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ASK THE P.A.: How to select your healthcare provider

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Edwin Weih was the sole healthcare provider for several decades. He and his wife, Amy, are also good friends to many in the community. The Weihs live on High Prairie. Amy Weih photo

Hello everyone, this is the start of what I hope will be a periodic “ask the PA” column.

I am Edwin Weih, P. A. (Physician Associate). I practiced medicine in Oakridge, Oregon from 1992 until recently. I owned and operated FIVE RIVERS FAMILY PRACTICE. But, enough with the introduction.

Before I opened my practice, the CEO of a hospital in Goliad, Texas was trying to recruit me. He talked to me about the four A’s of business. It has occurred to me that this can be flipped and applied to choosing your healthcare provider. There has been a great deal of turmoil in the health system in Oakridge, and picking a primary care provider can be daunting.

The first A Is affability. Will this provider treat you in a friendly manner? Will this provider treat you with respect? Will this provider listen to you and let you explain your health concerns? I once had a medical professor tell me that if I listened long enough to the patient they would tell me what was wrong with them. I think this is part of being affable.

The Second A is ability. This can be hard for you to judge. Of course, the provider will have the proper credentials. But, this does not always mean they will have “real world” abilities. Do you know others who have been to this provider? Does your friend feel that they received good medical care?

The third A is availability. You should be able to get an appointment in a timely manner. In my opinion this means within 2 to 3 weeks for non-urgent medical issues. I also feel that if you have an urgent issue you should be seen within 24 hours. This can be difficult. A common cold is not usually an urgent issue to a medical provider but it may be to you. Of course, real emergencies such as chest pain, the worst headache of your life or abdominal pain that makes you bend over should be seen in the emergency room. Another availability issue is after hours care. This has become more difficult in Oakridge with providers not living in Oakridge. On a side note, most suture cases can wait until the next morning if bleeding is controlled. Sustained pressure should do it, and the wound is cleaned and kept covered.

The fourth A is affordability. Most medical payments go through insurance companies. But, if you are currently without health insurance I think the provider should be understanding of this and cut you a break. Unfortunately, often the corporation they work for will not allow them to do this.

To summarize, I think that your provider should be warm, open and friendly. They should be able to take care of your medical needs in a professional and competent manner. Your provider should be available for an appointment in a timely manner. Providing affordable care often does not rest on the provider’s shoulders and is a very large societal issue.

I hope this gives you some insight into choosing your provider. I feel that you should be able to have a “get to know you” interview with your provider where you can discuss these issues and discuss your philosophy of treatment. Whether you are charged for this is up to the owner of the medical practice.

I hope to receive medical questions from the community. Of course, I will not be able to give specific medical advice to an individual but, I can answer questions in a general manner that may provide information to all. Please email these questions to:  [email protected].

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