Arthur W. Kaemmer, MD ’70
With his medical school graduation only four days away, Arthur W. Kaemmer, MD ’70, was given one last pop quiz to test his clinical mettle in the summer of 1970. With high personal stakes, as well as personal pride on the line, the soon-to-be Dr. Kaemmer delivered his and his wife’s first child in the bathroom of their Milwaukee apartment. It was not an act that went unnoticed.
At his commencement, Dr. Eleanor Delfs, Professor of OB/GYN, singled him out, saying she didn’t know whether to give him an “A” for effort or an “F” for failure to recognize the signs of imminent delivery. Fortunately, the experience didn’t scare him away from kids. Dr. Kaemmer went on to become a respected pediatrician and recently made a significant commitment to pediatric patients at The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
He and his wife, Martha, are donating $1 million to the Medical College to inspire and implement creative programs that improve morale and quality of life for hospitalized children. Their gift creates the Kaemmer Professorship in Pediatrics: The “Super Kid” Chair in Special Needs, an endowment that will provide enduring resources to the Department of Pediatrics.
John B. Gordon, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical College, has been named the first Kaemmer Professor in Pediatrics: “Super Kid” Chair in Special Needs. Dr. Gordon sees patients at Children’s Hospital, where he founded its Special Needs program in 2002 and currently serves as its medical director.
Dr. Kaemmer completed his pediatrics residency training at Maine Medical Center in Portland in 1973. Shortly thereafter, he entered a general pediatrics practice in the Twin Cities area with Health Partners, one of the largest HMOs in the state of Minnesota, where he stayed until retirement.
The well-being of children has long been Dr. Kaemmer’s chief concern. Throughout his training and practice, he observed how frightening the hospital experience can be for kids, and he began to take measures to lessen their worry. He became known for his endless supply of “Super Kid” stickers, emblazoned with a Superman crest, which he freely distributed to his little heroes.
Dr. Kaemmer said it is important to understand that children often have a limited capacity to comprehend the circumstances of their illness or hospitalization. The chair will support initiatives that could distract, entertain or otherwise put at ease children in this situation, especially those with chronic conditions.
“We’ve tried to institutionalize child wellness and a philosophy of looking at kids not just as little adults,” Dr. Kaemmer said. “These are children, and everybody needs to remember that this is a horrifying experience in a hospital, and for kids with special needs, it’s even worse because they have so many medical problems. This is more of an attitude we are trying to endow, and John Gordon, in his time at the Medical College, can inculcate that attitude among everyone who works there.”
Dr. Kaemmer’s enthusiasm for helping others is also realized through his enduring involvement with National Medical Fellowships, Inc., an organization that provides need-based scholarships, programs and practice opportunities for minority medical students. He has been active on the organization’s board for 30 years. He served as its chair for more than a decade and is now Board Chair Emeritus.
“This is something I thought needed to be done,” he said. “It has been shown time and time again that minority doctors, when they graduate, tend to practice more in primary care than their non-minority counterparts, and they tend to practice in underserved areas more than their non-minority counterparts. We need more people of color in the medical profession because their communities are invariably underserved.”
Also active with the Alumni Association, Dr. Kaemmer has served on his 25th, 30th, and 40th reunion committees as well as the Minneapolis/St. Paul and Naples host committees.
Meet Dr. John Gordon
John B. Gordon, MD
John B. Gordon, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has been named the first Kaemmer Professor in Pediatrics: “Super Kid” Chair in Special Needs. Dr. Gordon sees patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where he co-founded the Special Needs Program with Holly Colby, RN, MS, in 2002 and currently serves as its medical director. Patients enrolled in this care coordination and co-management program have five or more specialists and have been hospitalized multiple times. Enrollment in the program results in marked decreases in in-patient hospital days and costs as well as increased satisfaction.
In 2006, the Special Needs Program was cited by the Maternal Child Health Bureau as a “superb model of how to build collaborative systems of care.” In 2008, the program received a Maternal Child Health Bureau grant entitled “Bridge to Independence” which was designed to empower families to better coordinate their children’s care.
Dr. Gordon received his medical degree and pediatric training from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He completed a pediatric critical care fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Dr. Arthur Kaemmer (right), places a medallion around the neck of Dr. John Gordon, designating him as the Kaemmer Professor in Pediatrics: "Super Kid" Chair in Special Needs during the Medical College's Convocation on Sept. 14.
He served as director of the division of pediatric critical care at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and later as an associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric intensivist at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. Dr. Gordon was named the American Lung Association’s Edward Livingston Trudeau Scholar in 1992 and won the Jonathan Balloon Award for best new research grant proposal from the Quebec Heart Association in 1986.
Dr Gordon joined the Medical College of Wisconsin faculty in 1996 as a pediatric intensivist and basic researcher in the field of pulmonary hypertension. Over the past 10 years, his focus has changed to the management and care of medically complex and fragile children with chronic disease. He is passionate not just about children’s care, but their well-being, and he is especially cognizant of the difficulties children have while hospitalized. He admits he’ll “happily act goofy if it makes children laugh” and is regularly squirted by water pistols while making rounds. His annual avocation is playing Santa Claus at Children’s Hospital.
“I am grateful to the Kaemmers for having endowed a chair that will enhance the visibility of the new and important field of care for children with medical complexity. Funds will go toward improving children’s quality of life both in and out of the hospital,” Dr. Gordon said.
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