Primary Care Providers: Advocates for your Health
Unsure whether it’s safe to take an herbal supplement? How about those meal replacement shakes that everyone seems to be selling to their friends? Don’t forget the controversy over flossing – is it really OK to stop?
Before you consult Dr. Google or rely on the advice of a friend, consider making an appointment with a primary care provider.
It just might protect your health.
“Primary care providers are advocates for your health and your family’s health,” said Dr. Teresa J. Wright, a board-certified family practice physician with Internists at Western Branch. “We are your secretary, your quarterback and the assistant who knows everything about you.”
When people regularly see a primary care provider, they develop a close relationship with that physician, benefitting their health in several ways.
Not only do primary care physicians make sure patients stay up to date with screenings but they can also detect problems early. It might be subtle changes in how a breast looks or feels. Sometimes it’s a patient’s nagging cough that appears to worsen over time.
“Primary care physicians notice these things,” Dr. Wright said. “We help detect significant illnesses early.”
They can also help save patients a trip to the emergency room. Primary care providers are available to answer their patients’ questions, even after hours.
“You can call us in the middle of the night,” Dr. Wright said. “We are happy to help our patients when they have concerns or don’t know if they should seek emergency care.”
If a patient does need emergency care or treatment from a specialist, a primary care physician can help by being able to answer any questions about their patient’s medical history.
“We’re a great point of contact,” Dr. Wright. “When an emergency room doctor or specialist calls me, I am a resource for my patients because I know their history.”
Primary care physicians can also make it easier to get tests scheduled by helping navigate insurance requirements. An insurance company may deny a test just because they don’t have enough information, Dr. Wright said.
“Sometimes a patient gets denied, they get discouraged and the test that could have saved their life does not happen,” Dr. Wright said. “They just need the doctor to call the insurance company.”
As for meal replacement shakes and herbal supplements, the answer to whether it’s safe to use them depends on the individual, their health, their prescriptions and what’s in the products.
People who significantly cut their calories without being under a doctor’s supervision can run the risk of heart or liver damage and fainting, Dr. Wright said.
And what about flossing? Is it important for gum health?
“Yes,” Dr. Wright said. “Floss, floss, floss.”
Take charge of your health by staying up to date with screenings and checkups. Schedule an appointment with a Bon Secours primary care provider. Call 804-359-WELL or visit Good Help Docs.