Choosing a Primary Care Physician

We live in an era in which health information is available on smartphones and chain drugstores offer walk-in medical clinics. Although these resources may have their place, they’re no substitute for a trusted advisor who knows your medical history and can help you navigate the complex health care system. For this, you need a primary care physician (PCP).

Having a PCP makes it easier to stay healthy and get effective care if you become ill. PCPs can be internists, who care for adults, or family medicine physicians, who care for patients of all ages and also may offer obstetric care. In some cases, specialists such as gynecologists or allergists may serve as PCPs.

Community Partners

Lutheran Medical Center partners with local primary care physicians in various ways. In some cases, we refer patients to PCPs for follow-up care after a hospital stay. If a hospitalized patient already has a PCP, we consult with that physician on the treatment plan. We also conduct regular community health needs assessments, most recently in 2015, to help improve our population’s access to health care, including primary care services.

scanlon-md_amy-6rev“Having a good relationship with a PCP shapes your entire experience with the health care system,” says Amy Scanlan, MD, a family medicine physician who is Medical Director of primary care for SCL Physicians, a physician group that is part of SCL Health, which is Lutheran’s parent organization. “You’re able to have collaborative discussions and make more informed health care choices.”

Having this background makes it easier to get the right treatment leo_a-6when you’re sick. “When one of my patients comes in with a vague complaint, knowing his or her medical history helps me get to the root of the issue quickly,” says Anthony Leo, MD, an internist who serves as President of the medical staff at Lutheran.

Kenneth Cohen, MD, an internist who is Chief Medical Officer with New West Physicians, a private physician practice serving the drcohendsc_5604-1Denver Metro area, adds that PCPs have an overall understanding of the health care system and their patients’ insurance coverage. “Some people think it’s more efficient to go directly to a specialist—a spine surgeon for back pain, for example—but this might lead to unnecessary testing and costs,” he says. “Too much care can be as dangerous as too little.”

 

Factors to Consider

You’ll likely start the process of choosing a PCP based on several factors, including the office’s proximity to your home or work, office hours and whether the physician takes your insurance. But deciding on the best person to fit your needs may take more effort.

Dr. Scanlan notes that the best time to start searching for a PCP is when you’re healthy. “You can ask family and neighbors for their recommendations, but realize that there’s no one physician who is right for everyone,” she says. “You need to find someone you’re comfortable with, and that may take some trial and error.”

Carla Rail, MD, a family medicine physician who is Senior Medical Director of rail_carla_c-4Physician Health Partners, a management services organization owned and led by PCPs, advises making an initial “getting to know you” appointment. “Take a list of your medications and any medical records so you’re prepared to have a constructive discussion about your health,” she says. “Pay attention to how the office is managed and your interactions with the front office staff and support staff, as well as the physician.”

Keeping You Healthy

Once you’ve established a relationship, Dr. Rail advises going in for regular checkups. “The recommendation for physicals depends on age and family history, but once you hit age 40, a yearly physical is the best way to keep current with screenings, immunizations and other prevention measures,” she says. “And each checkup gives your physician a better understanding of how to keep you healthy.” l

 

Find a primary care provider

Visit lutheranmedicalcenter.org/find-a-doctor to find the doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant who is right for you. Start with a basic search by entering first or last name, medical specialty, zip code or proximity. Then narrow your results by gender, language spoken, city or department.

 

You Can Represent Lutheran in the Community

It’s the time of year where the leaves change colors and jack-o-lanterns start adorning the steps of houses around your neighborhood in anticipation of costumed characters ringing bells for treats. Lutheran Medical Center is getting into the Halloween spirit this month by participating as a sponsor in three family-friendly events.

  • Saturday, Oct. 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., the Duncan Family YMCA in Arvada will be hosting their annual Halloween Carnival and Haunted House. Lutheran volunteers will be onsite helping with carnival games and providing valuable information to parents about the services our hospital provides. The event is free to Y members and $5 per family for non-members.
  • Friday, Oct. 28 from 4 – 7 p.m., the APEX Park & Recreation District in Arvada will be hosting their 16th annual Halloween Carnival. Enjoy ghoulish carnival games, bounce houses, hayrides, ghost stories and much more. Adults are free with a paying child at $5 per child. Lutheran volunteers will be on-site hosting a carnival game and passing out branded glow sticks to children.
  • Saturday, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., costumed characters and families will be taking over the Highlands with the 9th annual Highland Haunt. Running on 32nd Avenue between Clay and Zuni streets, dozens of trick or treat stations will be available for families to enjoy, including one from Lutheran.

Volunteers are needed for each of these events. If you, or someone on your team, is interested in helping, please sign up here or contact Lindsay Reinert, lindsay.reinert@sclhs.net, 303-425-2963.

Temperature Check

This time of year, it feels like we are coming into the home stretch in meeting many of our key goals, or Blue Chips. As a care site, we are doing well on many of our strategic objectives. Specifically, we have made budget every month so far this year, with the exception of January.

Additionally, while we still need to make sure we reach our HCAHPS goals by the end of the year, we are seeing improvement. Remembering our commitment to providing Best Patient Experience for all patients and families, I’d like to share some recent patient comments that show our staff and physicians are hitting the mark.

