Family practice becomes Ostrander family business

Julie Sherwood
Valley View Family Practice co-founder Dr. Robert Ostrander, right, welcomes his son Dr. Geoffrey Ostrander to the Rushville practice.

Back in junior high, Geoffrey Ostrander set his sights on becoming a conservation officer.

“Anything to get outdoors,” recalled the 2003 Marcus Whitman grad.

Then, his experience in the New Vision Medical Careers program in high school through BOCES turned his mind to medicine. This summer, Dr. Geoffrey Ostrander, 29, will follow in his father’s path as a family physician, joining the practice his father, Dr. Robert Ostrander, co-founded in 1994 in Rushville, Valley View Family Practice.

“I am kind of excited about this,” said the elder Ostrander, who has treated hundreds of families and multiple generations in and around Rushville since he started there in solo practice in 1986. Valley View Family Practice, which began when Robert Ostrander recruited a partner in 1994, has been in recent years a three-physician practice. Now, with the younger Ostrander coming on board full time about Aug. 1, Valley View will be able to serve many more patients.

“There is a big need,” said Robert Ostrander, 55. For the first time in more than 20 years, the senior Ostrander said he will be able to take new patients. For the past decade or so, he said he has had to turn down, on average, about eight to 10 new families a week. With Geoff, “we will be able to open it up again,” he said.

About 60 million people nationwide, or about 20 percent, live where there are too few primary care physicians, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. The American Association of Medical Colleges predicts the nationwide shortage will reach 90,000 doctors by 2020, and 130,000 by 2025.

Family physicians are primary care providers, and they serve as the entry point for patients’ health needs and coordinate their care throughout their lifetime, according to the New York State Academy of Family Physicians.

“We do family practice, and this is the point of first contact,” said Robert Ostrander, who is on the Board of Directors for the Academy. The Academy represents over 6,000 physicians, residents, and students in family medicine. Coordinating care for patients with multiple, complicated problems is a key component, Robert said. “It is what we do.” The family physician specialty is “making sure you are all on the same page,” he added.

Geoff Ostrander said he looks forward to being immersed in the “full spectrum of family care medicine” and practicing in his hometown.

After earning his M.D. from SUNY Upstate Medical College in Syracuse in 2011, Geoff completed his family medicine residency with concentration in rural medicine at Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., in 2014. Most recently, Geoff lived and practiced in New Zealand, where he worked in a rural and underserved general practice for six months in a small North Island community.

Geoff said joining Valley View Family Practice will be a first in terms of working with his father. He said he doesn’t expect that to be difficult in any way. Other than general conversation about medical issues around the dinner table when he was growing up, he wasn’t involved with his father’s work, he said.

The biggest challenge, he says, will be like that of starting any new job — getting acclimated to the way things are done in a new setting, in this case dealing with insurance companies, record-keeping methods and so forth.

“Medicine and diseases are the same,” Geoff said, adding that everything else is about how it fits into the system of the area.

Robert Ostrander said having Geoff will provide “a nice balance.” He looks forward to sharing information and expertise, combining his knowledge and experience with that of Geoff’s, he said.

“You are never as smart as you are when you start out, as far as being up on all the latest developments,” the elder Ostrander said.

He said having Geoff on board allows him more time in his upcoming role as president-elect for the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, which will include occasional trips to Albany and other activities related to the academy. The organization advocates for patients, medical students, and the development of family medicine.

Geoff’s three siblings all work in some aspect related to the medical field. Their mom, Maribeth, works for Valley View Family Practice as receptionist and nurse.

Along with the Rushville office, the practice has sites in Canandaigua and Gorham, and includes Dr. Donna Schue and Dr. John D’Amore.