Pacific Family Practice Blog Feed Kirby Mon, 18 Feb 2019 22:02:59 -0800 Five Situations That Are Better for an Urgent Care Clinic Vs. the ER family-practice-sf/health-blog/five-situations-that-are-better-for-an-urgent-care-clinic-vs-the-er Mon, 28 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 Five Situations That Are Better for an Urgent Care Clinic Vs. the ER

In situations where an unexpected injury or illness takes place, particularly when a teenager or child is involved, it can be very tempting to head to the emergency room without a second thought. Of course, there are clear cases when the ER is exactly the place you need to be, including a seizure; chest pain; severe pain/swelling; changes in vision, mental status or ability to breathe; severe burns; deep lacerations; and head/eye injuries.

In the event that none of the previous ailments are present, there’s a good chance that the injury or illness you’re facing is a better fit for an urgent care center like Pacific Family Practice.

Here are five situations that are better for an urgent care clinic:

  1. Non-severe lacerations and burns
  2. Bone fractures (non-compound)
  3. Muscle sprains/strains
  4. High fever – including infections, the flu and colds
  5. Pink eye

The benefit of visiting urgent care clinics like Pacific Family Practice is that they often offer patients care after normal business hours. For example, our clinic is open until 8:00pm during the week and from 10:00am – 4:00pm on Saturdays. Another benefit is that trips to the ER can be very expensive, even when the treatment is ultimately fairly minor or straightforward. Total cost at an urgent care clinic can vary but is rarely matched by pricing at a hospital ER. Lastly, although waiting time in an urgent care center will depend on staff availability and total number of patients, the overall time is rarely comparable to the average time spent waiting to be seen in an ER, which starts around an hour.

How to prep for an urgent care situation
Urgent healthcare needs do not announce themselves ahead of time. They come when it’s most inconvenient, like when you’re already busy, stressed or lacking spare time. This is why it’s essential to be aware of your closest urgent care clinic and know its hours and whether it accepts your insurance. You don’t want to have to research urgent care clinics when a laceration has already occurred or you’re on day two of what might be the flu. Having this information on hand and ready to go will save you time and stress during what could be a difficult day.

If you have questions about our urgent care clinic and the services we provide, please contact Pacific Family Practice today. Scheduling an appointment is easy, but we welcome walk-ins as well.

Five Family Health Goals for the New Year family-practice-sf/health-blog/family-health-goals-for-the-new-year Thu, 20 Dec 2018 00:00:00 -0800 How to Keep Kids and Teenagers Healthy During Flu Season

Keeping everyone in your family healthy in 2019 and beyond is a top priority for most parents. Here are five goals you should reach for when it comes to staying in tip-top shape.

1. Get an annual check-up
Getting a physical from your primary care physician is one of the easiest doctor visits to schedule and complete, and yet it’s something many people forget about. Seeing your doctor should be number one on your list because he or she will likely help you reach your other family health goals.

2. Stick to a reasonable diet
If you don’t like New Year’s resolutions, try not to think of eating well as a burden. Instead, make eating a balanced, nutritious diet fun by trying to expand your menu with new and delicious foods. Start by keeping a log of what you and your family eat. Next, try to hit some target dietary recommendations: Make a game of eating less than 10% of your daily calories from refined sugars, for instance. If you’ve got kids, get them involved with the counting, measuring and targeting aspects of planning your daily food intake.

3. Stay active / exercise
If you like to work out, this task probably comes easily for you. If you don’t, never fear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for healthy adults. You can get this by simply taking a brisk walk outside for 30 minutes every day at lunch. Young children should double that amount, and that’s usually achieved through various play and sports activities. As you age, make sure you add weight-bearing exercise to prevent muscle deterioration.

4. Keep up with vaccines
Nobody likes getting a shot, but when it’s recommended by your primary care physician, it’s a good idea to have that vaccine. Certain vaccines are required by states, and school districts often remind parents to get their kids vaccinated — and to complete the full vaccination schedule without fail. However, vaccines can be good for the whole family. Get your annual flu shot, and check with your doctor to make sure you’re up to date on vaccines for tetanus, measles and other preventable diseases.

5. Take preventative measures
Finally, make sure to ask your doctor for recommendations when it comes to preventative practices. Women and adolescent girls, for instance, should be practicing self-breast exams once per month to detect signs of breast cancer. Adults over age 50 should be getting a colonoscopy every five or 10 years to detect colon cancer. Your doctor might instruct you to take dietary supplements, such as calcium or vitamin D, to ward off osteoporosis. There are a lot of steps you and your family can take to mitigate your risk of poor health and disease.

