Meet Dr. Pixie Plummer
In the interview below, she discusses her training, her special areas of expertise, and why she enjoys internal medicine.
Tell us about your background.
I am originally from Iowa. I always wanted to be a teacher. But I also loved science and I enjoyed working with people, so someone once suggested that I think seriously about becoming a doctor because then I could always be learning and teaching at the same time.
I earned a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa, and my medical degree at the University of Iowa. I was excited to come east for a unique combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Baystate Medical Center – Tufts University in Springfield, Massachusetts. This allowed me to work with children, as well as adults.
From Baystate, I moved on to a three-year fellowship in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, working with people having a range of disabilities at Boston Children’s Hospital – Harvard.
I have worked in Massachusetts for over 20 years, providing primary care and working to improve care for patients with complex special healthcare needs in a community health center practice and teaching site.
What drew you to the field of primary care?
I enjoy treating the whole person and every part of the body. I like how all the different areas such as the heart, lungs, stomach, and others interact with one another. For me, internal medicine is a puzzle, and it is a challenge to put together the pieces. Every day, every patient is different. Every day is fun and exciting and unpredictable because every one of my patients is unique.
What role does a primary care provider (PCP) play in people’s lives?
PCPs play a key role in helping patients stay healthy. Everyone deserves to have a PCP help them think about their health and watch for small changes before they become bigger issues. People owe it to themselves, and their loved ones, to have a PCP manage their health. It is important to find a PCP that you can trust and with whom you can build an enduring relationship.
What are the services that you deliver as a PCP?
PCPs are your first line of defense. We provide comprehensive care including:
- Annual physical exams and routine screenings
- Treatment of illness including sinus infections, flu, digestive problems, and back pain
- Detection and medical management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, thyroid issues, COPD, and heart disease
- Cancer screenings
- Heart health, including blood pressure monitoring and electrocardiograms
- Medication management
- Screening for depression and anxiety
- Healthy lifestyle promotion
Some people think they need to see a PCP only when they are sick. Our role is to prevent illness by managing risk factors and catching issues early.
You have a unique background working with those with intellectual disabilities (ID). Can you tell us about this field and what inspired you?
People with ID sometimes present very challenging and unique clinical pictures that can be intimidating to a provider and cause just a little more unease. I have always felt comfortable interacting with these patients. Some individuals with ID may also have associated medical conditions, but are not able to communicate these complexities. In addition to experiencing various common medical issues, individuals with ID are at higher risk of having seizures, gastrointestinal problems, and bowel and bladder problems. Sometimes these undiagnosed and treatable conditions can lead to serious illness and even death.
I also noticed that once patients with ID reached adulthood, the care they received would change or drop off completely. At age 18, some become their own legal guardians. At 22, public school support ends. Their pediatricians have to be replaced with a new care team, and families have to start quickly planning to accommodate these changes. I made it part of my career goal to help those with ID receive the highest quality care across their lifespans.
What do you enjoy most about working with those with neurodevelopmental disabilities?
In my career, I have cared for children and adults with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome, autism, and other developmental diagnoses. I laugh a lot, and my patients teach me to laugh. I find my work with patients and their family members and caregivers to be extremely rewarding and, in many ways, uplifting. That’s because progress often comes slowly and in small increments, but when it is achieved, there is a great sense of accomplishment among all those involved.
I tell people all the time that, in this kind of work, every small success feels like a giant leap, because it means so much. Over the years, through my patients, I have gained a new perspective on such concepts as success and happiness.
You have a strong background in treating all ages. What ages will you treat at Starling?
I will be treating adults age 18 and above. At Starling, I look forward to working with young adults who have aged out of pediatric care, those who are middle-aged, and geriatric patients later in life. Each stage has special health challenges and opportunities to improve overall health.
Will you be working with those with disabilities at Starling?
I will be providing primary care to adults at Starling. I welcome all types of patients – from healthy adults to those with cognitive or physical disabilities, or those struggling with chronic health conditions. My goal is to make care accessible to all and serve as a trusted resource.
How do you approach patient care?
I treasure the opportunity to partner with people in their care. Even if they are going through a rough time, I want to be there for them in their time of need and involve them in the decision-making. I want my patients to know they can always count on me to be there for them.
What do you do in your spare time?
I live in Suffield with my spouse and have 3 college-aged grown children. I love spending time outdoors, and enjoy hiking, music, and cheering on New England sports teams.
Are you accepting new patients?
Absolutely. I can’t wait to meet you. I see patients in Bloomfield at 533 Cottage Grove Road. Call (860) 726-1455.