Being Well Blog

“We know you well” means we not only know what it takes to keep you healthy, but that we actually get to know each other. No other group of doctors can do that like we can, because only the North Ottawa Medical Group is made up of doctors employed by North Ottawa Community Health System. We’re your neighbors, fellow parents at the school, coaches to your kids, and as much a part of this community as you are.

We want you to be healthy, and we want you to get to know us a bit better, so this blog will provide you with health and wellness information as well as fun ways to learn about who your home-town Medical Group doctors are. After all, being well is more than just great care. To the North Ottawa Medical Group, it’s also about building genuine personal relationships.

Feel free to browse the information below or choose from one of the categories found in the left margin.

Local People Caring For Local People

May 12, 2017

“One of the most altruistic dreams we see in medicine is that of kids who want to grow up and be hometown doctors. And here it really happens,” says Connie Gnegy, Executive Director of Physician Practices at NOCHS.

NOCHS has steadily and thoughtfully increased its primary care capacity over the last four years. That’s not easy to do. “Filling an opening takes about 18 months,” says Connie. “We are working very far in advance to fill this community’s care needs. People want to come to this community. They want to work where they live, and make a difference by serving their neighbors. You might even notice that more and more of our physicians are hometown folks returning to their roots.“

How much capacity do we have? North Ottawa Medical Group was started in 2012 with three physicians. Now we have 31 practicing professionals, and we’re not done growing. “Our plan is to have enough new providers to cover an additional 11,000 patients by the end of 2017,” says Connie. “That’s a 50 percent increase over last year.”

We’ve done more than just hire physicians. We have also dramatically expanded our team to include mid-level providers (such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants). How does this benefit our patients? You can get in to see a mid-level much faster than a physician. A midlevel provider can prescribe, treat, diagnose and educate. They collaborate intensively with the physicians so that you get the care you need when you need it. Think of it as a merge ramp into primary care rather than a stoplight. We help you access care faster and more smoothly.
You can get to know our team members with the photos and information on the next page. We look forward to meeting you, and becoming your local care provider.

If you’re looking for routine care for you and/or your family, please contact Family Medicine at (616) 846-2640. If you’re an adult who has more complex care needs, please contact Internal Medicine at (616) 844-4701.

Life-Enriching Care for Life-Limiting Diseases.

May 12, 2017

Diseases such as COPD or congestive heart failure are nothing less than a hardship for patients and their families. That’s because they can come with complications such as:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Uncontrolled pain
  • Shortness of breath

Patients with life-limiting illnesses often spend a lot of time in a gray zone. They’re alive, but their symptoms rob them of the joy of living. Unfortunately, they can also spend a lot of time in the hospital or the Emergency Room dealing with the very real complications of their illness.

Palliative care can help.
“People have a lot of trouble navigating a difficult disease and the symptoms it causes. I help them on the journey,” says Dr. Stuart VanderHeide. He’s the new Medical Director for palliative care. “I come from an ER background, and I’ve seen people struggle helplessly with symptom management as they come to the ER time after time. Palliative care is specifically designed to ease that kind of stress and anguish.”

Palliative care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a life-threatening illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

“We don’t cure these diseases,” Dr. VanderHeide goes on to say. “But we do help relieve the symptoms and reduce their impact, to prevent suffering and improve quality of life.”

Dr. VanderHeide is no stranger to the lakeshore community. He and his family live here, his children attend school here, and he practices here. “I am vested in this community,” he notes. “People with serious illnesses deserve to have a local doctor managing their care. I am thrilled to be your neighbor as well as your physician.”

Primary Care Made Better

May 12, 2017

It’s easy for patients to get annoyed in a doctor’s office. You wait weeks to get in, and then you get ten minutes with a doctor. If there’s follow up, you’re on your own. Good luck…see you next year!

That model of assembly-line medicine reflects how insurers pay: by the visit, and by the task. That model makes patients crazy, and frustrates health care providers, too. No one wants to work this way. Yet everyone has been forced into this model because it’s the only way to be reimbursed by insurance companies.

That’s why North Ottawa Medical Group chose to apply for a new type of reimbursement program, called Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (or CPC+). It is the outgrowth of a Medicare (government program for the aging population) pilot program, but benefits all patients within the medical group—not just the aging.

What does that mean? Let’s say you’ve got some rather complicated medical conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Your doctor says you need regular glucose tests and blood pressure checks. You’ve also been advised to change your diet and work in a little exercise.

In a traditional care setting, you would get a piece of paper telling you what to do. But in our practice, thanks to CPC+, we have redesigned our care system. Now you’ll have a care manager, who can help make sure you follow up on your to-do list and help you get any other appointments or information
you need. That care manager might call in a pharmacist to help answer questions about your medications, and maybe even set up an appointment with a dietitian.

In other words, you have a team of people helping you manage your health. You’re no longer responsible to “go it alone.”

“When we applied for CPC+, we knew we would have to change everything about our infrastructure,” says Connie Gnegy, Executive Director of Physician Practices at NOCHS. “We’re accepting lower fees for visits in exchange for incentives for providing the highest quality of care and service. We’re using those incentive dollars to provide the ‘extras’ patients need. Our physicians are thrilled about it, because this new system will allow them to practice medicine the way they want to do it… with their focus squarely on patient outcomes.”

CPC+ is not an automatic designation. Physician practices must apply, and be chosen by the Center for Medicaid/Medicare Services. North Ottawa Medical Group is the only practice in Grand Haven or Spring Lake to have successfully made this switch and one of less than 3,000 practices across the country to have done so.

“We are transforming medicine,” Connie states emphatically. “Our patients and our doctors are going to have a radically different and better experience. It will benefit the community for years to come.”

So what are the benefits of CPC+ to our lakeshore community?

  • We want Medicare patients! Most physician practices will only accept a limited number of Medicare patients because the reimbursements do not cover costs. Now that we’ve redesigned our infrastructure, we are able to see more Medicare patients.
  • We’re attracting doctors. Doctors prefer to practice medicine this way, and they are excited to join a group that is structured to achieve better patient outcomes. That means we can serve more patients right here, the right way, close to home.
  • Better outcomes for all patients. We designed this system in response to Medicare, but all of our family and internal medicine patients will benefit.

If you are looking for a primary care physician, call us to get patient-centered, comprehensive care.
Internal Medicine: 616.844.4701
Family Medicine: 616.846.2640