While anytime is a great time to work on being healthier, the beginning of a new year is when people particularly tend to make goals.
Beyond eating nutritiously and exercising, other aspects of health are essential. For example, people can contribute to their long-term health with preventive care, including regular cancer screenings, vaccinations, blood pressure and cholesterol measurements, and mental health checkups.
For those who have fallen behind on medical checkups, they can take comfort in knowing that they are not alone — and that a local health center can help.
COVID-19 put checkups on the back burner
Early in the pandemic days of 2020, nearly everyone put preventive care checkups and even necessary treatments on hold. Many never caught up, leading to an increased risk of long-term health issues.
In fact, the lack of cancer screenings could lead to an excess of 10,000 deaths over the next decade from breast and colorectal cancers — which together account for about one-sixth of all cancer deaths, according to science.org.
That’s not to mention the other health concerns a doctor addresses at regular checkups.
“People have put off doing routine preventative things like mammograms, colonoscopies, and well-person exams,” said Jennifer Brunsdon, a primary care physician with Helena Indian Alliance. “WIth great, safe vaccines available, now’s the time to get back on track.”
Telehealth has changed the face of care
Brunsdon has made it her business to help people access the regular care they need to maintain a high quality of life. At Helena Indian Alliance, all residents are welcome to receive care and establish a primary care physician.
“We’re doing a lot of things now that we didn’t do before the pandemic that make getting care easier,” Brunsdon said. “We’re doing a whole lot more telemedicine. We’re set up for both phone visits and video visits. And when people come in, we have improved infection control.”
The telehealth option provides access to behavioral health care, psychiatric counseling, talk therapy, addiction counseling, urgent care, and primary care. Telehealth has provided significant benefits to people who have not been able to get in-person care, Brunsdon said.
Same-day appointments are available
Another benefit of Helena Indian Alliance is the availability of its physicians.
“We are one of the few primary care offices where you could call and see your provider the same day,” Brunsdon said. “If your primary physician isn’t there, another physician can see you.”
Fortunately, Helena Indian Alliance is open to anyone in the area, not just people of Native American descent.
“We are open to all,” Brunsdon said. “We see anyone who wants to be seen. Most of our patients are not Native Americans. If someone is in the Helena area and wants to get established with a primary care provider with nice access, this is the place. Our quality is absolutely the most top notch we can provide.”
Preventive care improves health
The benefits of regular checkups cannot be overstated. In fact, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease significantly increase the chances that a person will contract other infections and not recover well, according to Preventive Medicine Reports. By getting preventive care, people with chronic conditions are less likely to get sick in other ways, including contracting COVID-19.
For more information on available services or to schedule an appointment, visit Helena Indian Alliance online at hia-mt.org or call 406-449-5796.