Reflecting on Star Wars and Lightsabers in examination rooms.

By Dr. Gershon and Dr. Yannette

Thoughts on Star Wars from Dr. Gershon

Daniel Gershon, D.O.Dr. Yannette likes to tell his parents that his Star Wars rooms are better than mine. It’s a fun competition between us, but ultimately something that entertains our patients, their parents, and both pediatricians. Some days I hear the sounds of lightsabers being turned on inside the rooms, and sometimes I get to hear my patients tell me the name of every character or spaceship on the walls. Star Wars is still (amazingly) a part of so many peoples lives.

For me, Star Wars was and remains my escape from reality.

When I was little, I would spend hours recreating scenes from the movies. I would carve out Styrofoam or cut and tape cardboard pieces to create new scenes for my action figures and ships. My Mom would take me to Dolgins, Children’s Palace, and Venture to see what new Star Wars toys were available. I used to send in my proof-of-purchases to get the “not available in stores” action figures and bring my toys over to other kids houses to “battle.”

Return of the Jedi came out in 1983.

I was in 3rd grade. There were new toys over the next few years, and eventually some ‘special edition’ releases to get excited about. But I was getting older and Star Wars became a poster on my wall and fond memories. Then word of the prequels came out. I was a kid all over again. I remember downloading (on a zip drive!) the teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace. I convinced a medical school professor to allow me to play it for the entire class before the lecture. The lights dimmed, I played the trailer, and the class went wild!

Dr. Gerhon - Star Wars BlogA Star Wars Marathon

The next few years were spent collecting lightsabers (now displayed in exam rooms), debating what was good and bad about the new movies, and even incorporating Star Wars into my wedding! I’ve spent hours in line for tickets to the premiers and even made if to a Star Wars convention before Revenge of the Sith. I even did a Star Wars marathon with my brother before The Force Awakens… We didn’t run 26 miles in costume, but rather watched Episodes I through VII in one theater with other crazy fans like myself.

Important Themes

Luke Skywalker always defeated Darth Vader. Han Solo always escaped. Princess Leia and Luke always fell in love (until I realized they were brother and sister!)  Good always triumphed over evil. One person can change the fate of a galaxy. Hope is all you need. These themes were and remain a large part of who I am and how I operate. They’re also a large part of pediatrics.

When I examine a newborn, I see potential. I see the look in parents eyes that their new child may live a life of meaning, do something to improve their community or even the world. Infants, toddlers, kids, teens all fight to get better. They make amazing recoveries from set backs, infections, cancers, chronic diseases and disabilities. It is the one consistently optimistic field of medicine and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Thoughts on Star Wars from Dr. Yannette

Jeffrey Yannette, M.D.May 26, 1977. That was the day after Star Wars Episode 4 – A New Hope debuted in the United States. I could tell it was a special day because my father was actually excited about going to see a movie with his three boys. Previous to this, it was mostly cartoon type movies from Disney that he was subjected to. In any event, it is one of my earliest memories involving my brothers and my father.

Back then, of course, there was no going online to reserve you desired date, time and seat.

I can remember going to the theater two hours before showtime, waiting in what seemed like an eternal line, and wondering if we were going to get tickets at all. My oldest brother even counted the number of people in front of us.  He assured me, this 5-year-old boy, that we were going to get tickets. I was still doubtful.

In the end, it worked out just fine. As we waited in our seats, I can remember that the popcorn never smelled or tasted so good and there was an electric vibe in the air. Then… the lights dimmed, and the ever iconic Star Wars theme played with the movie’s narrative being set by words scrolling from the bottom of the screen towards the top. It was a magical moment for me and my family which would prove to have a lifelong effect on us all. Over the next 40 years, we would continue to discuss the movies and debate the meaning of, well, everything Star Wars.

For those that do not know me well, I have passion for two things – North Carolina Basketball and Star Wars.

They are so meaningful to me that I had no choice but to decorate some of the Raintree Office rooms with these two themes. Room #1 is, of course, the North Carolina Room because – yep, you guessed it, UNC is #1 (sorry to all you KU and MU fans). Star Wars deserved two rooms – decorated with vintage memorabilia and replica lightsabers – so if you’re ever in the area, stop in and see Rooms #3 and #22 – I think you will enjoy them.

I know that most people have a “Star Wars Moment” that they remember. If you do, I would love to hear it! Comment away by responding to this post and as always – May The Force Be With You!

Three LSPG Providers that Sing in their Church Choir

By Matthew Hornung, Director of Information Technology for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

SingingLee’s Summit Physicians Group has three doctors whose backgrounds include singing in their church choir. They’ve been singing for many years, almost as long as they’ve practiced medicine! We recently interviewed them about their choir history.

  • When did you start singing?
  • What part do you sing in your choir?
  • Where do you sing?

