Why Do I Need a Primary Care Physician?

Photo of Dr. Childress looking at a patient in a primary care office

According to a 2018 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 28 percent of 30- to 40-year-olds didn’t have a primary care provider. 

Does this mean you shouldn’t have one either?

If that question is on our mind, let’s start by taking a look at some important facts about primary care.

FACT #1: Having a Primary Care Doctor Can Help Your Health

In a 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers surveyed 49,286 adults with and 21,133 adults without primary care. They concluded that those with primary care received significantly better care than those without. 

FACT #2: Having a Primary Care Physician Tends to Provide a Better Healthcare Experience

In this same study, those who regularly visited a primary care provider reported significantly better health care access and experiences than those who did not. Consistent care made people more confident in the quality of care they receive and more knowledgeable about their health. 

FACT #3: A “Medical Home” Comes with Benefits

When you regularly visit a primary care physician, you have one point person who can refer you to specialists as needed. They also monitor your progress through treatment, following up to ensure you are healing. 

“Your primary care physician essentially serves as your ‘medical home’,” said Dr. Childress, a primary care physician at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group – Primary Care. “We are part of a growing network of talented medical professionals. So when we refer you to a specialist, we can keep track of your care throughout your time with them.”

FACT #4: Self-Referrals Can Be Costly (to Your Wallet and Health)

Without a primary care physician to monitor their health, people often go directly to the specialist they think is best when a problem arises. Maybe they are experiencing chest pain, so they visit a cardiologist. 

But what happens if those tests can’t determine the problem? If the chest pain is caused by something other than a cardiac condition — such as a gastrointestinal issue or a lung problem — the patient will be stuck searching for the right specialist, traveling to different offices and, most likely, incurring increasing out-of-pocket expenses. 

“Working with a primary care physician can end up eliminating the need for many costly tests,” says Kelli Goldsborough, a nurse practitioner at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Group – Primary Care. “You’ll end up saving precious time and money by getting a professional opinion instead of guessing on your own.”

FACT #5: Primary Care Physicians Take a Holistic Approach to Health Care

The primary focus of your physician is on taking every aspect of how you feel into account and creating a complete picture of your health care. They can save you time and money by evaluating your health instead of focusing on the treatment of individual symptoms. 

Countless reports emphasize the need for regular visits with a primary care physician. If you want to get or keep your health on track, it is highly recommended that you start developing a relationship with one.

So are you ready to find a primary care physician you can trust? Or are you looking for more information about how regular visits with a primary care physician can help you? Call 301-609-5044 or visit our website to make your appointment today.

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Adult Vaccines: What They Are and Who Should Get Them

Adult Vaccination Photos

Children aren’t the only ones who need to roll up their sleeves. In fact, adults require vaccines throughout their lives to protect themselves and others from serious illnesses. There are a variety of immunizations that adults should consider receiving, especially if they’re traveling abroad, but here are four of the most important:

Influenza

It’s no secret that we — along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — are major supporters of the seasonal flu vaccine.

The flu shot is just as much about keeping yourself safe as it is about protecting those whose bodies may be compromised by another health condition or simply because of their age. And it’s difficult to know whether or not the influenza season will be severe, so the best way to protect yourself and others around you is to get vaccinated yearly.

“Everyone should have a flu shot every year,” Nurse Practitioner Kelli Goldsborough said. “Vaccination is particularly important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and adults 65 and older.”

Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis

Often referred to as the “Tdap,” this vaccine protects adults from serious illnesses, including:

Tetanus – a bacterial infection that produces a toxin, or poison, that causes muscles to become tight, which is very painful
Diphtheria – a very contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory system
Pertussis – also known as whooping cough, this is an extremely contagious bacterial infection that causes a bad cough

Adults should get the Tdap vaccine first if they didn’t get it as an adolescent to protect against whooping cough, and then a Td booster shot every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria. Women should get the Tdap vaccine between the 27th and 36th weeks of pregnancy, regardless of when they last had the shot.