The first step is gaining awareness, and that brings us back to goal number one: Make an appointment to see your primary care physician today.

How to Keep Kids and Teenagers Healthy During Flu Season family-practice-sf/health-blog/how-to-keep-kids-and-teenagers-healthy-during-flu-season Mon, 19 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 How to Keep Kids and Teenagers Healthy During Flu Season

Keeping kids and teenagers healthy during flu season isn’t easy, especially because you’re probably relying on your fellow parents to do the same. To help your family power through the winter months, Pacific Family Practice has put together a list of tried-and-true methods for helping prevent the spread of influenza.

Important note: Pacific Family Practice offers patients after hours care. We are open until 9pm Monday – Friday and have Saturday hours as well, from 10am – 4pm. If you are sick, injured, or seeking general practice care, you don’t have to wait until the next business day or for the weekend to pass. Patients are encouraged to take advantage of our after hours care whenever needed.

1. Don’t forget the flu vaccine.

It should go without saying, but many people do forget to get a yearly flu shot. When you schedule your child for an annual back-to-school or sports physical in September or October, ask your doctor to administer the flu vaccine at that time if it is available. Please note, the flu season extends from October to May, so getting the flu shot is an option throughout that time but is especially important in the fall and early winter months.

2. Remind them to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Another seemingly obvious flu prevention tip is handwashing. It’s important that your kids use antibacterial soap after going to the bathroom and before eating. They should wet their hands, work up a good lather with the soap, massage the lather onto the skin for about 30 seconds and then rinse thoroughly. If your children’s school allows this, pop a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in their backpacks for use on the go. It’s also a good idea to show your kids how they can use a paper towel or their sleeve to open and close bathroom doors.

3. Serve them a healthy diet and daily multivitamin.

Boosting one’s intake of nourishing vitamins and minerals can help fortify the immune system during cold and flu season. Make sure your kids and teens are drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water. Ask your doctor to recommend a multivitamin and even a probiotic if your child is not already taking them every day.

4. Make sure they get plenty of sleep.

Some kids struggle to get adequate rest, especially if they are under stress from school or sports concerns. The minimum amount of sleep your child gets shouldn’t dip below eight hours, and some kids will sleep 10 or more hours per night, depending on their age and needs. If your child is having trouble falling or staying asleep, try these tips:

  • Prohibit bright light and screens for at least one to two hours before bedtime
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual with soft music, aromatherapy or meditation
  • Discourage eating and drinking right before bed to avoid indigestion or urinary urgency
  • Take some time to listen to and talk about your kid’s worries and thoughts

5. Avoid people who have the flu.

If people at school are getting sick, it’s important to remind your child to keep a safe distance from sick friends and teachers during cold and flu season. This means abstaining from hand-holding, hugging, and other touching.

If your child gets the flu, make sure to take whatever influenza treatment medication is prescribed by your pediatrician. Keep your kid home from school when ill and encourage behaviors like blowing their nose and disposing of tissues properly and covering the mouth when coughing to help prevent the virus from spreading to family members.

As a parent, it’s normal for you to want to keep your kids and teenagers healthy during flu season. If they do get sick, take this opportunity to slow down, rest more and take care of your whole family...including yourself.

Three Ways to Cut Down Spending Time in Waiting Rooms family-practice-sf/health-blog/three-ways-to-cut-down-spending-time-in-waiting-rooms Thu, 18 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Three Ways to Cut Down Spending Time in Waiting Rooms

Nobody likes to wait, especially if the waiting is keeping you from feeling better. When you’re visiting your primary care, urgent care, women’s health or pediatric physician, it helps to be prepared for your appointment before you arrive in the doctor’s office. Here’s how you can cut time spent in the waiting room.

1. Fill out your paperwork at home

Many physicians provide a patient portal on their website, where you can find registration forms and other essential paperwork to print and fill out. If you do this at home, you minimize the chance that you’ll be missing any data for the forms (like your spouse’s Social Security number or your child’s insurance card information, etc.). The longer it takes you to complete these forms in the waiting room, the longer you’ll have to wait to be invited to the examination room.

2. Verify your insurance in advance

With all the nuances of medical insurance plans these days, it’s easy to miss an important task or detail. Make sure you have any necessary referrals or forms in place (if applicable) before your appointment. Often a missed step with your health insurance provider can result in more than just waiting around; you might find yourself with a cancelled appointment.

3. Arrive early or on time for your appointment

Doctor offices are very active, busy places. If you arrive late for your scheduled appointment, they might be required to give your time slot to somebody else, and that can mean even more waiting for you.

