New primary care office opens in Highlands Ranch

Practitioners answer questions on their backgrounds, philosophies on medicine

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Highlands Ranch residents now have another option for their primary and urgent health care after UCHealth opened a clinic on South University Boulevard in November.

The office currently has two primary care practitioners and will add two more in February.

Inside the office, there are eight primary care patient rooms and five urgent care rooms. It's about a 10-minute drive from the UCHealth Hospital, which has specialists and an emergency room.

The practitioners there now are Dr. Richard Pang and family nurse practitioner Kate Johnson. They will see patients for annual checkups, treatments and procedures such as pap smears, blood tests and vaccines.

The office also has an urgent care clinic intended to help patients whose symptoms don't rise to the care level of an emergency room but require a prompt response, such as large cuts, simple broken bones and acute illnesses such as upper respiratory infections.

One of the physician assistants in the urgent care clinic is Kerri Madden.

Below are these three practitioners' backgrounds, philosophies and advice to patients.

Practitioners' backgrounds

Pang, 48, moved to Colorado in April and joined the UCHealth system at Sterling Ranch Medical Center. When he found out about the Highlands Ranch office opening, he decided to switch offices.

Pang, a resident of Highlands Ranch, went to medical school at St. George's University. His focuses are in internal and integrative medicine.

“People are much healthier here than in the Southeast,” he said. “It's easier to take care of them.”

Johnson, 50, completed her degree at Vanderbilt University and is also a resident of Highlands Ranch. She worked at Rose Medical Center before joining the UCHealth team, she said.

Madden, 31, moved to Colorado more than a year ago to enjoy the mountains, she said. Madden, originally from New York, studied at Pace University. She practiced emergency medicine at St. Luke's Hospital in New York for three years before joining UCHealth.

How did you get into this field?

Pang: “I picked primary care because you go deeper into patients' lives, more than any other specialist … you develop a relationship with patients and you see the difference it makes in their lives. Especially if you do it without having to go on tons of medications.”

Johnson: “I learned about PAs (physicians assistants) and NPs (nurse practitioners) and started applying to programs because I knew that's where I can have a fulfilling career in medicine. I always wanted to do primary care and be in outpatient medicine. I didn't want to be a surgeon, I didn't want to be a specialist. As a family nurse practitioner, taking care of all ages in primary care was kind of the perfect fit.”

Madden: “My mom is a doctor so I just followed her footsteps … I always saw the way she interacted with her patients and always saw that being my goal in life as well. I chose PA because it's a little bit more versatile, you can change your field easier than you can as a physician.”

What's your philosophy on medicine?

Pang: “I think my philosophy is that everything is connected and to treat the body as a whole. Your diabetes could be due to your depression. Some patients, their sugars are way out and I say, 'why is it way out?' — because they're so depressed that they just eat bad things. So, I try to address that and then their diabetes gets better … we're not just the sum of our parts.”

Johnson: “With my emphasis being preventive health care … It doesn't mean that I don't appreciate medicine, I just think the base of care needs to be lifestyle. That brings in mental health care, spiritual health care, whatever that means to you, as well as physical health care.”

Madden: “I think it's really important to treat the patient and not just their symptom or their diagnosis … Just because someone's vitals look one way, that doesn't mean that's what the patient is presenting with … It's really important to involve the patient in their treatment plan and for them to really have a part in it. I like them to understand why we're doing certain things.”

What do you wish people understood about primary and urgent care?

Pang: “You need a quarterback … if you just go see specialists, they don't talk to each other … I think that would be the best health care model, if everyone was so collaborative and then you have a primary care doctor who can coordinate.”

Johnson: “If you're not sick now and you don't want to come in and be seen, how are you going to stay healthy? We want to keep people healthy from the get-go. That starts in utero and goes all the way up to the elderly folks.”

Madden: “I think the biggest struggle is that patients don't quite know the limitations we do have in urgent care. If you're having chest pain, if you're having any signs of a stroke or severe abdominal pain, unfortunately they're not things we can do here ."

Guidelines on when to visit the emergency room versus an urgent care center are available on the UCHealth website under "services" and "urgent care."

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