When Andrea Chidester recently moved from Utah back to Washington state and needed a doctor for her 1-year-old year old son, Beckham, she turned to a familiar face: her own childhood pediatrician, Dr. Michelle Heng at Kaiser Permanente Redmond Medical Center.
“I had so much anxiety around seeing the doctor when I was a kid, but that changed at 10 years old when I started to see Dr. Heng,” remembers Chidester. “She made it so easy and comfortable, I looked forward to seeing her. She talked to me at my level.”
That’s the kind of relationship with a doctor that she wanted for Beckham. Even so, Chidester wondered, would Dr. Heng recognize her after so many years? No worries there!
“As soon as she walked in, she said, ‘You have a baby!’” Chidester recalls.
Chidester felt an immediate rapport again with Dr. Heng.
“She’s still just as awesome and hasn’t changed her way of doing things.”
For Dr. Heng, who has been a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente for 21 years, time flies by.
“The years go by and I often wonder how my former, and now grown, patients are doing. That’s what makes reconnecting with Andrea to become her son’s pediatrician even more special.”
Dr. Heng says her approach to working with children and their parents starts on day one.
“It’s common for parents to feel anxious, and as a provider the first thing we need to do is listen to and empower parents to trust their judgement since they know their child best,” Dr. Heng says. “Parenting each child is different, so you’ll intuitively know what to do. We’re here to help.”
Getting to know patients starts with bringing children into the exam experience, no matter the age.
“It’s really important for me to engage my patients, even as young babies when they’re grabbing on to things,” Dr. Heng explains. “As they get older, the visits become more of a three-way conversation with the patient and their parents, and we work to address the child directly, so they know this is their body and health.”
Chidester is reassured her son will have a positive experience.
“It feels special that he will receive the same great care that I did.”
Ready to choose a doctor?
If you’re a current Kaiser Permanente Washington member, sign in to search the primary care providers in your network who are accepting new patients. Each provider has a page with details on the location, specializations, care philosophy, and personal details. When you have found one that is right for you, select “choose me” next to their picture to note them as your personal care provider. You can select a different provider for each member of the family. You can change at any time for any reason. Having trouble choosing? Call 1-888-901-4636.
Dr. Michelle Heng’s 5 tips for a successful doctor visit with your child
- Share what to expect. Talk with your child about the upcoming visit several days in advance. Depending on the age of the child, you can talk about different things that will happen: weighing and measuring, checking vision and hearing, and listening to the heart.
- Make it relatable. Look for age-appropriate books at your library that feature familiar and favorite storybook characters going to the doctor.
- Write down questions. Make a list of questions about feeding, growth, behavior, safety, and development to bring with you. Older children, starting around 11 to 13, should be encouraged to make their own list of questions. This builds a sense that their health and wellness is their responsibility.
- Master your own feelings. Your kids take their cues from you, and if you’re calm, chances are they will be too.
- End the outing on a high note. Promise something fun after the visit and follow through. A stop at a playground, or play date with a friend, will reinforce the idea that being brave has its payoffs.
6 tips for a successful doctor visit for yourself
Planning to see your health care provider about a medical concern? Taking these steps can help you make sure that you get your questions answered and your needs met.
- When you make your appointment, give a brief description of your health concern. This will help the scheduler set aside enough time for your visit. Also mention if you’d like us to provide reading glasses or a magnifying glass, a Pocketalker to help you hear, or interpretive services.
- Be ready to explain your most important health issue. What are your symptoms, how long have you had them, and what makes them better or worse?
- Bring an up-to-date list of your medications to the visit. Include everything you’re taking — prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as vitamins and other supplements.
- Ask a family member or friend to go with you. They can help you ask questions, take notes during the conversation, and remember what is said.
- Share your questions and opinions with your provider. If anything about your diagnosis or proposed treatment plan is confusing, ask your provider for more explanation. And don’t be afraid to speak up if you think a proposed treatment plan might not be right for you. There are often other treatment options you can choose from.
- Call your provider’s office if you think of questions after you get home. It’s never too late to get the information you need.
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