A Hit with Patients, Parents

Casey Alvarez was only 2 months old when he got his first ear infection. “It was 2 a.m. and he was running a low-grade fever and tugging at his ear,” recalled mother Kryslyn, a phlebotomist at NorthBay Healthcare. “We’d just established as patients at NorthBay and hadn’t even seen a doctor yet. But it was the middle of the night, so I had to reach out to the on-call doctor.”

ABOVE: Matthew Heeren, M.D., shares a joke with brothers Casey and Kevin Alvarez.

It was pediatrician Matthew Heeren, M.D., who took the call. “He was so nice, and said, ‘We’ll get you in first thing in the morning,’ and he did,” recalled Kryslyn. “We’ve been loyal to him ever since and never looked back.”

That was six years ago. Since then, she and her husband, Omar, have welcomed another baby, Kevin, who is now nearly 2 and also a patient of Dr. Heeren’s.

“Dr. Heeren always comes in with a great greeting and bright smile,” said Kryslyn. “He sits down, gets on eye-level with my kids and really talks to them. Of course he talks to me, too, but he never forgets they’re the patient. He tells the boys what he’s doing and why, so they are not afraid.”

“I often reach out during off hours since life and its foibles don’t just occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

Matthew Heeren, M.D.

Dr. Heeren said he allows his young patients to size him up while he engages first with their parents during a visit. “If parents feel comfortable, then children will as well,” he said. “After questions and answers, I slowly introduce the idea of what we are going to do for the exam and make silly, age-appropriate ‘dad’ jokes. By acting in a disarming way, the kids feel fairly comfortable.”

For Kryslyn, MyNorthBayDoc has been a godsend. The online program allows patients to send an email to their doctor. “Because you never know when you might need a quick answer and Dr. Heeren always answers,” she said. “That’s very comforting to a parent.” As a parent himself, Dr. Heeren understands the anxiety. “I often reach out during off hours since life and its foibles don’t just occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

Here’s the Scoop

At 16,000 square feet, the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville is the largest of three primary care facilities in the NorthBay Healthcare system and also features the most primary care physicians: 10, with specialties in pediatrics, family practice and internal medicine. That’s key, because the center at 421 Nut Tree Road expects to record more than 40,000 patient visits this year, according to Mary Jameson, director of Primary Care in Vacaville.

What’s more, the Vacaville center is growing. Construction has already begun to add four new exam rooms and remodel the front lobby, entrance desks and common corridors throughout the building. To minimize any impact on the patient, work is being done after hours and in phases. It should be completed by the end of September. “The structure was built in 1999 and needed some improvements,” said Chris Matthews, NorthBay director of real estate. “We’re trying to update and unify the design of all our medical office buildings to be comfortable and welcoming for the patient.” For more information or to book an appointment at the Center for Primary Care in Vacaville, call (707) 646-5500.


On the Menu

Registered Dietitian Laura Hitt spends Monday and Friday afternoons at the Center for Primary Care in Vacaville providing nutrition services to patients. Initial consultations are 60 minutes, followed by 30-minute visits. Every appointment is individualized to the patient. Laura can also develop a meal plan with the patient. Ask your doctor for a referral.

Oh, Baby!

Shanna Snow, D.O.
Shanna Snow, D.O.

Starting this fall, the Center for for Primary Care in Vacaville will offer Friday appointments with Shanna Snow, D.O., OB/GYN. She actually started earlier in 2018, but had to take a little time off for—you guessed it—maternity leave! Dr. Snow will guide you through your pregnancy or consult with you on specific gynecological issues. All you need is a referral from your primary care physician.

Urology for You

You don’t need to make a trip to Fairfield to see a specialist in Urology. NorthBay Healthcare Nurse Practitioner Julian Gallegos sees patients every Tuesday morning at the Vacaville Center for Primary Care. All you need is a referral from your primary care physician.

Care ’til 8

Care 'til 8 logoThe Center for Primary Care in Vacaville is one of two sites that offer Care ’til 8 service for non-life-threatening medical conditions. It’s open until 8 p.m. seven days a week, with a few exceptions for holidays. Appointments may be scheduled by calling (707) 646-5500. Walk-ins accepted based on capacity. Care ’til 8 can offer relief for issues such as strep throat, bronchitis, tonsillitis, earaches, sprains, rashes, abdominal pain, pink eye, sinus infection, flu and cold, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and migraines. Care ’til 8 providers are not able to prescribe narcotics or refill prescriptions.

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