Family Medicine Doctors at UK Provide Care for Every Age

People lead busy lives and managing doctor appointments for the entire family can be challenging, especially if a different physician is needed for each family member according to age or health concern. Getting everyone to their appointments may require trips to different doctors in different locations. 

Most doctors treat one disease or specialize in one area of medicine. Names associated with different branches of medicine are usually self-explanatory; ophthalmology refers to eye care, cardiology refers to the heart and vascular system, pediatrics refers to infant and adolescent medicine, and so on. The specialty known as Family and Community Medicine may be less obvious because the name doesn’t clearly identify a specific organ system or age group.

Family and Community Medicine is the branch of medicine devoted to providing personal, comprehensive, and continuing care for the individual and the entire family across the lifespan. This includes newborn and pediatric care, obstetrics and gynecology, preventive health care, adult medicine, and geriatric services. UK HealthCare’s Family and Community Medicine doctors are primary care physicians trained to meet the diverse health needs of children and families, and are committed to the continuum of care and establishing long-term relationships with their patients.

“We have been caring for families across Kentucky since the inception of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and have provided loving and personal care to thousands of Kentuckians,” says Dr. Roberto Cardarelli, chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. “Our passion is caring for the entire family in terms of wellness and chronic care and being a leader in the nation in the specialty of family medicine.”

Families like the Davies-Thompson family of Lexington.

When Betsy Davies and Nathan Thompson’s son Michael was born in 2005, Betsy Davies needed to find a pediatrician as she transitioned from her OB-GYN for infant care. Going on recommendations from friends and an internet search, she became overwhelmed by the number of pediatricians in Lexington. She really wanted a family care physician who could follow Michael from infancy into childhood and beyond.

Davies did not have a primary care physician either and thought it made a lot of sense for her to search for a physician for herself as well as Michael. She didn’t know it at the time but her search would eventually lead to a centralized health home for her entire family at UK HealthCare’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.

UK Family and Community Medicine providers came across Davies’ radar several times in her search. However, the tipping point for Davies was an online article that said UK Family and Community Medicine provided pre-natal and newborn home health visits, a little-known service that many family and community medicine doctors provide. 

Davies did not hesitate to venture outside a traditional pediatrics only clinic for her son’s newborn care.

At UK Family and Community Medicine, the medical residents work alongside the physicians. The residents are trained in pediatrics, including newborn care, breastfeeding support, well-child care, and acute care which may at times require a hospital stay or emergency department visit. 

“Participating in the care of children is one of the most rewarding parts of my clinic,” said Dr. Jessica Setser, chief resident in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. “Parents trusting me with the care of their child and allowing me to become part of their lives is truly a blessing. I love to watch children grow and cultivate healthy relationships between families and the health care world.”

After a Family and Community Medicine physician made the initial home health visit for baby Michael and the ensuing clinic visits, Davies established a positive relationship with Dr. Shannon Voogt for Michael’s care, so much so that Davies enlisted Voogt to manage general and preventive care for herself. Her husband was soon to follow.

Davies' husband, Nathan Thompson, manages several chronic health issues. He suffered a serious health crisis a couple of years ago from a sudden, unexplained illness with multiple symptoms including a dangerous dizziness that left him unable to safely walk, drive, work or hold their young son without someone being nearby. 

“They didn’t seem to understand the severity and sense of urgency we felt,” Davies said. “I suggested to Nathan that he see my physician, and he has been very happy with his care since that time.”

The Davies-Thompsons have been so impressed with the care they receive from UK's Family and Community Medicine that when Davies' 71-year-old mother moved to Lexington from Toledo, Ohio, it was an easy decision to have her mother's care transferred from her Toledo provider to Family and Community Medicine. 

 “The care my family receives at UK Family and Community Medicine is wonderful,” Davies said. “Dr. Voogt, the residents, and nurses work well together to go over information we need and give Michael his developmental assessments at his appointments. They take time to answer questions, and I never feel like they are in a rush to get out of the room.”

Voogt says that knowing her patients well helps her find the answers to sometimes confusing problems.

“I love Family Medicine because my day is never boring. I see everything from newborns to older adults with a lot of chronic medical problems. I have been there with my patients during birth and when they are close to death. The relationships that I form with my patients are what make it all worthwhile," she said.