Since the day she was born, Marram Health Center Pediatrician Dr. Cynthia Hoess has always been a firecracker. It’s built into her DNA. Born on the Fourth of July, Hoess’ firecracker personality has influenced everything she has done, a drive that came to fruition in her younger years and has continued to grow in every step of her career.
Hoess began her medical career in her pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she worked at the academic center for eight years after completing her residency. There, she taught residents while also running a private practice.
“My husband got transferred to Chicago, and so after we moved here, I worked at Rush Hospital in academic medicine,” she said. “I continued to teach residents and run my own private practice while at Rush.”
An advocate for education in all its forms, Hoess has always jumped at the chance to share her knowledge and expertise in her field with new generations of healthcare professionals.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching, it’s something I’ve done for 30 years,” she continued. “I’ve talked to medical students, residents, nurse practitioners, physician assistant students, you name it. There’s not a pediatric question that I can’t answer.”
After leaving Rush Hospital, she went to work for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Gary for ten years, before eventually settling down at Marram Health. Her career has taken her to cities around the country, an aspect of her job that, while difficult at times, is part of her healthcare philosophy and mission.
“I’ve always worked in urban communities,” Hoess said. “My philosophy has always been that no matter where you live, no matter who you are, everyone deserves the same medical care. My patients in urban areas, who may not have that access, get 110% of that care from me.”
On any given day, Hoess is meeting with patients in a timely manner, ensuring they’re not waiting long for a doctor’s visit. She doesn’t go home until every phone call is returned.
“I call patients with their labs as soon as I get them,” Hoess said. “I give my patients that same care and respect that I expect when I go to the doctor, which is something I’ve always prided myself on.”
While she advocates for continued, quality education in the medical field, working closely with students and seasoned professionals, Hoess puts that energy towards her patients and their families as well. She believes in the power of a good education and how it can set the foundation for anyone’s life.
“I stress education to my families, because boy, do I believe in a good education,” Hoess said. “If a child is not doing well in school, I want the parents to get involved and fight for their kid to do well. You are never going to get ahead in life if you don’t get a good education. I stress to my patients’ parents about making sure that kids are going to school, getting their work done, that they’re handling issues that come up, and follow up with schools.”
One of her strategies to connect with her young patients is to encourage them to set two to three goals every year. Whether they’re in high school or middle school, Hoess is making sure they understand the value of setting and reaching a goal.
“It’s great to have them set these goals and see them work to attain them,” she said. “That’s what they’re going to do when they get older, so I just like to lay the groundwork for them.”
“I’ve been in Northwest Indiana for so long that I’ve been to practically every urban high school in the area,” she continued. “I can’t say how many sports physicals, back to school check-ups, immunizations, and more I’ve done in the past 12 years!
Along with her focus on a good education and laying the foundation for future life skills, Hoess is a major advocate for mental health, not only in her patients, but also her patients’ families.
“Pediatrics is a bit different than adult medicine because not only do we take care of the child, but also we sort of take care of the whole family,” Hoess said. “When it comes to mental health, it’s just as important as physical health, and I stress that to my patients and their parents to not be afraid to bring up anything that may be challenging them or may be affecting them mentally. If your brain is not working well, your body is not going to work well.”
A benefit of being a FQHC is it is the forefront of primary care in the country. Hoess remarked how due to its status as a FQHC, Marram has the responsibility and the opportunity to provide services for everything and everyone, from adult and pediatric medicine, to OBGYN, to behavioral health, and more.
“We will do things called soft handoffs,” Hoess said. “If I think a patient needs to talk to someone, I’ll grab a social worker, I’ll grab a psychologist, or whoever would be most appropriate for the situation, and I say, ‘Hey, can you just pop your head in there, get a sense of what’s going on?’ I introduce them to the patient, to the family, and establish that relationship and trust.”
“I do this because mental health is still not focused on enough in our country,” she continued. “It’s just as important as physical health, and with the COVID-19 pandemic causing so much grief, loss, and uncertainty, ensuring my patients and their families have the knowledge and the tools to take of their mental health is vital.”
In her free time, Hoess enjoys spending time with her husband of 30 years, four children, and their family dog, a 14-year old shitzu. Family continues to be the most important thing to Hoess. While her children were growing up, Hoess was heavily involved in their school and extracurricular activities.
“There wasn’t anything that I didn’t participate in when my kids were younger,” she said. “They all played multiple sports in school, and I’ve always been a sports fanatic. I always said that if I hadn’t become a pediatrician, I would have gone into sports medicine because of how much I love sports. I can go head to head with my kids on most sports discussions!”
Hoess herself was into music when she was younger and even taught flute lessons for ten years, another aspect of her life that only adds to her life philosophy.
“There isn’t much I can’t talk about or answer because I really just love life,” she said. “I enjoy life, I enjoy the people around me, I enjoy meeting new personalities. We have one life to live, and I try to maximize it as much as I can.”
While her career has been important to Hoess, family has been her main focus in life.
“I’ve loved my career, I’ve loved this work, but at the end of the day, I am a mom, and that’s the most important thing to me,” she said. “I can walk away from being a doctor, I can retire from this, but I’m a mom until the day I die. When I have parents who are struggling, I really do all I can to help them or get help for them, because I know that the hardest job in the world is being a parent, but it’s the most important thing I can do.”
For more information about Marram Health Center, visit their website at http://www.marramhealth.org/.