of the Women's Center's Zintl Award
Hostler blazes trails in medicine and at U.Va.
Sharon Hostler, medical director of the KCRC and professor
of pediatrics, shows her joy at receiving a bouquet of flowers
from her children, who were unable to attend the ceremony
Feb. 17 at which she received the Women's Center's Elizabeth
stuffed animals and toys sharing wall space with official diplomas
and other honoraria, Dr. Sharon Hostler's office is as inviting
to a child as an adult. Her homespun touches are testaments, intentional
or not, to her family-centered approach to medicine. There's even
a framed rejection letter from Ben & Jerry's hanging on the wall
explaining why Dr. Hostler, medical director of the Kluge Children's
Rehabilitation Center and McLemore Birdsong Professor of Pediatrics,
will do more good for humanity as a physician than as CEO of the
ice cream company.
University community agrees.
Hostler was chosen as this year's recipient of the Elizabeth Zintl
Award. Presented by the Women's Center Feb. 17, the annual award
honors a woman at U.Va. who demonstrates an unusually high degree
of service to the University and whose excellence in her work
makes a significant impact. The award honors the late Elizabeth
Zintl, who was U.Va. chief of staff until her death in 1997.
Because many of the children's needs don't fit neatly into
one medical specialty, KCRC continues to develop interdisciplinary
clinics that serve as national models of family-centered
care. For children less than 3 years old, the Infant and
Young Child Clinic teams a developmental pediatrician with
infant education and psychology services. KCRC developed
its Down Syndrome Clinic in consultation with a community
group for parents of children with Down Syndrome. The clinic's
work is so well known that other academic medical centers
often ask for its Down Syndrome Life Care Plan when they
develop their services.
clinics include: the Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic, developed
with input from a parent support group; the Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder Clinic, which offers specialized care to hyperactive
children; and the Spasticity Clinic, which brings together
developmental pediatrics, neurology, pediatric orthopedics
and neurosurgery. There are also multidisciplinary clinics
for spina bifida, cerebral palsy and limb deficiency (for
amputees). KCRC has its own in-house brace-making shop.
Hostler "has given abundantly to our community," said
Sharon Davie, director of the Women's Center. "Her efforts
on behalf of academic women in medicine, and her efforts to better
the environment for all in medicine, have had a strong impact.
She has brought this same commitment to numerous University-wide
committees, task forces and conferences, in a way that has shaped
the working environment for women and men at U.Va. for the better,"
Davie said. "I admire her courage."
Robert Carey, dean of the Medical School, called Hostler "a
staunch advocate˛ for children with serious illness or rehabilitation
needs. "A physician's physician, Sharon is simply the best
at what she does."
who met Zintl when they served together on the President's Advisory
Committee on Women's Concerns, said the award is gratifying because
it recognizes "acts of teamwork, behind-the-scene contributions
and dedication to the University, above self-serving interests."
award, which carries a $1,000 prize, comes from an endowment fund
established by David A. Harrison III, a friend of Zintl's and
one of U.Va.'s most generous donors.
the treatment of children
Hostler's 25-year leadership of the KCRC, the approach to treating
patients has shifted to family-centered care. "Our philosophy
recognizes that the family is the constant in a child's life while
health care providers vary over time," Hostler said.
from birth to 21 years of age are treated at the KCRC. Some need
special therapy or rehabilitation after injuries, accidents or
surgery. Others have chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cystic
fibrosis. Many families come to the center to find out why their
child is having difficulties with walking, talking, learning,
eating or with behavior, Hostler said. The KCRC has an "incredible
team that has earned a strong international reputation,"
old house to family-centered hospital
has it that the Kluge Childrenšs Rehabilitation Center owes
its beginnings to a poker game. In the 1930s William Rucker,
who owned a 17-acre estate on the current site of the center,
played cards with Dr. Meredith Aldrich, U.Va.šs first pediatric
surgeon. Aldrich persuaded Rucker that the area needed a
long-term care facility for children. When Rucker died in
1941, he willed his estate to the University to be used
as such. Kids with tuberculosis of the spine were treated
About a decade later, the state health department closed
the facility because it didnšt meet safety standards. In
the 1950s, however, U.Va.šs orthopedics department raised
money through Golden Gloves boxing tournaments to help build
what is now the rear section of the current facility.
U.Va. Rehabilitation Center for Handicapped Children opened
in 1957. The stone wall that now lines the front of the
property on Ivy Road was built with stones from the original
Rucker house, demolished to make way for the new center.
1964, Dr. William Thurman steered the center in a new direction.
The center began treating children with chronic diseases
and physical disabilities. Dr. Robert Merrill became the
centeršs first full-time medical director in 1965, the same
year the center became part of the University Hospital,
with formal residency rotations and active medical student
involvement. Dr. Sharon Hostler, now medical director, was
among the first interns, at which time most of the children
lived at the center and few outpatients were seen.
the late 1970s, the center began treating adolescents. The
1980s saw the rise of family-centered care and a new emphasis
on research and training in physical and occupational therapy.
Albemarle County residents John and Patricia Kluge donated
$2.5 million to the center in 1988, and it was then named
for them and dedicated on April 15 of that year.
the KCRC continues to grow. It currently has 200 staff members
and continues to reach out around the state with developmental
clinics in Winchester and Warrenton. At present, it receives
roughly 20 percent of the 13,000 outpatients it serves each
year from outside Virginia, and offers training to nearly
400 health care professionals annually.
