Many of her former patients at the Neponset Health Center will be glad to learn that Dr. Anne P. Rogal is setting up shop at the Caritas Carney Hospital after a four-year sabbatical from the area.
"This is kind of a coming home story," the affable Rogal said. "I did my residency here from 1985 to 1988 and then settled in at the Neponset Health Center. I have been connected with Dorchester for a long time."
Despite her connection to the people of the area, in 2000, Rogal felt the call of her family and left the practice of medicine to become a practicing stay-at-home mother to her daughter, Abigail, now 15, and her son, Kim, now 12. When she announced her plans she received quite a surprise as an overwhelming majority of her patients supported her.
"As a physician, you are taking care of people and supporting them," Rogal said. "To have patients taking care of me was like coming full circle."
Now with the return to Dorchester, the circle has come around again.
Although she has been out of active practice, Rogal has not been out of touch with the advances that have been made. During her sabbatical, the doctor of internal medicine kept up with her reading of medical journals and as part of her duties as a mother, accompanied her kids to music camp where she served as the camp doctor for one month every summer.
To keep her license in effect, while on sabbatical, the doctor also had to take certain courses every two years. In addition, once Rogal made the decision that her children were old enough for her to return to practice, she took an intensive 40-hour course, Advances in Primary Care Medicine, sponsored by Harvard University.
"The lectures were wonderful," Rogal said.
One other thing that made Rogal's return to practice easier was a piece of advice she received from a colleague who said, "You're not somebody who received a degree and then went away to have babies: you are a doctor. Some things would change, but the basics are the same."
This fit in with the beliefs that are expressed by Rogal, beliefs that shape the style of healing she practices.
According to Rogal, "The qualifications of being a physician are a strong foundation and training in the human body and mind; the ability to be able to listen well; ask good questions; and know when to call in somebody else."
She added, "The details in medications and doses are easy to find by picking up a telephone or using a computer."
Rogal described her style of medical practice as holistic in nature but based in a western style of medicine.
"I'm aware of the reality that a person's health has to do with the whole person - their emotional state, physical state, day-to-day life, even their spiritual awareness," Rogal said. "All of these combine together to produce a person's overall well-being, or lack of it."
She added, "My training is in regular Western medicine and many of my patients expect the benefits of (that training). However, I have a lot of interest and familiarity with alternate or complementary methods.
"If I thought that someone needed acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic therapy or homeopathy, I would refer them to a practitioner."
Rogal said, "It is a long-term goal of mine to have people with these modalities around me so patients can just go down the hall and receive the treatment."
This is one of the reasons she returned to Caritas Carney. The hospital has a reputation for encouraging this type of medicine.
Before making her decision to return to Dorchester, Rogal looked around the suburbs and in Boston itself. She decided that Dorchester was the place she was most comfortable practicing medicine.
Another draw is the fact that she has been given permission to redecorate the office space she shares with three other doctors. When the patients come they will soon find a change from stark white hospital walls to those with softer colors and an array of artwork and photos to look at.
Rogal's patients will also be greeted by Ginny Lucey, a nurse who operated the office of her late husband, Dr. Richard Lucey, for many years.
Rogal is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature; Johns Hopkins with a Masters of public health in health education; and her doctorate is from the University of Pennsylvania.