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Welcome to our newest Physician!

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Welcome to our Newest Doctor!

Please join us in welcoming the newest addition to the Elevated Health family, Dr. Lucy Pun!

Please find her bio below….We are happy to have such a well-rounded physician join the practice and are excited for all of you to meet her!

Dr. Pun has always loved being the medical caretaker of her family. Eventually, that passion motivated her to pursue a career in medicine and take care of many other families. Dr. Pun chose Direct Primary Care and Elevated Health because it allows her to spend quality time with her patients, provide education, and empower her patients to be in charge of their health.

Dr. Pun has a background in child development: she has done research on the diagnosis of autism in infants and children, and she was also a Montessori pre-school teacher prior to starting medical school. As much as she enjoys taking care of children, she chose Family Medicine because she enjoys taking care of people of all ages.

In addition to treating patients, Dr. Pun spends time educating medical students from Western University, teaching them clinical skills and how to be well-rounded physicians.

Dr. Pun has a bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine, medical degree from Western University of Health Sciences, and completed residency at PIH-Health Hospital in Downey.

Dr. Pun is happily married and currently has a 2 year-old son. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, shopping, traveling, and spending time with her family.

More Californians Selecting Alternative Health Coverage Options During 2019 Open Enrollment

October 15 marked the beginning of open enrollment for health insurance in California and many Orange County residents are scrambling to find alternative plans as Covered California rates continue to increase. In 2019, Covered California pricing is expected to rise an average of 9%, while some plans may soar as much as 32%. As rates fluctuate, alternative insurance options such as direct primary care or religious sharing groups, which often offer better pricing and coverage than traditional insurance, are becoming more of a mainstream and functional choice for many individuals.

Californians are now free to source alternative insurance options, independent of costly employer or private plans, now that the “individual mandate” is cancelled and penalties will not be applied for going without traditional coverage. Religious sharing group co-operatives have become more widespread thanks to their lower out-of-pocket expenses for individuals and families. However, because it is not regulated like traditional insurance, coverage for certain procedures and pre-existing conditions can be denied.

Alternatively, many people are discovering the benefits of belonging to a direct primary care (DPC) practice which works as a membership to a private medical practice where patients pay a monthly fee based on age. With DPC, patients have access to their own doctor around the clock through in-person appointments, phone calls, texts, emails, and video chat. Many DPC offices provide additional in-house services that can prevent unnecessary hospital trips and reduce healthcare spending while improving overall care.

Huntington Beach resident, Britt H, skipped a costly ER trip by directly reaching Dr. Matt Abinante, owner of Elevated Health, when her son’s ear began to bleed late in the evening. Dr. Abinante was able to diagnose the problem over the phone and call in medications to a local pharmacy, saving countless hours in the ER waiting room and thousands of dollars for the visit.

Elevated Health is the largest, fastest growing direct primary care practice in Southern California. They offer more doctors per patient and a host of patient benefits such as unlimited visits, wholesale lab pricing, various in-office procedures, and wholesale medication. “Our goal is to keep you as healthy as possible, while saving you time and money. We remove the barriers of traditional insurance and provide you with a modern take on the personal, old-fashioned care missing in today’s healthcare industry,” explains Dr. Matthew Abinante.

Resources for Sexual Assault Victims

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Sexual Assault is prominent in the news right now. Because of this, many people may have intrusive memories or heightened emotions resulting from their own histories of sexual violence. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in the U.S., 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

If you have a history of sexual violence and would like to obtain psychological support, please contact our office to schedule an appointment with me. If you are not comfortable discussing with office staff, please ask to speak to me directly, and I will find a time for you and I to meet. The sessions are offered in-person, or via phone or video. The first session is $80, and all follow-up sessions are $20 per 15-minute increment with most sessions lasting 30-60 minutes. If you are unsure if my style is a good fit for your needs, you can contact me for a free 15-minute consult to see if we connect.

Also, if you would like to access anonymous support, you can reach The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or via chat.

Your physical health is equally important and often overlooked when there is a history of sexual violence. Women who have experienced sexual violence often have difficulty undergoing well-woman exams and avoid the necessary screenings to maintain good health. The primary reasons for skipping the exams are loss of control or vulnerability (29%) and fear and anxiety about the test and results (30%).

If you have skipped well-woman exams and would like to discuss your options at Elevated Health, please let us know. Dr. Lucy Pun is starting on October 15, so you can now choose a female provider to perform the exam.

Additionally, male survivors of sexual violence often avoid screenings and exams and suffer substantial risk to their long-term health. Research indicates that developing a trusting, long-term relationship with your medical provider can improve both mental and physical health outcomes. All of the staff at Elevated Health are committed to restoring your faith in health care and providing a patient relationship built on trust and respect.

If you would like emotional support during any medical exam, we provide an integrated approach to care and can coordinate your appointment, so that I can be present to offer the assistance you need.

We are committed to treating your overall health and are always happy to discuss the options for your care.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Obesity has long been known to be a risk factor for breast cancer after menopause, but there haven’t been studies in the past showing a consistent connection between weight loss and a reduction in breast cancer.  The average weight gain after menopause is about 10-15 pounds.

Results from a recent observational study in the journal Cancer showed that women who lost 5% or more body weight after menopause had a 12% lower risk of developing breast cancer than women with a stable weight.  Women who had a weight gain of 5% or more did not have an overall increased risk of breast cancer, but they did have a higher incidence of a type of breast cancer that can be more aggressive and challenging to treat.