Pneumococcal

Adults 65 and older — and adults younger than 65 with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and HIV — should get the pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against pneumonia, infections in the bloodstream, and meningitis (an infection of the brain and spinal cord).

Shingles

Adults 50 and older should receive the new Shingrix vaccine. This shot protects against the re-emergence of herpes zoster, the virus responsible for chickenpox, which can cause a painful rash later in life (known as shingles).

“You should get this shot even if you have already received the old vaccine, Zostavax,” Goldsborough said.

Where to Get Vaccinated in Southern Maryland

Fortunately, for adults who live in the area, staying up to date with a vaccination schedule is easy and convenient. If you have any questions about which vaccines you should receive or are ready to get immunized, make an appointment with UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care providers Dr. Childress or Kelli Goldsborough by calling (301) 609-5044.

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5 Ways High Blood Pressure Can Affect Your Body

High Blood Pressure Measurement Photo

Did you know that one out of three adults in America has high blood pressure? And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that only about half of those nearly 75 million people have their blood pressure under control?

It’s true — high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) has become a serious medical problem in our country. And if you have high blood pressure, it’s far more serious than you might think.

While the most immediate, short-term damage done by high blood pressure might not be instantly apparent, this condition is one of the leading contributors to serious long-term health problems among Americans.

Your blood pressure is the force at which blood is being pushed against the walls of your arteries. Here are just a few ways your blood pressure can affect your body when it’s at a higher level than it should be:

It Can Damage Your Heart

The CDC notes that your heart often bears the brunt of the damage caused by high blood pressure. This is because, over time, high blood pressure can harden your arteries, which makes it more difficult for your body to get blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When that happens, these are just some of the potential outcomes:

It Can Increase Your Risk of Stroke

As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, stroke is a serious medical condition and one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in Americans. Unfortunately, the reason why it’s so common in our country is because high blood pressure is, too.

The simple truth is this: Hypertension is the primary cause of stroke.

It Could Eventually Cause an Aneurysm

An aneurysm happens when a section of an artery’s walls are weakened and bulges. If the bulging gets too extreme, the artery can rupture and cause internal bleeding — a serious, life-threatening situation.

Though the exact causes of aneurysms are far from certain, high blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of developing an aneurysm because of the long-term damage it can do to arteries.

It Can Lead to Kidney Failure

Sustained high blood pressure can lead to damaged blood vessels in the kidneys. Once damaged, the filtering process that occurs inside your kidneys, which helps your body rid itself of waste and toxins, becomes more difficult and less effective. Over time, this can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

It Can Damage Your Eyes

One little known fact about high blood pressure is that it can have a significant impact on your eyes, specifically your retina.

The retina is found at the back of your eye, and high blood pressure can affect how well this tissue is able to function. This is because abnormal blood pressure can cause damage to the vessels in the retina — leading to double vision, dim vision, headaches, or even total vision loss.

Usually, this damage is done over time, but there are instances where very high blood pressure spikes can cause symptoms to appear suddenly. These situations are medical emergencies and should be treated as such if they ever happen to you or someone you know.

Visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website to learn more about how blood pressure levels can affect your eyesight.

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that affects millions of Americans young and old. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure don’t know that they have it. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure levels checked regularly and get your blood pressure in check by practicing healthy living habits. Talk to your primary care provider to learn more about your blood pressure and how you can get on track to preventing high blood pressure.

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3 Reasons Why We’re Raising Awareness for Minority Health Month

Minority Health Month 2019 Photo

We’re proud to support Minority Health Month this April as we shine a light on the importance of equal and accessible health care in Southern Maryland. Here are three reasons why this month means so much to us and those who count on us.

Some Diseases Affect People Disproportionately

While diseases such as cancer or the flu affect everyone regardless of who they are, there are certain diseases and ailments that affect a disproportionate number of minority groups in America.

Sickle cell disease is one such disease that affects minorities in America, especially among black people and African-Americans. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are also at higher risk for developing diabetes than other groups, too.

