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Sallie Veenstra, MD: Memories of our Matriarch Doctor

June 27, 2019

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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