Finding a Primary Care Physician for My Father with Parkinson's
For many years, as my father managed his own doctors and healthcare before being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD), he only chose doctors that spoke his own language and had a similar background - immigrant, Indian, Muslim. He simply felt more comfortable with a doctor that he could connect with better. Until I took over his healthcare, he was free to pick his own doctors.
Assessing level of care with primary care physicians
But recently, I started paying attention to the doctors, and the staff at the doctors’ offices. These were again doctors my father had chosen because they had a similar background to my father. However, regardless of background, I found the level of care was not what my father needed, especially as someone with PD.
The first doctor I had an issue with was his PCP. The primary care physician holds the key to everything. Their office provides referrals to other specialists, the billing needs for insurance, and the necessary attention to different issues. Without the right PCP, the whole treatment plan can go down the drain.
Finding a new PCP for my father's care
After months of giving my father’s choice a chance, I decided enough was enough. I found him a different PCP at a better facility and much more experience with my father’s many conditions. The downside is he didn’t speak my father’s language or had any sort of similarity to my father’s background. It took convincing, and some persuading. My father likes what he likes. But this is the part of caring for a sick parent/family member that takes some toughening up. Sometimes, you have to be the one to make the right decision for them and show them, new does not mean bad.
My father went to this new PCP and not only did he love the PCP but he loved the physician’s assistant (PA) and the nurse practitioner (NP). This is the most important part of picking the right PCP - the good ones staff good support. It is rare to find that an excellent PCP will have a crappy or inattentive PA or NP. Since most of the time, it is the PA or the NP dealing with the patient, it is important to find a PCP with a strong staff. This PCP and his office is easy to deal with, cooperative and most of all attentive. They do not wave off the small stuff and with Parkinson’s, sometimes the small stuff is really the big stuff.
The next best part of getting a great PCP is having access to their network. This means I can get rid of the subpar care my father receives from his current cardiologist and neurologist - and anyone who knows anything, knows having a good neurologist is essential to good PD treatment and management.
Of course like with any office, there has to be consistency - we have to constantly call and be active in asking for referrals. No one just gives anything away until it is asked for. But I know my next move is to make sure my father gets a better neurologist and cardiologist, and hopefully we can see a difference in his care.
Do you participate in a support group for PD?