The primary care doctor: your healthcare QB

Written by Healthy Living News. Posted in Health and Beauty

For many years, our nation’s healthcare system has been trending toward a more specialized—or even subspecialized—model, with a focus on a particular organ or system of the body. But the job of a primary care physician is to look at the whole body—giving you just one of many reasons for establishing a relationship with one if you haven’t done so already.

And with an expanding network of care, a Mercy Health primary care physician can be found in the neighborhoods where you live and work.

Cathy Cantor, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Health Physicians – Toledo, says, “From my perspective as a primary care physician, what I love most is that I really get to know my patients and know them well. With each visit, I get to learn a little bit more about them so I’m more attuned to signs that might indicate a change in their health status. When you establish a relationship with your patients, you can look at a change in their health and say, ‘Gosh, that’s not like you. Let’s try treatment A, B, or C.’”

Dr. Cantor likens her role as a primary care physician to that of a football quarterback, coordinating the patient’s healthcare network. In addition to providing routine and preventive care, she can guide them to specialists if needed and generally help them navigate the complex “waters” of the healthcare system.

Owing to their holistic approach and the familiarity they develop with patients, primary care doctors are much more likely to catch developing health problems early when they tend to be more treatable if not curable. “In fact, research shows that patients who establish a relationship with a primary care physician have a 19 percent lower chance of premature death than those who don’t,” Dr. Cantor states. “In addition, people who seek care through a primary care doctor have 33 percent lower healthcare costs compared to their peers who just see specialists. So, establishing a relationship with a primary care doctor will not only add years to your life, but it can also save you a lot of money.”

However, if patients hope to reap all these benefits, especially in terms of disease prevention, they need to stay on top of those routine checkups. If they only schedule appointments when they’re not feeling well, their doctor will have to focus on the problem at hand and may be less likely to catch other developing problems, make recommendations for preventive screenings, etc.

Of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to complicate things when it comes to patients seeking routine healthcare. Fortunately, most primary care doctors now offer the option of virtual visits via videoconferencing apps such as Zoom or even just over the phone, depending on their patients’ comfort level. “However you do it, just be sure to check in and keep that conversation going with your primary care doctor, even if it can’t be face to face,” Dr. Cantor emphasizes.

With respect to COVID-19, your primary care doctor can be a valuable source of advice and information on how to protect yourself and loved ones from the virus and what to do if you’re experiencing symptoms. In keeping with the advice of local, state, and federal health experts, Dr. Cantor urges people to continue taking care of themselves by washing their hands, wearing masks, and maintaining a safe physical distance from other people.

Recognizing the importance of increasing access to primary care, Mercy Health is extending its reach further into the community in a variety of ways. One example of this trend is the recent opening of the Mercy Health – Waterville Primary Care facility, located at 1222 Pray Blvd. in Waterville, Ohio, with easy access from Rt. 24. Also, Mercy Health has opened numerous Primary Care and Family Medicine locations around our region, offering walk-in care and extended hours. “We’ve expanded to locations all around the community to ensure area residents have easy, convenient access to care and services right where they live and work,” says Dr. Cantor. Dr. Steven Dood, Dr. Jeffery Swartz, and Sarah Wells, Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, are seeing patients at this new location.

To find a primary care physician, visit