Seven Reasons Why You Need a Primary Care Provider


The term “primary care provider” is commonly used in healthcare. But, what exactly is it, and why is it so important that you have one? Primary care providers are doctors, nurse practitioners or physician assistants that serve as your main medical contact.  In fact, a primary care provider — who may come from family medicine or internal medicine, depending on your needs — is specialized in diagnosing, treating and preventing a wide variety of conditions.

Without a primary care provider, you may either ignore medical problems or visit the emergency room for an illness that doesn’t really require emergency care. Neither is the best choice! Having a primary care provider helps you focus more on staying healthy, instead of only seeking help when you are sick or hurt. Your practitioner becomes your health coach, showing you better ways to stay healthy and live longer. Here are 7 main reasons to find a primary care provider:

Provide Acute Care

Primary care can diagnosis and treat up to 85% of services that present to them without a referral.  Building a trusting relationship is important in acute and ongoing medical care.

Better Preventive Care

One of the main responsibilities of a primary care provider is preventive care. A primary care provider can make recommendations that will help you protect your health. The practitioner can get to know you, your history and family history and recommend the screenings needed, and identify and treat many minor problems before they become major ones.

Continuity of Care

Having a competent primary care provider offers a continuity of care that health maintenance over a lifetime requires. The practitioner can treat the “whole person,” taking into account your history and existing conditions. Timely diagnosis increases the chances that you will be able to lead a longer and more productive life.

A Central Point of Contact

A primary care provider coordinates information between other healthcare providers. All healthcare that is done by specialty providers gets funneled through the primary care provider’s office to assist when you have questions, or are getting conflicting reports. Primary care providers can also make sure there is no duplication of care and testing, and that nothing is being left out.

A Key Resource

A primary care provider should be the first person in the healthcare system that you contact when you have a question or a problem. The practitioner can provide answers or can recommend a specialist to meet your needs. The primary care provider can also help you find other resources, such as support groups and classes.

Fewer Trips to the ER

Research has shown that regular visits to a primary care provider initiate more proactive healthcare measures and significantly decrease the instances of emergency room visits while also improving your quality of life.  A primary care physician can offer options that can help prevent you from making unnecessary trips to the emergency room. For example, your doctor may be able to answer questions about a condition, or may call in a prescription or suggest a course of action that can be taken at home.

Coordinated Care = Better Quality & Lower Costs

As the medical, specialty and mental health fields continue to change, coordination between your primary care provider and other practitioners has become increasingly important. Without effective communication between different health care providers, you may experience delays in care, misdiagnosis, incorrect or unnecessary treatment, and potentially higher health care costs. Part of the task of a primary care provider is to help you navigate through the healthcare system.

Through a Coordinated Care Model (an integrated system where providers work together to coordinate a patient’s care), there is greater efficiency and less waste. Those paying for healthcare get a better value, and those receiving healthcare get higher quality care at a price we can all afford. With a focus on primary care and prevention, health plans and their providers using the Coordinated Care Model are able to better manage chronic conditions and keep people healthy and out of the emergency room. This is great for your health and your pocketbook.


New patients are welcome at Medical Associates Clinic. To help you get started, we have Welcome Center staff who can answer your questions about our healthcare network, help you choose a provider, make an appointment, and assist you in transferring medical records. You can reach our New Patient Welcome Center Phone by calling (563) 584-4700.

Medical Associates participates with a large selection of insurance providers. Please check with your insurance company to obtain a listing of network participating providers.

dreiling_dale_2013_ultiproDale Dreiling, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Medical Associates Health Plans


Botox® Treatment for Migraines

Hear from Sarah Palmer, a patient of the Department of Neurology at Medical Associates, on how Botox® therapy has reduced her migraines and helped her live a healthier, happier life.


Botox® is well-known for its ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles in the skin as an outpatient cosmetic procedure. But recently, it is gaining popularity for another great reason; Botox® can help to reduce migraines and headaches in patients struggling with chronic pain in the head and neck. If you’re tired of living in pain, being unable to focus, and battling just to make it through the day, read on to find out if Botox® could be a healing option for you.

What should you know about Botox® as a migraine treatment?

Botox® is for patients who experience chronic migraines lasting at least four hours that occur fifteen or more days a month. The Botox® injections are administered every 12 weeks, with a small needle, and take approximately fifteen minutes to administer. Preeti Joseph, MD, from the Department of Neurology at Medical Associates, recommends patients receive two or three treatments, each twelve weeks apart, before deciding whether or not the medication is reducing symptoms.

“Sometimes a few sessions of Botox® may be enough to break the cycle and allow the patient to not need regular medication, or, allow them to go to using medication once a month, or twice a month as needed,” said Dr. Joseph.

On average, Botox® can prevent up to eight or nine days of migraine symptoms after twenty-four weeks of treatment have taken place.

“Having a family now, I just feel so much better about all aspects of my life,” explains Sarah Palmer, Botox® patient at Medical Associates. “It’s all because I know that I will have days that are migraine-free. Botox® therapy has significantly reduced my migraines and improved my quality of life.”

“We’re able to provide that population of patients Neurological care, which is huge. Otherwise, our patients would have to travel to receive the same level of care they could receive at Medical Associates to treat this condition,” explains Dr. Joseph.   

If you’ve been suffering from constant migraines and are looking for ways to relieve the pain and get back to living a normal, pain-free life, contact the Department of Neurology at Medical Associates.

The board certified neurologists provide diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, sleep disorders, headaches, strokes, tumors related to the brain and spinal cord, movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and diseases related to the muscles. This department works closely with the departments of Internal Medicine, General SurgeryPediatricsOncologyOrthopedic Surgery, and Physical & Rehabilitative Medicine, to provide comprehensive care for patients in need of specialized professional care related to these types of disorders.

Three Reasons You Should Quit Smoking NOW!


There are an estimated 40 million adults in the United States who regularly smoke cigarettes—putting them at risk for cancer, stroke, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and more. At Medical Associates, we believe it’s time to kick smoking in the butt!

After quitting, you can live your life to the fullest as a healthier you.

Did you know that in just a few hours after quitting smoking, your blood pressure levels will immediately begin to drop down to normal levels? Along with your blood pressure, your overall risk of disease will also begin to lower immediately. Your lungs will begin the recovery process, and your skin cells start repairing and rejuvenating themselves. In just a few short weeks, you’ll be able to exercise without becoming winded and your senses of smell and taste will return.

Make a healthier home for yourself and your family.

Separating smokers, opening windows, and using air filters will not prevent your family from breathing in secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, and more respiratory infections in your children.

Besides the major benefit of protecting your children from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, you will have more money in your wallet for all of those fun family activities! Use the money you would have spent on cigarettes and create lasting memories with your kids! Quitting is hard, and you should reward yourself and your family for your accomplishments.

It’s never too late to quit.

No matter how old you are, there are several health benefits in store for you when you kick the smoking habit. The number one leading cause of death in the United States is coronary artery disease caused by the effects of smoking. In fact, your risk of developing heart disease is 70% higher if you are a smoker. By quitting, you can save yourself, and your family, from the pain of dealing with a devastating diagnosis. In fact, just one year after quitting smoking, you will reduce your risk of heart disease by half.


Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and is estimated to have caused approximately 440,000 premature deaths in the United States annually. Take charge of your health today, and commit to quit smoking with the help of Medical Associates. If you are a smoker and are ready to quit, contact your health care provider or Kim Ehlers in the Internal Medicine Department to help you develop an individualized quit plan.


Hearing Loss in Children

By Charles Parker, MD

Impact of childhood hearing loss

Often we associate hearing loss as a problem of the elderly, and it’s true that nearly a third of Americans over the age of 65 have some amount of hearing loss. But did you know that hearing loss is one of the most common problems affecting children at birth? About 3 in 1,000 children born in the U.S. are born with hearing loss. Approximately 15 percent of children between 6 to 19 years of age will have some degree of hearing loss on hearing tests. Hearing is vital to early language development. It enables us to interact with others and develop appropriate social and emotional skills. Children with hearing loss often don’t do as well in school as their peers with normal hearing. Good hearing is essential to a young child’s growth.

What causes hearing loss in children?

The most common reason for hearing loss in children is frequent ear infections. Ear infections are a common childhood illness with five out of six children developing an ear infection by 3 years of age. An ear infection is characterized by pain and fluid behind the ear drum. This fluid may persist, acting like a plug in the ear, causing hearing loss. Your child may get treated with antibiotics to rid the infection; however, the fluid may still remain despite antibiotic use. If the fluid remains longer than three months, it may need to be surgically drained to restore normal hearing.

If a newborn has hearing loss, it is most commonly due to the child’s genes. Genetic testing may be necessary to determine the exact reason. An infection during pregnancy or soon after birth is another common reason for newborn hearing loss. There is also a higher risk of hearing loss if your child was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after birth.

In adolescents and teenagers, a growing cause of hearing loss is loud noise exposure. Approximately 12 percent of children from 6 to 19 years of age have permanent hearing loss related to loud noise exposure, such as listening to music through earphones. A good rule of thumb is that if others can hear your music or if you can’t hear others talking around you when listening to your music, then it’s too loud.

How can I tell if my child cannot hear very wellEar 

As a parent you are the best person to look for signs that suggest poor hearing. Signs to look for that may indicate a hearing loss are: slow response to voice or other noises, child does not respond when being spoken to outside their field of vision (such as from behind), slower speech development, watching the TV louder than others, missing words when there is background noise, inattentiveness or frustration. If you have concerns that your child may have hearing loss, it’s important that your child undergo testing.

How do they test my child for hearing loss?

Your child’s age and development will determine what kind of hearing test they will receive. Most children born in the U.S. will get their hearing tested prior to leaving the hospital. While most children “pass” this test, others will need to repeat testing to ensure good hearing.  If your newborn does not pass the initial hearing test, it does not mean they have hearing loss. There are several ways to test older children; most of these involve delivering a sound to your child and observing your child’s response, such as turning their head.

Early diagnosis and intervention services for hearing loss can help your child learn language skills and other social skills. This can greatly improve development and ensure that your child reaches their full potential.


The board certified physicians in the Medical Associates Department of Otolaryngology treat patients with medical and surgical conditions related to the head and neck including cancer surgery, ear, sinus and throat surgery, nasal surgery, and plastic and reconstructive surgery of the face. To schedule an appointment, call 563-584-3475.

parker_ultipro_2016Charles Parker, MD
Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, Throat)
Medical Associates Clinic