Youthful enthusiasm propels Methuen pediatrician
Susan Browne knew she wanted to be a doctor when she was 7 years old. One of five children growing up in Dedham, early in life she had an affinity for biology and math, and recognized this as a calling to medicine.
There was another strong influence.
“Both my parents were college-educated,” said Dr. Browne. “And my maternal grandfather had actually started medical school at Boston University — but it was during the depression, and he dropped out and did not go back.
“I was close to my grandfather, and I spent a lot of time with him. I think I wanted to complete what he had been prevented from completing, and then going on and becoming the doctor in the family.”
A practicing pediatrician and allergy and immunology specialist since 1980, Dr. Browne earned her bachelor of arts in biology from Emmanuel College, a master of science in biomedical science from Brown University, and her medical degree from Brown University Medical School.
She did her residency at Babies Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian (now Babies & Children’s Hospital of New York).
Dr. Browne is a leading consultant in lactation and breastfeeding, and was one of the first physicians in the U.S. to be certified as a consultant in the field. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
Since 2000, Dr. Browne has practiced at Child Health Center in Methuen, and since 2005 she has served as president and CEO of the practice, which is a PPOC member. Since 1987, in addition to her clinical work she has held health care management positions, including serving as Chief of Pediatrics of Holy Family Hospital from 2003 to the present.
Dr. Browne, who has four adult children and one granddaughter, said that when she first began practicing, she noticed that the health care system placed a “considerable focus on improvement and meeting clinical standards in quality for adult care, with of course a primary goal of reducing readmission and chronic illness.”
Dr. Browne said there was not a similar focus on these goals for pediatric care because, for the most part, kids get better and they aren’t readmitted or seen again by the doctor for the same illness or condition.
“When I learned about PPOC, I saw its worth immediately,” said Dr. Browne. “Since our practice joined PPOC in 2002, we have experienced many benefits, which have enabled us to better serve children and their families – and we have received those benefits while being able to stay independent and maintain our autonomy.”
“The medical home model that PPOC supports enables us to be far more efficient and effective in treating our patients and keeping them healthy. And PPOC does a great job in supporting the model through the medical home care coordinator, its secure electronic medical records system, and the ongoing education and classes it provides.”
Dr. Browne has seen the PPOC model deliver particular value in helping children with asthma get better and stay better.
“I like to say that Lawrence and the surrounding area is an epicenter of asthma. We have a couple of big trash incinerators operating and apartment buildings and houses are tightly clustered here, and motor vehicle traffic is heavy in the area — none of this is good for asthma.”
Dr. Browne and her team met the challenge.
“We have families fill out questionnaires, leave with updated asthma action plans, and pre-book well visits; we have brought the lab function in-house. This contributes to our patients staying on their medication, and following healthy routines. And it has reduced asthma-related urgent care and emergency room visits to almost zero.”
Outside of medicine, Dr. Browne enjoys birding, a pursuit she was introduced to early on when she was a young girl spending summer vacations in Marshfield amid and alongside woodlands, grasslands, salt marshes and other wetlands, the North River, and nearby Atlantic Coast.
“I recently went up to Maine to see some puffins, and I enjoy getting down to the barrier beach in Duxbury, where there are many different types of birds to see.”
And Dr. Browne maintains a youthful enthusiasm and energy and passion in her work as a pediatrician.
“We have big and colorful murals on the walls in our practice, one which has a Sesame Street theme. The practice founder created them in 1977. Children write their names on this mural and add designs — as did their parents when they were our first patients.
“The mural is something that continues to grow and to change and to help all of us — patients and staff — stay young.”