Michelle Rupp: Welcome to this week’s episode of AFMC TV. Thank you so much for joining us this week. We are kicking off a new segment called Catch Up on Your Checkups. You know, we’ve only got about five months left in 2021, if you can imagine. So, there’s not a lot of time left to get some of the necessary checkups that we really need to be having. And so to kick off our segment, we’re starting with Dr. Zimmerman out of Unity Health in Searcy. Dr. Zimmerman, first of all, thank you for joining us today on AFMC TV. I wanted to first ask, talk about the importance of having that primary care physician. If we need to catch up on our checkup, we probably need to start with our PCP, right?

Dr. Zimmerman: Oh absolutely, Michelle. And first of all, thank you for having me today. I’m very happy to help you on this. This is such a very important subject for us. Just ask your primary care physician is your gatekeeper for your health care in all areas and now during a pandemic is the most important time for us to have a primary care physician. The pandemic alone has created a situation where patients have had some barriers to finding their health care provider and getting in for their wellness checks and routine health maintenance. The pandemic is also a very stressful time for our health care system. So, it’s even more important for you to have a primary care physician to help expedite your care through our fragmented health care system today.

This is a time in our society where people are moving toward what I like to call the fast-food environment where they can get on telemedicine and find a doctor they can get on the internet and ask a medical question. They can actually get medicines prescribed via telemedicine. Yes. Is it efficient? Isn’t fast? Is it like going through the drive through at a fast-food restaurant? You betcha! But unfortunately, it does create barriers to your wellness and to your overall health care. Because a primary care physician is someone that you go to and you get your health maintenance all tuned up for routine issues, for potential problems that might come down the road. It is very important to have. Especially in a time of pandemic. This COVID-19 pandemic has really created a whole different situation for primary care physicians.

Imagine, you get sick with corona virus, and you find yourself with diabetes and all of a sudden you want monoclonal antibodies within two days of getting sick. The only way you’re going to get that monoclonal antibody is through a primary care physician. And if you’re established with one, they can expedite your care directly to monoclonal antibodies and get that necessary lifesaving treatment to you if you happen, unfortunately to contract COVID-19.

But a primary care physician does so many other things. It’s also the time during a pandemic to get your health maintenance up-to-date, your diabetes tightly controlled, your blood pressure under control. If you have COPD or asthma, get that under excellent control because we know that those patients who contract COVID-19 that have these underlying diseases are at the highest risk of hospitalization and even death. And your primary care physician can really keep all of those chronic diseases fine tuned by having your routine health maintenance done periodically to keep you well protected. That’s what a primary care physician and wellness does for patients. It is a protective layer to keep things in check for them, so they have excellent outcomes and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

MR: And just in our last few seconds that we have, it’s also a great way having that established relationship you as a patient would have an opportunity to maybe see what might be coming down the road. For example, if you maybe are borderline diabetic, you’re able to maybe take some measures, change up how you’re eating, do some exercise, so that in six months or in 12 months when you come back, you aren’t fully into irreversible diabetes. And so it is a great way to prevent some things from happening.

DZ: Yes, you’re absolutely correct Michelle because with diabetes, it’s the little changes that we make along the way that keep our patients well and healthy. And diabetes, like many diseases, is a work in progress. They’re not stagnant. They do change from time to time because our behaviors as humans change from time to time. We have Christmas time when we eat more.

We have we have a wintertime with massive snow events where we don’t get out and exercise. All those things contribute to the wellness of your chronic disease such as diabetes, which is an excellent example. Same same with hypertension and COPD or asthma. You have to maintain those things just like you maintain the car your garage, you would go get your oil changed in your car, you would go get the tires rotated. Well we to be healthy and age in a timeless manner. We like to say timeless, we hope we don’t age quickly. Health maintenance is the best way and wellness checks are the best way to stay on top of, not only the any potential diseases you have, but to catch those potential ones that might be on your doorstep in a year or two and maybe ward them off and keep them from becoming a major issue in your life.

MR: My last question in these last 30 seconds, if someone does not have a primary care physician what is your recommendation to find someone in your community? Do you do a google search? Do you ask your friends and family? Do you do both?

DZ: Now, this is that’s a great question, because I’m not a huge fan of google but everybody uses that. I recognize that, but I want your viewers to understand there are some new technologies out there that are available that they can download on their smartphone where they get all of their health maintenance in one place. One of them is called the Sharecare app and it’s free. You can download it and it will sort your medications. It will put your health care team together, the doctors you currently see, it will help you search for new doctors in your area and their specialties. It also helps you manage your health insurance, your dental insurance and all those items in one place, along with being a search engine like WebMD to get on and look up information about your conditions. So, I encourage most of my patients to have, I call it a health management app on their phone and then they can bring all their information. They track their blood sugars on it, they track their blood pressures for me. And it’s just a great one place where I can just look and see what their blood sugars have been running for the past 30 days and we’re really in tune together as patient and doctor.

MR: That’s fantastic. Great advice.