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      Ohio-born RGA doctor calls Rockford home

      Dr. Peifer

      With specialized training in advanced digestive system procedures, Dr. Kevin Peifer devotes his time at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates (RGA) helping diagnose complicated digestive conditions for his patients and planning their treatment long-term.

      Dr. Peifer was born and raised in Ohio and earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio. He completed his internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at the Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, consistently ranked among the Top 15 hospitals in the nation.

      He initially planned to pursue pediatrics during medical school but was drawn to gastroenterology during his training.

      "I like taking care of patients and the cognitive aspects of internal medicine," he said. "I realized I wanted to be a specialist and make diagnoses, manage those diagnoses and be able to perform a procedure to help resolve a problem."

      During his training, he developed a strong interest in advanced gastrointestinal (GI) procedures, which help diagnose and treat digestive disorders primarily involving the bile duct and pancreas. This required an additional year of training in endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and other advanced endoscopic procedures such as endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR).

      One of the first people Dr. Peifer met at Washington University in St. Louis was Dr. Aaron Shiels, who also works at RGA. Dr. Shiels was doing his residency at WashU, and his and Dr. Peifer's residency training overlapped. Dr. Peifer said at the time he had every intention of returning to Ohio, but Dr. Shiels joining the team at RGA motivated him to visit Rockford.

      After that first visit to RGA, Dr. Peifer knew that this would be home.

      "I could feel the closeness and pride of the community here in Rockford and felt like I could make a big difference for my patients right away," Dr. Peifer added. He has been at RGA since 2006.

      "RGA does a great job of finding people who have similar values and interests," he said. "There's a balance of working in an academic-like environment and taking care of patients in the community we live in. You can see the connection between the physicians and that they enjoy working together."

      At RGA, Dr. Peifer spends his time caring for patients and performing both routine and advanced endoscopic procedures. He likes the challenge and creativity of advanced endoscopy, which often requires him to think outside the box to diagnose and treat a patient's condition.

      "Because advanced procedures are done at the hospital, I spend a large portion of my week caring for patients at either OSF St. Anthony Medical Center or SwedishAmerican Hospital. I'm an active person, so it's perfect for me because I like being on the go," he said.

      "We're constantly exposed to complex, interesting and serious problems and helping patients overcome these challenges." In doing these advanced procedures, doctors often have to deliver serious news to patients about their conditions. Dr. Peifer said he's especially dedicated to educating patients and explaining diagnoses and treatments as simply as possible to reduce anxiety and stress.

      "We're very state of the art when it comes to these advanced procedures," he said. "In the field of GI, if something goes in a new scientific direction, we are quick to embrace new technology. RGA works much like an academic center in that respect."

      Dr. Peifer is also proud of the family-like atmosphere at RGA and impressed by the dedication of the entire staff to deliver the best experience for their patients. "Whether someone is working at the front desk, in scheduling or in nursing, it's like a big family. People hold themselves to a higher standard."

      Currently, Dr. Peifer serves as the Director of the Endoscopy Lab at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, as well as the First Vice president of the Medical Staff.

      Away from work, Dr. Peifer enjoys cheering on his favorite Ohio teams, the Cincinnati Reds and the Ohio State Buckeyes. He and his wife, Shelley, have known each other since high school and attended college together in Ohio. They live in Rockford with their three children. Dr. Peifer is also an avid runner, and he and Shelley spend lots of time with the kids attending school activities, traveling and adventuring.