Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012
By Joe Stumpe
Rebecca Reddy bucked a trend by starting a solo pediatrics practice this month.
But even as more doctors become employees of hospitals and large medical groups, Reddy likes her approach best.
"I went out on my own so I could see my own patients, have a relationship with my own patients," said Reddy, a former assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical School-Wichita.
That includes helping families improve a child’s health and behavior in ways that will last into adulthood. A good pediatrician, she believes, allows parents to "enjoy their children more and worry about them less."
In the most recent blog on her website, for instance, Reddy gave detailed instructions for curing the "busy little girls syndrome" afflicting many young girls at potty time.
Reddy, 40, grew up in northeastern Kansas, earned her medical degree from the University of Kansas and completed her residency at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. She returned to Kansas to teach at KU medical school’s Wichita campus for most of the past decade, interrupted by a part-time stint with a pediatric clinic in Salina. She’s also been medical director of KU’s pediatric hemoglobinopathy and sickle cell clinic.
Reddy said she always knew she wanted to work with children.
“They’re very challenging," said Reddy, who has three children of her own, ages 5 through 10. "You have to be very observant. A lot of times they might not be able to tell you what’s wrong.
"But kids are so rewarding to take care of," she added. "Kids are good. Disease is bad. And kids do bounce back remarkably well."
Reddy still sees patients at Wesley and Via Christi on Harry hospitals, but having her own office where children and parents would feel comfortable was important to her. She said she settled on a location on Rock Road because it’s accessible to patients from the center of the city, whom she had served at the KU clinic, and to a potential new base of patients from the east side. She offers free visits for parents looking for a doctor for their newborns.
Reddy personalized her office with help from friends, starting with a cheery interior design by Sandra Denneler and children’s furniture made by Denneler’s husband, Eric. Stenciled sayings such as "You’ll feel better after a nap" and "Laughter is the best medicine" frame the entrance.
For help with the business aspects of starting a practice, she turned to two friends: Tally Bell, who works for the Neurological Consultants of Kansas Group, along with Reddy’s physician husband, Gautham Reddy; and Nancy Keimer, who had worked as a clinic office manager in Salina.
On her full-time staff are office manager Vicki Gromala and registered nurse Amy Young.
One of the first business decisions she faced was whether to go with a paperless medical records system.
"We did," Reddy said. "It’s a big investment in time."
But she said the system is also more convenient for patients, who can access many of their records with passwords.
Reddy calls her solo practice "a bit of a throwback" but says the long-term relationships she hopes to forge with families "can provide better care. It can keep costs down. It’s better for everybody."
Although Reddy treats patients from birth up to 18 years old, she admits to a bit of age-group favoritism.
"I do love newborns," she said. "I’m accepting newborns tomorrow. Those are the fun ones to have."