By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A new specialist in rheumatology has recently opened a practice on the CVPH campus in Plattsburgh, filling a gap in health-care coverage for the community.
Dr. Marzouq A. Qubti, who was most recently the director of the Amman Rheumatology Center in Amman, Jordan, accepts his new role with enthusiastic confidence.
“My main goal is to provide a service that has been lacking in the area,” Qubti said from his new office on the fourth floor of the CVPH Physicians Office Building, 210 Cornelia St.
A rheumatologist specializes in arthritis and related diseases, including problems with joints and soft tissue caused by autoimmune diseases. Gout, lupus, scleroderma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are conditions the rheumatologist can evaluate.
“Patients are typically referred (to a rheumatologist) by the primary-care physician,” Qubti said. “We can determine if (the problem) is related to an autoimmune disease or there’s another underlying factor.”
For instance, fibromyalgia is a condition associated with widespread chronic pain, fatigue, memory problems and mood changes. The rheumatologist can help pinpoint a specific condition causing those symptoms or confirm treatment for fibromyalgia.
“If there’s a local, mechanical problem (with a patient who is suffering from joint pain, for instance), the primary-care physicians can provide care or refer the patient to an orthopedic surgeon for treatment,” he said. “If the joint pain is consistent throughout the body, that may be suggestive of autoimmune disease.”
One of Qubti’s focal points as he establishes his North Country practice is to examine the possibility of creating a regional rheumatic-disease registry that would connect to a national data bank and allow patients from the North Country to access national research projects on rheumatic disease.
“It’s not even in the discussion phase at this time, but it is something that I think could benefit the community in the future,” he said.
He also recognizes the potential for using ultrasound in the diagnosis of rheumatoid disease.
“It’s something that started 20 years ago in Europe and has been gaining interest in the U.S.,” he said. “It’s another tool we have to diagnose disease and monitor treatment.”
But perhaps even more importantly, having a rheumatologist in the Plattsburgh area reduces the need for the local community to travel to Saranac Lake, Burlington or Albany for specialty care.
Qubti obtained his doctoral fellow in rheumatology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He graduated from Notre Dame with a bachelor’s in pre-medical sciences and studied medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
He had an interest in returning to Jordan to open a medical practice and did so in 2010. However, he and his wife, Sarah, decided to return to the United States to raise their three young children.
He answered several job searches for rheumatologists and was impressed with the CVPH Medical Center staff, facilities and community.
“This felt like a very good fit,” he said. “I am looking forward to working for this community. It’s great to be where you’re wanted.”
Qubti was attracted to rheumatology because of the specialist’s need to be familiar with a variety of organs and systems in the human body. He has always had a keen interest in biology and the sciences, he said.
Email Jeff Meyers: