Uwe Schmidt, MD
In the weeks following the tragic May 2011 tornado that swept through Joplin, a different kind of tragedy struck some of those injured.
Doctors began noticing wounds were blackening and had even sprouted a strange, white fuzz. The doctors discovered 13 people injured in the tornado became infected by a single fungus rarely seen in humans: Apophysomyces trapeziformis. There have been only 74 cases ever recorded. It killed or contributed to the deaths of five of the 13.
One of those doctors was Dr. Uwe Schmidt.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Schmidt has been instrumental in diagnosing and treating the infectious diseases that mystify us, terrify us and often make the front page: West Nile Virus, HIV/AIDs, Heartland Virus, Legionnaire’s Disease.
Dr. Schmidt has had a fascinating career. Born in Germany, he attended medical school there and in Austria before moving to the United States in 1970. He studied pediatrics and immunology before finding his true calling in infectious diseases. He opened a private practice in New Jersey in 1980.
“There were a lot of new things happening at that time,” Dr. Schmidt said. “We had the outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in Philadelphia, and we saw an outbreak of West Nile Virus in 1979.”
Dr. Schmidt remembered the first reported case of AIDS in 1981 and treated many HIV/AIDS patients during the epidemic of the 1980s.
“From an infectious disease standpoint, it was an interesting time because we saw these very unusual infections we hadn’t seen before,” he said. “On the other hand, it was a very frustrating and difficult time because there was not too much we could do to help those patients.”
Dr. Schmidt came to Freeman in 2009. Each day, he makes rounds at the hospital and sees patients in the office. In the fall and winter, he often sees patients for pneumonia and the flu, including treatment to arrest necrotizing pneumonia, which can be fatal. In the summer, he sees many patients for tick-borne diseases and has even treated the very rare Heartland virus.
Dr. Schmidt pairs his experience and expertise with a compassionate and considerate bedside manner to help patients get through the difficult time and provide the reassurance they need.