Trailblazer in Geriatric Medicine, Former URMC Physician Dies
Annemarie Groth-Juncker, M.D., remembered for her passion, compassion and groundbreaking work
August 01, 2012
Annemarie Groth-Juncker, M.D., 1931-2012
Annemarie Groth-Juncker, M.D., a pioneer of geriatric medicine and former Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester, passed away Sunday, July 29 after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 81.
“Throughout her career she was always at the cutting edge of care innovation and tireless in her care of her patients,” said William J. Hall, M.D., Director of the Center for Healthy Aging. “She faced her own serious illness with the same optimism and equanimity that characterized all of her actions.”
Dr. Groth-Juncker’s medical career spanned the globe and many different fields, but she’s renowned for her groundbreaking work in geriatric care.
“Many of the practicing geriatricians in Rochester regarded Annemarie as an esteemed mentor,” said Robert McCann, M.D., Highland Hospital Chief of Medicine. “Her presence as a role model and teacher has had an exponential effect on the care of older persons in Rochester.”
In the 1980s, Dr. Groth-Juncker started one of the first home health care programs in the country for homebound older people and focused on those who wanted to die at home. This work paved the way for her to become the medical director at St. John’s Home before she returned to Switzerland – her native country – to set up a geriatric program in Zurich. Dr. Groth-Juncker later started the geriatric consult service at Strong Memorial Hospital and also developed guidelines for terminal care which have become standard in nursing homes.
Dr. Groth-Juncker’s work in geriatrics did not end even after retirement. She continued working part time as the medical director at the Highlands at Pittsford Living Center from 1996 to 2001 and encouraged others in the field to develop an outpatient geriatrics practice. This idea eventually gave birth to Geriatrics and Medicine Associates (GAMA), a group practice on the Highland Hospital campus devoted exclusively to senior health care.
“Annemarie followed her passions throughout her life and her career,” said Kevin McCormick, M.D., Ph.D., GAMA Medical Director. “The people and the fields into which she followed her passion are the better for her having been there.”
Dr. Groth-Juncker shared her passion and skill with many, including medical students, internal medicine and family medicine residents and geriatric fellows. After retirement, she taught T'ai Chi/Qi Gong to groups throughout Monroe County, including cancer survivors and older adults at the Highlands at Pittsford Living Center until February 2012.
“She loved teaching,” Dr. Hall said. “In that role she could be – at times – a stern taskmaster, emphasizing that a physician’s first order of responsibility is always the actual care of the patient.”
Dr. Groth-Juncker earned her medical degree from the University of Berne in Switzerland in 1956 then came to the United States for an internship at Mt. Kisco Hospital, located in the lower Hudson Valley.
For eight years following her internship, Dr. Groth-Juncker worked in Switzerland where she was the sole doctor for a small remote village. This village was an international conference center, so she ended up caring for those visitors as well; this began her international medical work.
Upon returning to the United States, she became medical director for ‘Up With People,’ traveling to various cities and countries to provide care for several years. Dr. Groth-Juncker then completed a residency in internal medicine in Hartford, Conn., and finally found her way to Rochester for a fellowship. She would become medical director of the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center before starting her work in geriatrics.
“She is one of the reasons why Rochester is noted to be a leader in geriatrics,” Dr. McCormick said, “and the passion she had continues in those of us in the field.”
Dr. Groth-Juncker is survived by her husband of 34 years, John Groth-Juncker, and relatives and friends in the United States, Switzerland and Germany.
The flag on the University of Rochester Medical Center’s campus will be lowered Friday, Aug. 3 to remember Dr. Groth-Juncker.
A Memorial Service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 at Christ Episcopal Church in Pittsford. A reception will be at a later date. Donations may be made to the Al Sigl Center or Lollypop Farm.