60, Dr. Hostler is still an attending physician, which for her
includes covering a weekly day-long clinic, being on-call three
months a year, 24 hours a day, and doing consultations.
maintain your vitality and retain reality about why you're here
at the bedside," said Hostler, who's gone from a self-described
know-it-all in her treatment of patients to a humble physician.
"As I get older I realize we doctors aren't as essential
as I'd once thought. We're part of the support system. My responsibility
is to give the best information to the patient and family and
let them make the best decision for themselves. I tell my patients
that they need to be the CEOs of their bodies to educate others
of their needs. ...
the KCRC, our team of professionals works together with parents
to help children become as independent and competent as possible.
We recognize that both medical and emotional needs must be addressed
to promote healing, rehabilitation and adjustment to a disability.
We emphasize reinforcing a child's strengths and coping skills,
and all of the KCRC's treatment programs, educational programs,
research, and advocacy efforts are directed toward these ends,"
methods include the horticulture and artist-in-residence programs.
With private donations, Hostler is building a permanent art collection
at the KCRC. Selected patients' works are also included in the
collection. "You get to know the children through their art,
and it's diagnostic in that it develops fine motor skills,"
said Hostler, who plans to add to the KCRC's permanent collection
with her Zintl Award money.
addition to practicing medicine, Hostler has served on numerous
committees to improve the work environment at U.Va. Since the
first task force report on the status of women in medicine (which
Hostler helped prepare) was presented in 1991, things have improved
in the Medical School, Hostler said. "My male peers, many
of whom were sexist, became wonderful mentors and supporters when
their daughters entered professional schools," she noted.
Men and women junior faculty are also sharing more issues than
they did 10 years ago, such as child care and travel to attain
an international reputation, she said.
March, a Medical School committee, on which Hostler will serve,
will conduct another survey to be presented to Carey in December,
a decade after the first report was issued. The new survey will
include questions about pay equity, professional development and
treatment of all medical students by their peers, mentors and
thing we can cheer about in the School of Medicine that the rest
of the University hasn't achieved, is the overall average of women
faculty who make it to full professor. It's 10 percent, versus
31 percent for men," she said. Twenty years ago, no women
coming out of U.Va. achieved this goal, she said.
Hostler is chair of the Medical School's promotion and tenure
committee, on which she's served for 10 years. Carey calls it
"one of the best appointments˛ he's ever made. Hostler said
her work on the committee has been the "most wonderful learning
experience" of her life.
Having just read the work of the 53 candidates currently up for
tenure, Hostler said she found their work "inspirational
and intellectually exciting. I feel so proud to be part of this
group.˛ Her goal as chair is to get part-time tenure approved
here. "It's been successful at California and in the Northeast,"
Dr. Hostler earned her A.B. in chemistry and English at Middlebury
College and her M.D. from the University of Vermont. The only
one in her family to go to college, she was a Gould Scholar (a
merit- and need-based award) at Middlebury, "which meant
I was so poor they paid for everything," she said.
people encouraged her along the way. One was a childhood friend's
father, who was a doctor. "Dinnertime conversations at their
house were stimulating,˛ she said. In fourth grade, Hostler went
to work for him in his office. "I balanced his check book,
weighed patients, answered the phone. He encouraged me in his
stoic Vermont way."
physician also influenced Hostler's career choice. "My father
died at 36 of Hodgkin's Disease. I was 12. His doctor, who'd been
a classmate of my father's, was very dear to my family. We had
no insurance and no car," but he provided the medical care
anyway, Hostler recalled.
became a doctor despite the hardships of her family and her gender.
She lost her scholarship, which would have continued for her,
a woman, in any graduate field except medicine. She chose that
path anyway and was the only female in her medical class.
came to U.Va. in 1965 and was appointed medical director of the
Children and Youth Project in 1969. Participating doctors went
into the community to set up clinics to provide health care --
a novel approach to medicine then, Hostler said. "I learned
about the power of team, the power of inclusion, and learned about
poverty and the need for basic human rights," she said.
1974, Hostler was asked to become medical director of the KCRC.
Mentoring Hostler along the way have been a number of individuals,
including U.Va. colleague, Dr. William Thurman. He "made
me believe in myself, that I could go anywhere and do anything,"
Hostler, herself, now serves as a mentor to many medical students
at U.Va. and abroad. On the national level, she's an active member
of the Association of American Medical Colleges, where she leads
an annual mentorship seminar.
"most exciting" project currently on Hostler's plate
is relocating a major portion of the Children's Medical Center
to the same site as the KCRC. The new facility would include an
ambulatory pediatric surgery center and day treatment program.
The $40 million project, to be paid for with private funds, has
made it through several internal planning phases and will soon
go before the Board of Visitors for approval.
The seventh floor of the University Hospital, where the CMC now
resides, would become a pediatric intensive care unit, Hostler
said. "All other pediatric services would be here,"
she said, noting that it would position the Universtiy as the
"premiere place to come for treatment between Duke and Hopkins."
not on call
Hostler has a standing tennis date with friends every Wednesday
and Sunday. She also enjoys reading and music in her spare time,
as well as traveling with her husband, Joe Boardman, a cantor,
"great linguist and gourmet cook," who sang opera in
Europe earlier in his life, Hostler said. They met at a Club Med
in Martinique and married in 1987.
also spends as much time as she can with her six grown children
-- four stepchildren and two of her own, Kathleen (Kaki) and Dylan
-- all from her first marriage to Alan Dimock, who died at age
34. Hostler credits her circle of friends in the University community
with keeping her on track personally and professionally. Thanks
to their support, I only left my baby at the hospital once after
a long shift, she said with a smile.