Dr. Tim Richer understands Tosa Pediatrics is an anomaly of modern medical care.
“We are a completely independent, physician-owned pediatric practice,” Richer said. “We like to think of it as a way to continue to provide the best care that you can provide patients but still maintain that old school, family-owned, small town approach to medicine in an age where that isn’t common.”
It’s a commitment the Richer family first made nearly 50 years ago, when Tim’s father, Dr. Thomas Richer, joined brothers Mike Berk, a pediatric dentist, and Dick Berk, a pediatrician, at their practice on 79th and Burleigh around 1970.
By the time Richer graduated from medical school in 1998, he wasn’t sure he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
But after his residency, he admitted it "seemed like a natural progression to come back and join dad and his partners, who were my doctors when I was a kid.”
So in 2002 he joined the practice. And in 2005, the firm relocated to 86th Street and North Avenue.
Today, the practice includes doctors Ellen Stabelfeldt, Fred Timm, Timothy Marsho and Nicole Krimmer and physician assistant Hannah Braun.
Together they welcome an estimated 300 to 350 newborns a year. They also have a lactation consultant on staff, offer their own speech and occupational therapy services and, two years ago, they started a lipids clinic, which offers cholesterol checks for kids.
“When you run your own shop, when you have physician owners, it allows you a sort of freedom and creativity,” Richer said. “One thing you hear from employed physicians is they might have ideas, but it’s impossible to implement them or find someone to listen. We can listen and talk amongst ourselves and, if we think there’s something of value, we don’t have to run it by a bunch of committees.
“Even before I was here, they said for years, ‘There was never a decision made that wasn’t a unanimous decision.’ When I work with my partners now, it’s like working with family, with my brothers and sisters.
“The biggest challenge is just continuing to survive in this practice style,” Richer said.
It can be difficult to maintain a practice alongside corporate medicine, but that doesn’t mean the two are at odds.
“You can’t combat. You know how they say, ‘Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten?' Well, we’re ready to play in any sandbox that plays nice, and we want to be invited to as many sandboxes as possible. It comes down to more than just co-existing but partnering with people who want to partner with us.”
That includes the community.
“I know we couldn’t do this without Wauwatosa. It’s just such a unique town,” Richer said.
It’s part of the reason they offer parent information nights and why they relaunched their website — and created a Facebook page — to offer health tips and parent guides for back-to-school and flu season.
It’s also part of the reason Richer and his colleagues began offering outdoor movie night in 2015.
They’ve hosted four since then, most recently in October.
“If we’re going to be in this community, we really want to embed ourselves in the community, be part of the conversation and be part of the sports and schools and churches because these are entities that allow us to be here. So, everything is about being in this community.”
Plus, Richer added, “There’s this big brick wall begging for something to be projected onto it.”
JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Tosa Pediatrics, 8651 W. North Ave.
OWNER: Tim Richer, Fred Timm, Ellen Stabelfeldt, Timothy Marsho, Nicole Krimmer
TYPE OF BUSINESS: pediatric medical practice
PEARLS OF WISDOM: “We feel strongly about this style of medicine. I think it would almost be doing ourselves a great injustice and, therefore, maybe our city by not following that dream to practice the way we practice. So, after those rough days, we look at each other and laugh because it’s all still worth it. It always comes back to, ‘I’d never do it any other way.’”