From Facebook reviews or comments

“Love this hospital. Our family has been coming here for over 30 years. This latest visit was exceptional.”

“Cesarean section for my wife and recent stitches in my arm. Excellent staff. Excellent campus. I feel lucky to live close to such excellent health care.”

 

Incredible Emergency Department

An ER visit for a case of diverticulitis resulted in a message of thanks: “The physician was wonderful about helping us understand my condition and treatment options.  The nurses were incredible they kept my wife and I informed through the whole visit.  Everyone was friendly and courteous. Thank you.”

Palliative Care Kudos

A patient in the Palliative Care at Home Program writes: “Laura Greene does a commendable job, as does social worker Leslie Kalechman, who went out of her way searching for helpful information. … I look forward to Laura’s visit every month. It’s nice to know someone cares about my comfort, other than my wife. … Your program is an excellent addition to my life. I would recommend palliative care to anyone who has chronic pain and discomfort.”

“Professional, kind and courteous”

Speaking about her recent stay in our hospital, a patient wrote:  “I came through the front door E.R. (I) was seen in a room within a few minutes and every person I came in contact within your hospital was professional, kind, courteous, polite, helpful, all work well together…. A five-star hotel would have trouble keeping up with your crew. The food and service (were) top notch.”

Have a great week,

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Regis Jesuit Students Have a Clean-up Day

On a recent weekend, a group of students and families from Regis Jesuit volunteered to clean up the Lutheran regis-2016-delaney-bgrounds, specifically picking up cigarette butts on our no-tobacco campus. Some even held a competition, and young Delaney Burke got the most – 820 cigarette butts. Another student came close with 780.

The areas with the most trash and cigarette butt litter were near the ED, Including the bus stop, near the trees just west of the bus stop and in front of the ED physician parking, the sidewalk from the bus stop all the way down to the ED parking lot, and the area just south of the ambulance bay.

Not only did our volunteers pick up cigarette butts and trash, there were also multiple dead birds around the campus that were carefully disposed of with gloves and separate bags. Thanks to our community partners for helping us keep this campus clean!

Is Your Superstar At Risk for a Sports Injury?

Throw far. Run fast. When it comes to athletics, girls can do just about anything boys can—and that includes getting hurt.

In fact, according to a new study, female high school athletes face a 50 percent greater risk for overuse injuries than their male counterparts. What’s more, they tend to sustain these injuries earlier in their high school careers.

A Slow, Steady Build

Overuse injuries occur when a bone, muscle or tendon undergoes repeated stress without enough time tosportsresized recover. Examples include shin splints, tendinitis and stress fractures.

Girls who play field hockey or compete in track and field have been shown to have the highest rate of overuse injuries.

Young athletes have more of these injuries than adults because they’re still growing. And that’s also why treatment matters so much. If a child pushes through the pain, the consequences could be impaired growth and long-term health problems, such as arthritis.

Stay Safe on the Track or Mound

Unlike twisted ankles or concussions, overuse injuries develop gradually and worsen over time. At first, your child may feel pain only after activity. Then the ache will strike during play. Eventually, it will limit your child’s performance and linger even when he or she rests.

Watch for pain in areas linked to your child’s sport, including pitcher’s elbows, runner’s legs and feet, and swimmer’s shoulders. Also stay alert for swelling, changes to your child’s form or technique, or a drop in desire to attend practice.

To prevent overuse injuries:

■    Encourage cross-training and multiple sports, especially before puberty. Specializing in one sport too early increases the risk for injury or burnout.

■    Take one day off per week from any organized activity, and two to three months off per year from any given sport.

■    Gradually increase training time or volume over the course of weeks or months.

September is Sepsis Awareness Month

Sepsis is a medical emergency. Every minute matters.  Treatment should be initiated as soon as possible for all patients with possible sepsis.

Early sepsis interventions that have been associated with a reduction in mortality include:

Broad spectrum antibiotics within 3 hours of diagnosis, ideally as soon as possible

Blood cultures drawn prior to antibiotic administration

Trending lactate to normal

Fluid resuscitation (30 ml/kg) for septic shock

Click on the graphic below for full-size

sepsis

Here is Our Senior Leadership Team!

Congratulations to Stephanie Kilpatrick, behavioral health tech in the ED. She was quick to respond with the correct list of Lutheran’s Senior Leadership Team. She won the tickets to the Sept. 17 Rockies game. She saw the story on the Lutheran Landing and did a little sleuthing to find all the correct names and titles, including our two newest members.

Click on the photo for a larger copy.

lmc-senior-leadership-team

How to Win Rockies Tickets

Summer is definitely winding down. The nights are cooler and the Broncos started their season with some heat! This is the time of year that makes sports fans happy – both baseball and football are happening, and hockey and basketball are on the horizon.

Who wants to go see the Rockies play the San Diego Padres on Sept. 17? I have two club level tickets, if you’re willing to do a little work for them.

Just send the names and titles of all members of Lutheran’s Senior Leadership Team – including our new Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Medical Officer – to LMCcommunications@sclhs.net. The first one to get it right wins the tickets. Managers, directors and vice presidents are not eligible to win.

Have a great week,

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