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Modern Health and Wellness with Dr. Derbes

Good day readers! It has long been my goal to promote health, wellness, and preventative medicine. This is a big part of why I got into medicine in the first place, and I now feel compelled to share some of my experiences and insights with those who may be interested.

I have offered to write a weekly (time and energy permitting!) periodical for the purpose of engaging the public in discussion of various health related topics. I hope that my audience finds these writings helpful and approachable, no matter what their current level of medical knowledge is, and I would encourage anyone with a health-related topic to suggest for this column to submit it to my email, noted below.

I have recently started practice at Dundy County Hospital in Benkelman. I am very excited to be part of my new community and I look forward to serving any who might need or want me as their physician. For those who are still wondering… Yes, I love it here. Briefly, my background is in General Surgery, where I completed 3.5 years of training, but ultimately decided that this was not the right cultural or professional fit for me. I later switched to Chronic Wound Care and Regenerative Medicine, while working to build a practice as a General Practitioner (GP) in New Haven, CT, while I completed my fellowship training. The evolution of my practice away from Surgery and into Primary Care/Wound Care has been very rewarding. I am currently taking new patients, and if you find that you need a Primary Care Physician (PCP), I would be happy to see patients of all ages in my office at the Quality Healthcare Clinic (QHC) in Benkelman, please call to make an appointment.

I have a very broad range of interests, both medical and non-medical, and I am happy to engage in discussion about a wide range of health-related subjects. I do not pretend to be an expert at everything health-related, this is simply not possible for anyone. I do, however, have a very curious and academic mind and will always do whatever background research might be needed before responding, both verbally and in print form, to ensure that what I publish is up-to-date and high-quality information. In situations where definite guidelines may not exist or in situations where I am sharing my opinion instead of concrete medical fact, I will do my best to say so explicitly.

The first topic I’d like to discuss is the importance of having a PCP, even when you may have no known medical problems. The job of a PCP is simply to accept responsibility for helping you maintain your health. This task broadly encompasses 1) Taking care of you when you are sick, 2) Helping you to prevent getting sick in the first place, and 3) detecting illness at an early stage when it does develop, making it easier to treat and minimizing the long-term consequences of having that illness. God made us mortal and fragile, we will all have inevitable brushes with illness at some point. When this happens it’s great to have a doctor who already knows as much about you as possible.

In modern American healthcare, most patients probably don’t have a single doctor, they have an army of specialists taking care of them. Depending on what medical conditions someone has, they might have a cardiologist, a nephrologist, a gastroenterologist, a surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, an endocrinologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist… the list has the potential to get quite tiresome. These specialists are experts in a very narrow field of medicine, and they will take great care of you regarding their specific area of responsibility for your health, but a specialist usually will not accept long-term responsibility for your overall health.

Occasionally, specialist recommendations might conflict, or if they don’t conflict directly, adjustments might need to be made to help the various components of their plans fit together in a way that addresses all your medical problems, makes sense for your life and lifestyle, and minimizes the overall number of medications you need to take every day. The best way to make sure that the entire healthcare team takes great care of you is to have a knowledgeable doctor take charge of that team for you.

Your PCP is not an expert at everything, but they are trained and competent in the full scope of medicine so that when a specialist tells them what the plan is, they understand what needs to be done, why it’s important, and how to help implement that plan for you going forward. While the specialist offers their recommendations, or provides a unique service that the PCP cannot, it is ultimately your PCP who accepts long term responsibility for guiding you through all the healthcare decisions you will have to make in your life. In my role as a PCP, I am this guide.

I am also an educator; I feel it is vitally important for patients to understand their medical conditions, medications, and the consequences of their healthcare decisions, and I spend as much time as possible teaching my patients about these topics. Sometimes this results in my spending more time with my patients than is average (it is not uncommon for me to spend 45 minutes or more with a patient who has multiple medical problems), and I hope that I do this in such a way that my patients appreciate the value of this time.

Just as I will engage all my patients in these discussions, I invite the readers to engage me anonymously in this forum. If you email me with questions, your identity will be protected as I answer your question in print. For more specific or personal discussions about your healthcare, feel free to call to make an appointment with me!

Next time, I will discuss some of the things I think about when I consider ‘Preventative Health’ for my patients, and why Preventative Health appointments are beneficial to schedule even before you get sick. Thank you for reading. For appointments call 308-423-2151

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