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Our Town with William Kelly: Civic Association forums to focus on primary health care

A Palm Beach Civic Association forum in November will center on the importance of primary health care physicians – specifically, what people need to know to select the doctor that best fits their needs.

The New Trends in Health Care forums will be held on Nov. 3 at the Royal Poinciana Chapel. Both events will be from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. in the chapel’s Kirkman Fellowship Hall.

Attendance is by invitation to Civic Association members, each of whom is welcome to bring a guest.

The Nov. 3 gathering will focus on primary care options offered by larger institutions.

Kathleen Crampton chairs the Civic Association’s New Trends in Health Care subcommittee, which organized the forums. The subcommittee is part of the Civic Association’s Health Care Committee.

Crampton said the idea for the forums germinated last fall when she and other committee members began noticing in local newspapers a flood of advertisements appearing from large healthcare organizations soliciting patients in this area.

“There was a whole stack of ads from all these different institutions,” said Crampton, a Civic Association director who is retired from a 47-year-career as an executive and administrator in the health care field. “These are not cheap, these ads, and there are a whole bunch of them. It’s very confusing to people.”

The New Trends in Health Care subcommittee’s 11 members include four physicians, a fire-rescue chief and others with first-class educational credentials and accomplished resumes that are from, or have intersected with, the health care field.

The panel decided it could help Palm Beach residents sort through the bewildering maze of medical care options, and that the obvious place to start would be with primary health care.

“It just became clear that we needed to focus on what primary care services are available to the individual and how these institutions fit into what your needs are, as the patient,” Crampton said.

She suggested that patients think of their primary care doctor as a kind of quarterback with oversight of their overall health care.

“Health care works best if you’ve got somebody who is aware of where you are, who else you are seeing, and can consolidate all of the information into one place and provide you, the patient, with the best information possible,” she said.

Each forum will feature a panel of physicians who’ve been invited to engage directly with the audience about the services they offer.

Find the list of doctors at these forums below.

Judy Goodman, who chairs the Civic Association’s Health Care Committee, said the panelists are expected to talk about how they approach primary care and what sets them apart from other providers.

“It will be a good way for people to understand what opportunities are in town and what makes different groups distinguishable,” said Goodman, a Civic Association director and an attorney with expertise in health care law.

Wendy Rutledge, the Civic Association’s Palm Beach TV news anchor, will moderate the forums.

Before the physicians speak to the audience, Diana Barrett, a philanthropist, Civic Association director and member of the New Trends in Health Care Subcommittee, will provide an overview on the importance of primary care. Barrett holds a doctorate from Harvard Business School and was on the faculty of Harvard University from 1975 until 2004.

Barrett said people often don’t think about the kind of primary care doctor they need, even though it may turn out to be a very long and immensely important relationship.

“In general, people seek medical care either preventively or because they have a problem,” Barrett said. “Very often, they don’t know what kind of person would be good for their specific needs. An elderly person with a chronic condition may need a very different kind of doctor from someone who is young and relatively healthy.”

Barrett said the forum will touch on the concept of concierge care because that type of care is gaining attention in upscale communities like Palm Beach.

Concierge medicine is a private form of practice where doctors charge patients an out-of-pocket fee for full access to their services. But there are a lot of variations with this type of care, which is evolving rapidly.

Barrett said people need to know if concierge care makes sense for them and, if so, what kinds of questions to ask. For example, will the concierge doctor provide house calls or after-hours care? What happens when you travel?

“All of this needs to be addressed early in the relationship,” Barrett said.

At the conclusion of the forum, each medical practice or institution will have its own table so those attending have an opportunity to ask questions and speak individually with the doctors.

There will also be a social meet-and-greet immediately following the forum, Crampton said.

Audience members won’t be leaving empty-handed. They’ll be given several documents designed to assist them in selecting the best primary care doctor for them.

These will consist of a list of names and contact information for all the physician panelists at the two forums; a list of key questions to ask prospective primary care doctors; and a glossary of medical administrative terms.

Crampton said they’ll also be provided with a list of “federally qualified health centers” in Palm Beach County. These are community health centers in low-income areas that receive subsidies from the federal government. All of them offer primary care and in some cases specialty care, she said.

“Many Palm Beach residents have people who work for them, who don’t have insurance, and these are places you can go to get health care,” Crampton said.

If the two November forums turn out to be successful, the Health Care Committee and New Trends Subcommittee may organize future events on, say, differences in emergency care or between medical specialists, Goodman said.

She said primary care is the obvious place to begin.

“We will start by opening that door,” Goodman said. “Before we open some other doors, we will see how that goes.”

Physician panelists in Palm Beach Civic Association Health Care Forums:

Thursday, Nov. 3, forum

The panel of institutions will consist of:

  • Cleveland Clinic, represented by Dr. William Gans, chief medical officer
  • Mount Sinai Doctors New York-Palm Beach, represented by Dr. Moses Lopez, medical director
  • NYU Langone Medical Associates – West Palm Beach, represented by Dr. Thomas Rockland, medical director
  • Tenet Health Care/Good Samaritan Medical Center, represented by Dr. Anna Abel
  • the UHealth at Downtown West Palm Beach/University of Miami Health System, represented by Dr. Mark McConn

All have offices in West Palm Beach.

RSVP for the Nov 3rd forum here.


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Sponsored by Good Samaritan Medical Center