The Maryland Board of Physicians, which has faced scrutiny in recent months because of its backlog of cases and other problems, is getting a new leader, state health officials said Wednesday.
Carole J. Catalfo will begin work as the executive director Feb. 21, according to Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"Carole Catalfo is the right person at the right time for the Board of Physicians," Sharfstein said. "She brings both deep experience in regulatory compliance and professional oversight and a fresh perspective on the challenges facing the board."
Catalfo is a lawyer and comes most immediately from the Maryland State Department of Education, where she has served for the past 41/2 years as an education program specialist, where she was part of a team that oversees teacher certification.
Sharfstein said this experience and others as a prosecutor and government attorney have given her the needed background in licensure, professional discipline and regulatory compliance. The Board of Physicians oversees doctors' licensing and investigates allegations of wrongdoing.
"Carole has been an important part of our certification branch for the past five years, said Jean Satterfield, assistant state superintendent for certification and accreditation. "She'll be missed, but we know she'll do a great job in her new position with the Board of Physicians."
For two years before that, Catalfo was claims counsel for United Educators, an insurance company for educational institutions, in Chevy Chase. She worked as an instructor in paralegal studies at Daymar College in Louisville, Ky., from 2001 to 2004, and as a private attorney.
But it was her experience in Kentucky as an assistant state counsel representing social services from 1999 to 2004 that was highlighted by Sharfstein. There, she designed and implemented a plan to relieve a backlog of foster care cases within 18 months. She also saw to the resolution of nearly 3,800 cases within two years as a child support prosecutor, he said.
Sharfstein and lawmakers who oversee the Maryland Board of Physicians have said they have waited years for the panel to clear its backlog of cases — by the end of fiscal 2011, the board had closed nearly 900 cases and taken 164 formal actions, but left more than 800 cases pending.
In a December hearing on reauthorizing the board, lawmakers noted a scathing legislative audit that said it lacked clear sanctioning guidelines and transparent and consistent practices.
In her new post, Catalfo will replace C. Irving Pinder Jr., who said months ago that he would retire. Catalfo was not available for comment.
Catalfo, a member of the Kentucky and District of Columbia bar associations, earned a bachelor's degree at the University of New Hampshire and a law degree from the University of Louisville.