Dr. Mary Ellen Leder Skalina Profile Photo

Dr. Mary Ellen Leder Skalina

March 7, 1952 — July 29, 2022

Dr. Mary Ellen Leder Skalina

retired neonatologist and beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and sister, died on July 29 in hospice at Bryn Mawr Hospital due to complications of Parkinson’s disease. She was 70 years old. Mary Ellen was born in Brooklyn, New York. She was always bright, graduating from high school two years early as the valedictorian of her class at Erasmus Hall High School. She went on to graduate from college and medical school and complete a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in neonatology. Over the course of her 30-year career, she saved hundreds of sick babies, some born very prematurely, at Cooper University Hospital, Lankenau Hospital, and Chester County Hospital. She published important early research on hypertension and hypertensive retinopathy in newborns. Mary Ellen was known for her skill as a physician, but perhaps even more for how caring she was with patients and their families and how respectful and inclusive she was with the nursing staff and entire medical team. Her partners and the nurses she worked with throughout her career valued her bedside manner, her ability to remain calm in emergencies, and her sense of fashion, as she was known to show up to the delivery room in scrubs with pearls, perfect make-up, and heels. Mary Ellen met her husband of 41 years, Stefan, also a physician, in 1979, during her fellowship years. They fell in love, married in 1981, had three children, and built a beautiful home together. Mary Ellen was enormously generous, kind, empathetic, and thoughtful. She loved good food, travel, reading, and the arts, and passed on those passions to her children. Mary Ellen was remarkably organized: she kept track of all of the family’s activities in her head (although she diligently recorded them in her date book as back-up as well). The family came together for dinner every night, usually to a homemade meal that she had prepared. Her family remembers her for all the little gestures that made them feel so loved– help with projects and math homework, cheering at sporting events, and care packages dropped off at college with gourmet brownies and toilet paper. When she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000, Mary Ellen handled it with her usual grace. She didn’t want to be treated differently, and she didn’t want to stop doing the things she enjoyed. She even suggested a new hobby to her husband – ballroom dancing. For many years, she continued to live her life as she had before, but over time, her symptoms progressed, and she unfortunately had to retire in 2009. Even when she could no longer do so many of the things she had loved, she continued to draw great joy from the births of her grandchildren and watching them grow and meet milestones of their own. Mary Ellen was buried on July 31 at Ohev Shalom Cemetery in Brookhaven, PA. She is survived by her husband, Stefan; her brother, Jonathan Leder (Diana); her children, Lauren (Matthew Zelin), Rachel (Alexander Hutchinson), and Benjamin (Molly); and her grandchildren, Sylvie, Naomi, Alden, and Sidney. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation or a Jewish charity of the donor’s choice.

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