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Southwestern Nephrology Joins Washington Health System
By Daniel Casciato

Shirley Jayakumar Dopson, D.O.Washington Health System recently announced that Southwestern Nephrology will be joining the Washington Physicians Group sometime this April. The practice will be known as Washington Health System Nephrology once the transition is complete.

Shirley Jayakumar Dopson, D.O., a practicing nephrologist and partner in Southwestern Nephrology, says that joining Washington Health System was part of a natural evolution for her and the practice.

"Having practiced in the area for 10 years, we already worked closely with other physicians that are part of the health system," she says. "Also, since the other doctor in our practice is planning to retire, we decided now was a good time to to merge our practice with the health system's physician group."

For Dr. Dopson, this merger will help provide better continuity of care for their patients. Since many of the physicians in the area are part of this physician group, patients will be getting care from the same multi-speciality group.

"The hospital was happy to have me join their physician group," says Dr. Dopson. "My ideals and goals coincide well with the hospital physician group."

Dr. Dopson is originally from the area so she have been part of this community her entire life, she notes. Being from the area is one way her practice distinguishes itself from other similar practices in the region.

"I'm very committed to serving the patients of my own community and I feel very dedicated and invested in this community because this is where I was born and raised," she says. "What also makes us different is that we offer very personal service to patients whom we evaluate in the hospital and office, and continue to follow their progress to maintain that good continuity of care."

As a nephrologist, Dr. Dopson specializes in kidney care and treating diseases of the kidneys. While she was educated and trained in internal medicine, Dr. Dopson underwent further training to specialize in treating patients with kidney diseases. Her practice commonly treats patients with chronic kidney disease, polycystic kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and electrolyte problems. Uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension are the two top causes of kidney disease.

Dr. Dopson went to medical school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and did her Nephrology Fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina. In addition to being board certified in nephrology, Dr. Dopson is also board certified in internal medicine. She was drawn to nephrology as a speciality for several reason. One of those reasons was to follow in her father's footsteps. Her father, Dr. Subramoniam Jayakumar, is a nephrologist who has practiced for 41 years in Washington County.

"I grew up with nephrology in the background," she explains. "So I heard and learned a lot about this specialty growing up."

While that certainly played a factor in her decision, Dr. Dopson also had an affinity for nephrology because of the subject matter and her natural aptitude for it.

"While I was doing my internal medicine residency, I rotated through all of the different sub specialities to try to determine what would be the best fit for me," she recalls. "As I continued to learn more about the speciality, I realized that it was a good fit for me. I also liked that nephrology patients were unique. It's not always the same issue so each patient requires personalized, individual management. Not only do we see patients in our office, but we also work in dialysis clinics and surrounding hospitals. So there's diversity in what I do throughout the day."

Dr. Dopson is also medical director of the DaVita Dialysis Clinic in Washington, PA and Paris, PA. The clinic in Washington has been awarded four stars under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Five-Star Quality Rating system and is the highest rated dialysis clinic in the area.

"That recognition solidifies the fact that patients will get excellent care if they are part of that facility as well," she notes.

Looking ahead, Dr. Dopson says that she is looking forward to starting the next chapter in her career and practice.

"I'm excited to become more involved with Washington Health System and help patients in the community, along with their primary care physicians," she says. "I feel that I'm very approachable and want to keep the best interests of the patients in mind. I'm always available and accessible for anyone who has kidney disease, kidney issues or problems with hypertension."

To schedule an appointment, please call 724-228-1303. In addition to working with the Wash-ington Physicians Group, Dr. Dopson will continue to see patients at her other offices in Bur-gettstown, PA, Waynesburg, PA and Weirton, WV.

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