If you do end up with time to kill in the waiting room, there are a few ways you can make the best of it. Bring a notebook and list any questions or concerns you have about your health so you’re prepared to get the most information you can during your appointment. You can also check out the reading material available in the waiting room, especially if the office has medical publications on hand or a bulletin board with informative notices about flu shots, common cold remedies, home breast exams, diaper rash prevention, etc.

Finally, waiting rooms provide an opportunity to relax, practice deep breathing, or collect your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes pressing pause on your hectic life for a little waiting around can be good for your mind and body. Try deep breathing before you reach for your cell phone. It’s usually considered improper waiting room etiquette to talk on the phone in the presence of other patients.

September Is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month family-practice-sf/health-blog/september-is-national-ovarian-cancer-awareness-month Fri, 14 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 September Is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian cancer is a complex disease, perhaps even more so than other cancers impacting women such as breast or cervical. On the one hand, it is considered a “rare” cancer, affecting less than 200,000 women in the United States each year. On the other, ovarian cancer is among those that are difficult to detect. This is especially true for those women are not aware of whether they are at risk or not.

With breast cancer, which is far more common, women are encouraged to perform self-breast examinations to detect early warning signs. However, unlike breast cancer, ovarian cancer is insidious. The following are some basic facts we recommend that female patients (and those close to them) keep in mind.

Ovarian cancer rarely manifests in obvious symptoms early on. Advanced-stage cases might exhibit abdominal bloating, weight loss, pelvic discomfort, constipation, or a frequent need to urinate. However, it’s important that women—especially those considered at risk for this disease—do not wait for these symptoms to appear before addressing their health concerns.

Risk factors
Because symptoms are difficult to spot and often nonexistent, it’s important to schedule a consultation with your physician to discuss your level of risk. You possess a heightened risk for ovarian cancer if:

  • You’re over the age of 50
  • You inherited the gene mutations breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), or other gene mutations such as Lynch syndrome
  • You have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer
  • You had estrogen hormone replacement therapy
  • You started menstruation at an early age or menopause at a late age

None of these risk factors is a definitive cancer sentence. However, if you have anything in common with this list, it’s a good idea to start a discussion with your doctor today.

Just because ovarian cancer is rarer than other cancers among women doesn’t make it less dangerous to those who have it. Ovarian cancer is treatable, but the American Cancer Society reports that more than 14,000 women in the U.S. will die from this disease in 2018. The risk of developing ovarian cancer is about 1 in 78, and dying from it is about 1 in 108. It’s crucial to address both symptoms and risk factors as soon as possible by opening the lines of communication with your physician.

Find out more about women’s pelvic exams and other women’s health services at Pacific Family Practice.

Five Ways Pacific Family Practice Can Help Parents with the Back-to-School Rush family-practice-sf/health-blog/five-ways-pacific-family-practice-can-help-parents-with-the-back-to-school-rush Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Five Ways Pacific Family Practice Can Help Parents with the Back-to-School Rush

Even though some parents may see the start of a new school year with relief, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to preparing for the first day of school. Along with shopping for the right backpack, finding clothes to fit growth spurts, and planning lunches, there are items on your back-to-school to-do list that Pacific Family Practice can help handle.

Please note: Although we’re always happy to schedule an appointment, the back-to-school rush is a particularly popular time of year at our office, so we recommend scheduling your child’s visit as soon as you can.

How we can help parents prepare for the first day of school
1. The physical – A completed well-child physical is a requirement for many schools prior to the first day of school. We offer annual physicals for both adults and children.
2. Vaccines/immunizations – Is your child up to date on his or her vaccine schedule? It’s important to ensure that vaccines/immunizations are up to date. If you are unsure, please confirm whether an appointment is needed with your child’s Pacific Family Practice provider.
3. ADHD care – Screening and management for ADHD are provided at Pacific Family Practice. Parents with concerns or questions about a possible ADHD diagnosis or similar chronic conditions are encouraged to contact Pacific Family Practice.
4. Nutrition – Do you have concerns about your child’s nutrition? Even with the best intentions of implementing a healthy diet, nutritional issues can be present and are often treated through a change in diet. Your child’s provider can advise on whether an issue is present and how an adjustment in diet can assist.
5. Urgent care hours – We offer urgent care hours Monday – Friday, 5pm – 9pm and Saturdays, 10am – 4pm. Having a plan in place for urgent care needs that do not require an ER visit is often essential for parents of children and teens. Urgent care needs often occur outside normal medical office hours, and knowing the location and availability of your local urgent care clinic prior to facing the need to visit provides both peace of mind and effective parental planning.

