Craig The idea of the small-town doctor who has a great familiarity with all his or her patients is a paradigm for which Kelly Follett always has had great respect. Earlier this week, she began her path to being a face Craig youngsters will see a lot of as they get older.
But, hopefully, no more than the average kid needs to visit a doctor.
Follett began her tenure as the new pediatrician at The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic on Monday, a job which has been quite some time in the making. She originally signed a contract with TMH two years ago while still in residency at Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Follett said she initially was impressed with the hospital when she first considered taking the job and has yet to be disappointed.
“They’re really geared toward the community, helping people out and making any suggestions that people here want,” she said. "The facilities are beautiful, and everyone’s always working on improving them.”
Follett attended Medical College of Wisconsin following undergrad work at the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and University of Hawaii. But wherever she went in the country for school or work, Follett is a Colorado native through and through.
She grew up in Walden and always has held on tight to small-town values. Although Craig is a good deal bigger than her hometown, she sees a lot in common between the two.
“It’s still a small town, but there are a lot more resources, and there’s a decent pediatric population here,” she said.
Follett said she knew she would work with children professionally well before she entered medical school or even college.
“I’ve always been drawn to them, so choosing pediatrics was just a given,” she said. “Kids are a lot more fun, and they’re so resilient. Even when they’re sick, they always have a smile on their face. A lot of times, adults bring on their own health issues, and with kids, it just happens to them so all you can do is help them.”
As the mother of a 3-month-old girl, her passion for helping children also has taken on a new angle that she will bring to TMH.
“If I have an issue with my baby, the medical side of me knows the answer, but being a mom, you just look at things differently,” she said. “It really helps me understand where parents are coming from.”
Follett joins Kristie Yarmer as the hospital’s dynamic duo of the pediatrics wing. Although Follett technically was hired first, Yarmer started with the hospital last July.
“I think having pediatrics in this community has been a big need,” Yarmer said. “It’s really nice to have someone else here. The goal for me is to have a lot of good, quality care with a lot of compassion. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my families here.”
Although Craig has many family practitioners, Follett and Yarmer currently are the only pediatric-specific doctors in town. Jennifer Riley, TMH’s chief of organizational excellence, said the response to the service has been very positive.
“For moms that work in this community, if they want to see a pediatrician, it’s a lot easier to come to the physician here instead of taking your child to Steamboat or Hayden to see a doctor,” she said.
As Follett begins her time with TMH, she and Yarmer already have started brainstorming about what they want to do for the kids of Craig. Besides increasing awareness of universal issues like childhood obesity, Follett would like to get involved with a program called Reach Out and Read, which encourages literacy by providing young patients and their parents with books.
Another initiative is keeping in communication with medical professionals within Moffat County School District.
“We’d like to meet with all the school nurses and get an idea of what their needs are,” she said.
Between doing everything from fixing boo-boos to addressing bigger health concerns, Follett said she hopes to get an idea of the health concerns specific to Northwest Colorado.
“I’ll probably be learning about that pretty quick,” she said.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.