Colorado Springs Top Docs 2004

Filed under: Focus |


William Storms

During a tour of duty at Fort Carson more than 30 years ago, Dr. William Storms was exposed to the specialty of allergies and enjoyed it immensely, and decided to head back to school for more training.

Now, with 29 years of experience at Asthma and Allergy Associates, the allergist is the logical choice for honors in his field. He has been included in “Best Doctors in America” for the past five years, and has been cited in “Who’s Who in Medicine” for 10 years.

“There are a lot of new developments every few years, and you have the opportunity to do some good things for people with medications and allergy shots, which are a way of immunizing people against allergies. We’re the only doctors who do that.”

Storms received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern and completed a two-year stint as an Army doctor. He concluded his residency training in Internal Medicine and was a Fellow in Allergy-Immunology at the University of Wisconsin, his medical school alma mater.

Storms is currently a clinical professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. As co-director of The Research Center at Asthma and Allergy Associates, he is involved in drug trials for new therapies in asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Though allergic reactions range from merely irritating to life-threatening, Storms said he enjoys working with the range of people who come to see him. “It sounds corny, but I enjoy helping people and getting them feeling better. That’s the truth.”

He said the greatest challenge facing physicians today is the managed care system.

“It’s a combination of insurance companies and the way that companies have tried to control costs by controlling the treatments and controlling diagnostic tests. If you have a certain diagnosis, you can have a certain medication, tests and X-rays, but the insurance company won’t pay more, regardless of the efficacy.”

Storms, who is 62, has published more than 40 articles in medical journals. He is married to Bette, and has three grown children.


John Kleiner

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Dr. John Kleiner couldn’t wait to come to Colorado, a state he started visiting at the age of 9 when his parents took up skiing. When he was in control of his own destiny, after graduating from medical school at the University of Wisconsin, he did his residency and internship at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver.

“The chief of cardiology, William Nelson, was a pretty spectacular person,” Kleiner said. “I guess back then we didn’t know about mentors, but that’s sort of what he was. I wanted to be like him, and so I became a cardiologist.”

Kleiner, of Colorado Springs Health Partners, said the advances in technology during the last three decades are astounding.

“I became a cardiologist almost 30 years ago, and when somebody had a heart attack, they just had a heart attack. You made them feel better, you gave them pain medication.

“But today, we have special blood clot dissolvers, angioplasty and blood thinners. If we get in quick enough, we can eliminate their heart attack sometimes. It’s neat to see someone come in with what might have been a life-ending heart attack, and to fix that. All of medicine is improving, but the strides that have been made in cardiology have really outstripped the rest of medicine.”

The problem lurking on the horizon is how to balance what medicine is able to do and how much the public can pay.

“Maybe you have health care guaranteed at a basic level for everybody, but if you want extra things, you have to pay. Health care has got to be considered a right, like police protection and the fire department. But we can’t afford Rolls Royce health care as a right.

“The public has got to work out how we’re going to deal with this. As doctors, we don’t care if they came in from under a bridge or they’re the mayor. We’re going to take the best possible care of them.”

Kleiner, who is 59, is married to Carol, and has four children, Betsy, 33, Tag, 32, Harrison, 30, and Sally, 26.


Brian Metz

Dr. Brian Metz was called to cardiology early in life, when his father and uncle had heart attacks and bypass surgery. “It left a big effect on me in my high school years,” he said.

Metz has been at Parkside Cardiology for seven years, since he finished his training: medical school at State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn, internship and residency at Scripts Clinic in La Hoya, Calif., and a cardiology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.

“I find my job very rewarding,” he said. “I find that I’m able to keep a reasonable balance between my family and my job. You have to accept when you become a cardiologist that people have heart attacks in the middle of the night, and you have to get out of bed and take care of them.”

Metz enjoys working with people, and gets a kick out of the technical machines devised in recent years, including imaging techniques.

“Sometimes people feel that the only way they can be fixed is if they get a stint or have surgery. But one of my things is urging people to take care of themselves, watching their blood pressure and cholesterol, avoiding cigarettes and diabetes. They can avoid most of the cardiology problems that creep up on people.”

Metz said the managed care system in the country is leaving many working people behind.

“We just need to devise a better system in our country to give everybody a chance to see a doctor when they need to. Insurance has gotten too expensive for people. Everybody who is working full-time for a company should be able to get insurance.

“We also have to do better with finding ways to take care of people who don’t have work. The unfortunate people who have lost jobs during this poor economy shouldn’t have to be without insurance during this period.”

Metz, who is 38, is married to Jeannie, and has two children, Jessica, 7, and Robby, 2.


Jim Anderson

Dr. Jim Anderson spent two years at Dartmouth Medical School, before finishing up at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. At the University of Colorado, he completed his residency, and then spent a year at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (Scotland) completing a Fellowship in his specialty, cardiac surgery.

