Friday, May 25, 2012

New medical specialties in the valley

St. Luke’s Health Watch

By Dr. Dan Fairman

Living in a less populated area like the Wood River Valley brings many benefits, but has some drawbacks. In our medical community, we have always tried to ensure a strong primary care base of doctors, and our hospital looks annually at our mix of physicians to make sure we have the major specialties covered, including internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and orthopedics.

As medical science improves, we often see the need among our patients for other specialties that unfortunately cannot be provided full-time, as the patient population just isn't sufficient. Obviously, our small population and our small hospital cannot support a neurosurgeon; there just aren't enough cases to keep a neurosurgeon busy here. Similarly, we will never have a cardiac surgery program in the Wood River Valley. In the past, our patients with special needs usually had to travel to Twin Falls, Boise or even Salt Lake City or beyond for specialized medical care. Now, however, we have had a recent upsurge in new medical specialties in our valley, and we hope to add even more specialties.

Cancer treatment has had a strong presence in the Wood River Valley, with two physicians who have been coming from Twin Falls for several years. Dr. Banu Symington (medical oncology) and Dr. Charles Smith (radiation oncology) are here every month, and along with our hospital infusion center, where we administer chemotherapy, have reduced the number of out-of-town trips for many local patients. Because of their dedication and care, we provide excellent cancer treatment locally.

Cardiology specialists have long provided outreach clinics in our valley. Dr. Steve Writer has been a longstanding presence, and Dr. Robert Duerr and Dr. Charlie Eiriksson of St. Luke's Clinic—Idaho Cardiology Associates are here on a monthly basis. With their help, we can assist many of our cardiac patients who would otherwise have to go to Boise or Twin Falls for followup.

Pediatrics in our valley has long been a concern, ever since Dr. Luber and Dr. Hanks left many years ago. We now have Dr. Bart Adrian performing pediatric consults weekly, and Dr. Nancy Mann specializing in pediatric development weekly. In addition, Dr. Eloisa Walker will soon offer pediatric cardiology clinics on a monthly basis.

Wound care is an especially exciting new development for a number of my patients and others in the valley. Our local physical therapist, Jesse Foster, has a strong interest in wound care and healing, and we now have weekly clinics at the Hailey Clinic with physician visits by Dr. Margaret Doucette and telemedicine visits by Dr. Warren Gude.

We are fortunate to provide many other visiting clinics, including endocrinology, neurology, rheumatology and urology.

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