Getting ready for the first day of school doesn’t have to feature a long to-do list, especially since the team at Pacific Family Practice can help address your child’s medical needs typically in as little as one or two visits to our office.

Pacific Family Practice Q&A: Your Top Questions, Our Answers family-practice-sf/health-blog/pacific-family-practice-q-a-your-top-questions-our-answers Tue, 17 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Pacific Family Practice Q&A: Your Top Questions, Our Answers

Pacific Family Practice’s physicians, providers, and staff all understand that going to the doctor isn’t always a simple visit. Scheduling an appointment, refilling a prescription, paying a bill, asking follow-up questions, getting test results, etc., are all part of life when you or someone you care for is unwell, and navigating this to-do list can seem complicated.

Our team works hard to ensure that your experience as a patient is as stress-free as possible, especially when you are ill or injured. We wanted to address the top questions patients ask our team, so they can be prepared for when a visit to our practice is needed. We always encourage patients to let us know areas where we can improve, so we hope you’ll comment below if you believe an important question is missing.

I need to refill a prescription. How can I do this?
Please contact your pharmacy when a refill of medication is needed. You should do this even when the prescription bottle indicates no refills remaining. The pharmacy will send this request to your Pacific Family Practice provider. You will need to allow 24-48 hours for a refill, so please plan accordingly.

I need an appointment today. How do I get one?
If you have an urgent care need, please call our office (415.876.5762) so we can discuss your symptoms and determine whether a same-day appointment is possible. If your need is not urgent — a physical exam, for example — appointments are usually scheduled within 1-2 business days. You can make an appointment online as well.

How do I pay a bill?
Your insurance coverage may require a co-pay at the time of your visit. This will need to be paid at the time of service. If this is not done, you will be billed an additional $15. If you have a deductible or coinsurance percentage, we bill you after your insurance has processed the claim. Payment is expected within 30 days of your statement. Our office accepts cash, checks, VISA, and Mastercard.

How do I transfer medical records?
You will need to fill out a Records Release Authorization form. You can mail or fax this form to whichever medical office the records are being requested from. Other patient forms, including forms for new patients, can be found here on our website.

How do I get test results?
You can log in to our patient portal to access your information, including test results when they are ready. If you are not signed up for the patient portal, we can send your test results by mail.

Still have questions? We want to hear from you! Please call 415.876.5762 or fill-out a contact form online.

Seven Summer Safety Tips for Kids and Teens family-practice-sf/health-blog/seven-summer-safety-tips-for-kids-and-teens Tue, 19 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Seven Summer Safety Tips for Kids and Teens

The summer season officially kicks off June 21st, but warmer weather and sunshine could already be a part of daily life where you live. As we move away from cold weather concerns like the flu, there are still important considerations parents of kids and teenagers should keep in mind throughout the summer.

Pacific Family Practice knows that keeping your children healthy and safe all year round is a top priority, and we’ve compiled seven summer safety tips to help make these efforts a little easier.

Of course, we recognize that temperatures in San Francisco do not tend to exceed the 50’s and 60’s, but summer is a popular time for family vacations to warmer, sunny climates. Additionally, temperatures can vary day to day, so even smaller increases can impact your overall health and sun exposure.

1. Protect skin – Even when mild, sunburn is still skin damage. It’s very important that kids and teens are aware of proper sun protection and that steps are taken (every day!) to ensure that skin is covered when possible or protected via sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day, and not every brand is sweat / waterproof, so you’ll need to read packaging to ensure all needs are met. Light layers and hats are encouraged when possible. And sunscreen needs to be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure takes place. More serious sunburn (covers larger areas of the body, blisters, bubbles, pus, etc.) will require a visit to your child’s physician.
2. Hydrate – Hydration is key every day, but especially during warmer months when we are more susceptible to dehydration. This is particularly important for those children and teens playing summer sports or attending camp where they are likely to spend large parts of the day outdoors engaging in physical activity and will easily sweat out most of their liquid intake. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, severe thirst, fatigue, headache, bright yellow urine, dry skin and / or dizziness.
3. Temperature watch – This can vary widely by location, but if you live in an area where heat warnings occur, take them seriously. Young children and the elderly are most at risk for dehydration and syncope during high temperatures.
4. Bug protection – Most bug bites are not dangerous, but that does not mean you can assume children and teenagers won’t need protection. Be sure to check in with the CDC regarding outbreaks of illnesses in your area, like the Zika virus and West Nile virus.
5. Street safety – As kids and teens are more likely to be at home during the summer, it’s essential to inform / remind them about street safety. Walking, running, biking, skating and otherwise playing in the street are all part of summer fun, but cars / trucks / buses use those same roads every day. Children need to be aware (even when they have right-of-way) that people driving may not see them, and that they can’t assume all adults are aware of their presence near or on a street.
6. Pools / swimming – Pool safety is critical during the summer. Drowning can take place in less than a minute. Younger children need to be properly outfitted to spend time in or near bodies of water, and supervision at all times is essential. Teens need to be aware of everyone at a pool and take care to avoid injury and note signs of drowning. CPR training can begin as early as age nine or ten.
7. Emergency planning – Children and teens should be aware of what to do in an emergency. Parents should talk to their children about using 911 correctly, as well as how to call local police services for non-emergency situations. Cell phone numbers of family members and trusted friends should be easily accessible.

