URBANA, Ill. (AP) - Decades after Amy Bock’s childhood with asthma and a bone disease, she remains grateful to the pediatrician who used to come to the hospital after hours and sit by her bedside, who once visited her home to bake cookies with her and her dying 5-year-old cousin and who is now the doctor she relies on to treat her own children.
“She has a lot of history with us - a lot of heartfelt history,” Bock said of Carle pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Buetow.
Marking her 50th year at Carle - and without any intention of retiring from her full-time practice anytime soon - the 86-year-old Buetow has a history with countless patients, their parents and even some of their grandparents.
And these days, she said, seeing the grandkids of some former patients makes her feel “like time has gone by.”
A native of Maryland, Buetow first came to Champaign-Urbana and began working at Carle in 1965, when her husband took an academic position at the University of Illinois.
She remembers back in her medical-school years intending to become an obstetrician/gynecologist and deliver babies.
But she realized along the way that her big interest was in treating kids.
Ask her all these years later what her favorite part of being a doctor is, and Buetow doesn’t hesitate to answer in one word: “Kids.”
Today’s kids haven’t really changed from those she treated earlier in her career, she said, though she has seen families change, and she has seen the dads become a lot more involved.
What has changed a lot are the advancements, among them vaccines and more opportunities for kids with developmental disabilities, that provide a better outlook for today’s kids, Buetow said.
She remembers when DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) and smallpox vaccines were the only ones available, and the coming of the polio vaccine, and how the public readily embraced it.
She also recalls the days when hospitals had units full of kids with measles and pertussis (also called whooping cough), and the serious complications that could develop from those illnesses.
About today’s parents who reject vaccinations for their kids, she said, “They don’t know what they’re missing.”
About midway through Buetow’s career at Carle, she agreed to fill in for a colleague who was going to give a lecture on child abuse, and that launched a big new focus in her career.
After she spoke, Buetow said people started sending child-abuse victims to her. She realized she needed more training to treat these children, and got it. She also became a member of a new child-protection team that was working with local authorities. There are two of those teams at Carle now, and Buetow continues to work as a member of one.
Bock, 42, of Rantoul, calls Buetow “the biggest child advocate you will ever meet in Champaign County.”
She first became Buetow’s patient as a 3-month-old, she said. With asthma and a bone disease that required a lot of care throughout her childhood, Bock said she remained Buetow’s patient until she was 20.
In the hospital once as a 7-year-old with a blocked kidney, Bock said the doctor made sure she was able to share a room with her 5-year-old cousin, Tracy, who was terminally ill with leukemia.
“She would often come in our room at night and kind of sit with us,” Bock recalled.
Buetow also once came to their home to make cookies and Christmas cards with the two little girls a couple of months before Tracy died, she said.
“The inside of her heart is bigger than most humans’,” Bock added.
A registered medical assistant in Carle’s ob/gyn department, Bock said her family’s connection with Buetow spans three generations. Buetow encouraged her to go into health care and her mother to become a registered nurse, and is treating her two teens, who have the same bone disease she has, Bock said.
Buetow said her career has been rewarding and satisfying.
She has also seen the role of the doctor shift from authoritarian to more of a team member over the years, and new rules that have brought changes in such things as medical record-keeping. She remembers the days when records came in small blue jackets, and it was enough for a doctor to note “earache, red eardrum and penicillin” on a chart, but much more information is required now, she said.
“You could just get all upset and fight it, or just say, ‘That’s the way it is’ and go with it,” Buetow said.
Carle’s most senior physician goes with it.
Her longtime colleague and fellow Carle pediatrician Dr. Malcolm Hill calls Buetow “amazing.”
She keeps up with all the recent trends, he said, “and what’s been really amazing has been her work with child abuse and neglect. It has to be handled very delicately to protect kids in our area, and we depend on her to be our consultant,” he said.
Buetow’s work has benefited everyone, he said, “and she’ll still be here when I retire.”
The doctor’s always in
Three more things to know about Dr. Kathleen Buetow:
- Higher education: College of Notre Dame of Maryland, AB; University of Maryland School of Medicine, MD; Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, DrPH.
- Family: Husband Dennis; four children; five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and one great-grandchild on the way.
- Extras: Her hobby is photography. And she still has excellent handwriting, thanks to her Catholic education, she said.
Source: The (Champaign) News-Gazette, https://bit.ly/1XSHYjA
Information from: The News-Gazette, https://www.news-gazette.com
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