Sallie Veenstra, MD: Memories of our Matriarch Doctor

Sallie L. Veenstra, M.D.Dr. Sallie Veenstra’s last day is June 28, 2019. Since 1981, she has been a mother to us all at Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

How it all began.

On Wednesday, February 6, 1980, St Joseph Hospital officials announced that they were converting the emergency facility at the Lee’s Summit Ambulatory Care Center into a medical clinic with physician offices. At that time, the Lee’s Summit area had about one doctor per 2,000 to 3,000 residents; the desirable ratio was one physician per 1,000 people. There was a great need for primary family physicians and pediatricians as well as other specialists to serve the growing community.

The Saint Joseph Physicians Group of Lee’s Summit was born on April 14, 1980 at 1001 N. Independence Avenue headed by Dr. Selbert Chernoff with the assistance of head nurse, Joan Koenig.

Stated one expert, “…it could be the best thing that has happened in health care in the area.” Initially, the practice included Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Urology, General Surgery, Ophthalmology and Family Practice providers. Dr. Sallie Veenstra joined the group on July 13, 1981 followed by Dr. Bill Barnard on July 20, 1981 and Dr. Gary Strong (pediatrician) on July 27, 1981.

Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

LSPG Ground BreakingAs the fledgling practice took hold, hospital backing was eliminated and the corporation was renamed Lee’s Summit Physicians Group. Ultimately, the specialists relocated, but the internal medicine and pediatric sections grew; additional providers were added in response to the increasing number of patients.

In 2003, the main office on Blue Parkway opened; Raintree Pediatrics was born in 2006 and Blue Springs Pediatrics in 2010. The Raintree satellite moved to our new building in 2013. As predicted decades ago, the Lee’s Summit community grew exponentially.

Today, LSPG has 16 pediatricians, 9 pediatric nurse practitioners, 3 internists and an internal medicine nurse practitioner. We’ve come a long way from 2 pediatricians and 2 internists! Truly, “Even the smallest person can change the course of history.” Lady Galadriel/JRR Tolkien

There have certainly been ups and downs during the 38 years Dr. Veenstra has been in practice. The most distressing event for all of us was probably the institution of electronic medical records in 2010, though some would argue it was the adoption of ICD-10 coding on 10-1-15.

In the never-ending search for a correct ICD-10 code, our providers have also discovered some wild and crazy codes that serve as the basis for our fond memories.

Z56.3 – Stressful work schedule

Amanda Milburn was responsible for each of the pediatric provider’s daily schedule on the computer for many years. She blocked times for vacations, rounds, urgent care, etc. and very rarely made a mistake. When Dr. Veenstra showed up for work one week and discovered her schedule was blocked for vacation, she told Amanda that it was the following week that she would be gone. Amanda promptly and quietly pulled SVs request form to show her that she had asked for the wrong week off…oops!

Z56.6 – Other physical and mental strain related to work

The day JS started, SV asked her if she was shadowing for the day again. JS replied, “I now work for you!” Likewise, SV was on vacation for two weeks when Dr. Yannette started. Her first day back, she queried him, “Oh…you’re the new guy…what’s your name?”

W34.00XA – Accidental discharge from gun, initial encounter

Dr. Veenstra is a stickler for prevention of firearms injuries and insists on guns in the home being safely stored – locked and unloaded…even if the questioning angers the parent!

Z71.3 – Dietary counseling and surveillance

Recently one of the PNPs saw a teen girl for her WCC and mentioned basic diet and exercise recommendations. Before she could say more than a few words, the patient said, “I know, I know. Dr. Veenstra told me last year I should just go to Weight Watchers!”

Z71.6 – Tobacco abuse counseling

Once again, brutal honesty is SVs policy! Stop smoking…or don’t start!

Z28.21 – Immunization not carried out because of patient refusal

Dr. Veenstra RetiringDr. Veenstra is a flu shot fanatic, not to mention any other recommended immunization. Her armamentarium includes informing parents that their child can die if they don’t get a flu shot. Apparently one child was traumatized; another physician saw him a few weeks later. He was upset because he thought all his friends who did not get flu shots were going to die soon…

B07.9 – Viral Wart, unspecified to E04.1 – Nontoxic single thyroid nodule

Fondly referred to as the “Thyroid Queen”, Dr Veenstra will check out your thyroid even if you’re just there for a wart. As the work station rap goes, “While DG does his sexual harassment module, SV finds another nontoxic thyroid nodule!”

