PORTAL Update!

Our Athena Portal just had a new release and some functionality has changed, for the most part, to improve efficiency. PLEASE NOTE: YOU CAN “check in” online, BEFORE your appointment. PLEASE do help us by using this function – it allows us to confirm any changes you may have had, It gives you a place to document briefly what you are coming in for, you can even pay your copay on line, AND there is a link to complete and update your HEALTH HISTORY QUESTIONNAIRE.
FOR ALL NEW PATIENTS and all ANNUAL EXAMs/PHYSICALs of returning partners, Please DO update this if you will BEFORE the appointment date. **You do not have to worry about specific dates of surgeries/ procedures/ immunizations etc. We will fill in those for accuracy at your appointment.
I do find the social history update is the one that changes most often and ask that you fill this section in , as well as for women the Gynecological history. PLEASE phone our office if you are having problems with this process so we can walk you thru it, again to give you more time in the visit with Dr. Alvarez, and less at the front desk on our tablet.
**PLEASE NOTE – for the Health history questionnaire, this is not a function you can do on your cell – Please use a tablet or desktop or laptop.

THANK YOU partners for continued active participation ! The portal ( your open medical record and mode of non urgent communication with Dr. Alvarez) is a crucial part of how to keep the practice efficient.

Inclement Weather Conditions and Office Policy

Here at Partners in wellness, we always look forward to your visit. We wanted to post this message in effort to keep you safe in any potential risky weather conditions this season. Please note that in general, it is our office policy to follow the Portland Public School action for any given bad weather day. For example, if they are on a 2 hour delay, we will also be on a 2 hr delay, if they are closed for the day, we will also likely be closed. For certain, you will be contacted by Dr Alvarez or her staff to clarify and to reschedule if appropriate. Please do not hesitate to contact us as well, via portal message or phone message.
In wellness, and safety ~
Dr. Kathy Alvarez and staff

Cold and Flu Season 2016

The holiday season brings with it celebrations, family and friend gatherings, cold weather, and the not so fun part: respiratory infections.
How do you know if it is a cold or the flu?
The common cold and the flu (or influenza) are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. They share many similar symptoms, but the diagnosis and treatment differ.
Here are a few tips, but always call your doctor for more information if you are not sure.
Cold symptoms are generally milder. They develop slowly and can include: fever up – low grade , runny or stuffy nose (often with green- or yellow-colored discharge), sore throat, cough, sneezing and just feeling exhausted.
The Flu symptoms are more severe, and often come on suddenly: fever over 102°F, stuffy nose, nausea, chills and sweats, fatigue, muscle aches, especially in your back, arms and legs, cough, headache, loss of appetite, vomiting in some cases.
Consider a call to our clinic if you are not certain , OR If you have an underlying medical condition such as asthma, age > 60, or diabetes, which may put you at greater risk of secondary infection. It is recommended that you consider evaluation.
Until you see the doctor, rest, hydrate, avoid alcohol and tobacco. Taking over the counter cold medications may help, but have caution if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure.
Most important is a preventative approach – good hand washing, stress management and good nutrition.
Schedule your annual exam today if you have not had one this year, and we can review more preventative strategies specific to your needs.
In wellness,
Dr. A

Patient Portal… how to access information and improve communication

THANK YOU for working with us through the transition of electronic medical record and the new patient portal. We are just into 6 months and still have some logistics to work out. I hope you will find it helpful. Here are some tips and reminders. I am open to your feedback as well!
Notification to Dr. Alvarez – It is OK to portal message a medical issue, but nothing urgent please, do use the phone messaging, as Portal messages are usually responded to in a 2-3 day period. It may be more often, but it varies with the number of incoming messages!
RE: your VISIT SUMMARY – what I find to be the most important part of our visit, where I document the plan we came up with. I try to get this to you within 24 hours, you should see it will pop up as a message, or you will see it in your INBOX. It may take me another day to complete – then YOU WILL FIND THIS in your portal under ” MY HEALTH” – case summary, under the date of visit. If you do not see it there , please message our office. You may also find it helpful to glance at it just before you
Obtaining your lab results – Thank you for patience in this, Dr. Alvarez reviews labs as they come in and will add comments and send it to portal. This process can take 1-2 weeks most of the time due to a number of factors. We are notified if there is anything urgent or significantly abnormal and will for certain contact you sooner if that is the case. In addition, if you are awaiting a result for a treatment plan, such as Strep throat, wound or urine culture etc. You will usually be reminded to PHONE us if you have not heard from my office within 2 days.
There is a patient health questionnaire that I ask you to fill out either at new visit or at annual exam. This will be asked of you only once a year. We are still working on the problems in this system. As with all things new and electronic there are some lessons to be learned…. THANK you again for helping me keep it FUN as we learn together!! ~

