Arthritis and Rheumatology Clinics of Kansas (ARCK) has established itself as a provider of quality, compassionate care in a new region.
Shirley Wang, MD, FACR, FACP
ARCK is headquartered in Wichita and opened its second location in Olathe, Kansas, last fall under the direction of Shirley Wang, MD, FACR, FACP. The clinic aims to fill a need for specialized rheumatology care for both children and adults in the southwestern part of the Kansas City metropolitan area.
“After learning patients are waiting three to six months for rheumatologic care in this region, I wanted to make a difference in access to care in this field,” Dr. Wang says. “Timely diagnosis and management can significantly improve the quality of life of our patients.”
Early Detection and Intervention
Because autoimmune diseases can be complicated, Dr. Wang says she is focused on early detection and intervention.
“Early detection of autoimmune disease is important for several reasons,” she says. “One is that we can get into prevention, and you need treatment to be timely to prevent joint or organ damage. A second is to help the patient determine any necessary lifestyle changes because sometimes that alone can prevent the progression of joint damage and modify overall disease burden.”
“Patient education is empowering,” says Dr. Wang, who recognizes how often discussion of diseases and treatments during initial office visits can be a source of anxiety for patients.
“They worry they are not catching every word and every concept from the physicians,” Dr. Wang says, smiling as she adds, “Therefore, for every new patient, we will have an ample amount of patient information to review at home. I call it the homework.
“I think it’s important that patients know what is on our mind as we are determining the causes of their symptoms and management options for them. To be able to provide patients the relevant materials after the discussion helps them feel more equipped knowing what they are dealing with, and this sense of being in control further translates into compliance to treatments.”
Partnering in Patient Care
With the deeper understanding of autoimmune arthritis, Dr. Wang says there are now additional parameters in identifying these patients early from a primary care perspective.
“I see myself as part of the team in the overall management of a patient’s health,” she says, citing a couple of examples.
“We understand that osteoarthritis is the most common and the most prevalent joint disease in the world,” she says. “However, there are some circumstances in which the patient’s joint pain that appears to be OA may have more to it. If patients have been started on the regimen for OA but the symptoms of rest-associated pain and intensified and prolonged morning stiffness are persistent, consideration for inflammatory arthritis even in the cases of normal serology would be given.”
Similarly, she says, prototypal symptoms for polymyalgia rheumatica, which affects adults 50 and older, could be manifestations of malignancies, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune syndromes, especially if a large dose of corticosteroid is needed to manage the symptoms or there is a lack of timely resolution of symptoms (taking more than two to three days). In these and other instances, evaluation by a rheumatologist could help pinpoint a diagnosis and guide treatment.
Shirley Wang, MD, examines a patient’s joints in the infusion suite at Arthritis and Rheumatology Clinics of Kansas’ new office in Olathe, Kansas. The Olathe branch is the second location opened by ARCK, which is headquartered in Wichita.
ARCK Olathe also offers services such as a musculoskeletal ultrasound exam and guided procedures and infusion suite.
“This branch is offering infusional treatments: treatments for osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as a variety of autoimmune diseases,” Dr. Wang notes. “Physicians practicing in smaller cities can feel assured when they send patients with a history of complicated osteoporosis to ARCK for infusional or subcutaneous regimens as the severity of the disease may necessitate.”
“After learning patients are waiting three to six months for rheumatologic care in this region, I wanted to make a difference in access to care in this field.”
— Shirley Wang, MD, FACR, FACP
Established Networks and Services
ARCK Olathe’s patients benefit from a well-established mechanism of providing care and advocating for services.
“That is important, because, as we all know and have experienced, health care has become a lot more complicated than it was 20 years ago,” Dr. Wang says, adding that ARCK has been able to conquer a number of the challenges related to approval of medications through its preauthorization department and the tireless efforts of physicians and office staff to ensure patients receive the care they need.
“We want to make sure we stay on course to be a good advocate for our patients,” she says.
Shirley Wang, MD, reviews musculoskeletal ultrasound findings with a member of the ARCK Olathe clinic staff.
Dr. Wang offers extended hours for the convenience of her patients and has committed to staying open until 6 p.m. each Tuesday and offering morning clinics every second and fourth Saturday.
Dr. Wang completed her medical education at the University of Kansas, with subsequent internal medicine training in KU-Wichita and a rheumatology fellowship at the University of Oklahoma. She joined ARCK in 2008, and her merit and passion for patient care led to her being honored as one of the Best Doctors in America in 2015-2016.
ARCK Olathe is located at 801 N. Mur-Len Road, Ste. 112 in Olathe, Kansas. Appointments may be scheduled by calling 913-839-1525. For more information about ARCK or Dr. Wang, please visit www.arck.org.