When you find someone who believes and thinks like you do, a friendship can become a partnership – and in the case of one medical duo, the patients are the winners.
Dr. Amy Johnson and Dr. Heather Keene have been practicing obstetrics and gynecology together for 15 years in Longmont, Colorado. Now, they’ve both moved to UCHealth and will care for patients at the new Longs Peak Hospital when it opens in August.
Johnson, a Colorado native, attended University of Denver and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Keene, originally from upstate New York, attended Clarkson University as an undergrad, followed by medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
And although their education happened in diverse places, their vision for patient care merged here in Colorado. Besides sharing a love of outdoors with their families, they also share a philosophy of care, Keene said.
“I became a physician to heal people and to be of service; to help people directly and to make them happier; to make a positive impact in society; to be challenged; to strive for excellence,” Johnson said.
Some cases in their careers stand out because the circumstances or outcomes are so dramatic. And they’re the reason they maintain their enthusiasm for the practice of medicine.
“I had a patient who went in to preterm labor at 24 weeks,” Johnson recalled. “She presented to Longmont United and was too dilated to transfer to a hospital with a more specialized nursery. She ended up needing an emergency cesarean section, which happened very quickly. The transport team for the baby was here and transferred the baby to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.”
“We offered her support throughout the delivery and also during all of the ups and downs of having a 24-week baby. The baby survived and has done well.
“(The patient) ultimately got pregnant again and was fortunate to have a baby at term. We followed her very closely during the second pregnancy and all celebrated her term delivery. We had the same team taking care of her at the c-section and it was very special.”
The two physicians have decided to join UCHealth, Johnson said, because they “support UCHealth’s mission, vision, and values,” and adhere to its motto, “We improve lives. Our values are patients first, integrity and excellence.”
As physicians, they chose obstetrics and gynecology for similar reasons.
“It offers a little bit of everything,” Johnson said. “I get to do surgery, primary care and obstetrics. I love delivering babies.”
“You have a chance to do it all,” she said. “And I think there’s a definite need for women OB/GYNs because we can identify with our patients.”
They treat women at all stages of life – and because they have been through all of them personally, they completely understand the special needs of each stage, they said.
Keene has twin sons; Johnson has a daughter. And now both are experiencing the onset of menopause.
Together, they have seen it all, and have walked the walk, so to speak. They can combine their years of experience to help each other provide the best possible patient care.
“We’re not rookies at this,” Johnson said.
They’re usually also on the same page when they advise their patients.
Asked how often women should get well-woman checkups, they respond together.
“About once a year,” they said.
“Unless there are chronic or concerning conditions,” Johnson added. Those might include abnormal uterine bleeding or infertility, for example. Menopause also can sometimes cause problems, and they keep a close eye on new birth control measures or a new medication, either of which might require more frequent attention.
They’re excited about their affiliation with the new hospital.
“We decided to go with UCHealth because of the availability of experts in all fields,” Keene said. “It will be a network of other physicians we can connect with and provide more comprehensive care for our patients.”
“And we value their vision,” Johnson added. “We can align with that. We’re very excited about starting and growing the Longs Peak Hospital for UCHealth.”