While there are numerous reasons why these groups are at greater risk for developing these diseases, more than anything, these facts serve as stark reminders that more work needs to be done to ensure that every member of the population is given the same chance to live a long, healthy life.

Health Disparities Can Be Caused by Multiple Factors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health.” Ethnicity, race, gender, disability status, and socioeconomic factors can all play a role in this, and it’s important for communities to step up to help everyone live healthier.

Health disparities can come from:

  • Poverty
  • Environmental Threats
  • Poor Access to Health Care
  • Educational Differences

You can learn more about the various health differences that exist among the American population by visiting the official website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Health Fairness is Important

At University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, we believe that no one should be put at a disadvantage in the health system, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status, age, or gender. By valuing health fairness, we value all people equally, and we work to ensure that every person in our community always has access to high-quality health care.

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Get to Know Primary Nurse Practitioner Kelli Goldsborough

Kelli Goldsborough, NP, Photo

Kelli Goldsborough, NP, set out to study social work. But she gravitated toward nursing in school — first becoming a licensed practical nurse, then a registered nurse (RN) and finally a nurse practitioner (NP).

What’s the Difference Between a Registered Nurse and a Nurse Practitioner?

While RNs and NPs both tend to patients’ needs and treatments, nurse practitioners must complete a masters or doctoral educational program while RNs are required to complete a nursing program. In addition, NPs are able to see and treat patients on their own as well as prescribe medications. This is why you’ll commonly see an NP at a specialized practice, such as UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care, rather than at a hospital.

Where She Practices

From inpatient and outpatient settings to the health department and even hospice in St. Mary’s County, Goldsborough’s background is diverse and wide ranging. Now, she’s found a home in primary care.

“It’s challenging,” she said. “No two patient situations are the same. But I look forward to building relationships with patients the same way I have with my own primary care provider. I’ve been seeing some patients for more than 12 years, so when something’s wrong, there’s a little bit more understanding as to what’s happening. As you learn about patients and as they trust you, you can impact them in a more positive way to help them achieve their health goals.”

When She’s Not in the Office

When Goldsborough is off duty, her family takes center stage.

“My husband and I have five children between us — four of them still at home,” she said. “My youngest is six and my oldest is 16, along with two adult children who are 23 and almost 21.”

With three girls at home, after-school time and weekends often revolve around activities like Girl Scouts and dance. Goldsborough also makes time for extended family.

“I’ve lived in southern Maryland my entire life, and my family is here,” she said. “That’s important to me.”

Want to schedule an appointment with Nurse Practitioner Kelli Goldsborough? Give us a call at (301) 609-5044 today.

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High School Sports Physicals for Spring and Wellness for Life

Spring Sports Physicals Photo

Don’t save those doctor’s appointments for when there’s something already wrong.

Sure, a great primary care provider can help you get better. But our first goal is keeping you in your best health at all times and stopping health issues before they start.

UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care is a great team to have on your side, whether you’re a high school athlete or anyone looking to live their healthiest life.

Dr. Lorenzo Childress, III, along with Nurse Practitioner Kelli Goldsborough and the talented team of medical professionals are ready to help you be your best.

Now Scheduling High School Sports Physicals

Spring sports will be starting before you know it.

Lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis or track & field. No matter what sport your student will be playing, they’ll need a sports physical from a licensed physician if they want to be ready to compete when practices start.

All that requires is a quick visit with our Primary Care team. We’ll ensure your athlete is healthy enough to compete at the top of their game.

Call 301-609-5044 to schedule your visit today.

Wellness is a Lifelong Pursuit

You don’t have to be a budding sports star to want to be at the top of your game.

No matter how old you are, achieving and maintaining your best health is an important goal. Do it for yourself. Do it for the ones who count on you.

Regular visits to a primary care physician can help you live well, live healthier and live longer.  Through quality, compassionate primary care, we’ll put you on the path to a lifetime of good health — and give you the freedom to live the life you want.