R46.1 – Bizarre personal appearance

Never one to mince words, SV has been known to address inappropriate attire in teens by telling them that she would not let her daughter leave the house dressed like that!

Z41.2 – Encounter for routine and ritual circumcision

As she has no sons, we don’t know if she would circumcise her own child. We do know that she has a bit of an aversion to amputating foreskin.

Z85.3 – Personal history of malignant neoplasm of breast

Though stunned to learn she had breast cancer, Dr. Veenstra tackled treatment with her typical ferocity and no nonsense approach. Cancer sucks, but she powered through and beat it!

Z96.651 – Presence of right artificial knee joint

After surviving cancer, knee replacement surgery on 6-26-18 seemed trivial. With help from her personal in-home physical therapist (AKA oldest daughter), SV returned to work with the minimal recommended time off.

Y99.2 – Volunteer Activity

Dr. Veenstra has spent countless hours volunteering her medical expertise. For many years, she volunteered at Turner House Children’s Clinic. In 2015, she received the Dr. Frank Vaughters Service Award. Her plaque is inscribed with a Gandhi quote. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Indeed, she has done that!

Z91.89 – Other specified personal risk factors, not elsewhere classified in spite of

N23 – Unspecified renal colic

Dr. Veenstra also traveled to the Dominican Republic many times with her church for medical mission work. She spent one trip with severe abdominal pain and IV fluids due to kidney stones…she was very grateful for the other medical personnel who were with her to ensure quality care!

Y92.59 – Other trade areas as the place of occurrence of the external cause

SV is the leading recycle expert at LSPG. She must have some sort of internal homing device allowing her to detect without fail every can or plastic cup or paper product that was sneakily tossed in a trash can while she was away from the workstation or not watching. Many a provider tried to trick her; they failed each time. How does she do that?????

Y93.C – Activities involving computer technology and electronic devices

Dr. Veenstra RetiringAlthough discovering that her already retired spouse frittered away the day on the Internet infuriates her, Dr. Veenstra thoroughly enjoys catching a few minutes to play Solitaire or watch cat videos on the computer!

V40.5XXA – Car driver injured in collision with deer in traffic accident, initial encounter

In keeping with her environmental sensitivity, Dr. Veenstra drives a Prius. Fortunately, she avoided injury in the Deer vs Prius accident that left both the stag and the auto limping.

W55.22 – Accidental strike by bull (elk)

Luckily, Sallie and Jerry both avoided being injured by the elk rampaging through Estes Park during one of their semiannual visits.

Y93.B9 – Injury in activity involving muscle-strengthening exercises

Happily, they both avoided injury from the Thigh Master Jerry gifted Sallie for her 40th birthday. She made him return it…

W55.01XA – Bitten by cat, initial encounter

SV has already warned us that if she outlives her husband, we will need to keep watch so that she does not become an infamous crazy cat lady. She loves her cats, even when they jump on the counter to drink from the faucets, even when their mouse protocol is catch and release…catch them outside and release them in the house!

Y92.241 – Library as the place of occurrence of the injury

With more free time after she retires, we hope Sallie can continue to avoid injury at the library. She is an avid reader – be careful around those bookshelves!

S01.512A – Laceration of oral cavity without foreign body, initial encounter

Be cautious when eating your yogurt with a plastic knife as well! We know that’s often the only readily available utensil at the office. Hopefully, your home is stocked better…

T62.1X3A – Toxic effect of ingested berries, initial encounter

Always the fan of organic and natural products, SV wanders the fields by the office during lunch picking wild blackberries when they are in season. She can rest assured that she won’t have to share with DG. Just don’t let the neighbors catch you or they may report you to the police (or so Dr. Barnard claims.)

W29.0 – Contact with a powered kitchen appliance

Dr. Veenstra RetiringAgain, subtlety is not her style and she was fed up…so she posted a sign on the microwave in the workstation, “If I have to clean this again, you’re fired!” That might sound like she’s a Trump admirer, but she is most certainly not…

Y93.63 – Activity, cooking and baking as the cause of

Z63.0 – Problems in relationship with spouse or partner

Maybe spouses should never try to teach each other much of anything…much less how to cook…

R94.8 – Other voice and resonance disorder

Y92.22 – Religious institution as the place of occurrence of the external cause

SV is active at church and sings in her church choir. This has provided many opportunities for travel, including overseas adventures!

