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Back to August 2021

The power of prevention

Stay healthy, stay well with Medicare nurse wellness visits

A visit with nurse Sherri Bryant, RN, MSN, is never rushed. She has a full 45 minutes to spend talking with you about your health and helping your primary care provider (PCP) make a plan for your wellness.

If you are enrolled in Medicare and see your PCP at T.J. Health Pavilion or T.J. Health Edmonton Clinic, then you may have a chance to meet with Bryant for an annual wellness visit. During that visit, she'll check to see if you're due for any cancer screenings or vaccines. She might ask if you're having any hearing or memory problems or if you've been feeling stressed or depressed lately. Those are just some of the things she goes over during a typical visit.

Care that keeps you well

If you see your PCP only when you're ill, you're missing out. Regular preventive medical care can help you avoid many illnesses. And it helps your health care team detect some diseases early, before they might become bigger problems that are often harder to successfully treat.

"We try to keep our patients up-to-date on the preventive care that Medicare gives them and that is paid 100% by Medicare," Bryant says. "We have a whole page of screenings that our patients may qualify for through Medicare."

Among them:

  • Breast cancer screening mammogram.
  • Colorectal cancer screening—including a stool test people can take at home.
  • PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing for prostate cancer.
  • Diabetes A1C glucose test.
  • Bone density screening for osteoporosis.
  • Lung cancer low-dose CT scan for current and former smokers.
  • One-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (a ballooning of the body's largest artery).
  • Cholesterol checks every five years.

Beyond the usual screenings

A Medicare wellness visit includes many other helpful checks designed to keep you feeling and living your best, such as:

  • A hearing test.
  • A mini cognitive function test for early signs of dementia.
  • Depression screening.
  • A review of vaccinations that may be recommended for you.
  • A review of your medications and any chronic conditions you have.
  • Home safety advice, including fall prevention.

Bryant collaborates with your PCP. So after your visit, you'll also meet with your provider to go over your health.

Debra Smith, MAE, RN, is the population health coordinator at T.J. Regional Health. She works with Bryant to help keep the community healthy. Medicare wellness visits are about helping people gain control over their health.

"That's what we're focusing on," Smith says. "We want to keep people healthier."

Caring for you and about you

Because she has more time to spend with patients, Bryant is able to learn about what's going on in their lives.

"We have a conversation," she says.

For example, she might discover that someone is dealing with the stress of caring for a loved one; feeling isolated due to the pandemic; or in need of critical resources, such as food or transportation.

"I've had a few patients say, 'I'm sorry you had to listen to me vent,'" Bryant says. "My response is, that's what I'm here for. I'll listen."

Sometimes Bryant does more than just listen. She may connect people who have such needs and stressors to resources at T.J. Regional Health or elsewhere within the community.

Categories: Primary care

Stay well

Ready to schedule a Medicare wellness visit? Call us!