Urological issues can affect your everyday quality of life, which is why TCHC welcomes three visiting urologists through a partnership with Essentia Health in Brainerd. Drs. Eric Chapman, Scott Wheeler and Bradley Qualey visit four days per month to offer local care.
Sometimes, urological issues are confusing or sensitive, especially in children. To help clarify this topic, Dr. Chapman addressed some common questions related to urology.
Why did you choose the field of urology?
I was interested in a surgical specialty, and urology has a wide spectrum of procedures and allows me to see both male and female patients of all ages.
A lot of what we treat medically and surgically are quality-of-life issues. I enjoy all of those procedures because you have the opportunity to improve someone’s life.
How does the TCHC/Essentia partnership function?
As a team, the three of us rotate at TCHC four days per month on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Because our schedules are spread out, we work together to make sure patients with urgent issues get timely and appropriate care. For example, if a patient sees Dr. Qualey and needs a biopsy, Dr. Wheeler or I could perform the biopsy in a timely manner rather than make that patient wait.
What do you bring to TCHC with this partnership?
We allow patients to receive all of their urological care locally rather than requiring them to drive to Brainerd or St. Cloud. We’re providing surgical care here that wasn’t offered in the past, with the exception of robotic-assisted surgery or surgeries that require post-operative care.
Why is it important to offer urological services for children, especially in a rural area?
If it is available locally, then parents may be more likely to seek care because they don’t have to worry about the travel. It can be difficult with kids, particularly in school, to make appointments in St. Cloud or the Cities. By providing care locally, hopefully more children will be seen.
How common are urological issues in children?
There aren’t many urological emergencies in kids, but we do see many who have a congenital defect in their kidneys or testicles. Bedwetting and urinary tract infections are most common. Most children will outgrow bedwetting, but there can be neurological or anatomical problems that cause bedwetting. If there isn’t a correctable cause, we can offer tips and medicines until they grow out of it.
When should parents seek urological care for their child?
If there is ever testicular pain, bring your child in because it could indicate an emergency. Urinary tract infections in boys or urinary tract infections that are accompanied by a fever are concerning and can be caused by anatomical abnormalities. When it comes to bedwetting, it’s at the parents’ discretion, but typically if they’re 5 or older and continue to wet the bed, we may want to offer treatment.
How do you help a child feel comfortable during a clinic visit?
Sometimes, I leave my white coat in my office and introduce myself by my first name. I try to speak at their level and ask them questions about sports and school. This helps them relax before we start talking about why they’re there.
What should people know about urological issues?
It’s never normal to see blood in your urine. Even if it’s just once and it goes away, that’s never normal. We have had quite a few patients who come in for blood in the urine and they say, “This happened a year ago, but it went away, so I never went in.” It could be due to a serious illness.
What would you say to people who are afraid to seek care because of the sensitive nature?
I empathize with that. I would just want them to know that this is what we’re here for. This is what we do every single day, and we certainly wouldn’t pass judgment for any reason. We’re here for you, and if you can muster up the strength to come in, then you won’t be judged by us.
For more information about urology or a list of the services offered at TCHC, click here.
About the Author: Eric Chapman, D.O., is a board-certified urologist at Essentia Health in Brainerd and provides urological services at TCHC. In his free time, he enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding and spending time with his son.