Best Defense: Annual Exams

Benjamin Franklin advised us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and this is particularly true when it comes to our health. Regular health exams and tests can spot problems before they start, or when the chances for treatment and cure are better. The first step toward living a longer, healthier life is to make sure you see your primary care physician at least once a year, according to Levon Tchakmakjian, M.D., internal medicine, at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Fairfield.

ABOVE: Levon Tchakmakjian, M.D., is one of several physician champions at NorthBay Healthcare who focus on helping patients obtain preventive screening tests and labs.

To make it easier to remember, book the appointment on or near your birthday, or some other significant date. Before seeing your physician, collect some family history. Your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer might be influenced by your family history. Your physician may recommend things you can do to help prevent disease, such as exercising more, changing your diet or using screening tests to help detect disease early.

Prepare for your annual exam by reviewing any existing health problems and making note of any changes.

The NorthBay Center for Primary Care teams will be ready for you, as they have filled out a pre-visit planning form in advance of your appointment. It will highlight which preventive screening and chronic condition requirements—such as cholesterol, blood pressure or colorectal screens—are due, and flag any missing lab or radiology reports.

“It’s incredibly important that we provide our patients with a complete and through visit,” noted Kevin West, quality coordinator for NorthBay Healthcare’s Medical Group.

“Our patients count on their health care team to be their eyes and ears, and to prompt them of what screenings are needed to stay healthy. Many patients are seen by their provider only once a year, so it’s important we complete all monitoring of their health during every visit.”

You can prepare for the annual exam, too, by reviewing any existing health problems and making note of any changes.

  • ✘ Have you noticed any lumps or changes in your skin?
  • ✘ Are you having pain, dizziness, fatigue, problems with urine or stool, or menstrual cycle changes?
  • ✘ Have your eating habits changed?
  • ✘ Are you experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, distress, or sleeping problems?
  • ✘ Note when any change began, how it’s different from before, and any other observation that you think might be helpful.

Finally, don’t be afraid to be honest with your provider. If you haven’t been taking your medication as directed, exercising as much, or anything else, say so. You may be at risk for certain diseases and conditions because of how you live, work and play. Your physician develops a health plan based partly on what you say you do. Share with him or her your most up-to-date and accurate information to ensure that you get the best guidance.

Here’s the Scoop

The NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Fairfield is the second-largest of three facilities in the system. Located at 2458 Hilborn Road, it is centrally located in NorthBay Healthcare’s sphere of care and is home to two internal medicine physicians, two family practice physicians, two pediatricians and a psychologist. The center’s physicians are board-certified, each bringing a personal passion to their practice, according to Rachelle Hunter, practice manager.

Michael Ginsberg, M.D., is a pediatrician so knowledgeable about the intricacies of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder that he cares for a large number of young patients with this condition.
Judy Yang, D.O., is a pediatrician who is passionate about the Reach Out & Read program, which recently handed out its 250,000th book in Solano County. Many of those books were delivered by Dr. Yang, who gives a book to each child at their Well Child visit. She knows children develop faster and better when they are read to regularly.

To fully support the center’s psychologist and licensed clinical social worker/mental health technician, clinical support staff recently completed “mental health first-aid training.” This program taught staff how to recognize when a patient may be developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem, or might be in a mental health crisis, Rachelle explained. If necessary, a “warm handshake” referral to a psychologist could be made by the physician, following the first aid assessment.

For information or to schedule an appointment, call (707) 646-5500.

Oh, Baby!

Andrew Lin, M.D.
Andrew Lin, M.D.

Obstetrician/Gynecologist Andrew Lin, M.D., holds office hours every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. For patients who prefer a female provider, Angela Brennan, D.O., and Amanda Adkins, M.D., are available during business hours to implant birth control devices or perform PAPs and other exams.

On the Menu

Registered Dietitian Laura Hitt spends Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the Fairfield Center for Primary Care, offering nutritional consultations to patients. The initial visit is 60 minutes and she can develop personalized meal plans. Ask your primary care physician for a referral.

Care ’til 8

This is one of two sites that offer after-hours care for non-life- threatening medical conditions, and also serves as an extension of the primary care center when schedules fill up. Patients are seen by a nurse practitioner Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Hours may vary on holidays. Providers are not able to prescribe narcotics or refill prescriptions. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (707) 646-5500 and walk-ins are accommodated based on capacity.

Breathe Easy

Donald Doyle, M.D., pulmonologist, oversees a pulmonary clinic one Saturday a month for those seeking care for everything from sleep apnea and insomnia to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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