Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics prides itself on providing high quality care and taking extra time and steps to take care of the entire family. Doctors and staff develop close relationships with the children and families they care for. Here are stories from current patients.
Michelle and Cody Swingle
Michelle Swingle is very particular about doctors. She has private health insurance and often changes doctors if she finds them to lack compassion, experience or knowledge. When she was pregnant with her first child, Michelle found out that her son has a rare condition called arthrogryposis, which constricts the joints in his legs and arms. Her neonatologist recommended a pediatrician at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics because of the doctor’s experience. Michelle began taking her son to Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics and has had nothing but high praise for the doctors there ever since.
Since birth, Cody has required extensive medical care, including several operations, weekly therapy, and extra attention when he gets sick. He wears a back brace to treat scoliosis, curvature of the spine, and will need frequent medical care for the rest of his life. Dr. Joseph Craig served as Cody’s pediatrician between 2005 and 2011. When Dr. Craig left for another practice, Cody’s care was transferred to Dr. Lucas Henderson. Dr. Henderson was just as good – even better, Michelle said. He has consistently shown compassion and skill with Cody’s care, and also takes care of Cody’s younger brother Cole.
“Sometimes when I need to get Cody to see Dr. Henderson and he doesn’t have appointments, he will stay longer at the end of his day so he can see Cody,” Michelle said. “He personally calls me to check on Cody. He seriously treats Cody like he’s one of his kids. I don’t know what I’d do without Dr. Henderson.”
“We’ve had a ton of doctors that we’ve never seen again for random reasons. My insurance is changing at the end of the year and the only doctor I wanted to make sure we could keep is Dr. Henderson. We love him.”
Jenny Seppelt with daughter Nathalie
Jenny Seppelt was pleased with the care that the staff and doctors at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics provided to her first child Julian, a healthy boy. But she learned just how fortunate she was to have Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics taking care of her children when her second child was born. When little Nathalie was born in 2009, RMYC pediatrician Dr. Kim White was assigned to her care. Within the first week, Dr. White quickly recognized that Nathalie was losing too much weight and was struggling with certain muscle functions, so she sent the baby to Children’s Hospital for tests and treatment. After a week at Children’s Hospital, Dr. White and Physician Assistant Cassidy Hogan identified further problems, which turned out to be life-threatening. Little Nathalie was aspirating. Everything she ate was going into her lungs instead of her stomach. This required a second hospital stay and surgery. But her health still did not improve. At about a month old, Nathalie weighed just five pounds and showed excessive weakness. Cassidy and Dr. White suspected an issue with the lungs and sent her immediately for a lung x-ray. The scan showed that one of Nathalie’s lungs had collapsed, necessitating a rushed trip by ambulance to Children’s Hospital. The situation was grave, but was caught in the nick of time.
“The people at Children’s Hospital told me how lucky we were to catch the collapsed lung when we did, and that we had a good doctor,” Jenny said, choking up. “Dr. White and Cassidy – they saved my daughter’s life.”
Dr. Kim White and Nathalie Garza
The third hospital stay lasted three weeks and the doctors inserted a feeding tube into the baby’s body, which would stay for three years. Jenny recalls months of worry and confusion about all her daughter’s health and the procedures and treatments. She said Dr. White and Cassidy worked to keep her calm throughout the process. The Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics staff coordinated with all the specialists, technicians and therapists and supported Jenny through many days and nights of panic and stress.
“I was new to all of this, so I was paranoid about every single thing. I was calling them every single day. I did that for a couple of months. They would always call me back and not show any frustration. They were there for the both of us,” Jenny said. “The doctors at Children’s were telling me awful things and Dr. White tried more to comfort me and not to scare me like the other doctors.”
Nathalie’s first two years were a blur of doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments, including weekly visits to Dr. White or Cassidy. The family lives in Aurora but traveled to downtown Denver to see Dr. White, even though they could find a doctor closer to their house.
