Primary Care Physicians Are Your Personal Partner in Health

May 9, 2011

What happens when you get sick and don’t have a primary care physician? It usually means ignoring the problem until it gets worse, or ending up in an emergency room for a condition that could have been prevented in the first place. Neither is the optimal choice for your health. Jonathan Grief, MD, a family medicine physician, L. Chirumamilla, MD, an internal medicine physician and Laleh Rezaei, a pediatrician, provide insights into why it’s so important to have a primary care physician.

L. Chirumamilla
“Preventive medicine is incredibly important. If people approached their personal health in the same manner that they approach maintenance to their vehicles, so many health conditions could be alleviated. If you take your car in for an oil change and tune up every so many miles, why shouldn’t you do the same for your body?” 

L. Chirumamilla, MD
Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician
Floyd Memorial Medical Group-Salem

J. Grief
“Many patients have an aversion to regular physician visits because they’re afraid of being lectured about their weight or chastised for lifestyle choices such as smoking or not exercising. The important thing to realize is that a doctor’s job is not to judge. It’s to recognize potential problems and work with you to identify achievable solutions to better your health. Our goal is to be your personal healthcare partner.” 

Jonathan Grief, MD
Board Certified Family Medicine Physician
Family Physicians of Southern Indiana

R. Laleh
“As a pediatrician, I try to impress upon each of my patients’ parents the value of prevention to a child’s healthy physical and mental development. Once problems develop in a child, they can be very difficult to overcome. As Einstein once said, ‘Intellectuals solve problems. Geniuses prevent them.’ My ultimate goal is for my patients to look back on their childhood and think their parents were geniuses.” 

Laleh Rezaei, MD, FAAP
Board Certified Pediatrician
Pediatric Associates of Southern Indiana

See Your Physician While You’re Well

Experts estimate that over 100,000 lives could be saved each year in the United States if patients focused more on the importance of prevention. Having an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician who you see on a regular basis, especially when you’re feeling well, is one of the best ways to ensure long-term good health. Why? Because your physician can help you identify potential health concerns early on, before they become a serious problem, and give you the necessary tools to address those issues. This is known as “preventive medicine.”

Dr. Chiru elaborated, “Utilizing your primary care physician as your partner in preventive medicine can help you avoid a myriad of unnecessary conditions, especially those for which simple vaccinations are available. For adults, these include flu, pneumonia, shingles and tetanus. We can also help you identify achievable goals to improve your long-term health, such as exercise more regularly, eat a healthier diet, maintain an ideal weight and quit smoking.”

Your Family History Isn’t a Crystal Ball, But It’s Close

“Patients tend to underestimate the effect family history can have on their health,” explained Dr. Grief. “The sobering reality is that even if you’re doing everything right-eating well, exercising regularly, and maintaining your stress level, you can still suffer from conditions such as high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, thanks to your genetic predisposition. Your family history also influences the types of screenings you’ll need, and at what age you should begin getting them. The goal is to identify potential problems and address them as early as possible in order to avoid irreversible complications that pop up later in life.”

Primary Care Physicians Are Your “Medical Home”

The phrase “medical home” has been a buzzword in recent years, particularly since the passage of healthcare reform. Dr. Chiru helped to clarify what this concept means. “Simply put, a medical home is a partnership between the patient and their primary care physician that puts their physician at the center of all their medical care. In the medical home model, the primary care physician coordinates all of the patient’s care across specialists, hospitals, home health agencies and nursing homes. They act as a single point of contact to ensure appropriate follow-through and communication. This helps to avoid unnecessary medication errors and duplication of tests and procedures that can result from lack of communication between care providers, and also keeps costs to a minimum. It’s certainly the ideal that we strive for, but first and foremost requires the commitment of the patient to always stay in regular contact with their primary care physician and truly treat them as their personal partner in staying healthy.”

Consistent Medical Care Is Especially Important for Children

Woman Child Exam

When a physician is caring for a child, they have the double-duty of educating the parents and the patient. As Pediatrician Dr. Rezaei explained, “My number one goal is to educate parents on the importance of taking a proactive approach to their child’s health rather than simply being reactive. Moms and dads are so busy these days, sometimes it’s all they can do to keep up with the frequent illnesses that seem to pop up during childhood, much less think about bringing their child in to see me when they’re feeling perfectly fine.”
She continued, “I try to help parents understand how important it is to take an active role early on in their child’s health and development. This helps to set them up for more stable and healthy adolescent and teenage years. Many times behavior problems and mental health issues arise during these years, and if the parents haven’t developed a strong foundation with their child, it’s very difficult to address the issues effectively. As a pediatrician, I can act as a neutral third party to identify potential problems early on and correct them before they get out of hand.”

Looking for a physician?
Call Floyd Memorial’s physician referral line at 1-800-4-SOURCE (1-800-476-8723) or visit our physician directory at www.floydmemorial.com.

Tips for a Successful First Visit

Whether you’re switching to a new primary care physician or haven’t seen one in a long time, follow these tips for a smooth and productive first visit.

  • Make a list of all the medications you are currently taking, including the dosage and times of day that you take them, as well as any over-the-counter or herbal medicines and supplements.
  • Be honest. Physicians are not mind readers, and are not easily embarrassed. Tell them exactly what is going on so that they can provide you with the best possible treatment.
  • Write down any health concerns or questions and bring the list with you. It’s also a good idea to bring a pen and paper so you can take notes.
  • Make sure the physician participates with your insurance plan, and remember to bring your insurance card.
  • Have your medical records transferred from your previous physician.

Free Medication Pocket Logs
Call 1-800-4-SOURCE (1-800-476-8723) to receive free medication pocket logs for you and your loved ones.

Know Your Numbers!

Doctor Patient Exam

By keeping certain key health numbers in check, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing a multitude of life-threatening conditions. Here are ideal numbers to keep in check:

  • Blood Pressure:
    • Less than 140/90
  • Blood Sugar: (measured after fasting):
    • Diabetes patients: less than 125
    • Non-diabetes patients: less than 110
  • Cholesterol:
    • Total: less than 200
    • LDL: less than 100
    • HDL: 60 or above
    • Triglycerides: less than 150
  • BMI (Body Mass Index):
    • Less than 25

Free “Healthy Families” Series: Parents & Kids Growing Together

Saturday, June 4, 2-3:30 pm
Teen Brain Development
(adolescent/teen audience)

Saturday, July 9, 2-3:30 pm
Drugs & Alcohol (adolescent/teen audience)

Join board certified Pediatrician Laleh Rezaei, MD, for this informative monthly series on building a happy, healthy home where parents and kids grow together. Each session will focus on a different topic and will be geared towards an audience of parents, adolescent/teenage children or both parents and children. Register by calling (812) 945-2229.

Family Health Centers are available in Clark and Floyd counties to provide medical care and resources for individuals who are either un- or underinsured.

The centers offer the expertise of local physicians and medical professionals who donate their time to offer all members of these communities with healthcare access. For more information, contact the Center located in your community.

Clark County Family Health Center
(812) 283-2308

Floyd County Family Health Center
(812) 941-1701