Your Second Family

Your Second Family

Four female physicians, who are also moms, are taking a team-based, patient-centered approach to family care at their new practice. Suzanne Widmer, DO, Christine Block, MD, Anna Keane, DO, and Vanessa Eiswerth, DO (pictured from left to right) opened St. Luke’s Family Medicine—Anderson to put their shared philosophy of personalized care into action.

The four women have known each other professionally for years—Block and Widmer were previously in practice together while Keane and Eiswerth did their residencies together—and three of them are nearby neighbors to one another in the Macungie area. When the opportunity arose to start their own practice together at St. Luke’s University Health Network, they jumped at the chance.

“All four of us have school-age kids, we’re all moms, and we all understand taking care of families,” Block says. “We have very similar philosophies in care. We believe in creating a strong relationship with patients and getting to know people well.”

A medical journal article by professors Anthony C. Berman and Daryl S. Chutka, who teach at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, looks at doctor-patient relationships and found that “communication skills form the foundation for a more positive patient-provider relationship, leading to greater patient satisfaction and better patient compliance.” It also found that that a doctor’s “ability to communicate effectively with patients can contribute significantly to improved patient outcomes.”

“We’re like-minded in our goal of how we want to take care of people,” Widmer says. “It’s really about putting the patient first.”

Eiswerth says the practice always sets aside time to see sick patients the same day they call in or the very next day. She also says it’s just as important to see patients when they are well to help them with preventative care.

“Sometimes you need to see your family doctor who knows you,” Eiswerth says.

The practice is friendly and welcomes patients of all ages. “We’ve seen multiple generations from the same family and have watched kids grow up and parents become grandparents,” Widmer says.

“When you know a patient a long time your “spidey sense” is more attuned—you know them as a human being, you know their circumstances,” Keane says.

“We are all really passionate about getting to know our patients. If you know your doctor well, and they know you well, you get better care,” Block says.

“Patients are always part of the conversation on care and developing a plan unique to them as a function of their social situation or where they are in life. We can see four 50 year-old women in a day and each will leave with a different kind of plan,” Widmer says.

Keane says it’s important that patients have a close relationship to the nurses and office staff as well, since they are often the first people a patient will speak with or see. She said that front desk relationship was vital in her own family when her mom was navigating her late father’s cancer treatments.

“That relationship is at the very core of what primary care should be and that’s what we need to nourish,” Keane says.

The four physicians collaborate on care, sharing ideas, opinions, and suggestions with each other in their approach with various cases.

“I’m always getting good advice that I trust,” Block says.

“They’re not only my friends, they’re the best doctors I know,” Keane said.

Widmer graduated from Parkland High School and left the area for college, returning during her residency at St. Luke’s. She has two kids, a husband, cat, and dog that keep her busy after work. “The Lehigh Valley is a great place to raise your family,” she says. “It’s all about family medical care and family care in my home.”

Block is originally from Phoenixville and her husband is from South Whitehall Township. They moved to the Upper Macungie area where they are raising their young daughter and son. “We’re super-active in the community, mostly in the kid arena,” Block says, rattling off a list of activities from Girl Scouts to basketball that keep her youngsters happy.

Eiswerth is originally from Mechanicsburg, but did her medical school rotations in the region before settling here to start working. She is married with two young daughters. “We have the small town feel but with the greater metropolitan experience,” she says, “From shows at PPL Center, trips to New York City, and rafting in Jim Thorpe.”

Keane grew up in Bucks County and is a married mom of four kids from ages 5 to 11. She said life outside the office is “busy and lovely,” consisting of school, music lessons, scouts and more.

“It’s a joy to get to work with people I love seeing everyday,” Block says. “We’re building something that reflects us and I really think we bring something unique to the community.”

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