Serving others

Doctor-patient relationship drives Riderwood’s medical director

Created date

April 29th, 2020
Dr. Lynne Diggs, who is seen in her headshot here smiling and wearing a top colored with brown and red earth tones, became medical director at Riderwood in 2019.

Dr. Lynne Diggs became medical director at Riderwood in 2019. 

Dr. Lynne Diggs operated her own primary care medical practice in the Silver Spring/Kensington, Md., area for 16 years. In 2019, she decided to close her practice to become the medical director at Riderwood, the Erickson Living-managed community in Silver Spring, Md. 

“Coming to a senior living community was the next natural step because I was already taking care of older patients,” Diggs says.

Diggs earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She completed her internship in internal medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York and did her residency at Medstar Washington Hospital Center. Diggs previously served as president of the Montgomery County Medical Society and is still active on the board.

“That has given me quite a few contacts throughout the medical community in the county and the state,” she says.

Prior to starting her own practice, she was a hospitalist at Holy Cross Hospital. Some of her former Holy Cross colleagues went on to work at Riderwood’s medical center, so she was familiar with the community and its approach to health care.

“When the position became available, I was interested in joining such a high-quality team,” Diggs says of her decision to come to Riderwood.

Team of experts

As the medical director, Diggs supervises five other physicians and two nurse practitioners. She also sees patients and oversees Riderwood’s assisted living and memory care neighborhoods

“I have collegial relationship with the other medical directors within Erickson Living,” Diggs says. “I am also in close contact with [Riderwood’s executive director] Gary Hibbs and his administrative team, so I have plenty of support and plenty of opportunity for relationship building, which appeals to me.”

When it comes to practicing medicine, Diggs describes herself as a “traditionalist.” She says she believes very strongly in the doctor-patient relationship and thinks it should take precedence over technology such as electronic health records systems. Riderwood’s medical center offers standard 30-minute appointments, which can be extended if needed, and Diggs says that suits her approach to medical care. 

“I like to spend time with patients and hear their stories to find out about them as people, not as a disease,” she says.

The social connection

It’s not just having access to an on-site medical center that contributes to Riderwood community members’ good health. Diggs says maintaining social contacts is important to staying healthy as we get older, and living at Riderwood makes is easy for residents to socialize, whether it’s meeting friends for dinner at one of the on-site restaurants, dropping into a yoga class at the fitness center, or taking a continuing education course with neighbors. 

“I think that is one of the largest benefits of a continuing care retirement community—people have access to so many different ways they can socialize,” Diggs says. “Whereas, if you age at home, most people become isolated and their world shrinks. [Living at Riderwood] puts everybody together and makes it very easy for people to maintain their activities.”

Diggs says living at Riderwood also makes life convenient for older adults. Amenities such as the medical center, fitness center, bank, convenience store, salon, and restaurants are all under one roof, so residents don’t have to get in the car and drive to appointments or run errands if they don’t want to. 

“It kind of reminds me of a college campus and I enjoy that,” she says. 

To stay healthy, Diggs, of course, recommends regular exercise and a balanced diet. But she says your diet doesn’t need to be totally restrictive and exercise needn’t be overly strenuous.

“Even if you can’t walk very well, you can do chair exercise and chair yoga,” she says.

Healthy aging also benefits from staying in contact with friends and family. And she says it can also be helpful to challenge yourself to learn something new. 

“I have a patient who took up the violin at age 80,” Diggs says. “We have another lady who started playing ukulele at 99—it’s never too late to learn something new.”

Baltimore native

Diggs grew up in Baltimore and now lives in Silver Spring with her two dogs. To stay fit herself, she swims and is a certified scuba diver. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and  plays the violin in a string quartet. Diggs is also a licensed beekeeper and takes care of a population of honeybees.

“It’s a great hobby,” she says.

Diggs says community members and colleagues may be surprised to learn that before she decided to study medicine, she wanted to be an actress. 

“I was heavily involved in acting and workshops and did acting in New England in my early teenage years,” she says. “Then I got exposed to a family member who was an internal medicine doctor, and I went around with him for a couple of days one summer and came home and announced that I wanted to be a doctor.”

She says her parents were surprised when she changed her career goal. But she says in many ways she is following the example they set for her. 

“My parents really emphasized education and service to others when I was growing up, and I think that message stuck,” she says. “Mom was a psychologist and dad was a teacher, so following their example of public service has been beneficial in my professional life today.”