From the routine to the serious, men’s health covers a variety of conditions, diseases and disorders. While some doctors, depending on their specialty, may have different views on the most important aspects of men’s health, few, if any, would disagree with the notion that, when it comes to your health, awareness and prevention are the most important things you can do to ensure a long and healthy life.
Resource editors spoke with two physicians to get their perspectives on men’s health: Aldo Ribeiros, M.D., an internal medicine specialist with Baptist Health Primary Care, and Prem Kumar Lund, P.A.-C., a physician’s assistant with Baptist Health Urgent Care.
Resource: What are some of the more common “male-centric” conditions that lead men to seek care at Baptist Health?
Dr. Ribeiros: Working in internal medicine, I see a number of men who present with conditions such as prostatitis, urogenital cancers, erectile dysfunction, low testosterone and other genitourinary issues, many of which can be treated here in the office. If needed, we refer patients to one of our urologists or endocrinologists for further treatment.
Mr. Lund: In Urgent Care it is more of a sickness-based approach, treating mild to moderate illnesses. In addition to the typical fractures, fevers or flus, some of the conditions we commonly see in men include urinary tract infections (yes, men can get them, too); prostatitis; sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); and erectile dysfunction.
Resource: Why should male patients seek care for their condition at Baptist Health?
Dr. Ribeiros: As primary care physicians, we’re the first person most patients see for their health problems, so we pride ourselves on being skilled diagnosticians. And because we’re backed by the extensive resources of Baptist Health, we have the latest technology to diagnose and treat virtually every type of disease or disorder. We can provide expedited access to top urologists, oncologists, surgeons and other specialists here at Baptist Health, if needed. Also, and this is very important in healthcare, Baptist Health has recognition and trust in the community, and multiple locations from which people can access care.
Mr. Lund: Providing excellent patient care – with a focus on the patient’s overall wellbeing – is what sets Baptist Health apart from any other health care organization I know. All employees are encouraged and expected to maintain the highest standard of care in every setting, from outpatient to inpatient services.
Resource: Tell us about an interesting case you handled recently.
Dr. Ribeiros: During a recent telemedicine visit, I had a male patient who presented with abdominal pain. The initial tests were unremarkable but I was convinced there was something else going on, so I pushed for more tests. CT imaging of his gastrointestinal tract revealed a low-grade tumor in his appendix. The tumor was resected and the patient is doing fine, thankfully, but his prognosis could have been very different if that tumor had continued growing and spreading undetected.
Mr. Lund: We had a male patient who came in for a COVID test not long ago, complaining of a headache. After assessing the patient and reviewing his vitals, I could see the patient was in a hypertensive emergency and immediately referred him to the ER for evaluation. It turned out he was having a stroke, and the emergency care he received at the hospital saved his life. Cases like that are what keep me coming back to work every day.
Resource: How has COVID-19 affected you or your work this past year?
Dr. Ribeiros: For me, as a clinician, it was a big adjustment at the start. Literally from one day to the next, all patient visits moved online. I didn’t have much experience with telemedicine apps like Baptist Health Care On Demand, and when evaluating a patient there are some things you can only do in person. But, all in all, telemedicine has been a great tool. The alternative for a lot of these patients – many of whom have chronic illness – is to not show up at all. We’ve shifted back to a more normal work flow over the past few months, and probably 25 percent of our patient visits are virtual. Sick visits are still handled virtually, in order to keep sick patients out of the office.
Mr. Lund: The acceptance and use of telemedicine by both doctors and patients has increased exponentially since COVID-19. Many of our Urgent Care patients are referred from Baptist Health Care On Demand for certain conditions that require an in-person evaluation. Also, more men are choosing virtual visits, it seems. Historically, men prefer not to go to the doctor’s office, either because they’re reluctant to discuss their health problems or simply because they’re in denial. Now, they can skip the tiresome waiting rooms and see their provider from the comfort and convenience of their own home, in a setting that helps break down any inhibitions they may have.
Resource: If you had one last bit of advice for men, what would it be?
Dr. Ribeiros: One of the difficulties with men’s health is that men tend to not be very good about keeping up with their screenings or seeking care for something that’s not “there,” meaning visible or painful. One of my jobs is to make sure my male patients keep up with their regular screenings. Prevention and early detection are key, particularly when it comes to prostate cancer. Go to your annual check-ups – especially if you’re entering the 45-50 age range – and get your PSA and other recommended screenings. At this point in your life, it’s very important to be on top of your game with your health. You could forestall or even reverse disease processes.
Mr. Lund: I would say, ‘Take charge of your health before it’s too late!’ Men typically start worrying about their health in their late 40s or 50s, usually after some disease or condition kicks in. By that time, many of the disease processes have already become deeply entrenched, causing a slippery slope of worsening health and chronic illness. Men need to focus on wellness early on rather than illness later on. Baptist Health has been gradually changing the healthcare model, directing more resources towards health screenings, disease prevention, education and awareness.