“It was a great time,” said Anderson, who attended from 1973-74. “It was interesting to be in a socialized medicine situation. It worked pretty well; they get a lot more for their money.”

Though he toyed with the idea of transplant surgery, Anderson chose cardiothoracic surgery, which “seemed to be the most exciting area in surgery.”

Recently Anderson was part of a team of surgeons who helped a male patient in his 40s, as they replaced the mitral valve and a section of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. The doctors also repaired his aortic valve. “It was an interesting, difficult case, and he did very well.”

For nearly 20 years, Anderson has practiced at Cardiovascular Surgeons of Colorado Springs. He said the field has become less dynamic as the years pass.

“People think the surgeries are life or death every time, but the death rate is very low. They think it’s much more risky than it is,” he said. “People still have an image of the old days, when it was a high-risk procedure all the time.”

A cardiothoracic surgeon provides operative, perioperative and critical care of patients with pathological conditions within the chest, including coronary artery disease, abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves, congenital anomalies and cancers of the lung, esophagus and chest wall.

Unfortunately, as governmental and financial concerns continue to choke the practice of medicine, cardiac surgery is one of the first specialties to be adversely affected.

The greatest challenge facing physicians today, Anderson said, is business. “The intrusions of business into medicine. It’s the politics and business.”

Anderson, who is 62, is married to Jane, and has two grown daughters who live in Denver.


Cheryl Marc

Dr. Cheryl Marcus has seen it all when it comes to skin disease, from leprosy to unusual tropical diseases.

“I trained in L.A. County; I’ve seen everything. We had a 600-patient leprosy clinic every Wednesday morning. I saw all facets of that disease; it looks a lot of different ways.”

Sometimes leprosy presents itself in the form of an Old Wives’ Tale, with the loss of fingers and toes, whereas other times leprosy takes the form of unusual rashes on patients’ bodies.

Marcus, who graduated from medical school at the University of Iowa, completed her residency in southern California and finished an internship in internal medicine at Good Samaritan in Phoenix. She has worked at Colorado Springs Dermatology Clinic for six years.

She once had a 15-year-old pregnant patient who complained about feeling something crawling inside her leg. When Marcus pressed on the area, a bot fly larvae literally popped out of the girl’s leg. “It was incredible. I saw just about everything you can read about in a dermatology textbook.”

Marcus said she gets a lot of patients who don’t realize she went to medical school. “They think that to become a dermatologist, I just went to cosmetology school or something. I guess some people don’t understand there’s a lot more to dermatology than acne.”

But despite that misconception, she said it’s the greatest specialty there is. “I would encourage a medical student to do it. You have a lot of control over your hours; it’s a nice life.” One of her favorite aspects of dermatology is being able to treat people of all ages.

“I think the greatest challenge facing physicians today is the uninsured population. I think it’s going to reach some sort of crisis. The system is going to collapse, as huge numbers of people can’t afford their care and doctors have to give it. There needs to be some sort of change, although I don’t know what it is.”

Marcus is married to Jeff Moody, a urologist, and has three children, 6-year-old twins Williams and Sarah, and 18-month-old Rachel.


James McCoy

For Dr. James McCoy, the biggest issue in dermatology is skin cancer prevention and early treatment.

He has been involved with the American Cancer Society for 17 years, and in 1987 started a local yearly cancer screening program that serves between 500 and 600 people through both Penrose and Memorial. “It’s really a life-saving pursuit that the doctors do for free.”

Born and raised in Indiana, and a graduate of Indiana University for both medical school and undergraduate work, McCoy completed his residency in internal medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., and his dermatology residency at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver.

He was in the Army for 15 years, including a spell as chief of dermatology at Fort Carson from 1983-86, and solves cases ranging from mild to serious-“acne to skin cancer to eczema to poison ivy”-and went into the field because there is “little boredom-a person with a new or different condition comes into the office every day.”

Last week, he saw a woman who had recently visited a relative in Kansas, who, according to her, had a large home that was run by her cats, and the patient is allergic. She developed a painful blistering eruption on her chest and back and was convinced the cats had caused it.

“They didn’t,” McCoy said. “Because she had shingles. She was so relieved that she didn’t have to blame her relative for this problem.”

For any medical students who are considering specializing in dermatology, McCoy has a few words of advice: get good grades.

“It is the hardest residency to be accepted to. There aren’t a huge number of programs, so it’s a very sought-after and competitive specialty. We don’t do surgery in the middle of the night, we don’t deliver babies at 2 a.m., we don’t have a lot of on-call situations, so the lifestyle of a practicing dermatologist is not as strenuous as those of many other specialties in medicine.”

McCoy, who is 57, is married to Myra, a registered nurse who teaches at God’s Gifts Preschool at First Presbyterian Church, and has two children, Sarah, 27, and David, 24.


Nathan Trookman

Dr. Nathan Trookman likes dermatology because the results are evident.

