state.

“One of the most impressive things about her is her clinical skills,meaning: she listens, takes great histories, and great physical exams,” noted Ed Zuroweste, MD, Founding Medical Director for Migrant Clinicians Network and long-time colleague and friend of Mary’s. Both were instrumental in building and launching Keystone Health in the 1990s.

Ed recalled an early Friday evening when Mary called for his advice: “She was examining a guy on a table in a migrant camp, and she said, ‘I think I’m feeling a mass on his liver.’” He had been seen twice previously for pain in his right abdomen. Mary brought him in and Ed examined him. He found it very difficult to find the mass -- but he found it and confirmed her concern. After further tests, the solitary nodule was determined to be liver cancer that had not metastasized. “We never see these so early -- nobody ever picks them up that early,” Ed explained. “It was all on listening to this patient, really listening, [coupled with] her really good clinical skills to find it.”


MCN's Dr. Laszlo Madaras, Dr. Ed Zuroweste, Nurse Practitioner Candace Kugel pose for a photo with Keystone staff including Mary Englerth
[MCN's Dr. Laszlo Madaras, Dr. Ed Zuroweste, and Nurse Practitioner Midwife Candace Kugel visit with Keystone staff]

Her exceptional listening and clinical skills may be traced back to her early years as a clinician in Peru, where she had to rely on those two essential skills when diagnostic tests and equipment were hard to get. Her skills were further honed in migrant camps, where she organized and worked evening clinics in the field.

In 2014, MCN chronicled her life’s work by honoring Mary as one of 30 Clinicians Making a Difference. At that time, she noted, “[to] have someone to go out into the communities, and sit, and listen compassionately to their problems,” makes a big difference, Englerth believes. “The gratitude in people’s eyes for the little bit we can do… it’s reciprocal, it really is.”

Her exceptional clinical talents and deep compassion for her patients and work will be missed.

“She walks the walk, and puts it into practice,” noted Ed. “She has lived to serve people, and she’s one of the most non-judgemental human beings I’ve ever met -- all to provide the care the most appropriate for that individual.”

“She’s always been a clinical hero of mine,” he added.




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