A Q&A with pediatrician Dr. Heather Gardner
Ryan Summerlin August 7, 2014
Dr. Heather Gardner has just joined the team as new pediatrician at Pediatric Partners in Glenwood Springs. She grew up in Florida, attended Florida State for undergraduate school and the University of Mississippi Medical School.
Where are you originally from?
I was raised on my grandparents’ farm in Green Cove Springs, Florida. Green Cove is a little town just south of Jacksonville on the St. Johns River. It was originally thought to be home to the fountain of youth, and people used to vacation there. Unfortunately, that theory has been debunked, and we’re all still aging.
Why did you decide to become a pediatrician?
I have always had a big family and have been around kids for my entire life. I suppose being a pediatrician was a good way to combine my desire to help people with my love for children. Plus, it’s fun.
Why did you choose to come here?
When I received the email advertising the position, it was titled: “Wanted: a skier, a rafter, a bike enthusiast or someone looking for more quality of life who also happens to be a pediatrician.“ At that point, Glenwood definitely had my attention. After meeting Dr. David and Dr. Ellen and seeing Glenwood for myself, I was sold.
What do you do for fun?
See above. I love biking and hiking/camping. In fact, my husband and I spent a few days on the Colorado Trail after our move. What a beautiful state! I am a bit hesitant to jump on these mountain trails on a bike though. The mountains are bigger here than in Florida.
Where is the joy in medicine?
The joy is in watching sick people get better. What more basic need do kids have than to be healthy? It’s the first step needed in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
What does patient centered care mean to you?
It means that the patient is the point. The patient is the reason a physician gets up in the morning and the other stuff — paperwork, billing, bottom lines — these are all secondary.
What are your patients’ most common questions?
There are always questions about vaccines given the controversy that’s arisen in the past 20 years. I can understand a parent’s fear about this, and I am always happy to talk through the history of why the vaccines have been questioned and where we are now. Vaccines are so important because there are many diseases that we can’t treat once they’ve been contracted. The diseases we vaccinate against are serious. Many lead to death or long-term consequences like paralysis. The only way we have to fight these diseases is with prevention.
What is your philosophy around after hours care?
Well, I am a parent to some hairy four-legged children who always seem to get sick on Friday night, so I can relate to the need for after hours coverage. Plus, it keeps people out of the ER, which reduces costs and exposure to disease. I am happy to oblige.
What do patients say about you?
Hopefully it’s all good stuff when I’m not around. I think the feedback I’ve gotten has been that I’m a good listener and very patient. As a doctor, you often see people at their worst; they are scared or angry, and sometimes coping with the emotions of a serious illness is difficult. These parents have expressed thankfulness for the support and kindness I’ve shown in these difficult times, and their thankfulness helps me appreciate those hard times, too.
If you could sing a karaoke song, what would it be?
I saw a guy sing “Mustang Sally” on a cruise ship once. The whole crowd was really into it and loud. I suppose I would use that experience as inspiration. That or Celine Dion.
Rumor has it you are passionate about FSU football.
Absolutely! I am dyed in the wool. Four of four siblings have attended, and three of us have seen our team win a national championship in person! And don’t get me started on Bobby Bowden.
Do you have any pets?
We have three dogs. I joke when people ask what kind that we have — the answer is small, medium and large. We have a Dachshund named Waylon Jennings, a lab named Annie, and what we lovingly refer to as a Chug, a Chihuahua/pug named Tessa. They are my babies.
What is your favorite Coloradough?
I’ve only been there once, but I can say they make a mean glazed doughnut!