News, MSDC Statements, and MSDC Testimony on Health Equity Issues
24th Council session information coming soon.
Another Beautiful Sunday with Dr. Stone
For Dr. Theresa Stone, family is everything. “My parents had a saying: You can always come home. No matter what path we chose, if it didn’t work out, we could always return home and have a fresh start.”
Dr. Stone grew up in Iowa and was the youngest of five children. Her siblings pursued a variety of interests. “One of my brothers is a Navy SEAL and my sister is a schoolteacher. My other brother and sister are now deceased, but one was a ski instructor, and the other worked in local politics,” she said.
Dr. Stone chose medicine and today practices Internal Medicine. “I was always interested in what influenced people. What made people make the decisions they made? I thought I would follow a path to psychology until I was invited to a premed workshop by a friend. That workshop changed everything,” she said.
The recruitment effort worked, and Dr. Stone found herself pursuing psychology, but this time in medical school. At Georgetown University School of Medicine, she was matched with a psychiatrist, who told her that she could use psychology in any field and that medicine was about building relationships. “That really resonated with me. I liked the idea of building relationships with patients over the years and helping to equip them with tools to make them healthier,” she said.
She studied meditation’s impact on stress and expanded her breadth of the mind-body initiative by attending a workshop in Napa Valley, California that helped teach physicians to eat healthier. “The workshop was modeled after a 1960s effort to have doctors stop smoking. Those that did were more effective in having their patients quit smoking too.” At the workshop, physicians were taught how to eat healthier in the hopes that they would share the information with their patients.
She returned to the East Coast reenergized. Soon after Dr. Stone accepted a position with MedStar. “I began to look at lifestyles and integrated medicine and became involved with a teaching kitchen.”
Dr. Stone was elected to the board of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) in 2019. The mission of ACLM is to advance evidence-based lifestyle medicine to treat, reverse, and prevent non-communicable, chronic diseases.
“Patients could have life-changing results when they adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes stress reduction, fitness, healthy eating, positive connectedness, better sleep, and addiction avoidance.” When patients adopt just some of these lifestyle changes, the results are drastic. “We begin to see de-prescribing. For example, diabetes can disappear. It is completely life-changing,” she said.
The goal of Dr. Stone’s effort is to make it simple. “Patients need to see that making these changes is simple and that obstacles can be overcome. For example, while it is often believed that healthier eating is cost-prohibitive for some people, when we look at the ingredients in better food choices, we can find things like beans. Beans are extremely good for people and very affordable. Batch cooking, meal preparation, and repurposing of leftovers are also techniques for healthier eating.”
Dr. Stone practices what she preaches to her patients. “If experts recommend ten servings of vegetables a day, I want to know if that is possible. I want to know if what we are recommended to do, is something that can be accomplished and how much effort is needed.”
Dr. Stone also practices healthy connectedness herself. “During COVID, my girlfriends and I began Another Beautiful Sunday. Each Sunday we would walk together somewhere in D.C. or Maryland.” With travel restrictions over, Dr. Stone enjoys traveling to Spain with her grown nephew. “Every year we travel to San Sabastian in Spain. While it is considered the culinary capital of the world with the most Michelin Star rated restaurants, we enjoy visiting smaller, lesser-known restaurants.”
Dr. Stone joined MSDC in 2019 when Dr. J. Desiree Pineda was president. “She wanted to start a wellness community to better serve D.C. physicians, including mental health services and coaching. The timing was perfect to roll out these programs. I joined the board at that time and helped to develop the Healthy Physicians Foundation.” The foundation is dedicated to addressing and preventing moral injury in the physician population, with a specific focus on the DC area.
Dr. Stone follows the research conducted on Blue Zones; regions of the world where people live longer in particular what diets are followed. Sardinia, Italy is one of the five posited Blue Zones. Residents in this part of the world believe that to live a healthy life, one must always have something on the calendar to look forward to. Perhaps a vacation or celebration. For Dr. Stone, visiting family and friends is what is on the horizon for her that she looks forward to. “I have a group of friends in Iowa whom I went to high school with. Some of us have known one another since we were five years old. We always stay in touch and get together twice a year. I always look forward to seeing these friends.” She said during a recent interview from her brother’s home in San Diego, where she was visiting. “It has been wonderful to visit with family and friends again.”
Do you know a physician who should be profiled in the MSDC Spotlight Series? Submit a nomination to Robert Hay, firstname.lastname@example.org, for a future story. MSDC membership is encouraged for featured physicians.
Sample of Health Equity Legislation MSDC Tracked
What does it say? The bill allows for the administration of medicinal marijuana in schools as well as allows students to bring sunscreen to schools and apply it without a prescription.
MSDC position: MSDC supports the language permitting sunscreen application in schools
Current status: A win for DC physicians and public health! The legislation passed the Council in February and was signed by the Mayor. Previous temporary and emergency legislation permitted students to use sunscreen at schools this school year already.
What does it say? The bill requires DC Health to establish an electronic Medical Order for Scope of Treatment registry (eMOST).
MSDC position: MSDC supports this legislation to more easily allow patients to make their treatment orders known.
Current status: A win for the physician community and our patients! The Council passed the bill in December and the Mayor signed it into law on January 16, 2020.
What does it say? The bill would implement a 1.5 cent per ounce tax on the distribution of "sugary" beverages. The money collected from the tax would establish a Healthy People, Healthy Places Open Spaces Grant Program.
MSDC position: MSDC sent a letter to Council Chair Mendelson asking for a hearing to discuss all of the issues around a beverage tax.
Current status: The bill was introduced October 8, 2019 and referred to the Committee on Business and Economic Development and the Committee of the Whole.