Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Rheumatology Doctor Brings Needed Services to Area

Everyone complains about their aches and pains, but some people have it worse than others. Rheumatic diseases, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, are often chronic and can have far-ranging effects on a person’s ability to participate in daily activities. And because rheumatic diseases are often difficult to treat, the emotional impact can take a toll on a patient’s work, marital, family or social life. To make matters worse, finding a specialist to treat a chronic rheumatic condition can be a real challenge, and can result in agonizingly long wait times and lengthy commutes.

Meeting our community’s needs
Fauquier Health recently conducted research to identify the medical needs of the local community, and the results revealed an immediate need for rheumatology services. To address this need, the health system added rheumatologist Nandini Chhitwal, M.D., to its physician staff.

“There is such a tremendous need for a rheumatologist in the Warrenton area is because the field is still an emerging specialty, and therefore, there aren’t very many of us to begin with,” explains Dr. Chhitwal. “And even though there are a number of rheumatologists up in the Northern Virginia area, once you travel outside of that area, the number drops dramatically. For patients who are not feeling well, it’s a major inconvenience to have to drive 40 minutes or more each way in heavy traffic to see a physician.”

Treating a wide range of problems
Rheumatologists diagnose and treat painful disorders that affect the joints, muscles, connective tissue and soft tissue around the joints and bones. Arthritis is the most common of these disorders, and Dr. Chhitwal treats everything from the regular mechanical (wear-and-tear) type of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, to the more inflammatory types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

“I also deal with the whole spectrum of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, scleroderma and sjogren’s, as well as the rarer types of immune disorders, such as vasculitis. And I treat a variety of disease processes, including musculoskeleteal diseases and pain disorders, such as myofacial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and vitamin D deficiency.”

The perfect fit
Across the country, rheumatologists are in great demand and have many choices when deciding where to set up practice. Dr. Chhitwal chose Fauquier for several reasons: she grew up nearby, her entire family lives in the area, and she was impressed by the beauty and charm of our quiet community. But most importantly, she liked the health system.

“The main reason I chose this area is because it felt like the right fit. Everyone here is amazing, and the staff shows a great amount of compassion and respect. That’s very important to me because it fosters the perfect type of working environment. And I like that the health system’s patient care philosophy meshes so well with my own.”

Dr. Chhitwal’s patient care philosophy
Fauquier Health’s Planetree patient-centered philosophy demands that patients’ needs always come first. Dr. Chhitwal agrees. She also believes communication is the most important part of the doctor-patient relationship.

“For me, listening to the patients and hearing what they have to say is the top priority. Some patients don’t completely understand why they were referred to me, so I always try to make sure they understand those reasons right up front. And once I figure out what my patients are looking for, I can determine what is in their best interests as far as their medical issues are concerned.”

About Nandini Chhitwal, MD
Dr. Chhitwal is a board-certified physician. She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical College of Virginia, completed her internal medicine internship and residency program at Emory University, and completed a rheumatology fellowship at Emory University.

Prior to joining Fauquier Health, Dr. Chhitwal treated patients at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Georgia. She has volunteered her services for Hurricane Katrina victims and orphaned Honduran children.

Fauquier Health Physician Services
550 Hospital Drive
Warrenton, Va. 20186
Phone: 540-316-5940
Rheumatology services include the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and pain disorders for adult patients.

No comments: