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.

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

Ask A Doc | Lisa Hoekstra, MD from NOCHS Urgent Care

May 11, 2017

How do I know when to go to Urgent Care versus the Emergency Department?

Good question. It can be difficult to determine where to go to get the appropriate level of care.

Urgent Care centers are designed to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries that need to be taken care of right away but are not life-threatening. Urgent Care centers are open after hours, on weekends and holidays and can provide care when your primary care provider is not available. The Emergency Department should be used when you have a serious medical condition that could cause permanent harm or even death if treatment is delayed.

Here are some examples of conditions that can be treated in the Urgent Care and other conditions that should be handled in the Emergency Department:

Urgent Care
• Sore throat or ear pain
• Cough, congestion and sinus problems
• Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
• Bladder infections
• Rashes
• Minor burns
• Sprains or injuries
• Pink eye or minor eye problems
• Lacerations or animal bites
• Vaginal infections or STD concerns
• Bug bites
• Sports physicals

Emergency Department
• Chest pain
• Difficulty breathing
• Severe abdominal or pelvic pain
• Ill infants less than 3 months old
• Loss of consciousness
• Severe burns
• Obvious broken bones
• Suspected overdose or poisoning
• Severe injuries or uncontrolled bleeding
• Neurologic changes including loss of vision
• Seizure activity
• Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
• Acute mental health issues (nervous breakdowns, suicidal thoughts)

Helpful Tips for Parents to Teach Their Kids About Emergencies

May 11, 2017

Adults know that ambulance lights and sirens usually mean an emergency of some sort. However, we also understand that the ambulance is on its way to help.

For kids, emergency vehicles can be much more scary. From a child’s perspective, they’re huge, and loud, and they have lots of frightening lights. While we hope an emergency situation never happens, they do. So it’s important for kids to get past their fear, and understand how to interact with ambulances and EMS staff.

“It’s very common for us to get 911 calls from kids, or to find kids at home when we respond to a call,” says Tom Stanley, director of NOCHS EMS in Grand Haven. “Parents can help their kids feel less afraid and more confident by teaching them some basic facts about emergency medical services.”

Here’s what NOCHS EMS recommends.

  • Emphasize help. Any time you see or hear an ambulance, remind your kids “someone is on the way to help.”
  • Explain the scary stuff. The bright yellow coats, horns, and flashing lights intimidate kids. Explain that those are safety precautions so that other people see and hear paramedics (especially in the dark) and can get out of the way.
  • Teach them about 911. Explain that calling this number will bring immediate help if someone is unconscious, or bleeding badly, or unable to communicate. (And make sure they understand it’s only for emergencies!) Kids should also understand that an ambulance, fire truck or police car will come to the house quickly when they call 911, and they need to let people in to help.
  • Discuss road etiquette. When you pull over for a fire truck or ambulance, explain what you are doing and why. Help kids understand that they should always get out of the way, even if they are on bikes or walking, so that the responders can get where they are going quickly and safely.