Every two months at Fremont Pediatrics in Lander pediatric cardiology patients are treated right here at home. This is a service that has been provided for the last 30 years that allows families to have proper care without having to travel. This quality treatment makes its way to our rural communities in the form of Dr. Michael Schaffer and his team.
Dr. Schaffer travels with another Pediatric Cardiologist, usually a fellow trainee, who’s in the last year of Pediatric Cardiology Training, and an Echocardiogram Technician. There’s no Pediatric Cardiologist in the State of Wyoming. Outreach makes it possible for these Pediatric Cardiology Clinics to exist. Dr. Schaffer travels Wyoming, some Montana, and Western Colorado bringing state of the art medicine to the small communities.
Dr. Schaffer was born and raised in Minnesota. He graduated from medical school in Minnesota and after came to Denver, Colorado, for pediatric training. He then went to Toronto, Canada, to one of the top pediatric cardiology programs in the world. Dr. Schaffer spent three years there and then returned to Denver in 1984. He is now a faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and works out of Children’s Hospital in Denver. There he is the Director of Outreach/Cardiology.
In terms of Pediatric Cardiology, around the country, on-trend around 50% are in private practice and 50% work for the university. We work very closely with the private practice Pediatric Cardiologist and they with us.
While in Lander, Dr. Schaffer and his team have 20 pediatric patients scheduled. The next day they will travel to Casper and then on to Cheyenne where they see the highest number of patients. The most common heart problems treated are defects, chest pains, murmurs, & palpitations. If there is a family history of heart disease, that adds another factor. And now with fetal studies, they can even know about it prior to delivery and then plan the delivery to take place in Denver where they can do emergent treatment.
Dr. Schaffer says it’s interesting working in the Rocky Mountain region. It offers a lot of challenges that his friends on the East and West Coast don’t experience.
It changes the way we deliver medicine and it changes how we do research.
Richard Barnes, MD, Fremont County Pediatric Clinics talked about their affiliation with Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming.
“Community Health Centers have mandates to provide care to pretty much all comers. And it’s provided in a way that removes some of the financial barriers. And so there’s funding to help with that. That was one of our big interests in associating with the Community Health Centers was we had such a largely indigent population, 75% or so of our clients were on Medicaid or had no insurance. This was a really obvious choice for us to help the majority of our patients continue to receive care, removing as many barriers as possible.”
Fremont Pediatrics has been in Lander and Riverton for about 20 years. Dr. Barnes says they are always looking for new visiting clinics to provide the quality care our communities need.
We have hosted some other visiting clinics in the past. We used to host a Psychiatry and Neurology Clinic when those providers were available in Wyoming. But there’s not very many of those anymore. We’re always looking for new opportunities to host but right now we’ve got some visiting clinics from Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children’s in Gastroenterology and Denver Childrens in Endocrinology that both come to Casper. We’re always looking for pediatric neurology to come as well. The difficulty is that the sub specialists in pediatrics are so rare that we don’t have them in Wyoming and not enough of them even in Colorado. But we are fostering those relationships wherever we can.