T70.29XS – Other effects of high altitude, sequel

F12.90 – Cannabis use, unspecified, uncomplicated

V91.07 – Burn caused by water skis on fire

W61.12 – Struck by a macaw

Although seemingly unrelated, all of these are potential risks of the vacations that Sallie has experienced…to Estes Park, CO and Sedona, AZ and Seattle, WA and Destin, FL to name a few. We’re happy that none of them happened – or at least we think that none of them did…

W56.22 – Struck by Orca whale, initial encounter

W56.11 – Bitten by a sea lion

Again, these are possibilities, but not actualities. SV and one of her daughters had to be evacuated from a cruise ship off the shores of Alaska due to a medical emergency. The crusty grizzled sea captain rowing the boat steered them past ice floes with seals on the way to shore. It was quite the unplanned adventure!

V97.33 – Sucked into a jet engine

Dr. Veenstra RetiringOK, a bit of an exaggeration…but SV has been called upon to use her medical prowess and act like a doctor while on an airplane. Her children ratted her out when the flight attendants asked for medical personnel to identify themselves.

Y93.01 – Accident caused by knitting or crocheting

W93.8XXS – Exposure to other excessive cold of man-made origin, sequela

In moments of frustration, particularly those involving meeting nebulous insurance metrics in order to be paid, alternative career choices are often the topic of discussion. Dr. Veenstra has stuck with her fantasy of opening a knitting and crochet store or an ice cream shop! Good choices!

F 42.3 – Hoarding Disorder

We were unaware that the drawer at Sallie’s workstation was a treasure trove until she cleaned it out the week of her retirement. Her stockpiled fortunes included a skeleton pen, two red noses, a whistle, a plethora of coins, a key (“I have no clue what it goes to”), a pink feather boa, a tuning fork and Nerds…quite the collection!

Z00.110 – Health Examination for newborn under 8 days

R54 – Old age

Dr. Veenstra has been a “Grandma Pediatrician” for decades, providing medical care to the children of former patients. The burning question remains, “Is she a ‘Great Grandma Pediatrician’?”

R45.89 – Other symptoms and signs involving emotional state

When asked what they remember most about Dr. Veenstra, staff members say “her laugh!” Thanks for sharing it so frequently with us! We will miss it!

Y93.C2 – Activity, hand held interactive electronic device

R41.0 – Disorientation, unspecified; Wooziness

R41.81 – Age-associated cognitive decline (applicable to adult patients aged 15-124 years, inclusive)

The bad news is she’s getting a bit forgetful; she’s inadvertently left her cell phone at work a few times (mostly on Mondays.) The good news is, she’d old enough to live without it until she returns to the office on Wednesday. Forty-eight hours without a mobile phone…that’s something a millennial can’t do. Way to go, Dr. Veenstra!

Z76.0 – Problems of adjustment to life-cycle transitions

Dr. Veenstra RetiringWe are sure that we will suffer from this far more than Dr. Veenstra will upon her retirement! “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Gandalf

R45.83 – Excessive crying of child, adolescent or adult

I51.81 – Takotsubo Syndrome

We hope we don’t embarrass ourselves with either of these on Sallie’s last day, June 28, 2019. As Ramsay states in Game of Thrones, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention!” In case you are not sure, Takotsubo Syndrome is otherwise known as reversible left ventricular dysfunction following sudden emotional stress or Broken Heart Syndrome!

We love you and wish you all the best!

“All’s well that ends better.” – JRR Tolkien

Provider Spotlight: Annie Bennett, PNP

Annie BennettBy Annie Bennett, PNP

I grew up in Washington, Missouri, where I first developed my passion for caring for children. I volunteered at the local hospital reading to children prior to their doctors visits. I then went to the University of Missouri to study nursing and graduated with my BSN in 2014.

My first nursing job was at University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital where I worked for one year before moving to Kansas City. After moving to Kansas City, I accepted a job at Children’s Mercy Hospital on a medical surgical floor specializing in neurology, endocrinology, and cystic fibrosis. Once at Children’s Mercy, I decided I wanted to return to school to become a nurse practitioner in order to further help the children and families in the Kansas City area. I graduated as a pediatric nurse practitioner in December of 2018 and began working with Blue Springs Pediatrics in January of 2019.

I met my husband, Reese, while in nursing school, and we were married at the Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri, in 2016.

