Q: I am concerned because I have several specialists that I see, and they all have different opinions. What am I supposed to think?

A: I have been in El Dorado for 34 years practicing medicine, and boy, how things have changed. My first 10 years of practice, we did surgery every morning for an hour or so before we started hospital rounds. Over the last couple of decades, the population of specialists has increased significantly, as well as expectations of using them.

When I came here, there were two neurosurgeons in Springfield who covered all of Southwest Missouri. It seems that patients expect to see specialists for about everything, most of which we used to handle here, ourselves.

While the focus has changed in family practice, the need for primary care is still exists to help patients by organizing the different diagnoses and coordinating care. It’s a balancing act, and knowing when to use specialists is an important aspect of the care.

Patients still need someone who can put together all of their problems under one roof and try to keep things balanced and in perspective. I think that is also why the local medical community of physicians and Advanced Practitioners (PA’s and NP’s) is so important. It’s also important that we utilize local services (including the hospital) as much as possible, to encourage good medical care close to home, while using out of town specialists when they are needed.

Family Practice providers incorporate disease prevention, health promotion, health maintenance and patient education into the care of long and short term illnesses as part of their practice – whether at home, the nursing home or our local hospital.

While specialty care is becoming more important over time, the primary care doctor provides advocacy and helps accomplish cost-effective care by coordinating other health care services.

Dr. Rick Casey

Questions can be submitted directly to the providers, called in to Mercy Clinic at 417/876-5851 or submitted through their new App mymercy.net.

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