Treating Your Family Like Family

At NorthBay Healthcare, we treat your family like family. This philosophy rings especially true for a small, community-based hospital system in which our patients are often our neighbors, friends and colleagues. It speaks of the pride we take in providing the best care possible to nurse you back to health, or to keep you and your family healthy in all phases of your life.

It’s a system of lifelong accountable care, from birth to hospice, delivering consistent care, better care, for you and your loved ones.

Health care should be seamless, from labor and delivery, to primary care, to hospital and specialty care, to discharge, to home care and beyond. We are investing time and energy into innovative integration so that the end result is not how much care you received, but how well you were cared for, and how well you are doing today.

Our cover perfectly illustrates this concept. Dr. Nancy McAfee doesn’t just treat mom or dad, she treats the whole Abeling family, keeping them healthy, happy and ready for their family portrait. It’s the NorthBay way, embracing
a lifelong system of care, because when it comes to your family’s health, our physicians should be part of the big picture.

Family Visits Streamline Your Healthcare Checkups

Most busy families have finely tuned schedules to manage their time. But what happens when baby has a cold, the kindergartner needs vaccinations and mom wants a check-up? Juggling multiple doctor’s appointments is one more stress and parents often ignore their own health needs to make sure the kids get to the doctor.

Dr. Nancy McAfee, of the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Fairfield, wants to change all that. Trained as both a pediatrician and internal medicine physician, she can treat the entire family in one scheduled visit. With a husband, two small sons and an aging mother, Dr. McAfee understands the demands that come with caring for a family. In fact, she planned her medical training to span the lifetime of her patients.

“In pediatrics, you have to give up your patients at age 18,” Dr. McAfee says. “I wanted to care for patients of all ages so I chose the additional specialty of internal medicine to give me the training to care for adult illnesses.”

Dr. McAfee worked as a youth leader, which gave her lots of experience with adolescents and young adults. “I understand this age group and they’re too old for a pediatrician, yet too young for adult medicine. I wanted to bridge that gap. Now I have the best of both worlds and any given day can find me treating a newborn followed by someone age 80,” she says. “And if they can come together for a single visit, I’ve made their lives much more convenient.”

Dr. McAfee encourages her patients to make one appointment for their entire family. In addition to saving time, she says family visits have several benefits: If you’re a working mom with three children who all need treatment, it makes sense to bring them in all at once. It lets mom take less time off, rather than making three appointments. “As a mom, I really understand the time crunch,” she says. “Doctor’s visits should disrupt your routine as little as possible. And, when you treat an entire family, you’re more likely to see fathers too. Whatever you can do to get men into the office is good.”

It’s valuable to see how the family interacts. “Environment is a big part of disease prevention, and a group visit lets me see how the family functions together,” Dr. McAfee says. “Does mom let her pre-teen talk for herself or does mom speak for her? Do the parents spend time bickering, or do they focus on their family? It’s also a great way to get honest answers. For example, I can ask if there are any smokers in the family, and the parents say ‘no’ at the same time the child is saying ‘yes.’

“During a family visit I can also identify health issues the family has as a group and make suggestions without singling out any one family member. This works well if you have a family where everyone is obese. I can ask them to take walks as a family and make suggestions to change their eating habits. This also works well when I can identify a family that shares asthma or allergies. Instead of focusing on ‘Sally’s asthma,’ I can recommend that using a humidifier at home will help all of their symptoms. I find that parents really appreciate making a family connection to a problem.

“A family appointment also makes the visit more relaxing for the child. It takes the fear out of an appointment when a child can see siblings or parents getting examined first.” To schedule an appointment with Dr. McAfee, call (707) 646-5500.

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