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Middlebury Pediatric Practice Settles Into New Digs

Middlebury Pediatrics new home at 1330 Exchange Street in Middlebury.
photo by Dale Piper
Middlebury Pediatrics new home at 1330 Exchange Street in Middlebury.
Dr. James Splain in his new office.
photo by Dale Piper
Dr. James Splain in his new office.

Tuesday April 18, 2006

By Dale Piper

    On Monday, April 10, Addison County's oldest pediatric practice moved from its makeshift home in the modular units behind Helen Porter Nursing Home to spacious, airy accommodations in the new medical office building at 1330 Exchange Street in Middlebury.

Begun in the 1960s as the sole practice of the late Dr. Wayne Peters, known affectionately in the area as Dr. Pete, Middlebury Pediatric and adolescent Medicine has grown and evolved into a sizeable, thriving group of six physicians.  Dr. Johanna Brakely was the first physician to join Dr. Pete, but was followed in rapid succession by others.  Ten years ago, husband and wife team Drs. Morris Earle and Lynn Luginbuhl joined the practice, followed by Dr. Breena Holmes eight years ago and Dr. James Splain seven years ago.  The sixth physician, Dr. Katherine Strife-Teruel will be leaving soon for Colorado, where her husband will be continuing his medical training.  Dr. Brakely had already left to pursue a solo practice specializing in Developmental Pediatrics.

Two of the current physicians also specialize:  Dr. Earle in Pediatric Intensive Care and Dr. Luginbuhl in Infectious Diseases.  This is quite an evolution, especially when many recall the small quarters in a house on College Street, where Dr. Pete dealt with whatever presented itself.  

Five years ago, the practice moved from College Street to the hospital grounds, primarily in an effort to be closer to the hospital facilities, but oddly enough found itself in even tighter quarters.  Four examining rooms served five and sometimes six doctors, with paper-thin walls, narrow hallways and the need to use improvised space for certain procedures.  Although they managed to get the job done, it wasn't ideal.  During this time, according to Porter Hospital spokesman Ron Hallman, “We had been looking for a while to get them into better space,” and this they did.  The new accommodations feature seven examining rooms, increased privacy, a dedicated audiology and vision testing room and a waiting area that will soon be divided into areas for sick and well patients.  The office nurses are also working on setting up a private space for lactation resources - an area for breast feeding and counseling for those new mothers who are encountering problems.

Says Dr. James Splain, “this move reflects the hospital's involvement in the needs of the community and the move away from solely inpatient care, and having the adequate resources to provide the whole gamut of health care.”

Soon to join the tenants at 1330 Exchange Street is Dr. Anders Holm, Otolaryngologist (or ENT - ear, nose and throat specialist).  His proximity to the pediatric practice is an advantage to the many young patients who may need his services.Dr. Elizabeth Call, OB/GYN, who needs to be close to the hospital for labor and delivery, will occupy the modular space vacated by the Pediatricians.   

According to Dr. Splain, their patient load is increasing somewhat, despite the reports that reflect declining school enrollments.  He cites the fact that patients come to them from all over Addison County, not just Middlebury which is seeing declining child populations, and that certain recommended American Academy of Pediatrics practices are increasing the workload.  An example is that it is now recommends that adolescents have annual health maintenance visits, rather that biannual.  Newborns and infants in their first years of life also present a disproportionate number of patient visits.  Splain also cited the number of new services that the practice now provides, such as psychiatric, behavioral, learning and social issues.  Ron Hallman added that increased local services and better-equipped practices and hospital facilities might bring back patients who, in the past, needed to go to Chittenden County for care.

On May 3 Middlebury Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine will be hosting an Open House for the community, which will feature tours of the new accommodations as well as juice, cookies and balloons.


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