Dr. Trites

Barbara S. Trites, M.D.I’ve been singing as long as I can remember… and I’m not telling how many years that is! I sing alto (and occasionally help with the tenor part) at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. Our choir is typically just 10-12 people. We’re a small group, but have a great time.

I have also sung with my high school alma mater (Shawnee Mission South) on those occasions when someone organizes a reunion choir. The most exciting time was when we were able to perform at Carnegie Hall with our former director conducting us. That was in November of 2001, so it was the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11. It was a sobering, but also uplifting and unforgettable experience. It has been my great joy to watch all three of my children sing in choir for decades now. All three have had the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall; two have sung at the Vatican; one sang at the White House and met Michelle and Barak. We love the Ella Fitzgerald quote, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.”

Dr. Veenstra

Sallie L. Veenstra, M.D.I started singing in church choirs as a child and was fortunate enough to sing in High School Choir. I sing soprano.

Our high school was outside of Washington, D.C. and our choir got to sing at the National Cathedral in a Bach Festival. There’s nothing like classical music sung in a resounding space like a cathedral. After my schooling was finished, I sang in the Johnson County Community Chorus, and then in my church choir. We’ve had the opportunity to travel to Europe and sing in some incredible cathedrals there. Our church was just redesigned to improve the acoustics and we have a new magnificent pipe organ to sing with. I am fortunate to sing with the choir every Sunday and in concerts several times a year.

Dr. Lewandowski

Molly Lewandowski, M.D.I started singing in my church choir in 2009 when I became an empty nester. I sing soprano in my church choir in Leawood, Kansas, and each summer in the Lee’s Summit Summer Singers group directed by Dr William Baker.

Provider Spotlight: Dr. Andrew Huss

Interview of Dr. Huss by Matthew Hornung, Director of Information Technology for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Dr. HussDr. Huss is a board certified pediatrician who joined our practice in 2015. He graduated from University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 2012, and completed his pediatric residency training at Children’s Mercy Hospital in 2015. Dr. Huss chose pediatrics as it combines the science of medicine with the opportunity to educate and have fun, rewarding interactions with families. Outside of work he enjoys soccer, travel, and home improvement projects.

The following is a Q&A session we had with Dr. Huss.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
It would be cool to learn to fly a helicopter or land a passenger plane.

What’s your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
I love hiking, whether ‘hiking’ around town or real hiking at state/national parks!

What is your favorite thing about working at LSPG?
I love coming in to work every day. Seeing kids learn new things and grow and develop is a joy, and it’s also great seeing parents grow and learn to deal with all of the curve balls their little ones learn how to throw.

What drew you to LSPG originally? And how has LSPG changed since?
I was drawn to LSPG because I loved the great attitude of the group and the staff – when I saw the clinic in action I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Although some small things have changed in the 3 years since I arrived (such as new evening hours) the overall atmosphere remains the same.

What is your least favorite food? And your favorite?
Least favorite? Gummy bears.
Favorite? Dark chocolate.

We are so glad to have Dr. Huss on our team!

Best of luck to Nurse Angie and Nurse Tina!

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

When we hire new providers, we may take out an advertisement in the local paper. We may also have a poster sized picture put in our waiting room announcing their arrival. But when one of our own chooses to take a leap of faith and step out into the unknown to pursue a dream or an adventure, we just quietly send them on their way. Not today.

Today we are forced to say goodbye to two of our nearest and dearest nurses, and given all their years of service and sacrifice, we can’t let them go quietly! If your child has been a patient of ours any amount of time at all, you will likely know both of these ladies. Nurse Tina has been with LSPG for 15 years, and Nurse Angie has been with us for 11 years. While both are leaving us to pursue new adventures, some known, some unknown, I know that I speak for this entire staff when I say that these two ladies will be dearly missed.

LSPG: Nurse Angie

Nurse Angie

Nurse Angie

I will forever think of Nurse Angie when I hear someone doing an eye chart test on one of our patients. No higher praise has ever been given than when a patient performed well while standing on those stickered feet in the middle of the hallway, closing one eye with their hand and trying their hardest figure out what shape or letter was being pointed at!

Nurse Tina

Nurse Tina is our go to gal and she has the ability to calm the most frazzled of nerves with her soft voice and even keel. During her last couple of years with us, Nurse Tina has had the task of keeping the nurse’s station flowing, taking care of the many calls that come in on our non-urgent message line and not stopping until she has taken care of the needs of the person or person she is trying to help. Dedication is a word that will always be synonymous with her.

LSPG: Nurse Tina

Nurse Tina

If there is one thing you can count on if you have the pleasure of having either of these two ladies as one of your nurses during one of your visits to our office, is that you will be greeted with a smile and a very warm welcome. These nurses have a way of making you feel like you are the most important patient of the day. They are always a ray of sunshine in the nurse’s station, even on the most hectic of days. They strive to do their best to anticipate the needs of the doctor they are working for, which in turn makes the job of that doctor so much easier, and the experience of the patient and their parent the best that it can be.