Reese is an outpatient physical therapist with Athletico Physical Therapy. We currently live in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Together we enjoy traveling to new and exciting destinations. In the past year we have been to Costa Rica, the Bahamas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Hiking through the rain forest and zip lining through mountainous Costa Rica has been our favorite trip so far.

Reese and I also enjoy spending time with family and friends. I have an identical twin sister who lives in Lee’s Summit. In addition, my husband and I enjoy cheering on the Mizzou Tigers, Royals, and Chiefs. Personally I enjoy reading in my spare time. The Harry Potter books are my favorite.

I love working with pediatric patients of all ages and enjoy educating patients and families. Increasing health literacy and empowering patients and families to manage their health is my passion. I look forward to promoting health and wellness in the greater Blue Springs area.

Annie and Reese Annie Annie and Reese Annie and Reese

JoJo’s Army: A Warrior Story about JoMarie Young, LPN

By JoMarie Young, LPN

I’m a lot things, but mostly a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, nurse, scrapbooker, Kansas City Chiefs Fan, FOREVER ROYAL, summer lover, wanna be world traveler and Justin Timberlake’s biggest fan! I’ve worked for LSPG for ten years next month. I spend more time at work than I do at home, so when I say I love my work family, I really mean it! I love my job, and the doctors I work for are some of the most down to earth, genuine people I’ve ever have had the privilege of knowing.

When friends ask who they should take their kids to see, I answer honestly. It doesn’t matter, choose someone that fits your schedule best. I promise it’s not because I work with them and they pay me, but because I truly mean it! I work with and for some amazing professionals!

A little background…

I spent the first half of my childhood in Northeast Kansas City. One fact about me most people don’t know, Italian was my first language! (My dad is from Sicily.) The second half of my childhood, I lived in South Kansas City. I graduated from Ruskin High School in 1989. I met my husband of almost 23 years, the first day of our freshman year, August 1985. We didn’t start dating until after High School and the rest is history. Three kids later, nursing school, a Bail Bonds Business, a few moves and several pets, we now reside in Kingsville, MO. We just completed our first and LAST build job. That was a test, for sure!

D-Day: June 28th, 2012

JoJo's ArmyRewind one week prior to D-Day. I’d noticed a lump in my right breast previously but only associated it with monthly female symptoms. This time seemed different. It was the weekend, and I was having some slight pain associated with the lump. Red flags started waving! I decided I needed to call my OB/GYN first thing Monday morning and schedule an appointment. At my appointment, the doctor immediately felt what I was talking about and was concerned as well. She sent me directly downstairs to the Breast Center at St. Joseph Hospital.

They began with a mammogram, and once completed they asked that I not change. They wanted me to wait while the radiologist reviewed the films. A few minutes later, they called me back for more films as there was something they needed a few more pictures of. So of course, I obliged. Not starting to panic just yet, but anxiety is most definitely at the surface. After the second set of films, they requested I get an ultrasound. I figured I might as well, I’m already here.

During the prep for the ultrasound, the tech asked if recommended, would I consent to having a biopsy. They had the time, and the radiologist was just around the corner waiting for my images. ASOLUTELY! As you can imagine, the ultrasound confirmed something suspicious. They recommended an ultrasound guided biopsy. I was alone. While lying on the bed waiting for the doctor in this dimly lit room, tears ran down my cheeks.

The Truth?

JoJo's ArmyI looked over at the nicest girl that was about to help guide the doctor, and asked if she could be completely honest with me. She hesitated at first but then said she would if that was what I really wanted, she would be honest. She knew what I was about to ask her. “Does this look like something I should be concerned about?” She responded with, “yes, it looks like cancer.” Now the tears are really flowing.

The biopsy was done in a flash; I was treated so well by the doctor and staff. They were kind, sensitive, understanding and gentle. After it was completed, everyone left the room and I was alone again. Alone with my own thoughts and fears. I sobbed. After pulling myself together, I was able to call my husband and request he meet me at my parents’ house. I didn’t want to go straight home for fear of our kids seeing me in that condition. I drove to my parent’s house; it was the longest 45 minute ride I’ve ever driven.

I called my nursing supervisor to explain everything and was told to take all the time I needed.  I’ll never forget how my employer treated me through this whole ordeal.  I will forever feel indebted to Lee’s Summit Physicians Group. Their support never wavered, not once.

I was told the results would take a few days to come in. The next three days seemed like years! NOT knowing is the worst!

