Beyond the Card: Pushing for Answers

It all started when Sarah Lanivich noticed her three-month old son, Mason, had a cough that sounded like he’d been smoking for years. The cough lingered for months, and Sarah struggled to find a diagnosis.

“Mason was a happy baby, but he would cough a lot and his breathing was labored,” said Sarah.  “We just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.”

Mason’s pediatrician referred him to a local specialist to help solve the mystery. After the examination, the specialist told Sarah the cough was related to Mason’s daycare. The treatment? She needed to take him out of daycare.

“I had just gotten back to work,” Sarah remembers. “I carry the insurance and we weren’t in a position to immediately become a one-income family. I had no clue what we were going to do.”

Sarah talked to Mason’s pediatrician about all her concerns, and the pediatrician pressed her to get a second opinion. She was referred to a different doctor, but didn’t have high hopes this specialist would say anything different.

After some tests, the second specialist realized that the issue was really with Mason’s swallowing. He had a disorder called dysphagia, where a person doesn’t completely close off their airway when they swallow, and bits of food or liquid go into their lungs and cause irritations.  These irritations can develop into infections like bronchitis.

Once Sarah had this diagnosis, she and Mason’s pediatrician and this new specialist worked together to arrange occupational therapy for Mason. With the right treatment, Mason’s cough slowly disappeared. Today, Mason is a happy, healthy three-and-a-half-year-old.

Sarah was fortunate that Mason’s pediatrician was designated as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) doctor, a designation given by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to recognize practices who partner with us to transform the health care system into a model of efficient, cost-effective care centered on the patient.

Sarah and Mason Lanivich

Sarah and Mason Lanivich

“Having a PCMH doctor is a completely different experience,” said Sarah. “Our doctor made me feel like she was as concerned about Mason’s health as I was. She could have taken the easy way out and blamed Mason being in daycare. But instead, she worked with me to find answers.”

Through a PCMH doctor, Mason was given a team of health care professionals dedicated to helping him get better. Instead of Sarah having to relay messages from one doctor to another, Mason’s health care team worked together to ensure care was coordinated effectively.

“Had my doctor not pressed me to get a second opinion, I don’t know that we would have ever received a diagnosis,” said Sarah. “He would have continued to experience the same symptoms, and I would have potentially left my job for nothing. It really was all because of her.”

Want to know if your current doctor is PCMH-designated? Give the office a call, or look for the certification on the wall during your next appointment. You can also find a full list of PCMH providers here.

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