This story was originally published in the Summer 2022 edition of Providence St. Mary Medical Center Health Matters.
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Providence St. Mary Medical Center can conduct vital screenings for patients with their primary care physician.
Dr. Anastacia Rodriguez, DO, shares how critical it is to keep track of annual screenings. She tells her patients that early screenings can avoid the risk of emotional trauma with a diagnosis that may come with a cancer diagnosis.
The importance of staying current with all vaccinations to stay healthy.
Here’s what you need to know. The health care providers at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, known throughout the hospital as caregivers, know you lead busy lives. Amid the stress of our hectic day-to-day concerns, it can be difficult to stay on top of regular medical screenings. Not only is there a lot to keep track of, but recommended guidelines can change based on new research and information doctors observe. We spoke about the importance of screenings with Anastacia Rodriguez, DO, who specializes in internal medicine and is affiliated with the St. Mary High Desert Medical Group.
Getting regular health screenings can lead to better outcomes later.
Dr. Rodriguez explains why it’s so critical not to delay medical care: “Whenever I talk to my patients, I remind them that we would not be screening for something we don’t have a treatment for.” She goes on to make the point that it’s a lot cheaper to screen for a disease than it is to treat one. “It’s also especially important and impactful when an early screening can avoid the emotional trauma that may come with something like a cancer diagnosis.”
One of the most overlooked screenings relates to lung cancer. Anyone who is an active smoker or has a history of smoking should ask their doctor about getting a low-dose CT scan.
One recommendation that has changed in recent years is the one for colorectal screenings, or colonoscopies. These screenings used to be recommended for people 50 and older. Then physicians started seeing younger patients develop colorectal cancer. As a result, the age for this screening was lowered to 45.
As a general rule, Dr. Rodriguez says everyone should schedule a wellness visit once a year. These visits are a good time to ensure your doctor is fully aware of your medical history.
It’s also a time to be curious. “Ask questions about your health now and what you can do in the future,” she advises. “We want you to come in when you’re healthy so you can stay healthy.”
Be vigilant about vaccines
We’ve heard a lot these past few years about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Rodriguez points out that the leading causes of hospitalizations for respiratory issues before COVID were flu and pneumonia, adding that vaccines are also available for both. She recommends getting a flu vaccine every year as part of regular health care. This is because flu strains change each year, and the shot targets that season’s prevailing strain.
Another of Dr. Rodriguez’s recommendations is to keep pneumonia vaccines current. Usually these are appropriate mainly for people 65 and over, but here’s something important to remember: Anyone over 18 with certain health conditions—including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, asthma and COPD—should get a pneumonia vaccine. The same goes for those who actively use tobacco. It’s particularly important in the High Desert area, where Dr. Rodriguez says nearly 70% of the population is dealing with one or more of these conditions.
Primary care physicians at Providence St. Mary Medical Center can screen patients for a variety of health conditions. From blood pressure monitoring to breast cancer screenings, our doctors use the latest tests and technology to ensure you stay in the best of health through every stage of life. The evidence-based guidance at the right details when you should connect with your doctor for common health screenings.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.
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