With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating headlines and our lives, it’s easy to forget about the importance of routine, preventive healthcare. But primary care is essential to everyone’s health and wellness, pandemic or no pandemic. We talked to Dr. Rahshana Price-Isuk, Medical Director at Neighborhood HealthSource, about why primary care is important, how to choose a primary care provider, and how Neighborhood HealthSource approaches primary care.
Q: Neighborhood HealthSource clinics are primary care clinics. What is the importance of primary care as part of the healthcare landscape?
A: I’m really passionate about primary care. My specialty is family medicine; I think that family medicine providers and primary care providers are like the superheroes of healthcare. We can pretty much deal with most situations, whether they’re routine check-ups or helping to manage chronic illness or anything in between.
Many providers at NHS see patients of all ages—kids, teenagers, adults, geriatric patients. I have many families that I see as families—I treat the mom, and the grandma, and the kids, they’re all my patients. This is helpful because family dynamics play a huge role in your wellness. For example, things like nutrition can’t just be tailored to one family member. It’s an opportunity to created healthy habits within the entire family.
I think that family medicine providers and primary care providers are like the superheroes of healthcare. We can pretty much deal with most situations, whether they’re routine check-ups or helping to manage chronic illness or anything in between.Dr. Rahshana Price-Isuk
Q: What are the benefits of establishing primary care at a clinic like NHS?
A: The beauty of primary care is that we treat the whole person, with an emphasis on wellness and preventive care. It’s all about helping our patients live their best lives, so to speak. Being a primary care provider is about building relationships. Once you establish trust with a patient, you can help them in ways that on the surface don’t appear to be related to health.
For example, if a patient comes in with carpal tunnel syndrome related to their job, that’s going to keep being an issue unless they switch professions. That may seem to be an insurmountable obstacle if someone faces a language barrier for example. As a provider, I can help them access community English language classes or training to help them get a different kind of job that will be better for their health in the long run. As I mentioned, it’s about treating the whole person, and building relationships is what makes that possible.
Q: What’s your advice for choosing a primary care provider?
A: It can be tough! Convenience is important, so start by looking near your home, in your community. The healthcare system can make it hard to meet new provider, since making an appointment for a “meet the doctor” visit isn’t usually covered by insurance. You can use an annual check-up as a way to meet a new primary care provider, and take that opportunity to talk about establishing care with them. If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or asthma, you can also use a disease-specific visit to meet a new provider. If it does well, go back for another visit. It can take time to determine whether that relationship is the right fit.
Our approach is about meeting people where they are, treating each person as an individual, appreciating their culture and how that affects their care, and trying to customize their care for their life.”Dr. Rahshana Price-Isuk
Q: What distinguishes Neighborhood HealthSource’s approach to primary care?
A: Our approach is team-based, and mainly focused on meeting people where they are. Being a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), we’re designated to see any patient regardless of ability to pay. Being in an under-served area, our approach is definitely about meeting people where they are, treating each person as an individual, appreciating their culture and how that affects their care, and trying to customize their care for their life. The team approach is mainly having different resources available depending on what different patients need. One patient may need a nurse care coordinator and another patient may not; one patient may be on multiple medications and so may need extra help from our pharmacy program. It’s all about meeting people where they are and taking a customized approach to their care.