River City Rheumatology
Infusion Therapy, Disease Management, Clinical Research, & More.
Find Patient Forms, Resources, & Info About Our Membership Program.
Request Medical Records
Now Scheduling Patients!
Dr. Andrew Lewandoski
Dr. Lewandoski is now seeing adult patients at our office! Please call (616) 320-5330 to get scheduled.
River City Rheumatology is a West Michigan-based practice founded by James Birmingham, M.D. Dr. Birmingham has been practicing rheumatology for nearly 20 years and is excited to announce the opening of his private practice, conveniently located in Ada, MI. River City Rheumatology is open to patients of all ages and offers cutting-edge care for a wide range of auto-immune and rheumatological conditions, as well as a full service infusion suite and a comprehensive, holistic wellness program.
If you are already one of Dr. Birmingham’s established patients, welcome back! He and his team are excited to be offering the same compassionate, effective, patient-centered care you have come to expect in the management of your health. If you are a new patient, we look forward to meeting you!
Call to Schedule
Monday – Thursday | 7:30am – 4:30pm
Friday | 7:45am – 1:00pm
How to Request Medical Records
University of Michigan Health-West Rheumatology Patients:
You no longer need to request a records transfer before scheduling at River City Rheumatology.
Spectrum Health (Corewell) Patients:
Please use the form below to request medical records before scheduling with River City Rheumatology.
All Other Transferring Patients:
Please contact your doctor’s office for instructions on getting medical records transferred.
Below is the required information to include on your request form.
James Birmingham, M.D.
6741 Fulton St. E.
Ada, MI 49301
(616) 320-5330 (phone)
(616) 320-5331 (fax)
At River City Rheumatology, you will always be:
Our goal is to provide generous, timely appointments in a comfortable setting.
For many patients, a standard length and schedule of appointments is sufficient proper disease management. For others, more frequent appointments, more immediate access, and extended counseling and education is desired or needed. For this latter group of patients, we are pleased to offer a yearly membership option, geared toward holistic wellness and integrated care. We strive to offer just the right level of support and intervention for each individual in our practice.
You are so much more than the chronic disease you may be facing.
We promise to listen to you and acknowledge the reality of your lived experience—and then work with you to help you reclaim the best quality of life you can achieve.
Medical care should be more than mere protocols.
We are committed to providing up-to-date, evidence-based, common sense treatment plans–tailored to YOU. For those patients who need it, we offer a full, on-site infusion suite, opportunities to be involved in clinical research, and a yearly membership option for patients who would benefit from extra levels of support and comprehensive care. Our vision is to be more than a medical mill. River City Rheumatology is a place where the needs of the whole person are addressed, including thorough education on every medical intervention we suggest, as well as information on important pillars of health like diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and spiritual matters.
We need your patience as we begin this journey together.
We are committed to getting our established patients back in on schedule, as well as helping our infusion patients and new referrals get established. During this time of transition, please allow 72 hours for requests for prior authorizations and refills, and one week for patient assistance forms. We are excited to be back serving you and we will return all calls and other communication as quickly as we can!
How We Got Here:
A Message From Dr. Birmingham
To all of my patients and families,
I wanted to put some thoughts together in one place so that you can get a more detailed, behind the scenes look regarding what is happening with me and my medical practice.
I have been in medicine for nearly 30 years. During that time there have been a number of challenges and changes in the field of medicine, and in my life as well. In medicine, a disturbing trend has been a move away from local, private practice delivery of health care toward centralized, system-based care. This migration has many causes, but a primary driver has been the overwhelming influence of third party payors (government or insurance company plans) to determine and assign the value of medical services. This reality, coupled with incredible licensing and certification requirements has made it nearly impossible for local, private, independent providers to make it without becoming completely jaded and burned out.
While in the practice of medicine I have worked in nearly every health system imaginable including large tertiary university hospitals, community hospitals, academic centers, private practice, free clinics, and in missionary medicine overseas. In all these settings my goal has been to remain faithful to basic principles of care. The Hippocratic Oath calls on physicians to “first do no harm”. This means that a good doctor will make decisions and recommendations in a thoughtful and considerate way to ensure the lowest likelihood of hurting someone. This takes technical and scientific expertise, but also requires attention to detail and avoiding snap judgments (too common in today’s productivity-based model of health care). Secondly, I try to follow the “Golden Rule”, which is to do to others as you would want them to do to you. In other words, I am committed to treating my patients the way I would want to be treated.