How Can I Strengthen My Immune System? family-practice-sf/health-blog/how-can-i-strengthen-my-immune-system Wed, 09 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 How Can I Strengthen My Immune System?

The possibility of catching a virus or bacterial infection exists year-round. Even outside of cold and flu season (October – May), you can still experience illness that keeps you from your normal routine. No one wants to feel unwell, and of course not every illness can be prevented, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an effort to stay healthy. One of the best ways to keep from having to call in sick to school or work is to maintain a healthy immune system.

Things that hurt your immune system:

  • Tobacco use
  • Lack of regular sleep
  • Alcohol use (heavy)
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Excessive antibiotic use (should only be used to treat bacterial infections)
  • Social isolation

Things that help your immune system

  • An exercise routine
  • Time outside/sunlight
  • A balanced diet (fruits/vegetables)
  • Hydration
  • Handwashing
  • Adding probiotics to your diet
  • Supplements (with guidance from your physician)

Small changes that matter
Even small alterations to your routine, such as getting an extra hour of sleep, replacing a cup of coffee or juice with water, or spending 30 minutes outside every day, can make a big difference in how you feel and the strength of your immune system. Poor lifestyle habits like smoking, heavy drinking and regular antibiotic use are harmful to the immune system and can contribute to frequent/difficult-to-cure illnesses.

Improving your routine
For many, the most important step is to simply be aware of how your daily choices can impact your overall health. Washing your hands after visiting the bathroom or using public transportation is essential, but unfortunately not everyone (including adults) follows this rule. Cutting down on stress whenever possible is also very important, as prolonged stress is both mentally and physically draining. Water intake is something many of us take for granted, but you should be drinking enough water every day that your urine is a light-yellow color. Urine that is dark yellow means you are likely dehydrated.

If you find that you suffer from frequent colds/illness or that your illness is often difficult to cure, please contact Pacific Family Practice today. We are happy to discuss ways to improve your immune system and whether screening for underlying conditions is appropriate.

Men’s Healthcare Age 50+: What You Need to Know family-practice-sf/health-blog/mens-healthcare-age-50-what-you-need-to-know Wed, 25 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Men’s Healthcare Age 50+: What You Need to Know

Physicians are used to prompting patients to take proactive steps toward long-term healthcare goals, but there may be an argument for male patients needing an additional push. This is certainly not to say that all men avoid appointments with their doctor, because that is not the case. However, should you as a male patient or as a family member/friend of a male patient be aware that annual exams are not being attended to, this blog post is for you.

When men reach the age of 50, certain health screenings that only seemed relevant for the distant future become expected. Your physician will want to determine if any medical issues are currently present, as well as if any preventative measures should be taken.

Pacific Family Practice has provided a checklist, below, for you to review with your provider. This checklist will serve as a guide for which screenings are needed to ensure your individual long-term healthcare.

  • Up-to-date vaccination schedule (especially applicable to certain travel destinations)
  • Lifestyle/diet assessment (1/year at least)
  • Blood pressure screening (1/year at least)
  • Cholesterol screening (every 5 years, unless otherwise required)
  • Colonoscopy (starts at age 50, but may be required if a family/personal history of colon cancer is present; occurs every 10 years unless otherwise required)
  • Physical (1/year)
  • Self-testicular exam
  • Lung cancer screening (with a history of 30-pack/year habit or currently smoking)
  • Dental exam (2/year at least)

How do I get started?
It can seem overwhelming to begin the preventative screening process once you’ve reached age 50, but please keep in mind that these screenings can be completed over the course of a year (unless your provider suggested otherwise). The best way to begin is to schedule an appointment for a general physical with Pacific Family Practice. Scheduling an appointment with our practice is easy: you can either call us at 415-876-5762 or fill out a contact form online. Our office practice hours are 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday.

Pacific Family Practice is happy to offer patients in need of outside screening services or care a referral whenever possible. Please ask our team for referral assistance if outside care is needed.