“I like dermatology because it’s a very visual field,” he said. “I like to see my results instantaneously, and the skin is the largest organ of the body.”

Trookman graduated from Harvard Medical School, did his internship at Yale University, and received dermatology and laser training at the University of Arizona. He has been in practice at Colorado Springs Dermatology Clinic for eight years.

A particularly interesting patient was a college student returning from a stint in the Peace Corps in South America, who came back with Leishmaniasis, a skin disease that results from getting bitten by a fly. “It was a really unusual case, you don’t see many in the United States,” Trookman said. “He showed up with a bunch of nodules on his arms, which were in essence fly bites.”

He particularly enjoys the rapidly growing technology in his field-“I like staying up with technology, that’s our forte”-but Trookman also gets to solve problems using a variety of disciplines, including pathology, surgery and laser science. “It’s a wonderful field, because it adds so many different dimensions to practice. You get to see a lot of patients, and get to touch a lot of people’s lives.”

Trookman’s specialty is dermatology and cosmetic laser surgery. “Some specialties may think it’s an ‘easy specialty’ because we don’t do long hours in the hospital. But we’re the ones they call when a patient has a rash.”

One of the downfalls to being a dermatologist in the Springs is a problem of supply and demand.

“I think the greatest challenge is taking care of large populations of people, and seeing patients in a timely manner because we’re so overworked, which leads to long wait times in our office. In a city like Colorado Springs, we could use more specialists.”

Trookman, who is 37, is married to Carrie, and has three sons, Jake, 6, Matt, 4, and Ben, 2.


William Albert Munson

There are simply not enough endocrinologists, says Dr. William Munson.

Munson, who has worked at the Colorado Springs Endocrine Clinic since moving to Colorado Springs in 1972, said his practice is typically booked with back-to-back appointments for three months in advance. “It’s a fascinating field, with unlimited opportunities. But we have a major need for more endocrinologists.”

Endocrinology is the medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of problems and diseases affecting hormones and glands. In his field, Munson deals most often with diabetes and thyroid disease.

Though many physicians tend to identify the glut of diabetes cases in recent years as an American pandemic, Munson said diabetes is not limited only to the United States and is “a worldwide epidemic, not just something we’re seeing locally.” Type II Diabetes, in which four-fifths of patients are overweight and inactive, most often occurs in people over 40 years of age and when fat and muscle cells become insulin-resistant. The primary treatment is exercise and diet, and does not often require insulin injections.

Munson attributes many cases of diabetes to “the increasing prevalence of obesity and the sedentary lifestyle. The occurrence in the general population is somewhere between 7 and 8 percent, which means that for El Paso County, with a population of 550,000, upward of 35,000 people have diabetes in this county alone.”

But diabetes and thyroid troubles are not his only areas of expertise. Munson recently helped a pregnant patient who had an adrenal gland tumor. He was able to get the patient into the second trimester with medication alone, when the tumor was successfully removed.

Munson graduated from medical school at the University of Colorado, completed his residency at the University of Rochester, and was a Fellow in endocrinology at Vanderbilt University.

“From a general standpoint, I would
say that the challenge facing physicians is dealing with the system. Medical care is not adequate at the present time to meet the needs of the population.”

Munson, who is 66, is married to Polly, and has two grown sons, William Jr. and Tom.


Eric Van Os

As a person who enjoys thinking in concrete, practical terms, Dr. Eric Van Os chose gastroenterology while he was on staff at his alma mater, Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

After completing his residency at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and two and a half years of teaching, he started two fellowships-in gastroenterology and advanced therapeutic endoscopy-at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“I was attracted to the procedural aspect. I’m a hands-on, surgically-oriented sort of person. The mix of chronic diseases and acute problems was challenging,” Van Os said. “There are a lot of patients you follow over time and get to know well. Balancing that is a degree of urgent situations you can make a difference in as well.”

Van Os wants to set the record straight about colon cancer, and the need for early screening.

“Colon cancer is a deadly disease. By doing screening colonoscopy, it can be detected early or prevented,” he said. “Colonoscopy is a very well-tolerated procedure; it’s not as unpleasant an experience as people think. The exam is done under sedation, and the vast majority of the time there’s no memory of the procedure at all. The preparation is challenging, but for most patients, very tolerable.”

Van Os said his chosen specialty has been extremely rewarding, and he would encourage medical students to consider it. “Try to enjoy the practice of medicine, and not be focused so much on reimbursement issues. If you can do that, it’s a fantastic specialty, very satisfying and very meaningful. Enjoy the patients, enjoy the challenge of diagnosing and treating diseases-do that, and you can have a lot of joy in what you’re doing, and not get cynical or burned out.

“Increasing demand and declining resources is going to put the squeeze on everybody. We have to try to care effectively, thoroughly and compassionately for the aging population in a time of declining resources.”

