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Eagleville Hospital Hires Internist Anita Sinese to Help Support MAT Initiative

The thought of becoming a doctor didn’t occur to Anita Sinese, DO, until she was finishing college. Though she’d always had an aptitude for the life sciences, she shuddered at the thought of working in a lab.

In becoming a doctor, she’d have the opportunity to interact with real people in a meaningful way. And that, Dr. Sinese decided, trumped all other considerations.

“I’m a person who needs to be at rounds and at the bedside of my patients,” Dr. Sinese says. “I’m less of a meetings-and-email person. I need to be in the trenches, getting things done.”

To that end, Dr. Sinese earned her medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and became board certified in Internal Medicine.

An acute-care hospitalist for the last decade, Dr. Sinese has been a first-hand witness to the opioid epidemic.

She ran inpatient cardiology services at Jefferson Health’s Abington-Lansdale Hospital, where she saw the number of people addicted to opioid swell without an adequate response. Almost always, they were too far gone by the time they were rushed to the emergency room or went into cardiac arrest in the intensive care unit.

“We had a lot of young people come in, and there was no longer anything we could do for them. I saw a lot of them for the final time,” Dr. Sinese shares.

Before long, she started seriously wondering where these patients were receiving their health care because they’d clearly been lost in the system. She found that most were not undergoing substance use disorder treatment, but they’d also neglected all routine health care.

She reached her tipping point in 2018.

“I realized I didn’t want to be the final doctor they’re seeing anymore,” Dr. Sinese says. “I want to see them at the forefront.”

Dr. Sinese describes her learning curve since starting at Eagleville Hospital earlier this year as “extreme.” Jon Lepley, DO, the hospital’s new medical director, has been mentoring her in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which Eagleville began implementing earlier this year.

But she’s been able to apply her expertise as an internist. “We’re seeing a lot of people with chronic kidney and heart disease,” Dr. Sinese says. “So what I’m able to do now is link their medical care and addiction treatment so that they can safely go through rehab.”

Ultimately, Dr. Sinese would like to begin sharing her experiences with other health care providers in the surrounding community to better address the gaps she’s always identified in the healthcare system.

“I feel like I’ve entered this field at a moment when everything is changing so quickly,” she says. “I want to help remove the stigma that’s attached to those in recovery so that they feel more comfortable seeking care, not just treatment, once they re-enter the community.”