St. Luke Hospital adds urology to list of local health services
Long hours as an attending physician at a Topeka hospital weren’t good for Kristopher Carlson, but the balance in life they caused him to seek will benefit area residents needing his services.
Carlson is coming to St. Luke Hospital twice monthly to see patients who need care and treatment in his specialty, urology.
Working at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka up to 16 hours a day, five to seven days a week didn’t come close to leaving enough time for Carlson to be with his wife Amber and their six children, so Carlson walked away and created his own professional niche to complement his family life.
“My life in no longer just work,” Carlson said. “We homeschool our kids. I’m the science and field trip coordinator, so normally I don’t work on Mondays.”
The Carlsons live outside of Topeka, where they have an orchard and do organic gardening. They also established the Kristopher and Amber Carlson Family Foundation as a way to support child-related initiatives and activities.
While Carlson still works at Stormont Vail on a limited basis, St. Luke Hospital is the third small hospital Carlson has established a visiting practice with, and he said enjoys working in rural communities.
“Their patients have to travel a long way or wait for the guy to get there,” Carlson said. “Most of these sorts of conditions you can treat at the local level. It’s a service-based thing more than anything. It’s good for the patients.
“You don’t need a trauma center to take out a kidney stone.”
St. Luke Medical Clinic physician Amanda Baxa agreed.
“I think it’s great for our patients,” she said. “They’re not having to drive to see a urologist; they’ll be closer to home if they have to have that done.”
It’s also beneficial for people who otherwise have to suspend their normal activities to take a patient to a urologist elsewhere, Baxa said.
“We can also get people in lot sooner, which for me is very helpful, especially if it’s serious and they need to be seen,” she said.
Having Carlson at the hospital also is beneficial for clinic doctors and nurses.
“I always find it more beneficial when I can have a face-to-face talk with the physician I’m referring them to,” Baxa said. “It’s always helpful to ask questions or say, ‘Here’s what’s going on.’ To me, that’s a huge benefit.”
St. Luke CEO Jeremy Ensey said that he’s always on the lookout for distant services that could be effectively delivered locally.
“For four years we’ve been looking for urology,” Ensey said. “We send a lot of people out every month, whether to Newton or Wichita. We’ve met with two different urologists over the years, and twice we thought we had one coming to Marion.”
Ensey found out about Carlson through the company that provides rheumatology services at St. Luke. Once they met, Ensey knew Carlson would be a good fit.
“He’s laid back, down to earth, and everyone seems to enjoy him,” Ensey said.
To connect patients locally with other specialists they would otherwise have to travel to see, Ensey wants to take advantage of technology and telemedicine. He said he has a nurse who in interested in spearheading that project.
“Every year it’s adding something to provide for the community,” Ensey said.