Van Os, who is 44, is married to Nancy, and has three children, Andrew, 8, Peter, 6, and Elizabeth, 3.


Jeff Kulp

Dr. Jeff Kulp values his role as a primary care physician to his elderly patients.

“I like being a personal doctor to my patients. I enjoy having that relationship,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think that relationship is in jeopardy. Trends in health care are making it increasingly difficult for physicians to provide primary care services.”

Kulp graduated from the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., and completed his residency and internship in internal medicine at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He fell into geriatric care upon moving to Colorado Springs in 1989 because of an opening at the Memorial Senior Health Center.

He separated from Memorial Hospital in 1997, and has been in private practice at Colorado Springs Senior Medicine since. As a geriatrician, he said he frequently treats patients with chronic depression.

“I think it’s because of all the losses old people experience-they lose friends, loved ones, senses, faculties.

“There are a lot of challenging cases. Some of the ones that are the most gratifying are when people can be successfully treated for depression. That really makes a difference.”

Older people respond very differently than younger, healthier adults to most medications, often experiencing more side effects and fewer benefits.

“I try to simplify rather than complicate medication programs. The drugs are so expensive, and so often our patients can’t afford them. We try restorative and rehabilitative therapy and exercise. There is no age at which people don’t benefit from exercise.”

Kulp’s personal pet peeve is with the archaic filing system in many doctor’s offices. The greatest challenge for a physician, he said, is to handle the tremendous volume of information on each patient, and organize it in an accessible and retrievable manner. “We have all this new technology, and new diagnostic and treatment approaches-but we’re still handling information the way we did 150 years ago.”

Kulp, who is 53, is married to Cyndy, and has two children, Valerie, 20, and Andrew, 15.


Michelle Ridnour

Dr. Michelle Ridnour loves going to work.

Ridnour chose obstetrics and gynecology because it encompasses “all aspects of health care for women. I do surgery and I’m involved in delivery; it’s a little bit of everything. I love the rewarding nature of my work.”

Some OB/GYNs, as they get older, tend to cut back areas of their practice, usually obstetrics-since children are born at all hours of the day and night. Not Ridnour. “I still do obstetrics as a significant part of my practice. The OB tends to be a very happy thing. Delivering a baby is generally a joyful thing.”

But she also enjoys the GYN side, and easing women through their yearly check-ups: “But when a young girl comes in for her first pelvic exam, and afterwards she says, ‘That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,’ that’s wonderful. So many different things that we do improve the quality of life for people.”

Ridnour is chief of staff-elect at Memorial Hospital, which means she will oversee all physicians on staff, more than 700 altogether. When Dr. Jeffrey Ferguson, a urologist, retires in a year and a half, she will take over for a two-year term.

She dubs her own career as operating in a “controlled chaos.”

In her group practice at Printers Park OB/GYN, she’s on call every fourth weekend and every fourth weeknight. “We have control over our lives. I know what my schedule will be when I’m not on call. It’s not as bad as people think.”

Ridnour attended medical school at Wayne State University in Detroit and completed her residency at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. She has worked at Printers Park OB/GYN for seven years.

“I love going to work every day,” she said. “We all, or most of us anyway, need to work. It’s a huge blessing to get up and enjoy what you do.”

Park is married to Mark Anders, an anesthesiologist at Memorial, and has three children: Jacqueline, 8, Kara, 6, and Rourke, 5.


Thomas Hackenberg

A graduate of the medical school at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Thomas Hackenberg also had residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics in Phoenix, training in adult infectious diseases in Salt Lake City, training in pediatric infectious diseases in Orange County, Calif., and additional training in London for tropical diseases.

He has worked in Tanzania, Costa Rica and Malaysia, and underwent additional AIDS instruction at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

“I wanted a subspecialty where I could help care for children and adults,” he said. “I am very interested in infectious diseases because it covers most organ systems, and other specialties in medicine, as well. You have to keep up with new information available for treating patients.”

Despite his extensive training and work in his field, Hackenberg is humble, and simply could not agree with the determination that he was best in his field.

“I don’t think I would say I’m the best physician in the infectious disease category. There’s no way to show who’s best. It was very flattering to hear, but I think that would be very difficult to say.”

His field is exciting, he said, and always dynamic. Four years ago, he treated a patient who had Pneumonic Plague, the first known case in Colorado. He had seen a case once before during his training in Utah.

The patient survived, and was treated with Gentamicin, a drug used for plague therapy.

Hackenberg has been with Infectious Disease Specialists for eight years, and has worked in his specialty for 12.

The greatest challenge facing physicians today is “providing the care and time we want for patients and the constraints of financial restrictions, mostly mana
ged care and governmental. We have to spend a lot more time on non-care related issues such as finance and business.”

Hackenberg, who is 42, is married to Trudy, and has three children, Quinn, 3, Teague, 2, and 1-year-old Kyra, an adopted daughter from China.