Spring is in the Air

Spring is often a time of reflection for me, looking back at previous goals set and ahead for future growth potential.

At Partners in Wellness, there are some changes on the horizon, giving you opportunities to be more actively involved in your wellness plan.  The mission remains the same:  to provide a place for PARTNERSHIP in your HEALTH; to have your list of concerns heard and addressed; to share in a plan for prevention; and to involve other exceptional team members in your plan for wellness.

Here are a few  updates/reminders:

RE: Appointment booking – Please continue to utilize the online scheduling system as reception hours have decreased.  While the schedule may from time to time seem full, there are daily changes to it, so always check again and then do consider calling to try to arrange an appointment by phone.  There are frequent work-in visit appointment options; however, there are times you may need to be seen at an urgent care clinic if our next available opening does not meet your comfort level, or if you do not hear back within the time frame that meets your needs.  I try to call back within 24 hours, but there are instances when that is not possible.   Please do try to plan ahead when you can and use the ANNUAL WELLNESS VISIT as an opportunity to review ways to keep you healthy.   I advise an ANNUAL WELLNESS VISIT for all patients (required if you are receiving regular prescriptions from me) ideally in your birthday month!

RE:Refills – Plan ahead for refills; most will require a visit. We decide on a follow up plan when you first come to see me and you will have enough refills until that agreed upon time.  TAKE NOTE:  If there are no further refills on your bottle, it is time to schedule a visit. We are booked out by 2-3 weeks for a routine visit, so please keep that in mind when you look at your current prescription bottle.

It brings me great pleasure to work with you and I appreciate all that you bring to the partnership.  I am looking forward to continued growth in our partnership and will continue to encourage you in your pursuit of your wellness goals. So come in prepared for this conversation, not just a “follow up” or a “refill.” It is always the right time for change, especially when change means an improvement in your quality of life.  THANK YOU for remaining an active participant in your health and wellness! ~In Process ,Dr. Alvarez

The moment you change your perception, is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body”   Dr. Bruce Lipton

Spring Allergen

Sneezing, eyes watering and skin itching?  It has been a very robust allergy season.  You may be wondering if it will ever end and what to take – given all the over the counter options.  There are a number of things you can do for the allergies.  If you are looking into medication, for certain the non sedating antihistamines can be helpful and in theory, help control symptoms for up to 24 hrs. Of course, not all allergy drugs work equally well for all people. You may need to switch brands.

It may be worth trying a number of  options, including:

Cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy and generic), which is available as an over-the-counter generic but might be more likely to cause sedation than loratadine ( Claritin)  or Fexofenadine ( Allegra).
• Older antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton and generic), which not only can cause drowsiness but also dry eyes and mouth, and urinary retention, only last about 4-6 hours. In addition, these medications should be avoided by people with narrow-angle glaucoma or an enlarged prostate.
Desloratadine (Clarinex), which is still only available as an expensive, brand-name prescription drug.

You may also benefit from decreasing the inflammation in the nostrils/ turbinates/ sinus passages with a nasal steroid spray.  Fluticasone, nasal steroid spray was recently released over the counter, ( it is same dose as the previous prescription version).

Finally, lifestyle changes, such as staying indoors when the pollen count is high, can also help.

For sure, if you are miserable and have tried these remedies available over the counter, Go online to schedule an appointment and we can go to next steps to get you back in your game !

In wellness,

Kathy Alvarez, MD.