By LISA MONTI
Melissa Peters has a busy life with a full-time job and two small children ages 4 years and 9 months. Like a lot of working moms, she makes it a point to stay healthy for her family’s sake as well as her own.
“It is difficult to achieve the work/life balance, especially when you have small children, but as a working mom, you obviously want to take care of your family first. Sometimes, this means putting yourself on the back burner,” she said. “But, with all the recent advances in health care and the preventive screenings available, you owe it to your family to take care of yourself. Working women have to find the time to make their health a priority.”
Peters has been a patient for 10 years at Jackson Healthcare for Women, a leading medical services provider in the Jackson metro area. She gets an annual checkup there and said she appreciates the clinic’s comprehensive services, the short waiting room time, attentive staff and the amount of time she gets to spend with her doctor. “Working moms do not have a lot of time to sit in waiting rooms,” she said. “Jackson Healthcare for Women realizes your time is valuable, so they use it wisely. They do not rush you and make sure you have time to ask questions during your appointment.”
Peters said she prefers asking her doctor questions in person rather than going online for health information.
“I do not like to self-diagnose with information I find online, and I am not sure it is a good idea. Without speaking with your doctor, it can lead you down the wrong path and make you more stressed out and scared than you should be,” she said.
Dr. Darden North, one of 16 physicians on staff at Jackson Healthcare for Women, agrees with Peters’ approach.
“There is a lot of false information on social media and the Internet, so you have to be very careful and sift through it,” he said.
North said that one good resource for current medical information about obstetrics and gynecology is the clinic’s website (jhcfw.com) and Facebook page.
“There are other reputable sites on the Internet, but there is nothing like getting information straight from your physician, talking face to face,” North said, adding that for many women, their gynecologist is their primary-care physician.
Those doctor-patient discussions are important, North said, especially when changes to health-care guidelines cause confusion among patients.
“We get a lot of questions about the new guidelines on how often to see a doctor, so we spend a few minutes talking about it. Regardless of what your insurance company says you do or do not need, you need to come see us once a year for your exam and have a mammogram. Nothing takes the place of a hands-on visit to your doctor,” he said.
Dr. Shannon Carroll is Melissa Peters’ primary physician at Jackson Healthcare for Women. He said doctors like himself are concerned that patients will put off getting tests and exams with the guidelines changing for pap smear screening. Although pap smear recommendations have changed to once every three years, annual physical exams with your ob/gyn are still recommended every year, he said.
“It’s a worry that we’re going to lose people, and we’ve done such a good job keeping cervical cancer at a very low rate in the U.S. compared to other countries throughout the world,” Carroll said.
Women’s health-care services have many aspects depending on a woman’s age, including mammograms, pap smears, weight loss and stress management.
Said North, “Our clinic is constantly looking for ways to expand services to our patients to be comprehensive and convenient.”
The clinic offers obstetrical and gynecological care as well as an in-house therapist and a diet management program among its services. It also offers 4-D ultrasounds, Mona Lisa Therapy, bone density tests and infertility treatment.
“We strive to provide comprehensive, efficient care for our patients and make appropriate referrals to other specialists when necessary,” North said. “We value our patients’ time.”
Patients span a wide range of ages at the clinic. “We’re taking care of people on a generational basis – granddaughter, mother and grandmother. I have many three generation families within my practice,” said Carroll.
Motivating busy women to come in on a regular basis can be as simple as putting their exams and wellness visits on the calendar, Carroll said.
“Our providers are available to our patients five days a week. We feel this gives patients more options when they can come see us,” he said.
Having all their obstetrical and gynecological care in one place helps patients manage their time. “One benefit of Jackson Healthcare for Women is that everything is under one roof: all lab work, mammography, and bone health services. We make sure we take care of the entire patient throughout her stages of life,” said Carroll.
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