By Benjamin Widener, MD, of Sheridan Memorial Hospital Rheumatology
I am pleased to announce that Sheridan Memorial Hospital is opening a Rheumatology practice in August, where I will be working as a Rheumatologist. I recently completed my Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha, Nebraska, and have returned to my hometown of Sheridan to continue serving the community and surrounding region.
Many of you may know me as I previously practiced in Sheridan as an Internal Medicine physician before being accepted into the two-year Rheumatology Fellowship, where I received advanced training and education in the diagnosis and management of Rheumatic diseases.
As a medical specialty, Rheumatology is new to Sheridan. In assessing the healthcare needs of our community, Rheumatology was identified as a needed and valuable specialty for our community.
Rheumatology fellowship develops a physician’s skills to better diagnose and treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and many other inflammatory and arthritic conditions. This education inherently involves developing a deeper understanding of the immune system and of the rapidly advancing therapies being developed to help treat Rheumatic diseases. My fellowship education consisted of clinical care of patients, academic research, teaching resident physicians and medical students, and advanced education in clinical Immunology.
Additionally, I received dedicated education and training in the use of musculoskeletal ultrasound. Thanks to the generosity of the Sheridan Memorial Hospital Foundation and our community, the hospital has been able to acquire a brand-new point-of-care ultrasound machine to facilitate this unique service. This training and technology can be used to aid in the diagnosis of rheumatic conditions and guide therapeutic procedures, making them safer and more effective.
Access to a Rheumatologist is limited in many parts of the country, especially in rural communities, as there are around only 5,000 Rheumatologist in the United States. Having worked in Sheridan previously and knowing the limitations my patients had in accessing Rheumatology care, I am passionate about providing this specialty care to the Sheridan community.
Rheumatic disease and similar conditions can be complex, and patients benefit from the care of a specialist, particularly within a collaborative care network, such as the team available at Sheridan Memorial Hospital. I am excited to continue to work with the Sheridan Memorial Hospital clinicians and staff to serve Sheridan and the surrounding community. It is my hope that having local access to Rheumatology will allow many of our patients to stay here in Sheridan rather than traveling out of town for their healthcare.
If you are interested in seeing me, please contact your primary care provider about sending a referral to Sheridan Memorial Hospital Rheumatology. I will begin seeing patients when the new practice opens in the Outpatient Center beginning August 3, 2020.