All of this has led to where I am now. My determination to focus on patient centered care and to make sure all people are given a fair hearing has led to some difficulties in satisfying the demands of a health care industry which is increasingly focused on productivity and profitability. In one of the letters announcing the termination of the University of Michigan Health-West Rheumatology clinic, rheumatology was referred to as a “broken” specialty nationwide. This characterization has a nugget of truth to it, but is somewhat misleading. The “broken” parts of the specialty do not reside in the practice of rheumatology, but in the valuation, or reimbursement of it.
Rheumatologists care for some of the most challenging conditions that a person can acquire or develop. These conditions are frequently misdiagnosed, as they evolve erratically over time, and they rarely have simple tests to help make a diagnosis. For these reasons and more, people who present with rheumatic or autoimmune diseases often have seen multiple specialists and have been dealing with symptoms for years. These conditions persist for a lifetime in many or most cases. Therefore, it stands to reason that the evaluation and management of autoimmune disease takes time and consideration. However, our health care reimbursement system does not value time. It values procedures and numbers. Many procedures which take little thought and minimal time to perform are reimbursed at much higher rates than what rheumatologists can charge for the long-term diagnosis, care, and management of complex autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. It is in this way that the specialty is “broken” and helps to explain why so few physicians go into the field, adding to the trouble many people have getting in to see a rheumatologist in the first place.
With all of this in mind, and understanding the challenges before me, I am trying out a different practice model. By opening River City Rheumatology, along with River City Wellness and Integrated Care, I am committing to the comprehensive health and wellness of my current and future patients. My goals are to maintain my basic principles of care and to sustain a viable independent practice. As part of this I want to be able to offer an open clinic for all, and I do not wish to exclude patients on the basis of insurance quality. At the same time, I want to be able to offer extra time and access for those with the desire or need for increased education or management review. Part of the success of this philosophy will be dependent on having income from a variety of sources, and I will therefore be establishing a hybrid approach to the clinic with traditional and direct payment options. Traditional payment is exactly what my current patients are used to: generous office visits at regularly scheduled intervals with either myself or one of my mid-level providers, billed to insurance.
A second option will be an annual membership program that will allow patients more time during appointments, as well as on demand, same-day or urgent virtual or office visits with a provider outside their routine scheduled appointments. A focus of this plan will be the integration of holistic aspects of wellness into the appointments, including diet, sleep, exercise, and stress management along with yearly comprehensive medical evaluations. This design is in no way intended to implement a “two tiered” care model. Every one of my patients will continue to be valued and cared for in the way they deserve. I believe this model recognizes the differing needs and desires of individuals, and also helps keep the entire practice accessible to all.
This endeavor will be aided by highly qualified and compassionate physician extenders such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. As always, my goal is to have the entire support staff of my practice share a common vision—which is to provide high quality, compassionate, patient-centered care to every single person who comes through our doors.
We are also pleased to be offering infusion therapy on-site for those who need it. And we anticipate expanding our services to include physical, exercise, and nutrition therapy, as well as other specialists on-site interested in the management of autoimmune disease.
The need for patient centered, comprehensive care for autoimmune and inflammatory disease is overdue. This vision extends well beyond my own little corner of the world. I hope that by partnering together we can prove this model of care to be successful and that management of chronic illness doesn’t demand a high volume, productivity-based approach, but can be comprehensive, integrated, and truly holistic. If you would like to partner with me, I look forward to working with you and I appreciate your encouragement and support. I know rheumatology well, but the intricacies of launching a business on a short timetable is a steep learning curve, so I covet your prayers and your patience (and your advice!) as I navigate these new waters. Philanthropic opportunities may also exist as we explore ways to expand this vision.
Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions or concerns and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.
The new office number is 616-320-5330.
James Birmingham, MD (Jamey)
If you are interested in any of our services and would like more information, please contact our office at (616) 320-5330 or send us a message using the link below.