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Healthcare 101: How and why to establish healthcare for you and your family

Category: Patient Stories
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Dr. Amanda Webb, St. Luke's Pediatric AssociatesPublished in Moms & Dads Today magazine, November/December issue

There are a lot of things that might keep you from regularly seeing a physician. “Some people avoid going to the doctor. They think it’s going to be expensive, sometimes they’re worried about what they might have, and healthcare can be confusing to navigate,” explained Dr. Mitch Cardwell of St. Luke’s Hibbing Family Medical Clinic.

However, there are a lot of benefits to regularly seeing a healthcare provider, especially when you’re managing the health of a family. By establishing care at St. Luke’s, you gain a primary care provider who gets to know your medical history, is actively engaged in your care, and helps you have a healthier future. Below are some common questions you may have in starting this process.

What is a primary care provider?

A primary care provider is a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner who specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics.

As for how often to see your primary care provider, you’re in control. An annual physical is recommended for adult care, while children should be seen more often to start out. “Kids get a lot of routine physicals starting out as an infant and toddler, and then we start spreading it out to every year. It’s a great chance to check up on their growth and development,” Dr. Amanda Webb of St. Luke’s Pediatrics Associates pointed out.

However, if you or your child gets sick between your scheduled appointments, your primary care provider will be available to help in any way he or she can.

What does it mean to ‘establish care’?

Establishing care with St. Luke’s means choosing a primary care provider to work with you and your family on a lifetime of care. Along with providing regular preventive care and medical care when you are sick, a primary care provider is the coordinator of all the health care services you might need and acts as a guide to the Aspirus St. Luke's system.

Why is it important to have a primary care provider?

Having a primary care provider means that there is someone at St. Luke’s who knows you and your family’s full medical history. This makes them actively engaged in your care. It’s more than just knowing who to call when you’re sick. It’s about having someone who can coordinate care, from preventive to specialty care.

What will it cost?

While coverage may vary, most major insurance providers cover an annual physical with a primary care provider at no cost, as part of preventive care. If you have additional questions about coverage, contact your insurance company. There is usually a customer service phone number on the back of your insurance card.

Why is preventive care important?

Focusing on staying healthy is important. “It’s hard when I see a patient who has a lot of preventable problems that would have been less difficult to treat if they had seen a health care provider regularly,” Dr. Cardwell said. Preventive care includes mammograms, pap smears, and other cancer screenings, as well as immunizations that help prevent disease.

Dr. Webb explained that preventive care is important for kids as well. “It’s really helpful that I see them when they’re well, and not just when they’re sick, because then I know what’s normal for them,” she said.

What if I don’t like my provider or clinic?

You can, at any point, change your provider, clinic, or any other aspect of your health care.

What if I am sick and need to be seen now?

There are times when an illness or injury needs immediate treatment. If you are unable to see your primary care provider when you need immediate care, or do not have one established yet, St. Luke’s offers convenient, on-demand care. This is available at St. Luke’s Urgent Care clinics and Q Care Express clinics, and through eCare, our virtual online clinic.

Why should I choose St. Luke’s?

St. Luke’s is a comprehensive health system committed to providing compassionate and expert medical care to patients across the Northland. Patients are the focus of everything at St. Luke’s. This means great care, tailored to your needs.

How do I choose a primary care provider?

The first step is to call 218.249.4000 and say “I want to establish care.” From there, St. Luke’s team will work with you to select a clinic and a provider. They will help you determine what type of provider you need, as well as finding a clinic that’s convenient for you, whether that means close to work or close to home.

Dr. Cardwell said, “I believe people need to have a primary care provider. This will help them stay healthy and know where to go when they have questions.” St. Luke’s has a team of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who are all as passionate about caring for their patients as Dr. Cardwell.

Primary care providers are available at 14 primary care clinics across the region. St. Luke’s is a comprehensive health system that also includes six Urgent Care clinics, two Q Care Express clinics, and eCare, a virtual online clinic. Find a primary care clinic near you by calling 218.249.4000 or visit