Trimark Dermatology, 804 Kenyon Road, is on the move.
This Fort Dodge-based medical practice that specializes in skin care has added two mid-level providers. In July, Sara Moeller, a physician assistant, and Diana Smith, a nurse practitioner, augmented the clinical team headed by Dr. Carey Bligard, a board certified dermatologist.
Bligard, who has been part of the local health care world for a quarter century, said the arrival of Moeller and Smith will strengthen the practice and is good news for patients.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dr. Carey Bligard finishes up after removing a small growth from a patient at Trimark Dermatology recently. Trimark Dermatology has added two mid-level providers to its staff.
"Now that I have Sara and Diana, we can get people in pretty quickly," she said reflecting on the immediate benefit for existing and potential patients.
"They are both new graduates," Bligard said of her new colleagues. "They both did rotations in dermatology and liked it. ... They see patients. I am available anytime they are here as a consultant or to advise them on things, whether it's on diagnosis or treatment. ... I enjoy the teaching part."
Trimark Dermatology serves a wide section of north central Iowa. Bligard said it draws patients from communities as far north as the Minnesota border. She characterized the practice as capable of addressing a broad spectrum of skin diseases and problems.
"We cover pretty much anything," Bligard explained. "So any kind of dermatological diseases from acne and warts to skin cancers - including melanoma skin cancer - and just about everything in between. We see a lot of psoriasis patients and eczema rashes of various kinds."
She said patients are welcome to make appointments directly with Trimark Dermatology, but it is also common for people to be referred by other physicians.
"We see a lot of referrals from other doctors who have patients that are having a problem and (we try to help) figure out what exactly is going on," Bligard said. "A lot of times the skin problems can be related to their other medical problems - either their medications or the actual medical diseases that they have."
She said among the many options she or her team members provide are ultraviolet light treatments for psoriasis and some other skin diseases, treatments for pre-cancerous lesions and cosmetic remedies like microdermabrasion and chemical peels.
Treatment of cancers - and in particular melanoma - is a particularly challenging part of dermatology that Bligard said she finds especially rewarding.
"I would say the most exciting part is treating skin cancers," she said, "trying to diagnose them early. In the case of melanoma, which is becoming much more common, we can save people's lives by diagnosing them early. It's not uncommon for us to see them when patients come in for something else. Sometimes they are places they can't see."
The approach to patient care at Trimark Dermatology is intentionally low-key, unrushed and friendly.
"I like to spend enough time with my patients so that I feel like I have a good handle on things," Bligard said. "I like them to have an opportunity to ask any questions. I really think about 50 percent of what I do is teaching ... and I think that is extremely important."
She said she wants patients understand that the professionals who provide care at Trimark Dermatology are genuinely concerned about their well-being.
"I would like people to know that we are very interested in making sure that they get the best skin care possible," Bligard said. "We want to know what the history is. We want to know what they have to say. We want our treatment to be respectful and compassionate as well as very effective."
Meet the providers
Carey Bligard is originally from Oregon. She attended the University of Oregon from which she received a bachelor's degree in biology. Then it was on to medical school at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. Bligard completed a dermatology residency at Tulane University Affiliated Hospitals in New Orleans, La. She became board certified in dermatology in 1987, the same year she became part of the medical community in Fort Dodge.
Bligard is married to Eric Bligard, an eye surgeon affiliated with the Wolfe Eye Clinic. The Bligards have two adult sons, Gregory, 24, and Richard, 23.
In addition to treating patients locally, Carey Bligard has been active in medical missions serving needy patients outside of the United States. That work has taken her to China, Honduras, Kenya, Nicaragua (10 times), Philippines and Taiwan. Bligard is the medical director of the St. Olaf Lutheran Church mission group in Fort Dodge.
"I like to help people," she said, reflecting on the appeal of mission work. "There are so many people in the world that need medical care."
Sara Moeller is a native of Fort Dodge and a graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, in 2010. Then it was on to Des Moines University from which she received her Master of Science degree in physician assistant studies.
"I went into medicine because I always enjoyed interacting with people and caring for people," Moeller said. "I worked as a nurse's aide in college."
Diana Smith grew up in Independence and currently lives near Churdan with her husband, Eric. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minn., and her family nurse practitioner Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
"I actually worked (as a nurse) for 3 1/2 years at a NICU in Minneapolis," Smith said. "So I have seen a big, huge facility. I worked for the last two years at Greene County Medical Center and have seen a very small facility. So, when I was trying to find a place to end up, I knew I wanted to end up somewhere in the middle, where it had the benefits of a big facility, but still a nice, small clinic where it was intimate."
She said she is excited about her new work as a nurse practitioner.
"I enjoy going to school and wanted to further myself," Smith said. "I enjoy seeing patients and being more involved in patient care and having the autonomy."