John Norton

Dr. John Norton said the intellectual challenge of internal medicine, a broad field that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of malfunctioning organs and systems within the body, is what drew him to the specialty.

“I enjoy solving the riddle of a patient’s illness,” he said. “I wanted to be captain of a ship for the patient’s care, which is difficult today with a number of subspecialties out there. But some of us still put together the whole picture.”

The internist, not to be confused with an intern, has worked with Penrose-St. Francis Medical Group/Mountain View Medical Group since 1994. He worked with Internal Medicine Specialists of Colorado Springs from 1976-94.

Norton graduated from Albany Medical College, completed his internship and residency at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver, and was a Fellow at the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His subspecialty is clotting disorders.

“There’s a lot of joy in the practice of medicine. It’s still all about patient care, no matter the influence of managed care, no matter the changes in physician reimbursement, and all the pressures that are making it difficult to be satisfied in medicine today. I still love medicine.”

Norton’s patients are adults, as internists do not treat children.

Fifteen years ago, Norton had a patient in his 50s who had suffered a brain stem stroke that left him quadriplegic and only able to communicate by blinking his eyes.

“It’s a neurologic situation; intellectually, he was all there, but there was virtually no motor function. They call it being ‘locked in,'” he said. “From that point on, I interacted with him and his family regarding the role of continued ventilator support when the underlying problem was incurable. We finally removed him from the ventilator while he was sedated in the presence of family, friends and clergy. Being with him as he died peacefully-that has never left me.”

Norton, who is 61, is married to Peggy, and has three children, Brett, 27, Meghan, 25, and Tyler, 18.


Laurence Adams Jr.

Logical thinking and problem solving are Dr. Laurence Adams’ strong suits.

A graduate of Georgetown University’s medical school, he completed a residency in San Antonio at Wilford Hall Medical Center.

Since 1996, after five years of active duty service in the Air Force, Adams has worked for Colorado Springs Neurological Associates. He specialized in neurology because, as an intern, he worked with Dr. McCoy, “a neurologist who I thought the world of.” McCoy was exceedingly logical in his thought processes, and it was that type of thinking, as much as anything, that factored into Adams’ decision.

“I enjoy thinking through problems. It’s sort of like a mystery story. You’re handed a set of clues; you have to figure out what’s going on. No. 1, to solve the mystery; No. 2, to solve whatever the problem is.”

The thinking process is not exactly deductive in neurology, he said. A neurologist does not think in terms of symptoms in order to find a list of possible diseases. “First and foremost, we consider where the problem is going on. Not only in the brain, but the spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles. Based on history and examination, where the problem is leads to what the problem is.”

Neurologists, he said, do not sit around stewing over a long list of brain diseases. They start with the clues, given to them by the patient history and neurological exam, to tell them where to begin, which leads them to the much smaller list of possible “whats”.

“I think for many years the conception of neurology was one that does diagnosis, but that we have no treatment to offer anybody. And unfortunately, we don’t have cures to offer people with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or Parkinson’s. But though the treatments are not curative, they can be effective in prolonging life and staving off disability.”

Adams, who is 48, is married to Michelle, and has two daughters, Elizabeth, 22, and Laura, 20.


Michael Brown

Dr. Michael Brown was looking for a dynamic field, and found it in neurosurgery.

From 1975-85, he completed medical school, a surgical internship and residency in neurosurgery at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. He was in private practice for three years there before moving to Colorado Springs. He has worked at Colorado Springs Neurological Associates since November 1988.

“I think a lot of it was the challenge,” Brown said. “I saw neurosurgery as a field that would change over time. I don’t do anything exactly the way I did it in residency. I really enjoy the challenge and evolution of the specialty.”

Brown said that he spent a good portion of his residency, as well as his practice, helping patients with spinal injuries.

“I think a lot of people fail to realize that neurosurgery is involved with spine surgery, and is not just restricted to brain surgery. The majority of experience residents get in training is in the spine.”

Neurosurgery is the specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders or injuries to the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves, including nerves in the hands or feet.

“It is a gratifying career. I love to see patients respond to our efforts and get better,” he said. “As a general rule, there are certain brain and spinal cord tumors that can be very challenging. The reward is very much up to the challenge.”

In Brown’s chosen field, the medical-legal crisis is especially pronounced.

“I think it threatens the very fiber of medicine in this country. It’s forced a lot of neurosurgeons into early retirement, diminished the number of applicants for residency programs, and the overall number of neurosurgeons in this country has dropped. There are more and more areas in this country that don’t have ready access to neurological care.”

Brown, who is 51, is married to Connie, and has one son, Jason, 27.


Daniel Tell

Dr. Daniel Tell draws strength and comfort from his patients.

“I enjoy the patients; they just seem very grateful for anything you can do for them, even the smallest things. There is a lot of positive feedback. On an academic level, it’s very interesting. There are a lot of things going on.”

