Saturday, October 21st, 2017

S Shopper Stories


ASTHMA AND ALLERGY CLINIC

The only allergy and immunology board-certified physicians west of the Elizabeth River

by Allison T. Williams


Dr. Thamiris Palacios-Kibler is welcomed by Dr. John R. Sweeney, Jr <BR>Photo by Kaiser Custom Images

Dr. Thamiris Palacios-Kibler is welcomed by Dr. John R. Sweeney, Jr
Photo by Kaiser Custom Images

Patients at Dr. John R. Sweeney, Jr.’s Asthma and Allergy Clinic began seeing a friendly new face in August.

Dr. Thamiris Palacios-Kibler, 34, is a former instructor at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, where she completed her residency and fellowship in 2016. With a quick smile, Dr. Tam — as she introduces herself to staff and patients — says she is happy to be in Hampton Roads.

Dr. Sweeney was the only physician in the area who was board-certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology before finding Dr. Palacios-Kibler. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

A Peru native, Dr. Palacios-Kibler grew up in Virginia and worked as an allergy specialist for a Charlottesville medical practice. Last February, her husband, Marine Major Michael Kibler, who had been commuting to Quantico daily, got transfer orders to Hampton Roads.


 “I wanted the mom-and-pop shop atmosphere.
I’m looking forward
to the opportunity to spend more
personalized time with patients.”

—Dr. Thamiris Palacios-Kibler



Around the same time, Dr. Sweeney was in the middle of interviewing for a second allergist to join the independent practice he opened in 1996 after retiring from the Navy. The right doors seemed to open at the right time, paving the way for the two doctors’ professional partnership.

Dr. Palacios-Kibler says her young family is enjoying life in Hampton Roads. They have settled down into their Chesapeake home, and the children — Liam 7, Lianah 3, and Leonel 10  months — love the beach.

The doctor is excited about the opportunity to work in a small, privately-owned medical practice. “I wanted the mom-and-pop shop atmosphere,” Dr. Palacios-Kibler says. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to spend more personalized time with patients.”

Dr. Sweeney has no immediate retirement plans. But at age 68, he admits that brass ring is likely to come temptingly within his grasp over the next few years.

“I’m looking ahead,” he says. “It’s important to me that I have someone – particularly a board-certified allergist and immunologist — join me now so that whenever I do retire, I can ensure continuum of care for my patients and employment for my staff.”

As the only board-certified allergist and immunologist west of the Elizabeth River, Dr. Sweeney sees patients from Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, Franklin, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and North Carolina. Because he accepts the military insurance, Tricare, he also sees the occasional patient from the Peninsula or Virginia Beach.

Dr. Sweeney opened both his clinics in 1996, shortly after his retirement from the Navy. One is near downtown Suffolk and the other is in the Churchland area of Portsmouth.

“We opened both offices to make it more convenient for patients,” Dr. Sweeney says, acknowledging that allergy injections require a time investment. Although the ultimate goal is to get patients to monthly injections within six to nine months, they start out weekly for the first three months.

Patients are often sent to allergists and immunologists only after months, even years, of previous attempts by their general practitioners and other specialists have failed, Dr. Sweeney says. Despite having being treated by other doctors, patients will come in with hives, swelling, chronic coughs, poor immune systems and recurrent sinus infections.

Although a few other types of physicians offer allergy testing, a board-certified allergist and immunologist is better able to pinpoint precise allergens that could baffle other doctors for years.
 “Oftentimes, people come to us with weird and unusual problems … or with various theories and myths picked up off the internet,” Dr. Sweeney remarks. “It’s up to us to look for the answer and get them on the right path.”

Steering patients along that path involves much more than allergy testing and getting them on the right concoction of serums to control their symptoms, he adds.

“The most important thing we do with our new patients is the medical evaluation,” the doctor says. “We spend at least an hour with every new patient, getting to know them and going over their histories when they first come in.”


“It’s important to me that I have someone
– particularly a board-certified allergist and immunologist —
 join me now so that whenever I do retire,
I can ensure continuum of care for my patients
and employment for my staff.”

—Dr. John R. Sweeney, Jr.



“That information may turn out to be crucial to solving the puzzle as to what is causing their allergies,” Dr. Palacios-Kibler says.

Often, their work can seem similar to that on the medical television show, “House.” Dr. Sweeney relates the story of one patient, a 13-year-old boy, who was frequently sick and had been taking prescribed steroids since he was a toddler. With proper testing, Dr. Sweeney was able to determine that most of the young man’s health problems were the result of unnecessary medications doctors unknowingly had given him.

For the past few years, Dr. Sweeney and his nurse practitioner, Alice Wilkes-Bryson, have been rotating back and forth between the Suffolk and Churchland offices. Once Dr. Palacios-Kibler becomes more familiar with patients and routines, life will be easier for everyone.


A board-certified allergist and
and immunologist is better able
to pinpoint precise allergens that could
baffle other doctors for years.



Dr. Sweeney believes in giving back to the community through the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. For the past five years, he has been a gold sponsor for the hospital foundation’s annual fundraiser, the Moonlight & Mistletoe Gala.

“The children’s hospital is a very valuable resource for this region and it needs philanthropy to survive.” He adds, “It’s important!”

Dr. Sweeney has three adult children — John, Richard and Rachel — and six grandsons, ranging in age from 3 to 13.

“I’m proud to be the father of the best dentist in Western Tidewater,” Dr. Sweeney says with a grin, delighted that his son, Richard Sweeney, DDS, is the owner of Dominion Dentistry in Churchland. His son’s dental practice is located in the same building as his father’s practice on Stamford Road.




Asthma & Allergy Clinic

3217 Stamford Road
Portsmouth, VA 23703

757-483-4150

2453 Pruden Blvd.

Suffolk, VA  23434

757-539-7771