We've moved!

We are excited to announce our clinic’s new location, offering some nicer features and a bit more space. Here is the new address:

5231 NE MLK Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97211

We are located in the Vanport Square building, one block north of Alberta on the west side of MLK. There is a parking lot behind the building, and there are two rows of parking - you may park in either row. The entrance is from the parking lot at the back of the building. If you prefer to use the door on the street side/front of the building instead, simply ring the bell.

Our phone and fax numbers are the same. Our clinic hours will be mostly the same, open daily M-F, although each doctor’s schedule may adjust slightly as the space affords us more flexibility.

Current schedule:

  • M:      J*   M
  • Tu:        M*
  • W:      J  M
  • Thu:      M
  • Fri:        J

(J = Dr. Joel, M = Dr. Meri, * = late day, where the doctor starts a couple hours later in the morning and stays a couple hours later in the evening for patients who need later appointments.)

Starting Jan 1st:

  • M:      J*   M
  • Tu:        M*
  • W:         J
  • Thu:      M
  • Fri:     J   M

We are excited to have a little place of our own, and can’t wait to share it with you! We have worked hard to make our space fun, inviting, functional, and designed around the unique needs of a smaller, more personal pediatric practice. There are still a few finals touches of course, so forgive any mess as we get settled over the next few weeks. 

We plan to schedule an open house as soon as we are settled, and would love to see you all there!

Time to change the 15-minute doctor visit?

Here's a great article that appeared in Forbes about the archaic and arbitrary 15 minute doctor visit. It's a nice validation for why our clinic schedules 30-60 minutes per patient as standard.

To take things further, the article doesn't even mention that the problem even goes beyond this: it is common practice in actuality to spend only 10 minutes with the patient during a "15 minute" visit!

(If you want to know how/why, it's a bit complicated, but here's the gist: doctors are not actually required to spend the whole 15 minutes to bill that amount - completing all the necessary components during a visit will also qualify for that amount (eg. a certain number of questions, physical exam findings, etc.). In offices that are very streamlined, doctors can hit all those requirements in 10 minutes or less.)

Sayward Canoe Route

Portaging the canoe into a tricky put-in spot on Surprise Lake

Portaging the canoe into a tricky put-in spot on Surprise Lake

We're back from summer vacation! I had a lovely excursion into the wilderness this summer on the Sayward Canoe Circuit on Vancouver Island, BC. Rustic camping on tiny islands far from civilization, listening to the echoing whale of the loon, eating wild huckleberries, thimbleberries, salmonberries and blueberries. It was exactly the yearly rejuvenation I needed, and I can't wait to go back! It was about 40 miles of canoeing and portaging, and well worth it to find such peace and solitude. I highly recommend the natural beauty of Vancouver Island, BC, if you've never been there. There are several family-friendly access spots to some of the lakes on the circuit, such as Morton Lake Provincial Park, as well as deeper access into the wilderness for those with older children up for an adventure. Here are some photos of my trip:

Want to get your kids out into the wilderness more but don't know where to start? That's easy! Go to Trackers Pdx - an awesome program that offers camps and outdoor programs for all ages. It's never to early for kids to learn about wilderness safety, survival, wild plants and protecting our natural world.

Please post what you're doing this summer, and if you recommend it to other families!

Alternative vaccine schedules finally evaluated

While alternative vaccination schedules have become increasingly popular, up until now there has been little data evaluating whether any of the claimed benefits of an alternative schedule are actually real. As many of you know, I’m not the type of doctor to dismiss something out of hand just because it goes against the grain, or because it’s different. I challenge the status quo and embrace the alternative when it’s the right thing to do. But the difference is I would never do or recommend something just because it’s the in thing, I would only recommend it if it were actually better for my patients. And in order to understand this, we need to start collecting information and stop collecting opinions - we need to actually look at kids who delay or skip vaccines and compare them to those that get them on time, and see how they’re doing several years later. At long last, that’s been done. Let’s review what they found.

The long-awaited study was just published this year in Pediatrics from the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The study tracked 1,047 children who received various different vaccine schedules in their infancy. Some had all the vaccines on time, some delayed by various amounts, and some had no vaccines at all.  The children were then evaluated at 7-10 years of age to see if there were any differences. The 7-10 year evaluation was very in-depth, with 42 specific neuropsychological tests (!) including assessments of speech and language, verbal memory, achievement, fine motor coordination, visuospatial ability, attention and executive functioning tasks, behavior regulation, tics, and general intellectual functioning. Whew!! In other words, very, very thorough, with a good, long follow-up period.

What did they find? Interestingly enough, those that delayed their vaccines the most did the worst on many of the tests. In fact, those that got all their vaccines on time showed better performance on 12 of the 42 outcomes, and those that skipped or delayed did better on none of them. Now, you would be correct if you said “wait a minute - what about confounding variables?” Fortunately, the researchers thought about that, too. They adjusted for a long list of confounding variables, including education level, income level, breastfeeding rates, maternal IQ...even tuna and nicotine exposure were among many more variables analyzed. And even after adjusting for these variables, those that got their vaccines on time still did better on a couple of the outcomes, and those that delayed their vaccines still didn't do better on any of them. How could it be that the neurodevelopmental outcomes might be better in those that receive all the vaccines on time? Easy! Don’t forget that most of the infant vaccinations specifically protect babies against things that cause brain damage: pertussis, meningitis, sepsis, encephalitis, etc... 

In summary, there are few important points to take home here:

  1. Delaying or skipping vaccines does not improve neurologic, psychologic, behavioral or developmental outcomes, as the proponents of alternate schedules claim, but it does increase risks.

  2. All the people in this study live within a population that has herd immunity. This means the people without timely vaccination are still benefitting from the herd immunity gained from those with timely vaccination. Even with this being the case, they still do worse by delaying vaccines, albeit subtly so. Imagine if you took this benefit away? If you compared entire populations with and without timely vaccination, you would see a much more massive benefit to timely vaccination, and massive risk to delaying or skipping vaccines - the true risk. This study merely proves there is no benefit to delaying; that doing all of the vaccines on time does not cause any neurologic, psychologic, behavioral or developmental problems when compared to spreading them out or skipping them. 

  3. On a side note, it was interesting from a social perspective that those who delayed vaccines tended to have lower education and income levels. It's frustrating to the community advocate in me that those with less education or money should receive less accurate information, and ultimately receive worse health care. I am passionate about providing equal time, equal healthcare and equal information to all families, and hope to bridge that gap! I think part of this is about trust as well; those less fortunate may have been hurt by the medical system and are less likely to trust their doctors. I hope to bring trust back into the relationship as well, and want all my patients to know that my care comes from a place of love, compassion, and equality.

Citation:  “On-time Vaccine Receipt in the First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropsychological Outcomes.” Michael J. Smith, MD, MSCE and Charles R. Woods, MD, MS.

Pediatrics 2010;125;1134-1141