This winter, the Truckee Tahoe Medical Group (TTMG), celebrates 50 years of caring for families and athletes on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and Truckee. In 1959, Alex Cushing’s Harvard Classmate, Dr. Gardner Pier founded TTMG with his
colleagues, Dr. Doug Brody and Dr. Ben King. Over half a century, TTMG has grown from an intimate group of three doctors in a single office in Squaw Valley to a robust group of seven doctors, two nurse practitioners and one physician assistant with four offices in Truckee, Tahoe City, Squaw Valley and Northstar.
TTMG is now the main primary care medical group on the North Shore, providing urgent and preventative care, internal and family medicine, sports medicine, minor surgery, and pediatric and geriatric care. Family medicine primary care means that one doctor can put your broken arm in a cast, remove a mole that might be skin cancer, administer flu shots to your kids, and encourage preventative medicine.
Dr. Charlie Kellermeyer, who retired in 2001, ran TTMG for 32 years, guiding the group from its early roots to its modern form. His long term is common as the group sees very little turnover. TTMG is highly selective and current doctors have been trained at UC Davis, UCLA, Stanford, Georgetown, and University of Nevada, Reno.
The days of transporting patients to surgery in the backs of cars and making house calls on showshoes are gone but the family spirit remains. TTMG physicians care for whole families from newborns to the elderly. “We try to maintain a small-town feeling, where people feel like we are their family’s doctor. I have patients everyday who say proudly that Dr. Englesby (who retired in 2007) has always been my doctor; he delivered my babies!” says Dr. Reini Jensen. Although no longer delivering babies, TTMG doctors still do pediatric care starting right after birth in the hospital.
Bunny Martin, a family nurse practitioner, recently retired from TTMG after 45 years. “Back in the 60’s patients would call us at home to make special appointments that fit their schedules, and we would come to them instead of making them drive the treacherous unplowed roads,” she remembers. Martin once took a dogsled to work as a surgery nurse. “It was wilderness medicine,” she recalls.
“At the end of the day, after 50 x-rays, we would put our feet up on the desks and have a glass of wine,” reminisces Jody Scowcroft, who joined the group in 1967 as an x-ray technician. “If you ever needed anything, if your son was sick, TTMG was here for you.”
Back in the early days, Scowcroft and Martin were the only women in the group. Now there are four female doctors: Dr. Gina Barta, Dr. Jensen, Dr Jeanne Plumb, and Dr. Erin Winter. TTMG doctors are on medical staff at Tahoe Forest Hospital, continuing to take care of patients when they are admitted.
Over fifty years, TTMG’s sports medicine program has evolved alongside the sport of skiing to become nationally prominent. TTMG’s doctors stay up-to-date along with the equipment and the sport. They are on teaching faculty at UNR and UC Davis medical schools. Dr. Rick Ganong and Dr. Paul Krause travel to Europe to work in the US Alpine and Nordic Ski Teams' physician pool. “When I travel, I frequently run into people who know of our program – from orthopedic surgeons to sports medicine doctors around the world,” says Dr. Ganong.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the group’s family mentality. “In the early days you did whatever was necessary; you were a receptionist, took x-rays, put on casts and ran blood tests,” says Joan Klaussen, who joined TTMG as a nurse in the early 70’s and stayed for 25 years. Now TTMG sends out blood for testing and has a wider range of specialists to support them, but the spirit remains the same – complete care for the whole family in a community where health is a core value and the lifestyle keeps spirits high. “I loved working at TTMG,” says Scowcroft, “because people would be injured and come in with a smile on their face and a great story about how it happened.”
The Squaw Valley office is open seven days a week during the winter season. The Tahoe City and Truckee offices of TTMG are open Monday through Saturday. To schedule an appointment with any Truckee Tahoe Medical Group clinician, please call 530.581.8864.