SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - Visiting a primary care provider (PCP) is important to your overall health. Your PCP can help you address health concerns, identify health issues or risks and maintain your overall health. Recently, a patient of SSM Health family physician Dr. Ralph Latta received unexpected results from a routine test that made clear to him the importance of his relationships with his primary care physician.
Gary Reynolds (photo at left), 66, lives in the Benton, Illinois area and has been seeing Dr. Latta for many years. Reynolds, an electrician at Continental Tire, is married and is a grandfather. He has an active job; he spends much of his work day on a ‘ride bicycle’ which is a three wheeled bike and weighs more than 400 pounds. Reynolds insurance offers a “free annual exam” and there was a lung ultrasound screening program for people who smoked, which Reynolds did for a very short period of time when he was in the Army, and is applicable since he is over the age of 65. Both Reynolds and Latta felt there probably would not be any lung findings but he met the criteria and knew it was good to do the tests.
Reynolds went to Franklin County Hospital, an affiliated hospital of SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital, for the ultrasound lung scan on a Wednesday. Shortly after completing the imaging, the technician asked Reynolds to wait and went to call Dr. Latta.
“Just 15 minutes later I found out Dr. Latta was so concerned about the findings he had already made an appointment with the heart doctor,” said Reynolds. His scan revealed a large Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA); his aorta, which is normally around 2 centimeters, had swollen to an alarming 9.2 centimeters. He saw Hoang Nguyen, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, just two days later, on a Friday, and went to surgery the following Monday to repair what Dr. Nguyen said was the biggest AAA she’d ever seen.
“I had no symptoms,” said Reynolds. “If this wasn’t caught when it was, it easily could have burst and I wouldn't be here. It was a miracle.” Reynolds is back to work but states, "I was off work for 5 months and a week. After surgery I was in a nursing home since I needed lots of assistance and Dr. Latta saw me there too”.
As this story demonstrate, it’s important to get to know a primary care physician before becoming ill. Your physician will know you and your body, recommend appropriate diagnostic testing and take care of issues before they become severe, and help you manage your overall health.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, now is a great time to get one. SSM Health Medical Group offers online scheduling for those who don’t have a primary care physician. It’s easy – just visit yourssmdoctor.com. Choose the location which is best for you, then choose the day and time, and you’re on your way to better health!