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Trust - Key To Building A Strong Relationship With Your Primary Care Provider

Regular Screenings Contribute to Improved Overall Quality of Life

When people only seek out the help of healthcare professionals when they are sick, they are missing out on the benefits of having a trusted advocate and confidant. By establishing and maintaining a longterm relationship with a primary care provider (PCP), individuals have access to screenings and diagnostics that not only provide early detection to cancers and diseases, but improve overall health, wellness and quality of life.

Finding the Right Fit

“An ER or urgent care clinic doctor cannot take the place of a primary care doctor,” said Erin Farley, MSN, RN who manages community wellness at CalvertHealth. “When you see an ER doctor for a specific injury or illness, that doctor is focused on that injury or illness – not on your overall health.”

Farley went on to add, “Your primary care provider is your advocate for whole body wellness, they are the ones to help you navigate the healthcare system in your community. If you need specialty care or treatment, mental health services or low-cost prescription options, your primary care doctor is the one who can refer you to people who can help.” Dr. Stoner said she believes a strong doctor-patient relationship is built on respect, communication and patience. “We are a team,” said Dr. Stoner. “I am here to provide guidance but patients also need to take ownership for making appointments when they have concerns and following care plans we’ve developed.”

She encourages patients to search for a doctor they like. “You can ask family and friends, but it’s only until you meet the doctor for yourself can you decide if the fit is right.”

Dr. Stoner understands trust takes time. “Over the years, the patients learn to trust me with their most intimate health concerns. They also learn my character and are more open to share personal or embarrassing issues.”

CalvertHealth Primary Care uses many tools to screen for depression, anxiety, domestic violence and other issues that do not present in physical tests. Dr. Stoner said the practice is especially sensitive to social barriers that can impact a patient’s ability to reach their health goals.

“If lack of transportation is an issue, we want to know about it,” she said. “If a patient is having difficulty affording prescribed medications, we need to know that, too. This is where the trust, respect and communication between patient and the care team result in quality outcomes.”

A rule of thumb, according to Dr. Stoner, is to limit two to three concerns per office visit to allow enough time to adequately address each concern. She suggests scheduling your annual physical or screening appointments in your birthday month as a reminder.

Early Detection, Early Diagnoses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people diagnosed with diabetes incur on average $16,750 annually in medical expenses. That’s about 2.3 times the medical expenses of a person without diabetes.

“By identifying elevated blood sugar levels during an annual exam, I can address lifestyle choices to help my patients avoid a future diagnosis of diabetes—and future financial burdens,” said Dr. Stoner.

According to the American Heart Association, at age 24, a person’s risk for heart disease is just 20 percent, but by 45 that same person now has a 50 percent risk of heart problems — more than doubled. Bloodwork during an annual exam can identify elevations in cholesterol and triglycerides which are risk factors in cardiovascular disease.

“Again, early warnings can provide an opportunity for patients to adjust their diet and exercise, quit smoking, and lower stress early so as to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Stoner.

What Your Doctor Needs to Know


Either on a form you are given at your first appointment or in the exam room, you can expect to be asked about your family’s medical history. Why? Many conditions or health issues can be hereditary; in other words, they can be passed from grandparent to parent to child.


Vital signs such as your blood pressure and pulse will help create a baseline for future exams and to signal potential heart and circulatory problems. Knowing your height and weight will help the doctor to know the dosage of any prescriptions that may be needed and to determine your BMI (Body Mass Indicator), which can help identify risks for obesity.


You should be honest about the length and frequency of your smoking habit, even if you quit 10 years ago. Current smokers will, of course, be encouraged to quit – and doctors have resources that can help. If you are a former smoker, your doctor can determine if you qualify for lung cancer screenings. The amount of alcohol you drink is important to share with your doctor. Some medications may be dangerous to take with alcohol.


Healthcare providers ask specific questions to determine if a patient would benefit from domestic violence services. This is required by law to provide protection and services to vulnerable persons.


Your doctor will ask if you ever contemplate harming yourself or if you have been feeling depressed. These questions are designed to assess the degree of risk for suicide and to open up further conversation. Your doctor is trained to help guide you to not only feeling your best physically, but also mentally.

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