Monday, June 02, 2014


Having your own doctor is the first step to good health

What happens when you get sick and don’t have a primary care provider?  Either you ignore the problem or go to the hospital emergency room for an illness that doesn’t really require emergency care.  Neither is a good choice for optimal health.   Here are some reasons to have a primary care provider (PCP).

Preventative  care: One of the most important functions of a PCP is providing preventative care, whether it is timely screenings, blood tests, or vaccinations. It’s certainly better to discover, diagnose and treat for hypertension before presenting to the ER with a stroke.

Coordination of care:  Many of us see specialists for different health issues.  The PCP can coordinate information between healthcare providers and avoid duplication of testing.  
Fewer trips to the ER: PCPs can call in a prescription or answer questions over the phone, reducing unnecessary trips to the hospital.

Discussing uncomfortable subjects:  When you are established with a PCP you hopefully build a rapport, and it becomes easier to discuss sensitive subjects like anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug overuse, or sexuality-related problems.  

Dr. Ramindra Walia, Chief Medical Officer at United Community & Family Services and a member of the Backus Medical Staff, offers these tips to optimize your relationship with health care providers:  

Prepare for your visit by writing down a list of concerns or questions and bringing it to the appointment. To make the visit more streamlined and satisfactory, prioritize so the most urgent problems can be addressed first.

Don’t keep secrets from your PCP.  It puts you and your PCP at a disadvantage and could actually be harmful.  Be honest in reporting symptoms and habits.  Good communication is key to successful health care. 

After all, shouldn’t being healthy — and staying that way — be everyone’s goal?

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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