Maybe you’ve had it on your “to do” list to schedule your annual wellness visit with your primary care provider (PCP). Or maybe you’re new to the area, and your list includes a note to find a new PCP. Now is a great time to get that appointment scheduled.
“Your annual wellness visit is an important appointment to keep as it’s a key touchstone in helping to prevent illness,” said Kelly Mathes, DO, a Family Medicine Physician with ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah. “You and your care team will develop or update a plan of care for you based on your health and what risk factors you may have.”
Most insurance covers annual wellness visits as a part of regular prevention screenings. It’s a good plan to schedule your visit now to avoid a rush at the end of the year.
Your PCP is an important resource, serving as a type of “home base” for a person’s health care needs. They provide, coordinate or help you access health care, providing referrals for more complex issues when necessary.
“We’re here to answer your questions and help you with your medical concerns,” Dr. Mathes said. “We provide a range of services including your annual visits, screenings and vaccinations, and we serve as your first stop for your health care needs and management.”
PCPs can be physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialist or physician assistants.
Dr. Mathes is a family medicine physician, providing care for people of all ages, from newborn to elderly.
“I get to help patients at different life stages, and my aim is to empower patients with information to make the best decisions for their health,” she said.
If you don’t yet have a PCP, there are lots of good ways to connect with a provider in your community. You can start with the ThedaCare directory to search for providers by name or specialty, see information such as what conditions they treat, where the provider received their medical education and what credentials they’ve earned, or even watch a video to hear about a provider’s philosophy.
“Finding a PCP who you feel comfortable with, and who is familiar with your health issues, is important,” Dr. Mathes said. “You’re more likely to make and keep appointments when you have a connection with your provider, and to continue an ongoing relationship that can be a valuable resource.”
During your annual wellness visit, your PCP will talk with you about your health, your family history and habits; measure your blood pressure, height and weight; and ask you about any health concerns you may have. They’ll suggest and help schedule needed screenings for health issues such as certain types of cancers.
Your PCP also will talk to you about getting or updating your vaccines, some of which should be done on an annual basis, such as the influenza shot. Staying current on immunizations is an important way to protect your health and prevent more serious illness. Some of the vaccines you may discuss, depending on your health, risk factors, age or other conditions, include:
- Pneumonia, with vaccination generally recommended for adults age 65 and older, as pneumonia can be life-threatening if fluid fills the air sacs in the lungs.
- Shingles, with vaccination recommended for adults over age 50, to prevent the painful- blistering rash caused by reactivation of the virus that causes chicken pox.
- Tetanus, prevented with the Tdap vaccine, which also protects against diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Tetanus is caused by a bacterial infection usually resulting from a cut or other wound. The Tdap vaccine is a good idea for new parents or grandparents to prevent passing pertussis to a newborn.
- COVID-19, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over age 6 months should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive recommended boosters.
“Staying up-to-date on vaccines and needed health screenings can help you to stay healthier in the long run,” Dr. Mathes said. “We want people to feel comfortable with their care team, to talk about concerns they might be experiencing. We’re here to provide you with information so you can make the best, most informed decisions about your health care.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.