A recently published 2019 Reuters Health report shows a massive increase in Americans without a Primary Care Physician (PCP). In the last decade, the number of patients with a dedicated doctor in the US has dropped by two percent. While this may not seem significant, that’s millions of people who no longer seek preventive care—roughly the entire population of New Jersey.
Primary Care is defined as the provision of integrated, accessible health services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients- and practicing in the context of family and community. Studies show that patients who do visit a PCP are more likely to receive recommended preventive services such as flu shots, blood pressure screenings, and cancer screenings, leading to greater overall health.
Primary Care Physicians can be broken into 5 major categories: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Geriatrics. We sat down to talk with Dr. Aldo Ribeiros Jr., M.D., an internal medicine physician with Baptist Health Primary Care, part of Baptist Health South Florida, specializing in the diagnosis, treatment and care of adults across the spectrum – from health to complex illness. Dr. Ribeiros outlined four key reasons why having a primary care physician is a must-have for patients young and old, healthy or compromised, during normal times or a pandemic.
1. Personal Relationship
A primary care provider’s goal is to deliver the care that’s right for you, not a one-size-fits-all approach. “When I see my patients, I like to get a full picture of what they’re going through, not just medically, but also socially. The first five to ten minutes of every appointment is not about medicine, it’s about life. This allows me to take a very holistic approach to their treatment, and also allows us to develop trust, a vital component in medicine. Patients need to be able to trust when I recommend a new medication, or refer them to a specialist,” explains Dr. Ribeiros. The entire healthcare process is easier when you have a meaningful relationship between patient and provider.
2. Total Health Management
“We are the front line for getting all chronic and acute conditions treated and treated right,” tells Ribeiros. This means everything from strep throat, broken bones, asthma or pneumonia, to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and alzheimers. A primary care provider is responsible for both screening and managing all major health-related conditions to improve your quality of life.
“It’s especially important during COVID, as people have fallen behind on their everyday care, due to fear of going outside, fear of going to the doctor’s office, or just simply not knowing what to do next,” the doctor warns. Baptist Health has taken excellent safety measures to ensure uninterrupted care for all. Patients are screened three times before they enter the room, through temperature checks, questionnaires and at times serology testing, keeping other patients and employees safe. Proper PPE, frequent sanitizer stations, plexiglass boundaries and if necessary, their popular telehealth service also help everyday medical care function safely and effectively.
3. Champions of Prevention
“One of the main jobs of every primary care physician is to stop medical issues before they start,” explains Ribeiros. We are about to enter flu season, and doctors are recommending the flu shot just as they do every year. There’s a lot of skepticism and fear of vaccinations, and this poses a challenge. The good doctor, however, is confident that’s going to change. “As physicians, we need to be strong in that regard, to steer patients and give the best advice needed.”
On the internal side, Baptist Health administers monthly meetings for all physicians to attend, collaborate, learn and exchange ideas. “It’s an excellent forum for getting to know other physicians and specialists, and also staying up-to-date with the latest data needed to treat patients and keep our community safe,” Ribeiros explains.
4. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
In Baptist Health facilities, the total spectrum of medicine can be kept under one metaphoric roof. They have every resource available to serve every patient, like diagnostic imaging, nutrition counseling, robotic surgery, cardiologic institutes, cancer treatment centers, and every specialist under the sun. They all work together with good communication and protocols, making for a truly holistic experience. Ribeiros expands, “The leadership at Baptist Health is truly second to none. They put their patients and their community first, from physicians, to administration, to always trying to go the extra mile for our patients.”
“I’m from Miami, and hold the community near and dear to my heart—I care a lot for the people,” he reflects. Born in South Miami Hospital, part of Baptist Health South Florida, Dr. Ribeiros has truly come full circle. “They have always been a staple in my community, and I’m proud to be part of the organization. Baptist allows me to enjoy my favorite part of the job, which is the patients – getting to know them and being an integral part of their life – it gives me a lot of satisfaction. I don’t take it for granted.”
Baptist Health Primary Care has 14 locations located throughout Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward County. To schedule an appointment with one of our primary care physicians, call 786-596-2464 or visit us at BaptistHealth.net/PrimaryCare.