Originally from Philadelphia, Tell graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and finished his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was a Fellow in hematology and oncology there, as well.

In the Army for 17 years, Tell was stationed in Honolulu, as well as Denver at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center.

While in Denver, he treated a young man from Colorado Springs who had Hodgkin’s disease, a cancerous growth of cells in the lymphatic system. “I happened to see him here in a parking lot, married and dragging two kids around. It was very satisfying to see that: someone who even 20 years ago would have died of the disease. But he’s married, with children, and shopping.”

Tell has found his specialty very rewarding. The longer he practices medicine, the better his patients are faring.

“The major misconception about cancer is that it’s a fatal disease 100 percent of the time. It’s often very treatable, and not infrequently, curable,” said Tell. “There’s been a lot of progress with cancers of the lymph glands. Treatments have improved the quality of life a great deal. There are long periods of time when the cancer is in remission, when they’re feeling fine and living normal lives.”

Insurance companies are the bane of a doctor’s existence, he said. “Some days the diseases look easy compared to the financial demands and constraints put on physicians.”

In the field of oncology, in which positive results mean the worst news, Tell said he hasn’t found a way to cope with treating cancer patients who are not yet curable. ”
You always hope something will come along soon to make things better for them.”

Tell, who is 53, is married to Betty, and has five grown children: Maureen, Christine, Brian, Andrew and Sarah.


Nieca Caltrider

Dr. Nieca Caltrider chose opthamology because it was a combination of medical and surgical practice, and involves delicate surgery on a very important part of the body-the eye.

“I’m actually a pediatric opthamologist. I love getting to work with children,” Caltrider said. “It’s an area in which I feel I do impact people. They are very happy to have good vision.”

The worst thing she sees is the trauma that results when children manage to do all sorts of damage to their young eyes, with objects like spikes or darts, or even BB guns. “Trauma to the eye can be very difficult for families and children to deal with,” she said. “I am trying to repair the damage. As with many other organs, I try to restore as much function as possible, in this case, vision.”

Caltrider completed medical school at the University of Colorado, and finished an internship in internal medicine there as well. Her residency in opthamology took place in San Francisco. She has been in practice at The Childrens Eye Center for 20 years.

The fallacy she would like to clear up is the difference between an opthamologist and an optometrist. “I am an eye MD. I do surgery and treat medical conditions of the eye. An optometrist is more focused toward refracted errors and the need for glasses, but they do not usually perform surgery.”

Optometrists diagnose vision problems, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and prescribe medicine to treat eye disorders. They often provide patients with pre- and post-surgical care. Optometrists frequently work closely with opthamologists and can even share patients.

“The greatest challenge is trying to balance the time commitment necessary for medical practice, but still maintain a good family relationship and spiritual balance along with all of that,” Caltrider said. Upon winning the award, she said, “I feel very honored.”

Caltrider, who is 54, has two teenage sons, Danton, 21, and Trevor, 17.


Steve Myers

In his involvement with AO International, the educational arm of the AO Foundation, a group whose aim is to educate trauma surgeons, Dr. Steve Myers has seen his share of complex trauma cases. He applied for a fellowship with Professor Reinhold Ganz, the world’s premier hip and pelvis surgeon.

“So I packed up my wife and my kids and moved to Bern, Switzerland, for six months. For me, it was a really special experience because my family is from the area around Bern, and it was a bit of a homecoming.”

Because of his training in Switzerland, Myers was able to save the life of a man who fractured his pelvis and hip, and dislocated the same hip. “It was three major operations all in one. Without this kind of training, I probably would have sent the patient to Denver. But now I think we can offer the same level of experience as just about anywhere in the country.”

Myers graduated from the Northeast Ohio College of Medicine, and completed his orthopedic residency at Brown University in Providence. He has practiced at the Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group since 1989.

His other particular area of interest is total hip surgery, including Total Hip Arthroplasty, a new procedure in which patients are often healed enough to go home the following day.

“I think that orthopedics is going to continue to grow, because of Baby Boomers and their physical demands. They’re an active group, and they continue to wear out their joints skiing and mountain biking. They’re going to keep the orthopedic community busy for several years.”

Stress is common. “We’re under so much pressure by insurance companies for documentation, and the mountains of paperwork just adds another layer of stress. The constant threat of lawsuits and legal problems tend to overshadow us. But it’s still the best job in the world, despite all these extraneous challenges.”

Myers, who is 48, is married to Carol, a local artist, and has two children, Kurt, 18 and Laurel, 17.


Joel Ernster

Dr. Joel Ernster was intrigued by the anatomy of the head and neck.

He specialized in otolaryngology, which involves diametric ends of the spectrum-he’s the physician for everything from ear infections to throat cancer-and he said, “I do a lot of the latter, but I really like to have the former to keep myself sane.”

