It is a saying which has been around forever, but one which helps describe the focus these days at Dr. Michael Hetzner’s office in Kiel: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Trying to prevent diseases before they occur is not necessarily a new development in medicine, but it is one which is getting more and more attention. One big reason for that, according to RN specialist Ann Rusch, is that as a population we continue to not do so well in taking care of ourselves.
Rusch began working for Dr. Hetzner’s Affinity Medical Group office in Kiel last August, focusing on both treatment of people with diseases and trying to help at-risk individuals keep from getting those diseases.
Some of those common diseases are diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
“Our focus is our whole medical model,” Rusch said. “Our goal is to keep the disease managed, to keep them out of the emergency room.”
Nutrition and exercise the key
For the most part, many of those diseases can be prevented by being careful about what we put in our bodies (food, alcohol, tobacco, etc.), and making sure we keep those bodies moving. It is no secret that nutrition and exercise continue to be the cornerstones of a healthy body.
“People know what they need to do, they just need reminders,” Rusch said. “All I ask is they make one change per week. I don’t want to set them up for failure. They have to make their own choices. If you make a choice, are you willing to suffer the consequences of that choice? I struggle with the temptations, too.”
Having an experienced registered nurse such as Rusch devote her time to preventing and managing diseases changes some traditional ways in which patients have interacted with their medical providers, and vice versa. In the past, many people would go to the doctor’s office when they were sick, get treated, and then not see or hear from the doctor again until the next illness or injury came along.
With the Affinity Medical Group’s “Medical Home” focus, each patient is at the center of his or her care and has an ongoing relationship with a personal provider who leads a team which takes collective responsibility for patient care.
Mark Sherry photo