Because technological advances, economics and policy adjustments have transformed the relationship between doctors and their patients, providing health care services has evolved into a more patient-centered approach, with emphasis on quality instead of quantity.
Considered to be the gatekeepers of a person’s health care team, primary care providers have a deep understanding of a patient’s individual needs, which helps them make informed decisions about the whole person. MUSC has responded to the demand for primary care physicians and currently offers 14 primary care locations throughout the Lowcountry, including one in North Mount Pleasant.
Park West Primary Care, located in the Shoppes at Park West, has four physicians on staff: Drs. Carrie O. Alexander, Kristi M. Lentsch, William Bigelow and Colleen James. They specialize in internal and family medicine and treat men, women and adolescents with diabetes, hypertension and obesity, depression and anxiety and many other health issues. Preventive care is also an important aspect of the practice.
Dr. James said she believes the relationship between a patient and a physician is critical.
“I use a team approach with my patients and ensure that they are involved in the decision-making process,” she said. “I feel this is more effective than the less personal paternalistic approach of telling patients what they need to do.”
MUSC Health Primary Care has established a system that focuses on the individual experience. Patients who choose an MUSC primary care provider also enjoy the added benefit of their provider’s relationship with and access to MUSC specialists, when needed.
Dr. Alexander, who has been practicing medicine for 15 years, said she was drawn to work at MUSC because of this network of doctors. She refers to primary care physicians as the “quarterbacks of health care” and said she likes to get to know her patients as people.
“At our office, you won’t feel like a number,” she said. “We greet our patients with a smile, and we work together as a team to get all of your concerns addressed before you leave.”
Dr. Lentsch completed her residency at MUSC and has been practicing at Park West Primary Care since 2010.
“MUSC has a great reputation and has been rated the top health care system in the state, and I wanted to work for the best,” she said. “I chose my office specifically based on the community. I live in Mount Pleasant and wanted to work where I live. I continue to stay here now because I love my patients and the people I work with.”
Dr. Lentsch said she wants to create an environment where patients feel comfortable talking to her so that problems can be solved and they can work as a team to manage chronic conditions.
“Many physicians choose to work in primary care because we enjoy the patient-physician relationship,” Dr. Lentsch said. “I think it is the foundation of our practice that allows us to provide a higher level of care when we have an established relationship with our patients.”
By Amy Mercer.