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Healthcare in Harrisburg

Written by Savannah Marie, Community Blogger | Feb 12, 2014 4:22 PM

My new life is Harrisburg is going pretty well so far. I’ve made some friends, visited some cool places and adjusted (depending on your definition) to the cold weather. I consider my first few months here a big success. I felt that way up until a few days ago when I got flu-like symptoms. I was faced with the hard reality that I had no healthcare in Harrisburg! Getting acclimated to a new community is more than finding your way to the best local grocery store (Wegmans), dry cleaner (hah!) and restaurant (too early to tell). Finding a quality health care provider that meets my specific needs was an essential step I missed in this whole moving process. If you ever find yourself in a new town with no healthcare, keep your internal engine running smoothly with these handy tips.

Evaluate Your Needs                                                                                                                         

Chances are you’ll start by searching for a general practitioner or internist to provide comprehensive medical care. Have you considered, however, whether your needs will be better served by a family practitioner who will care for every member of your family? Perhaps you’d prefer a separate pediatric practice for your kids, or you’d like to find a geriatrician who can care for an aging family member. Regardless of the route you choose, every member of your family should have one physician who provides checkups and referrals to medical specialists.

Specialized treatment requires — you guessed it — a specialist. Dermatologists, ophthalmologists, gynecologists and obstetricians, allergists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, neurologists and other -ists provide care for specific issues. If you have specific concerns about your skin, eyes or heart, for example — your general practitioner will recommend a follow up visit with one of these professionals.

Dental hygiene is an essential part of basic healthcare and just as every member of your family should see a GP for annual checkups and immunizations, twice-yearly dental exams can prevent a host of uncomfortable problems. If you’re searching for a doctor or dentist in Harrisburg — including an orthodontist, periodontist or endodontist — verify coverage with your insurer when you’re ready to commit.

Get Recommendations

Perhaps the best way to find the best doctors, dentists and hospitals is to ask your coworkers, friends and neighbors for a general or family physician recommendation. If you’re not comfortable asking, explore online resources HealthFinder.gov and Doctor.HealthCommunities.com for more information. Your insurance company may also furnish a list of covered providers. Keep in mind that not every doctor and dentist will accept new patients; if you find a provider you’d like to see but the front office won’t give you an appointment, try asking a friend who is a current patient to put in a good word for you. Often, medical practices will accept new patient referrals, even when the practice is officially closed for new business.

Ask the Right Questions

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, the real work begins. Explore the practice’s website, if there is one; if not, contact each office personally, and ask:

  • What insurance does your practice accept? (Or, what are your rates?)
  • How long has the doctor practiced medicine, and how long in the Harrisburg community?
  • Is the doctor board-certified?
  • Where are you located?
  • How long is the typical visit?
  • Is lab work completed on-site?
  • Do you provide concierge services?
  • What hospital does the doctor partner with?

Other Considerations

Although quality of care is the most important factor, other considerations also play a role. For example, consider your working hours — do you need a practice that is open during evenings and weekends? If you’re paying for care without the help of insurance, do your providers accept credit cards and personal checks? Are online amenities such as self-service appointment setting, prescription refills and test result reporting important, or would you prefer the comfort of speaking with a person — but possibly waiting for a call back?

There are many factors to consider when picking the correct healthcare for you and your family. However, it’s even more of a headache when you’re on the verge of the flu and are forced to go to any healthcare provider that will take you! Make the steps to securing the correct healthcare provider before you require their services. 

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