A graduate of the medical school at the University of Oklahoma, with an internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver and residency at the University of Colorado, Ernster also had several fellowships-with Dr. Hollinger at a children’s hospital in Chicago, with Dr. Cotton at a children’s hospital in Cincinnati, and with Dr. Rudert in Kiel, Germany, studying laryngeal tumors.

“Otolaryngology is complex and caught my interest; it is a specialty that is involved in treating people of all ages. I had a head-neck cancer surgeon at University of Oklahoma, by the name of Ray Smith, whose technical skill and ability to do challenging operations in the mouth and throat impressed the heck out of me.”

Who knew that he would put his considerable skill toward getting an entire catfish out of a woman’s throat?

“A schoolteacher, who for whatever reason, I think to impress the kids or something, took a catfish from the school aquarium and was going to swallow it to impress the students. Anyway, it got stuck in her esophagus, so I got called sort of urgently.

“It was gross when it came out,” he added, laughing.

For Ernster, maintaining an ethical perspective is the tough part of being a physician.

“You need to do the right thing for patients, whether or not you get paid for it, whether or not the insurance company thinks you should do it. There is a lot of pressure to make you treat patients in a way that you don’t think is best.”

Ernster, who is 50, has been in practice at Colorado Otolaryngology Associates, which has changed names, for 17 years. He is married to Jan, and has three boys, Nick, Mark and Jon.


Tom Bates

Dr. Tom Bates fell in love with radiology during medical school at Washington University in St. Louis.

“It’s exciting, the art of diagnosis with imaging and medicine,” he said. “You’re challenged with a variety of symptoms and findings, you have all of these tools to try and diagnose illness. It was one of the most interesting parts of medical school.”

Bates has been a diagnostic radiologist at Penrose for 31 years.

“I like taking care of people, helping people solve problems. Sometimes the answers are not pretty, but you have to know what you’re dealing with before you can treat it. We play a pivotal role and it’s very satisfying to do that.”

Bates completed his residency at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis. He thinks people might assume that radiology is comprised of simply taking X-rays, but it’s really not like that anymore. Bates works closely with many specialties, including neurosurgery, obstetrics, orthopedics and even podiatry. “It’s really fun. It’s a way of being able to practice all kinds of medicine in one specialty.”

Radiology, he said, is the most exciting specialty, because technology is “exploding and changing.” In three decades, he’s seen the practice of radiology change many times. “A year from now, your practice could look significantly different. There’s no time to get bored.”

It’s that fast-paced technology that Bates fears may exhaust the country’s resources, as it continues to outpace society’s ability to fund and pay for diagnostic and therapeutic abilities.

“We’re going to have to make some hard decisions about what we do for people. We simply can’t do everything for everybody. Society has to make some hard decisions. Our elected leaders are supposed to represent how we feel. The problem is, if you go with national health care, you’re going to get something for everybody, but not everything for everybody. Socialized health care isn’t a wonderful thing, but a
t least it gets something to everybody.”

Bates, who is 60, has been married for 39 years to Kathleen, and has three children, TaRene, Tammy and Troy.


Monte Golditch

Radiology is a stimulating intellectual challenge for Dr. Monte Golditch.

The graduate of the University of Guadalajara (Mexico) said the specialty has moved forward more rapidly than any other, in terms of the sophistication of its imagery equipment. “With different applications of things like CT, ultrasound, MRI, as well as a lot of interventional radiology, I am involved with very exciting parts of being able to help doctors help their patients.”

Interventional radiology, Golditch’s subspecialty, substitutes noninvasive skills to provide therapy and better quality of life without surgery. He often works with catheters in arteries and veins to improve blood flow, and cancer diagnosis.

Images are like fingerprints, he said. They never lie. “It’s sort of like being Sherlock Holmes. You have to piece together the subtleties of what the images show. Images don’t contain untruths, but you can be fooled.”

Golditch completed his residency at the University of Minnesota and moved to Colorado Springs in 1984 following his training. Radiology is a great choice for medical students, he said.

“Because of where technology is taking us by way of enhanced computer abilities, it’s going to open up the world of our bodies, with earlier, better and faster diagnosis and better therapeutics. Very candidly, many doctors over the years, in other specialties, have said to me that they wished they would have gone into radiology at an earlier point in time.”

Golditch said physicians must continue to maintain their integrity, and always remain the patient’s advocate in the face of some very powerful adversaries, including insurance companies. He has worked as a radiology and imaging consultant at Memorial for 20 years.

Golditch, who is 51, is married to Lori, and has five children: Crystal, 17, Eric, 13, Sydney, 11, Ashlee, 10, and Erica, 8. About the award, he said, “I’m very honored, it’s sort of like getting an Academy Award when your colleagues vote you into this position of high prestige.”


Martha D’Ambrosio

Scientifically, Dr. Martha D’Ambrosio is interested in immunology, an area of medicine in which the patients did not do any harm to themselves, but are, simply and terribly, victims of bad luck.

