According to the National Center for Health Statistics the average life span in the United States has risen to 77.8 years.
There are, however, some troubling trends. 43 percent of those aged 45 to 64 have high blood pressure, and over 66 percent of all Americans are either overweight or obese. The experts all agree that a long and vigorous life may hinge on making healthy choices day to day, and simple positive changes can enrich the lives of individuals at any age.
Primary care physicians such as those specializing in internal or family medicine are usually the patient’s first point of entry into the healthcare system. Prevention, education, and counseling are important aspects of primary care. The first step is to find a practitioner that you can build trust with; one that will listen carefully to your concerns, teach you about prevention, and diagnose and treat your illnesses with compassion. The kind of intimacy that often develops between a primary care doctor and a patient may promote an easier exchange of information.
So how do we find a practitioner likely to help us meet critical health goals? Continuity is key.
“Primary care practices offer a ‘medical home’ for patients,” says Shreeketa M. Mehta, MD, a board-certified family practice physician affiliated with Valley Medical Center’s Lake Sawyer Primary Care Clinic.
Primary care physicians represent “the human face” of medicine, Dr. Mehta believes.
“Whether it’s a CT, MRI or lab result, it’s our job to communicate in a plain and understandable way to the patient. And if you see multiple physicians—say a cardiologist, pulmonologist, and endocrinologist—there’s no guarantee all these people are talking to each other. It is the responsibility of the primary care physician to coordinate the patient’s care between multiple specialties, while providing comprehensive and quality care. This is the essence of the Medical Home.”
Dr. Mehta urges patients to not wait until their medical situations are serious before searching for a compatible physician. “You want to establish a connection and build trust with your doctor while you’re healthy and things are going well. If more difficult times come, the relationship and trust are already there.”
For more information about Valley Medical Center’s clinic network, please call 425-656-4055.
Lake Sawyer Primary Care is located in Maple Valley at 27203 216th Ave SE, Suite D. To schedule an appointment please call 425-656-4100.
Photo caption: Dr. Shreeketa M. Mehta, Lake Sawyer Primary Care
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