Several surveys have been performed in connection with the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), which was created by the East Central District Health Department (ECDHD), Columbus Community Hospital and other partner agencies. This information is critical to finding out where the gaps are in our four-county district, which includes Boone, Colfax, Nance and Platte counties.
One of the items that stood out is that 19.3% of people in our health district do not have a primary care physician (PCP). There are a number of reasons for this, including a lack of insurance, a lack of financial resources and the fact that some people simply don’t go to the doctor to form the kind of relationship that prioritizes healthy living.
PCPs are important because they offer care for your health throughout your life — both when you’re healthy and when you struggle with any number of health issues. Your PCP can actually hold the key to good health for you. Maybe you’re young and healthy, so you think you don’t need a PCP. After all, why not just go to the doctor when you’re sick, and have your needs taken care of at that time?
However, when you have a PCP, they have a working knowledge of your medical history because you’ve shared your health concerns with this professional. Knowing your history means your doctor can offer you the best health care outcome for general medical problems that may come up. They also offer preventive care, including routine blood work and checkups that give your PCP a good picture of where your health is currently. Vaccines and associated information can help you stay healthy. Your PCP can also make suggestions for how to live a healthy lifestyle, which can greatly reduce your risk of health issues down the road. And if you do encounter health issues, your PCP can refer you to a specialist, where you can receive further care. Usually, a specialist will not see you without a referral from your doctor.
If you have a PCP, please make sure you stay current in your relationship. If you don’t have that kind of relationship with a local physician, begin the process of finding one. Check with your insurance to see which doctors are covered. Ask friends and loved ones whom they would recommend. Call the office to see if they are accepting new patients, and try to find a location that is convenient for you. Do some research on the doctor you’re considering to learn what certifications they may have. And, if possible, interview the provider. Share with them some of the issues you have dealt with and what’s important to you, including the medications you’re taking. You can see what their approach is to medicine, get a feel for how the office is run, and hopefully begin setting the groundwork for a good relationship.
Having a PCP who knows you and your health is vital to living a healthy, vibrant life. You can have confidence that your health is their priority, and by following their guidance, you can enjoy a long-term relationship to benefit your health for years to come.
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