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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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With Dr. Wayland Marks’ retirement, a unique medical practice comes to end

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Dr. Wayland Marks checks the blood pressure on Ethel Davis, while her daughter-in-law Linda Davis watches.

Dr. Wayland Marks, a Stafford County resident, retired last month after 42 years of practice, including 10 years on the road. His retirement ends one of the region’s most unusual medical practices.

For two days in April, I accompanied Marks as he made his rounds, driving from patient home to patient home in his Toyota Highlander. His specialty is geriatrics, and his patients were the frail elderly. They rarely left their homes, or even their beds. Most were in their 80s and 90s. All were cared for by their families.

Marks believes that this system of home care by loving family members, supported by visiting professionals, is often better for the elderly than having them in hospitals or nursing homes. And it’s cheaper.

Also apparent was the key role that Marks played. Families said they knew they could call him when they had problems or questions. With his help, they said, they could manage serious chronic diseases and even acute episodes.

“I’m going to try not to cry,” said Linda Davis when Marks came to her home in Stafford County in April.

Marks had been visiting the Davis home for several years to help care for Ethel Davis, Linda Davis’ 107-year-old mother-in-law.

In mid-April, Marks told Linda Davis that he had made arrangements for Ellie Gibberman, a nurse practitioner at Senior Care Geriatric Medical Center, to take over for him. Linda Davis was happy to see Marks retire but also sad at losing him.

“It breaks my heart,” she said. “I feel so lost. We’ve built a lot of faith in you over the years.”

Ethel Davis no longer communicates well, but I wondered if she felt similarly. It was probably a coincidence, but she stopped eating soon after Marks’ visit. He arranged for hospice care, and she died at her home on April 30, his last day on the job.

(For more on Marks, his practice and his views on caring for the frail elderly, see the story soon in the paper.)