What can you expect from your primary care team? We welcome adult patients for preventive care and checkups, management of ongoing health issues, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, disease prevention, patient education and more.

It all starts with making that first appointment. Schedule yours today. We’re open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, plus we’re now open until 7 p.m. every Wednesday to make it even more convenient for you. Give us a call at 301-609-5044.

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Want To Boost Your Immunity? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do Right Now.

Boost Your Immunity

Did you know that, since 1982, peak flu activity has been observed in February more than any other month? That’s right, even though we’ve made it through what most people consider flu season, we’re actually in the heart of it right now.

So how can you protect yourself from the flu and those pesky colds that seem to be going around? It starts with a strong immune system. But you don’t need to turn to those “natural” remedies that claim they have immunity-boosting characteristics to strengthen your defenses. Here are five simple ways to do it yourself.

Roll up Your Sleeve, Get a Flu Shot

Let’s set the record straight, getting the flu shot is not a foolproof method of preventing the flu; however, the benefits of the flu vaccine are well-documented and wide-ranging.

Dr. Lorenzo Childress, a primary care physician with UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care in La Plata, generally recommends vaccination for people over six months of age if they’re medically able to do so.

Get Moving

People who work out regularly lower their risk of catching a cold. Many of them also enjoy a wide array of other health benefits, including a better mood, better sleeping habits, an overall energy boost, and more.

30 minutes of moderately intense activity, such as brisk walking, a few times a week is all it takes. Of course, consult with your primary care doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a big problem in the United States. To go along with the other emotional and physical health risks associated with not getting enough sleep, people who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are three times likelier to catch a cold than those who sleep at least eight hours.

Stop (or Never Start) Smoking

Smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products damages the lining of nasal passages, which act as the first line of defense for your body against viruses and bacteria. Smoking also suppresses the immune system overall, making it harder for you to fend off colds and the flu this time of year.

If you’re a smoker and need help quitting, visit SmokeFree.gov for some great resources for how to reach your goal.

Scrub, Scrub

Washing your hands frequently during flu season is an easy way to reduce the spread of a cold or  flu at home and in your community. Don’t worry about whether you’re using antibacterial soap or not — there’s little difference in the effectiveness as long as you wash your hands following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Holiday Hours for UM Charles Regional and UM Community Medical Group Practices

UM Charles Regional Holiday Hours

The holiday season is upon us, and a few of your local medical practices will be operating under holiday schedules. Read on for additional information regarding closures and adjusted hours as our team prepares to observe the holidays.

As always, our hospital’s emergency room will be open 24/7 throughout the holidays. In the event of an emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

UM Community Medical Group – Surgical Care

11340 Pembrooke Square, Suite 214
Waldorf, MD 20603

100 N. Oak Avenue
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-5006

This locations will be closed on the following days:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24)
  • Christmas Day (12/25)
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31)
  • New Year’s Day (1/1)

This practice will follow its regular schedule for dates not listed above (Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm).

UM Community Medical Group – Women’s Health

605 E. Charles Street
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-4800

The La Plata location will operate under the following holiday schedule:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at Noon
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31) — Closing at Noon
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

For dates not highlighted above, this practice will continue to operate under its normal schedule (Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm).

UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 101
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-5044

Dr. Childress’ office will observe the following holiday schedule:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at Noon
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31) — Closing at Noon
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

On dates not listed above, the primary care practice will follow its regular schedule (Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm | Wednesdays, 8am-7pm).

UM Charles Regional Imaging

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 104
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 539-0345

Our imaging and radiology practice at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion will operate under the following schedule during the holiday season:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at Noon
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Eve (12/31) — Closing at Noon
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

On dates not listed above, this location will operate under its normal schedule (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm).

UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation

5 N. La Plata Court, Suite 102
La Plata, MD 20646
(301) 609-5494

Our outpatient physical therapy and rehabilitation practice at the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion will operate under the following holiday schedule:

  • Christmas Eve (12/24) — Closing at 5pm
  • Christmas Day (12/25) — Closed
  • New Year’s Day (1/1) — Closed

For any dates not listed above, UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation will continue to operate under its normal schedule (Monday-Thursday, 7:30am-7pm | Friday, 7:30am-4pm).

For additional information about these holiday hours or to schedule an appointment, please call the numbers included with each practice, or visit UMCharlesRegional.org for additional information.

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When to Get the Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Photo

Summer’s only just officially come to an end, but flu season is right around the corner. But does that mean you need to get the flu shot right now? We break it all down below.

When Does Flu Season Start?

When you hear the term “flu season,” it’s generally in regards to the time of year when the seasonal influenza virus, which can cause mild to severe illness, is most widespread.

Generally, flu season begins slowly in the fall and picks up through the end of winter. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that “peak” flu activity (when the most cases of the flu are reported) has happened at least once in every month from October through March since 1982. But statistics also show that February is the most common month for peak flu activity.

Because the seasonal flu is an unpredictable virus, the CDC and other agencies can only make educated assumptions about when the seasonal flu will hit hardest in any given year. Also, outbreaks can occur more than once in a single flu season.

When Should I Get the Flu Shot?

For the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC recommends that health care providers offer vaccination by the end of October. Ideally, vaccination should occur before peak flu activity is recorded because it takes up to two weeks for vaccine antibodies to develop in your body, so October might be the best time to get vaccinated.

If you’re unable to get the flu shot before the end of October, it is still recommended that you get vaccinated as long as flu symptoms remain in your community and you’re medically able to do so. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about the need for or timing of the seasonal flu vaccine.

Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

According to the CDC, everyone over the age of six months should get vaccinated every flu season. The more people who get vaccinated, the less likely it is that you or those around you get sick. Widespread vaccination is especially important for those who have weakened immune systems or for those who are unable to get vaccinated themselves.

Of course, there are certain medical conditions that may prevent you or someone you know from getting vaccinated. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about getting the flu shot or its potential impact on any existing health conditions.

Want to learn more about the flu, actions you can take to prevent the flu, or what you should do if you get sick? Visit the CDC website or contact your local health care provider today.

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Introducing the University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Pavilion in La Plata

UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion

We are so proud to unveil the new home of several of the region’s most trusted medical specialists, the UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion.

As part of the UM Medical System’s commitment to growing its network of care throughout Southern Maryland, the new Medical Pavilion features a collection of three practices as well as the future home of the upcoming Julie and Bill Dotson Center for Breast Health.

And now that the doors are open, patients and visitors can find state-of-the-art facilities, ample parking space and expert specialty care in a convenient location, right near UM Charles Regional Medical Center.

Learn More About These Medical Pavilion Services

UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care

A great primary care provider can put you on a path to a lifetime of good health. And it’s that philosophy that inspires Dr. Lorenzo Childress, who leads the team at UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care.

UM Charles Regional Imaging

Board-certified radiologists employ their extensive experience and expertise to provide the highest quality diagnostic imaging services at UM Charles Regional Imaging.

There’s no need to travel beyond Southern Maryland when 3T MRIs, 64-slice low-dose CT scans, mammography and bone density (DEXA) scans are available right here in La Plata.

UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation

With early morning and evening appointment times, UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation offers personalized physical therapy that’s designed to fit your life. The talented, experienced team employs a one-on-one approach to help you get better faster — all on your schedule.

Coming Soon: Julie and Bill Dotson Center for Breast Health

When it opens its doors next year, the Julie and Bill Dotson Center for Breast Health will help us meet the goal of providing hope, support and care for family, friends and community members as they cope with breast health issues. Stay tuned to our blog and our Facebook page for the latest updates and information about this important new practice.

The UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion is home to just a small handful of practices and experts in the UM Medical System. Visit our new website today to learn more about all of the UM Charles Regional and UM Community Medical Group services offered right here in Southern Maryland.

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