“It’s a 45-minute drive but it’s worth it to me because I trust them. They care. They know my kids. I think they care about my kids just as much as I do, to be honest with you.”
Now, Nathalie is a healthy 5-year old and she has a 1-year-old brother, a healthy boy named Michael. After Michael was born, Jenny suffered from post-partum depression and Dr. White and Cassidy supported her, helping her get the help she needed. She knows she can call Dr. White or Cassidy anytime and they will call her back and diligently follow up on any issues. “I won’t go anywhere else.”
Jeremiah and Benjamin Birdsall
When Jeremiah Birdsall arrived at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Swedish Medical Center on an October afternoon in 2012, his son had just been born through an emergency caesarian section. Little Benjamin Birdsall was eight weeks early and weighed just three pounds. Jeremiah and the mother were not a couple or married, but Jeremiah decided that he could not leave the baby with the mother. Little Benjamin’s health and development were damaged by fetal alcohol syndrome and he would have significant medical needs for the rest of his life. Jeremiah attained legal custody of the boy and began taking the boy to a Kaiser facility that was covered through his employer-sponsored insurance, but the father felt like he was being run through a system and did not get personal attention. His friend, who has a special needs child, recommended Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics. So, when Benjamin was three months old, Jeremiah began taking the baby to see Denise Vidas, PA-C, at the Thornton office of Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics.
“Denise has just always been awesome since the day we met her,” Jeremiah said. “Since I started coming here, they’re a lot more involved and spend a lot more time. Our doctor visits are really long. Denise has always focused on what my son needed. I love it.”
Since Benjamin was born, he’s had a series of complex medical problems, affecting his reproductive organs, lungs, spine, speech and digestive system. He was on oxygen until he was six months old. He had major spine surgery at a year old, followed by braces to help him walk. He’s had speech, physical and occupational therapy almost weekly to help him walk, communicate do everyday functions. He has seen a long list of specialists, including a neurosurgeon and urologist. He’s had five operations and expects to have more. And at 2 years old, Benjamin is the size of an 11-month-old and he can say only a few words. From his first days at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, Benjamin has been participating in the Thrive Clinic, which offers specialized nutritional support to help children grow at a more normal rate, as well as giving access to free nutritious food from the clinic’s food pantry.
Keeping up with the medical problems and treatments has been overwhelming to the father, who is single and has re-arranged his life to take care of the boy.
“I never went to the doctor unless I had to. All this doctor experience was new to me. They’ve made everything so easy and helped me to understand everything. In the beginning, I didn’t know anything they were telling me. It was really hard to get a hold of the doctors and get all the answers. Denise would do it right away. She got everybody an answer the next day.”
Jeremiah looks at his son and credits Denise and the staff at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics for the boy’s growth and better health, saying he could not have gotten to where he is without the clinic’s help.
“They are very caring, very helpful and professional. They pay attention to the whole spectrum of everything,” the father said. “Just seeing him, how much he’s come since he started coming here. That’s what I think about when I think about Denise and Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics.”
When Tonya Lowery-Fruhling was pregnant with her first child, she found out that he had a heart condition, so she knew he would need quality medical care after he was born. Little Cody was born more than five weeks early and had open heart surgery at just three days old. Tonya was a new mother, a single mother and relatively new to Colorado, so she did not know pediatricians. When a physician assistant at Children’s Hospital learned that Tonya had not picked a pediatrician, she recommended Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, and specifically recommended Dr. Lucas Henderson, to the new mother. The physician assistant also said that RMYC has computerized medical records that are connected to the records system at Children’s Hospital, which would make it easier for the facilities to share information. Based on the recommendation, Tonya took little Cody to Dr. Henderson at the Thornton office of RMYC the day after she came home from the hospital, when Cody was about two weeks old.
“My first impression was that I had a really good doctor. You could tell he was very caring and concerned and knowledgeable about my son’s health conditions,” Tonya said.
