Big benefits come with long-term partnerships
When Jennifer Leone moved to the Seattle area a few years ago and became a Kaiser Permanente member, she looked for a personal physician right away. She wanted a family doctor who could care of her, her husband, Tracie, and their 2-year-old daughter, Vivienne.
“Vivienne had just had eye surgery in California for a growing cyst,” says Leone. “I wanted a doctor who could become familiar with her health issues in case any problems came up and could also care for all of us, both individually and as a unit.” She chose Jeffrey Gelgisser, MD, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center at Riverpark in Redmond, and she’s glad she did.
“My husband’s mom passed away about a year ago, and Dr. Gelgisser was able to help us deal with the loss as a family,” says Leone. “In particular, he coached us on what to look for with Vivienne, who was really close to her grandma.”
When Leone injured her hip, Dr. Gelgisser quickly diagnosed the condition as snapping hip syndrome, caused by picking up her increasingly heavy child. “He’d had the same problem, so he recognized it right away,” says Leone. “He prescribed some simple stretching exercises I could do to ease the pain and prevent further problems, and I’ve been much better ever since.”
The last time Vivienne went to see Dr. Gelgisser for immunizations, Jennifer and Tracie went along and they all got their flu shots. “It’s so reassuring to have a long-standing relationship with a doctor who knows all of us and makes sure we get the care that we need,” says Leone.
Doctors gain valuable insights from family care
Laura Turgano, DO, a family physician at the new Kaiser Permanente Gig Harbor Medical Office, relishes opportunities to get to know and care for entire families. “It’s a privilege to gain a glimpse into the home as a unit,” she says. “A patient might be parenting while working the night shift, caring for an aging family member, or celebrating retirement after years of long commutes.
“A growing familiarity with the whole family gives me more information to draw upon when offering treatment options and sharing decision-making with my patients,” says Dr. Turgano. “It allows me to be a stronger advocate and to provide more customized care plans.”
David Ward, MD, a family physician at Riverfront Medical Center in Spokane, agrees. “It’s extremely helpful to understand the dynamics of a home, such as how Grandma is doing or what the kids are up to,” he says. “Also, as I see family members in different settings — such as when they come in for a personal visit and when they accompany a child for a visit — it all contributes to the relationship we are building and the understanding of the blessings and stressors impacting their lives.”
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