Imagine if you could reach your doctor anytime, get a same day appointment in most cases, and have your doctor actually spend time and listen to you? That’s what Dr. M. Sandra Scurria offers her patients at her MDVIP-affiliated practice.
The Mississippi-born Dr. Scurria majored in chemistry at the University of Dallas, a small Catholic university in Irving, Texas, then came to Houston to train as a medical technician before joining MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“While I enjoyed working in the lab, it turned out that the favorite part of my job was when I went up on the floors to collect blood samples,” she recalls. “I realized that I wanted to do more and be able to help patients more directly.”
So, it was back to school. Four years of medical school and three years as a Family Medicine Resident later, Dr. Scurria opened her practice in 1982 after being certified by the American Board of Family Practice.
“When I first started there were only a few patients each day and I loved seeing each patient, spending time with them and getting to know them personally,” Dr. Scurria says. “I finally was where I wanted to be, and I was doing what I had dreamed of doing.”
But over the next 33 years her practice changed. It grew to the point that she couldn’t see every patient herself and had to rely on Physician Assistants (PAs).
“I was pleased to have a thriving practice, but I was not pleased to lose the ability to see all my patients myself,” she says. “Over the years the healthcare environment has continued to push primary care physicians to see more and more patients and spend less and less time with each one. I was working 15-hour days, overseeing a staff of 11 employees, and directly supervising two PAs, making patient call backs until 8 and 9 at night and doing never ending paperwork to keep the insurance companies happy.”
She rarely had time for her hobbies—playing golf and traveling. Even finding the time to volunteer for her favorite community organizations LHI, AssistHers, The Pet Patrol, KIDS Meals, and Houston Center for Independent Living became challenging.
“I still loved seeing patients, but I was burning out,” she says. “I recognized that I had to make a change.”
In January of 2011, she made that change, becoming affiliated with MDVIP. In 2000, two physicians in Florida decided that they wanted a new approach to primary care that focused on helping people stay healthy. They developed a personalized healthcare model that has grown to more than 1,200 carefully selected primary care physicians in 45 states Now, MDVIP is the leader in personalized healthcare with a network of physicians across the country who care for more than 380,000 patients.
“In this country we spend over $2.5 trillion every year treating people after they get sick,” Dr. Scurria says. “Yet our health statistics are terrible. Almost one million Americans die of heart disease each year, 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and additional 34 million are at risk. Sixty two percent are overweight or obese, and one in six suffer from depression. In summary, we are spending more money than ever and are less healthy than ever.
“MDVIP’s goal is to help people stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. You select an MDVIP affiliated doctor as your primary care physician for your acute and sick care needs. There’s an annual membership fee for the service which includes a wellness program. And MDVIP physicians still accept Medicare and most managed care plans.”
The Wellness Program is the foundation for the MDVIP Care model. The Wellness Program is a collaborative project between the doctor and the patient. It is designed to look for and identify the so-called silent killers, such as diabetes. The evaluation is performed annually at two separate office visits. It starts with an extensive battery of laboratory tests including evaluations for anemia, thyroid disorders, diabetes, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, vitamin levels, and other tests. A number of diagnostic tests are also run to check hearing, vision, pulmonary health, and cardiovascular status. Each patient completes detailed questionnaires to assess risk factors involving nutritional habits and physical fitness. On the second office visit a careful physical exam is performed and patient and doctor go over all the test results.
“Together we develop a personalized wellness plan that focuses on areas that need improvement in each patient’s life,” Dr. Scurria says. “We identify specific actions and healthy life choices that will help prevent disease and illnesses.
“So, let me ask you: Would you like to have a Family Physician who took extra time with you on every visit? Would you like to have same or next day appointments with your doctor? Would you like to be part of a practice where your doctor gets to know you personally and works as a partner with you to determine your healthcare needs? If these things sound good to you, consider joining my MDVIP practice.”