“They do their very best and get well as best they can,” she said. “They’re a different kind of patient. I enjoy having the trust people give me to take care of them. It’s quite the honor.”

D’Ambrosio graduated from the medical school at the University of Colorado, and completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia, where she was also a Fellow in rheumatology. She has worked at Arthritis Associates and Osteoporosis Center of Colorado Springs since 1993.

D’Ambrosio works on patients with various kinds of chronic immune-related illnesses, including but not limited to gout, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus and osteoarthritis. She also had a patient with Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease of connective tissue, whom her clinic was able to treat with non-standard medication that completely healed painful ulcers in her legs.

D’Ambrosio said her specialty is absolutely exploding with new pharmaceuticals and targeted therapies. She forsees a not-so-distant future when the field of rheumatology can prevent the death of patients with Lupus.

“Now, instead of being an area of medicine of just chronic disease and chronic pain, it’s absolutely revolutionary,” she said. “All that immunology we learned in medical school is going straight into practice. There’s so much more you can do, you don’t have to sit idly by.”

Medicines have become more effective than ever before, but D’Ambrosio explains that they are very difficult and expensive to make.

“The greatest challenge is the economy of medicine. We are well beyond our ability to pay in terms of our intelligence. The rationing of care is a real entity.”

D’Ambrosio is married to Ernest, and has two sons, Vincent, 13, and Nicholas, 11.


Patrick Faricy

Physicians choose specialties based on their mentors, said Dr. Patrick Faricy, a Colorado native who completed medical school, two years of residency and three years of urology training at the University of Colorado.

“I had a couple of mentors, Drs. Donahue and Pfister,” Faricy said. “I always thought I wanted to go into surgery. I thought I was going to be an orthopedist, but I didn’t like the orthopedists there.”

He was born in Pueblo and attended grade school and high school in Colorado Springs.

Faricy wants to clear up a misconception. Urology is not just for old men, he said. “We see everybody from children to men and women of all ages. I think it’s a great specialty,” he said. “I do see a lot of prostate cancer, and a lot of urinary stones, kidney stones, women with urinary incontinence. I see a smattering of everything, from testicular tumors to bladder tumors to multiple congenital anomalies.”

Faricy was in the Air Force for several years, and following that practiced in Sheridan, Wyo., with Kent Thayer. Thayer is a partner at his current practice, Urological Associates, where he has worked for 21 years.

Of course Faricy’s had unusual and challenging patient cases, considering his field. But “in urology, there are some crazy stories, but they’re not publishable,” he said with a laugh.

The intricacies of managed care, from the endless paperwork to insurance companies determining what treatments patients are permitted to have, are a cause for concern.

Physicians will have to “try to navigate the problems of managed care, and try to treat patients as people rather than bowing to these constraints. We’re told to cut back on what we do, to order fewer tests.”

Faricy, who is 56, is married to Kris, and has three children, Luke, 30, Mark, 27, and Kate, 23.


John Genrich

Dr. John Genrich, who did not return phone calls to the Colorado Springs Business Journal, graduated from the former Hahnemann Medical College in downtown Philadelphia. He completed a pediatrics residency at the University of Oklahoma, and another at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is board certified in pediatrics.

Pediatricians care for newborns, infants, children and adolescents, and the specialty focuses on the physical and emotional health of children from birth to young adulthood. Care includes a myriad of services ranging from preventative health care to the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic diseases. A pediatrician deals with biological, social and environmental influences on the developing child, and with the impact of disease and dysfunction on development.


Greg Liebscher

Dr. Greg Liebscher, who did not return phone calls to the Colorado Springs Business Journal, graduated from medical school at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. He completed his general surgery residency at the St. Louis University Medical Center, and his plastic surgery residency at the Mayo Clinic. He is board certified in general surgery and plastic surgery.

Plastic surgery is a surgical specialty that involves the reconstruction of facial and body defects due to birth disorders, trauma, burns and disease. The field also covers the enhancement of appearance through operations, such as the facelift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and liposuction.

A plastic surgeon deals with the repair, reconstruction or replacement of physical defects of form or function involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, facial structures, extremities, breast and external genitalia.


William C. Chambers Jr.

Dr. William Chambers, who did not return phone calls to the Colorado Springs Business Journal, graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He completed his general surgery residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, and his vascular surgery residency at Baylor Hospital. He is board certified in ge
neral surgery.

Vascular surgery as a specialty evolved in the 1950s as a hybrid of general and cardiac surgeries, and handles patients with diseases that affect the arteries and veins throughout the body. One of the most commonly treated problems is atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries.

Technological advances in diagnostic equipment-including ultrasound, CT scanning and MRI-have helped vascular diagnosis become less intrusive. New developments in catheter-based treatments, too, have transformed much of vascular therapy.