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.

ORBERA®: A new weight loss option from the experts at NOCHS Bariatric Clinic

May 12, 2017

You’ve tried a weight loss program and/or exercise without the success you were hoping to have. You’re not a candidate for bariatric surgery.

Now there is a new option!

Introducing the ORBERA® balloon from NOCHS Bariatric Clinic. We are pleased to offer this non-surgical weight loss option that has been growing in popularity during the past two decades. It is FDA approved, and more than 220,000 of them have been placed in the United States.

How does it work? The balloon is inserted into the stomach while the patient is under light sedation. Then the balloon is filled with saline. Since the stomach feels full, patients are not as hungry and they eat less. After six months, the balloon is removed. As with any weight loss program, diet and exercise are critical elements of success. “We highly recommend that our patients take advantage of our medical weight loss program as well,” says Stacy Suarez, Medical Weight Loss Coordinator of the NOCHS Bariatric Clinic.

“Our dietitians and exercise physiologists can provide patients with the support and education they need to start making better choices. Once the balloon is removed, the goal is to have changed old behavior patterns to ensure the weight stays off.”

Who is a candidate for this procedure? ORBERA® is right for people who have struggled to lose weight with diet and exercise alone, but who are not candidates for bariatric surgery. “If you’re looking to lose 40–50 pounds this might be a good option for you,” says Stacy. “We are offering the ORBERA® balloon because it provides patients another choice in addition to medical and surgical weight loss. This option is designed to help patients lose enough weight to relieve joint pain, re- energize their efforts around diet and exercise, and improve their overall health.”

If you have questions about weight loss options,contact the NOCHS Bariatric Clinic at 616.847.5489.

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)