Dr. Lucas Henderson and Cody Lowery
Dr. Henderson saw Cody frequently and managed a number of complex medical conditions. Early on, Dr. Henderson flagged an issue with Cody’s spinal cord, which resulted in surgery when Cody was seven months old. Catching the spinal condition early helped Cody avoid more serious repercussions. The little boy required careful attention whenever he got sick because of his heart problems, and Dr. Henderson consistently provided thorough medical care, Tonya said. Dr. Henderson consistently made follow-up calls to Tonya, her aunt or mother to check on the boy. “He would call one of the three of us to see how he was doing. I would call that going the extra mile – just being very thorough, not short-cutting anything and overall being extremely thorough,” she said.
Tonya has been so impressed with Dr. Henderson and the staff at RMYC that she brought her teenage nephew to see Dr. Henderson to address a condition. “Right there in front of Dr. Henderson, I told my nephew ‘I brought you to him because I trust him with my child’s life,’” Tonya said.
Assa Keita with her sons, Mamadi (left) and Mamadou
When Assa Keita moved to Colorado in 2011, her twin sons were a year old and one of them was lagging in his growth. She applied for Medicaid, public health insurance for low-income individuals and families, and received a list of medical providers to choose from for her children. Assa chose Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics because the organization’s main office in Thornton is close to her home. Today, Assa wouldn’t think of going anywhere else for her sons’ medical care. From the first visit, the immigrant from Guinea was impressed with the quality of care and attentiveness of the staff. The staff quickly identified that her son, Mamadou, was underweight and needed additional support to adequately grow. Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics enrolled Mamadou in a new program, called the Thrive Clinic, which provides coordinated care from a team that includes a dietition, social worker and pediatrician at monthly visits. “They spent a lot of time with us and told me what I can do to help his situation. It really helped,” Assa says. The staff tracked what Mamadou ate and advised Assa about ways to increase the calories and nutrition of the food that she fed her son – such as adding cheese to eggs and serving whole milk. She also received free food twice a month from the food pantry at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics – proteins, vegetables, milk and other items that were listed on her sons’ nutrition plan. Today, Mamadou is growing well and at a weight that is expected for his age.
“I’m glad that I came here and that this program was here when I really needed it,” Assa says. “This is the only place I will go for my sons. Dr. Henderson is excellent. Dr. Renu is excellent. They listen to you. They take extra time. You don’t see any rush in them at all. Every time I need them, they are here.”
“Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics is the best. I would recommend this place to anyone.”
Dr. Lucas Henderson with Mamadou Diallo
Lukas and Tomas Nayadley
In the Spring of 2008, Marta Nayadley had a newborn son who was struggling to grow. Little Lukas was having trouble breastfeeding. He was born in Prague and lost weight after birth and finally got back to his birth weight after six weeks. Marta brought him to Denver when he was two months old and she worked hard to find a good doctor for him. She did research on the Internet and found a doctor named Jennifer Burns, who practices at the Denver clinic at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics.
Even six years later, Marta still remembers her first visit to Dr. Burns.
“I was basically crying the whole time. Lukas was not eating. He was losing weight. I was like a total nervous wreck,” Marta recalls. “Dr. Burns was so kind to me. She hugged me and she was totally supporting me.”
Instead of telling Marta to give up breastfeeding and give her son formula in a bottle, Dr. Burns supported the mother’s commitment to breastfeeding and encouraged her to keep at it. Lukas learned to effectively breastfeed at three months and then began growing at a normal pace. Today, he is healthy and so is his younger brother, Tomas. Marta kept her commitment to breastfeed both boys until they were a year old. Both boys still see Dr. Burns and bring her flowers at each visit.
Marta said she feels fortunate to have Dr. Burns and Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics providing care to her sons, and supporting her.
“I feel like I’m getting better care at Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics than my friends and I feel like I have better security. I have one doctor and for six years we are seeing the same doctor, and I really value that.”
“When I go to Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics, it’s very welcoming. They are very friendly, very knowledgeable and they take time.”