We got the call Thursday afternoon. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer Stage 3B Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, at the age of 41. This devastating news blindsided us, to say the least. The appointments started immediately. I met with my nurse navigator, my breast surgeon and my oncologist the VERY next day. Yes, that’s right! Within five days I’d had a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, met with a breast surgeon and an oncologist. All of this happened on a Friday before a holiday weekend. Nothing happened the following week due to the 4th of July holiday, and as a family we needed to take some time to breathe. We took off for the lake to just be a family.

After some much needed family time, we didn’t waste any time.

JoJo's ArmyJuly 9th my port was placed. July 11th my first of many different rounds of chemo began. Within two weeks of my diagnosis, I had started treatment. I felt like I was staring death right in the eye. I had no idea what my life was going to look like. Things were changing so fast. We were facing a huge fight. Chemo was brutal. Whatever side effect ‘could’ happen did. I had so many reactions. Days that my abdomen was so distended I looked like I was 9 months pregnant! Scary moments of anaphylaxis to drugs, to not being able to breathe, eat, drink or sleep.

Due to so many complications from chemo, the decision was made to rid my body of the tumor burden. On October 30th, 2012 I had a bilateral mastectomy. Treatment stopped temporally to allow my body to heal from the surgery, but three weeks later chemo started again. I was scared. I thought for sure Christmas 2012 was going to be my last

JoJo’s Army

All in all, I had a total of 14 months of treatments that included numerous rounds of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. The whole experience was surreal. It seemed as though I was watching another person’s life through a window. This fight was one that I couldn’t have fought without my husband, family or my ARMY! I chose to call all of my supporters JoJo’s ARMY because the support was so overwhelming; “team” just didn’t seem adequate.

Cancer sent me a challenge, it was accepted, because honestly, I didn’t have any other choice. I had kids at home that still needed a mom. One of my children was a senior in high school. I was adamant that her memories of this monumental time in her life were NOT going to be tainted with sadness. Every day I had a choice to make. My choice was to make the most of every day OR I could be sad, mad, and angry, have a pity party, ask why, and be down in the dumps. I made a promise to myself that I would make the MOST of every day, and I chose to be positive. I would be lying if I said there weren’t bad days, because there were… a lot. But I tried to keep them private. My kids are the heroes in this story; they’re where my strength came from.

JoJo's ArmyAs of August 2nd, 2018 I’ve been “cancer-free” for five years (post treatment). My oncologist says I’m cured. That sounds great, but coming from a cancer warrior, let me just tell you; I’m always ready for battle.

Something else you should know about my cancer story, I don’t like the word “survivor”. Maybe it’s because I have “survivor’s” guilt. Maybe because I’m always wondering when the other shoe will drop. But mostly because I’m ANGRY! I’m mad that others that fought just as hard as I did (or harder) aren’t here telling us their story! Please call it whatever you want to call it, but when you refer to me, please remember I’m cancer warrior because I stand with ALL of those affected by cancer NOT just the ones still here telling their story.

Employee Spotlight: Mallory Galate

By Jody C. Brown, Director for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Every office has one. You know, the point person who everyone goes to with any and all questions, from why the water machine doesn’t have enough water pressure to why their insurance is denying their latest claim – and everything in between.

We have one of those people and her name is Mallory.

MalloryMallory started working for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group in February 2010 as part of our front desk staff. She proved to be a quick learner and had a maturity beyond her years and was soon assisting the front office supervisor with several of her daily tasks. From there, Mallory moved to the insurance department where she continued to display a strong work ethic and the ability to learn quickly.

In November 2017, the position of the administrative assistant to the Director opened and once again, Mallory was chosen to fill yet another role in our office. We couldn’t have made a better choice! Mallory loves to help people and is always gracious when doing so, even if she’s been asked the same question ten times that day! If you ask her a question she doesn’t know, she will find the answer and get back to you.

Mallory helps us plan activities and special events, she is thorough and organized and she’s constantly looking ahead and anticipating the needs of the staff, the doctors and especially me! Since the role that she is in assists me directly, I can wholeheartedly say that she is a big part of why this office runs smoothly! And I should know because I had to take on her role as well as mine while she had “the nerve” to go on maternity leave a few short months ago! Mallory and her husband John welcomed their second son in May 2018, and while I was thrilled for her and her sweet family, there were definitely days during her twelve weeks off that I was sure I wasn’t going to be able to make it to her return.

I did make it, she is back in her rightful spot, and all is right with the world.

Mallory Galate