After visiting Naples, Terry Olliges and his wife fell in love with the area and became seasonal residents. While they were soaking in the beauty of our community, they maintained relationships with their primary physicians up North. Since they were healthy, they didn’t need an ongoing care plan in paradise.

Eventually, their seasonal home became their primary home in 2013. On their moving checklist, the Olliges changed addresses, bills, and legal paperwork. However, several months after arriving they realized it was time for an annual physical. After conferring with their newfound tennis and golf friends, they decided to establish care with Carlos Portu, MD of Shoreline Physician Group.

But before the date of their routine appointments with Dr. Portu, Terry experienced a sudden and concerning medical symptom. He woke up with severe dizziness and was unable to walk straight.

Heart of a physician

Terry called Dr. Portu’s office to seek medical advice. Terry was especially concerned because he had a history of a cardiac condition. Although he was not yet an established patient of the practice, Dr. Portu advised Terry to come in immediately for a clinical evaluation.

Collier County physicians are accustomed to the unique needs of a seasonal population, and Dr. Portu is no exception. According to Dr. Portu, during “season” he must be prepared for an increase in both seasonal residents that need ongoing medical care and new patients who have recently decided to make Collier County their permanent home.

Being prepared to welcome patients with urgent needs on a timely basis is one of the biggest challenges of the primary care physician. This can be even more complex when caring for an aging population with multiple diagnoses, as well as managing patients across state lines.

“As our seasonal patients arrive in town, CCMS members work diligently to update their records. In our community, co-managing patient care across state lines is essential for long-term relationships.”  – David Wilkinson, MD, president, CCMS board of directors

Training of a physician

Dr. Portu conducted a thorough evaluation of Terry. During the medical work-up, he noted an abnormality in Terry’s electrocardiogram. Rather than simply referring Terry to the emergency department for a potential heart problem, Dr. Portu acted on his training as a physician. He consulted with Terry’s northern doctor and obtained a copy of his previous electrocardiogram. Comparing the two readings, Dr. Portu was able to confirm that the test abnormality was not new and did not require an immediate cardiac evaluation.

Physicians rely on extensive medical training, which includes a minimum of 7 years and 15,000 hours of clinical experience, to properly diagnose and treat patients. Every licensed physician is required to complete the same rigorous and standardized training and testing before they are permitted to treat patients independently.

This experience allows physicians to recognize the difference between minor abnormalities from previous conditions versus those that are life-threatening and warrant immediate medical intervention. This training can save patients the inconvenience of time and money spent on unnecessary testing and treatments.

“An important part of being a primary care doctor is managing patient care across multiple settings and states. As Collier County physicians, our role is to bridge the gaps to ensure patients have the best care available.” – Rebekah Bernard, MD, vice-president, CCMS board of directors

Your physician is on your team

If doctors and patients are on a team, then the job of a primary care physician is to act as the quarterback. Doctors order tests and recommend treatments, but the patient has the responsibility to show up for appointments and follow-up on the treatment plan. Collier County physicians know that this isn’t always easy for patients and take further steps to ensure that patients optimize their health.

For example, at Shoreline Physician Group, Dr. Portu takes a pro-active approach by offering in-office testing for his patients. From routine blood tests to stress tests and ultrasounds, Dr. Portu invites patients to accomplish as much as possible in his office. This makes it easier for patients to complete the recommended tests—smart medicine for both primary physicians and specialists.

“Any time we can make it easier for patients to comply with medical orders, we have the opportunity for a better patient experience and more accurate understanding of their medical needs.– Carlos Portu, MD, CCMS member

But a physician is more than just someone who orders tests and prescribes medications. As physicians are on the same team as their patients, this means that they take the time to listen and genuinely care for the patients they serve.

Terry believes that Dr. Portu and his staff take the time to listen to him. While they have a professional relationship, Terry trusts his doctor and feels comfortable sharing any and all his concerns. He also feels confident that his primary physician is looking out for his most important health concerns.

The Physician-Patient Relationship Matters

Having a regular physician is more than just a convenience; it is also good for your health. Studies show that patients with a regular doctor have better overall health and even have a lower chance of dying.

And patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from the physician-patient relationship. In a time when physicians are becoming increasingly burned out from problems within the health care system, doctors consistently report that having strong relationships with their patients is their favorite part of the practice of medicine.

Collier County physicians aim to develop close relationships with their patients and appreciate following their patients over time. With the increasing demands from the health care system, many doctors also incorporate additional staff members like medical assistants, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to help them to work efficiently and effectively. Even when utilizing team members, your physician remains the leader of your health care team, carefully supervising all aspects of your medical treatment.

Because physician education is standardized with all physicians completing the same rigorous training and testing, patients can feel comfortable with the knowledge base of any licensed physician. But patients should also know that most physicians make the decision to dedicate years of their life to study because they truly care about providing the best medical care to their patients. There are no short-cuts to becoming a physician, but most doctors will tell you that it is worth the effort to be able to provide the highest level of medical expertise to their patients.

Your Collier County physician has the heart and the training to provide your medical care. And they are on your team.