We could go on and on about what we will miss, but by far it will be the smile that we are greeted with every single day. Tina and Angie, we wish you the best of luck in your new endeavors and we are so thankful for the years that you have invested in the lives of our patients and their parents. You are now and forever will be a part of our LSPG family!

Provider Spotlight: Valerie Monroy

Valerie Monroy, C-P.N.P.One of the things we plan to share with you every month is a provider or employee spotlight. This month, we asked provider Valerie Monroy some questions that hopefully give you a little more insight into what makes Valerie tick.

What was the last experience that made you a stronger person?

Becoming a mother has been an amazing experience. My husband and I welcomed Anna into our family three years ago, and she has made me a better person and a better provider. Being a parent has been challenging, humbling and the most rewarding experience thus far. We welcomed our second child, a son, a year ago. Since becoming a parent, I am able to better understand parent’s concerns about my patients and my own experiences provide me with better understanding outside the medical realm.

What’s your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?

Indoor; I love to cook and try new things in the kitchen. Outdoor; I love to travel and learn new cultures.

I guess I was bitten by the travel bug early in life. During college I was fortunate enough to study abroad for a semester in Sevilla, Spain. While there, I took the opportunity to visit neighboring countries. I have traveled to most of the continents but one of my favorite trips was to South America to meet my husband’s family. We hope to return and take our whole family soon. In the meantime, we practice Spanish at home and are raising our children bilingual so they will be familiar with this part of their heritage and be able to communicate with all of their family members.

What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?

I would have my own food truck! That way I can travel and cook.

How do you define success?

Success for me starts at home. No professional or personal achievements can compensate for a lack of meaningful relationships in my life. If I am able to succeed as a wife and mother the rest seems to fall into place.

What is your favorite thing about working at Lee’s Summit Physicians Group?

Lee’s Summit Physicians Group is very family oriented. We provide great care and I am always proud to tell people about where I work.

What drew you to LSPG originally? And how has LSPG changed since?

LSPG has an outstanding reputation in the community. As a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse at Children’s Mercy for over 6 years, I always knew I wanted to continue my career in a clinic that was well regarded and known for the good care provided to their patients. That is how I found LSPG. Many things have changed and will change in the future, but I believe our reputation will remain the same; a welcoming office that provides outstanding care to all.

What is your role at LSPG. What does that really mean you do on a daily basis?

As a Nurse Practitioner I see patients in the urgent care or in clinic during scheduled appointments. One of my favorite things about this job is being able to see my patients grow and watching families grow over the years. It is always exciting to see the newest member of the family.

What is one thing that the rest of the staff at LSPG doesn’t know about you?

I played the saxophone for many years and I plan to join a jazz band when I retire. (Well, only the first part is true!)

Provider Spotlight: Kailey Wilson

By Kailey Wilson, D.O. with Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Kailey Wilson, D.O.I knew I loved science growing up, so I chose biology for my major in college. I didn’t know what to do with it until I went on a medical mission trip with my church to Peru my junior year of college. We set up shop in a community orphanage and I knew this was where my gifts and passions collided. It’s an awesome feeling to get to do what you love on a daily basis, and I feel so blessed and fortunate to get to do just that.

Family

My husband and I got married right before I started medical school, and he has supported me all the way through. I couldn’t have made it without his love and support! We had our first child Tucker during my intern year of residency – it was a little crazy, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! He is a joy to our family. After starting with Lee’s Summit Physicians Group last fall, we welcomed our daughter Eeva just before Christmas. She loves watching her big brother and he loves to make her laugh! I love that having kids gives me insight and experience that can hopefully help make me a better pediatrician!

Fun

One of our favorite things to do as a family is go on walks. We love to be outside together. We also like to go to the lake and enjoy water skiing and swimming. And, we love to cook food for our family and friends. We lived away from our families during my residency, so we’re thrilled to be back closer to them and we enjoy getting to see them often.

Advice for Aspiring Medical Students

Advice I would give anyone who is thinking of pursuing medicine: be 100% sure that is what you want to do. It’s a long road and it takes all of your commitment. But if you are sure, the discipline will follow and when you reach your goal, you will be in such a rewarding place every day. There are hard days, especially with balancing a family and a career, but I cherish my role as both a mom and a pediatrician. I feel so lucky to get to be both!

It’s truly an honor that other parents would entrust their children’s health to me. I understand the weight of that gift as a parent. I pray that I will always have that perspective… of what a privilege it is to care for their precious little ones. I think that perspective will make me a better pediatrician!

Kailey and Family