By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
People needing the medical services of a urologist can now look to Chase County Community Hospital (CCCH) and Dr. Rick Schmidt.
Dr. Schmidt recently relocated his weekly clinic from North Platte to Imperial.
He said many of the patients he was seeing in North Platte came from the Imperial, Benkelman and Grant area so he decided this would be a better location for him.
“I’m really excited about this,” Dr. Schmidt said.
He said the hospital was wanting to expand its services and extended the opportunity to Dr. Schmidt to locate here. It seemed to be a natural fit, he noted.
One of the efforts made by the hospital included purchasing a new surgery table needed for Dr. Schmidt to do surgeries here.
Administrator Lola Jones said having a urologist coming here weekly provides a big service to patients.
Dr. Schmidt, 66, lives in Denver, Colo., and is in private practice there, as well.
He comes to Imperial every Monday and does surgeries on either Tuesdays or Thursdays. On Fridays, he goes to either the Grant or Benkelman hospital to see patients.
All of his surgeries are done at CCCH.
Specialty is urinary tract
Dr. Schmidt specializes in disorders in the urinary tract.
He attended medical school in Canada and then went to the University of California/San Francisco to further his experience in urology.
During his 18 years there, he taught in the medical school and did extensive research, which included the development of a urinary pacemaker that is marketed worldwide.
From 1992 to 2000, he taught at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver. He entered private practice in 2000 and began coming to North Platte in 2003.
Dr. Schmidt said the time difference in the drive to Imperial versus North Platte makes a big difference for him.
Plus, he said the drive back and forth to Imperial provides him with time to prepare, make calls, etc., and then to unwind on the ride home. He stays overnight when he has surgeries.
Dr. Schmidt said he loves what he does. Many of his patients are older and it’s easier for them because they don’t have as much travel, he added.
Behavior a factor in problems
Dr. Schmidt said most problems that develop in the urinary tract as an adult can be traced back to voiding patterns learned as a child.
If a child alters their behavior of urinating, such as holding instead of urinating when the urge occurs, then problems can be expected in adulthood.
He said good urinary habits are formed when a child is potty-trained and again when they are about 7-8 years old.
The later time frame is often overlooked by parents and leads to problems somewhere in the future.
He said awareness of this is key but noted that urinary habits aren’t exactly a dinner table topic of conversation.
Prevention is a key element in managing the urinary system. He said men should begin PSA (prostatic specific antigen) testing as early as 40 or earlier if there is a family history of prostate cancer.
High levels of PSA in the blood can indicate possible cancer issues or enlargement of the prostate.
Issues not limited to just men
Issues in the urinary tract aren’t limited to just men. Dr. Schmidt said 40 percent of both men and women will face the risk of surgery or cancer in the urinary tract in their lifetime.
For men, it’s the prostate that causes problems while in women it’s the bladder that causes their problems.
Of these 40 percent, 70 percent will have benign conditions while 30 percent will face some type of malignancy.
Treating urinary tract problems proves costly, as well. Dr. Schmidt said the overall cost to treat urinary problems in this country exceeds the cost of treating coronary and diabetes issues combined.
Technology has aided the treatment of prostate cancer, he noted.
About six years ago, surgery was the primary treatment. Now, the primary treatment uses radioactive seeds that are precisely placed inside the prostate.
Jones said they need to acquire some more equipment for Dr. Schmidt to do the seed surgery here. However, that is the goal.
Dr. Schmidt said no referral is necessary to make an appointment. That can be done by calling the hospital and asking for the specialty clinic department.