Dr. Daniel Cummings sits at his desk in his office at 4300 Golden Center Drive in Placerville. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

Healthy Trends 2013

Dr. Cummings and wife fell in love with Placerville

By From page HT4 | January 30, 2013

QUOTE: “Why burden the system with automatic surgeries if a more finessed line of action bears equal or greater promise?”

—Annamarie Cummings, office manager, wife

QUOTE: Then on a white-water rafting trip near Coloma, the couple passed through Placerville, and fell in love with the town.

If you have an off-the-chart IQ, a large reservoir of human empathy and a fierce commitment to improving the lives of others, you should consider becoming a gastroenterologist. Daniel Cummings did.

His Placerville-based medical practice isn’t merely a manifestation of clinical competency, it is the center of understanding for folks who have particular health concerns.

Gastroenterology is the study of the alimentary canal and its disorders. In plain English, it’s the path that food takes on its journey through your body. From acid reflux to ulcers, from gall stones to colon cancer (or its warnings), Dr. Cummings brings considerable diagnostic firepower. His 25 years of practice doesn’t include the 12 years of education, internship and residency. That unique skill set means much to the troubled patient who may possess little or no understanding of a possible developing condition.

“But, what underlies the medical knowledge,” according to Office Manager and wife Annamarie Cummings, “is a heart-felt concern for the patient. The doctor invests himself in the whole person, although he doesn’t try to replace the primary care physician.”

The increasing mechanization of many medical centers keeps the patient shuttling from one specialist to another without having to re-park the car. The medical practice of Dr. Cummings stands alone for good reasons. His patients are almost all local (Lake Tahoe through El Dorado Hills) and are generally self-referred, although the doctor will accept referrals from primary care physicians as well.

“Patients who have noticed anal bleeding or excessive diarrhea, heartburn, difficulty in swallowing, ulcer-type pain or chronic indigestion can see their primary, or contact us directly,” said Mrs. Cummings, a former biomedical engineer. “That often depends on the underlying insurance. But self-education through the Internet or magazine articles, while often helpful, typically leads to self-therapies which may miss something quite important.”

The No. 1 preventative issue by far is colon cancer screening. Colonoscopies, (who can forget Katie Couric displaying internal photographs of her own examination), are too important to relegate to some future date. “Know your doctor as well as he (she) knows you. Trust the regimen and stay compliant,” posits one medical blogger. “The key to the colonoscopy experience is trust in the doctor. It’s not an automatic diagnosis or prognosis situation.”

If a cancer threat is perceived, certainly it may be time to go to an oncologist. Or not. Dr. Cummings strives to understand the patient well enough to recommend a custom course of therapies. Mrs. Cummings explained, “Why burden the system with automatic surgeries if a more finessed line of action bears equal or greater promise?”

So the doctor remains daily at his post from 8 a.m. to 5.p.m., or whenever the sun sets. He rarely arrives back to his Shingle Springs ranch before 9 p.m. He has some help. Beside Mrs. Cummings, there is the office assistant, Brandi Morales, who seems to continuously exude joy and shows good interpersonal skills. “I just love the patients,” she said. “Each one is unique and so special.”

Dr. Daniel Cummings graduated Stanford University with an undergraduate degree, attended UC San Diego for his MD, interned and performed residency at UC San Diego Medical Center, and did his fellowship hospital work at the UC Irvine Medical Center. (He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.)

After that he served four years at Travis Air Force Base. When it came time to hang the shingle, the doctor wondered which foothill town was metro enough to keep a medical specialist such as himself  busy. Then on a white-water rafting trip near Coloma, the couple passed through Placerville, and fell in love with the town.

“Big enough or not, this is it,” they agreed while having breakfast at the Buttercup Cafe on Main Street. “They (the patients) will find us.” And so they did. And so they did.

Dr. Cumming’s office is located at 4300 Golden Center Drive, Suite F in Placerville (across from Wal-Mart.) He can be reached at 530-344-2060.

Peter Tyner

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