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Monday, August 17, 2020

How Do I Find a Primary Care Doctor?

Posted By: Advancing Care

As seen in the September 2020 Issue of Advancing Care.

According to a 2019 study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, only 68 percent of Millennials surveyed have a primary care physician (PCP) vs. 91 percent of those identifying as Generation X.

While young people in particular increasingly seek care from health apps or urgent care clinics, Ruxandra Iorgu, MD, of WMCHealth Physicians at Kingston, and Carol Karmen, MD, of WMCHealth Advanced Physician Services, Internal Medicine in Hawthorne, explain that there is no replacement for a primary care physician.

Studies have shown that patients who have a PCP have fewer emergency room visits, hospitalizations and surgeries, as well as a higher life expectancy and manage their chronic conditions better.

Why do I need a primary care doctor?  

Dr. Iorgu: Having a primary care doctor is important for many reasons, but some of the most important are the level of comfort and trust you can place in them. Communication is key, and when you trust your physician, you can better open up and share your concerns.

This, in turn, helps them to better tailor care to your specific needs. Seeing a specialist or variety of specialists is not a replacement for a primary care physician. This is because the PCP coordinates care among specialists, which is often required by health insurance carriers, to help ensure the best possible outcome.


Individuals who are not established with a WMCHealth Provider, or who need to see a new provider for any reason, can call 1.833.329.0095. For Orange or Rockland Counties, please visit bonsecoursmg.com or call Rockland Pulmonary Associates at 845.353.5600.


What conditions do primary care doctors monitor?

Dr. Iorgu: PCPs monitor the big picture, in terms of your health. They oversee overall health and conduct annual physicals, and monitor important vital signs, like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They can screen for chronic diseases, like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, depression, coronary artery disease, substance abuse and women’s health issues. If need be, they can then make referrals to appropriate specialists.

What should you look for in a primary care doctor?

Dr. Iorgu: First off, you’re looking for more than someone to treat a disease. They should also understand your personality. Sometimes having a PCP with a similar gender or cultural background offers an additional level of comfort.

Also, you should ask specific questions about how their practice office fills prescriptions, manages callbacks and handles follow-ups. In addition, consider the doctor’s location and whether they will be easily accessible to you.

What’s the best way to get the most out of our visit with your PCP?

Dr. Karmen: Bring a checklist. Asking the doctor about what screenings and vaccinations are appropriate for your age is a great place to start. Bring your current medications with you.

Also, tell the doctor if any new conditions or illnesses have recently appeared in your family or in your own health.

Tell us about your use of telehealth.

Dr. Karmen: With the onset of COVID-19, we ramped up our telemedicine practice. While you can’t conduct an annual physical remotely, telemedicine remains an option for certain types of appointments.

For video appointments, we use a HIPAA-compliant program, which creates a personalized link for patients to join us in a video call. Because of the quality of our COVID-19 testing program, we were able to test many people not only in the Hudson Valley but from all over the New York metro area who weren’t otherwise able to get access to a test.

Many who learned they had COVID-19 didn’t have a PCP, and we were able to monitor them via telemedicine. Many told us that they were very grateful for the care we provided.

Dr. Karmen: I’m a PCP in internal medicine, and we are often a patient’s first contact with the medical community. We get to know our patients’ families and social and health histories extremely well.

I have been with WMCHealth Physicians for 30 years, and I have several patients who have been with me since I started. It’s gratifying for me to develop long-lasting bonds with my patients.

Learn more about the importance of regular check-ups, as well as important exams, screenings, and vaccinations at: cdc.gov/family/checkup/index.htm

Individuals who are not established with a WMCHealth Provider, or who need to see a new provider for any reason, can call 1.833.329.0095. For Orange or Rockland Counties, please visit bonsecoursmg.com or call Rockland Pulmonary Associates at 845.353.5600.