These findings provide strong evidence that a weight loss program can reduce a woman’s risk for breast cancer.  The exciting thing about a study like this is it empowers women to realize that they have control over their risk for breast cancer, the #1 cancer in women.

Here at Elevated Health, we try to focus on prevention and helping our patients lead healthy lifestyles in an effort to reduce cancer.  We also realize the key to curing breast cancer is early detection. We as physicians make individualized decisions with each patient to determine when and the best ways to perform breast cancer screening.  Schedule an appointment with us to discuss ways we can help you decrease your risk for breast cancer as well as screen for it appropriately.


Live in the Moment

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Most of us juggle multiple responsibilities. We are constantly shifting from one role to another within our career, family, and community commitments. As we move through our day, we tend to worry about the past, or plan for the future, which leaves us not fully living in the present moment. Additionally, with the popularity of smartphones, we tend to spend our free moments staring at our devices, accessing more information. The chronic avoidance of the present, often results in unfulfilled and stressed lives.

Research indicates that spending more time fully aware in the present moment leads to many health benefits, such as improved mood and less stress, as well as lower levels of anxiety and depression and overall improved well-being. The improvements we experiencing are due not only to the experience of being in the moment, but also to the increase in coping self-efficacy that we develop. Coping self-efficacy is when you start believing you can handle whatever life brings your way. When you learn to be fully present in positive moments, you truly experience the joy, and you feel more capable of handling the stressors that may arise in the future.

One of the easiest ways to shift your attention to the present moment is focusing on your 5 senses. What do you see, smell, taste, touch, and hear? The next time you step outside, stop for a moment. Look around you, and notice the the sky, trees, ground. Notice the smells in the air. What do you hear? Taste? Reach out and touch something nearby and notice the texture. By doing this, you shift your focus to all that is right in front of you.

If you want to begin practicing these mindful moments more often, then link them to certain activities. During your shower, really notice the feel of the water, scent of the soap, sounds that are present. When you eat lunch, connect with each of your 5 senses as you slowly enjoy each bite. At every red light, take inventory of all that you see, hear, and smell around you.

Even brief moments of being fully present will improve your overall wellbeing.


Updated Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines

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The American Cancer Society recently updated its colorectal cancer screening guideline recommending that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for patients at average risk. This was due to the fact that colon cancer in young people seems to be rising.

A recent study from the American Cancer Society found that adults born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared with adults born around 1950.  

The chief cancer control officer for the ACS stated in an interview that colorectal cancer incidents have declined steadily during the past two decades in patients 55 and older because of effective colorectal cancer screening that results in removal of polyps. The new recommendation is based on the hope that earlier screenings will prevent more colorectal cancer cases and death.

It is important to note that according to the guideline, the initial test does not have to be a colonoscopy. It could be one of three stool based tests, which look for hidden blood or DNA in stool that could indicate potential for colorectal cancer.  

It should also be noted that the US Preventive Services Task Force, which is the other major panel in the United States that develops recommendations for clinical preventive services, has stood by its recommendation in 2016 to begin screening at age 50, primarily because this would result in an increase of the number of lifetime colonoscopies and the associated potential harms. 

At Elevated Health, we offer stool based testing and work with a number of gastroenterologists that perform colonoscopies. If you have insurance, a colonoscopy may be covered as a preventive screening test. If it is not covered, or if you do not have insurance, we have negotiated competitive cash rates for our members.  

Please contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment to discuss further!

Expanded Psychological Services

We are SO pleased to announce Dr. Stephanie Jacobs (read her bio here) has accepted our invitation to join our practice! She has been working with us in an independent contractor role for nearly one year now and we have been very impressed with her. 

By bringing Dr. Steph on as an employee our patients are going to have much more access to her AMAZING services:

  • She will have expanded office hours (currently Mondays and Thursdays).
  • She will be able to do more tele-counseling.
  • She is creating online content so that you can access self-help materials from home.

We are also happy to announce that her service is now just $80/hour, billed in 15 minute increments. While other therapists in the area are charging 2-3 times more than this, we want her services to be accessible – and affordable – to you!

One of the most common comments I have about counseling and behavioral health is "I don't need that." There is a lot of misinformation and misconceptions about counseling. Most people would benefit from talking to a counselor at some point in their life. It's great to have an objective perspective to help with difficult life situations, or to improve your overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Dr. Steph is a psychologist with extensive experience working with a variety of people with minor concerns from adjusting to a new job to more significant concerns like panic attacks and chronic depression.

Here are just some of the things Dr. Steph can help you with:

  • Anxiety - General, Social, Public Speaking, Flight, PTSD, OCD
  • Depression
  • Stress Management and Relaxation
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Healing Trauma
  • End-of-life concerns and Grief
  • Managing Chronic Pain and Chronic Health Issues
  • Performance Enhancement (Set goals, make positive changes)
  • Navigating Major Life Transitions (Moves, Job change, Marriage, Divorce, Medical Diagnosis, etc.)

As you can see, everyone could benefit from meeting with Dr. Steph (she treats patients 16+). If you would like to speak with Dr. Steph, we offer free 15 minute consultations in person or over the phone where you can see what help she can offer you and if it feels like a good fit!

This is just another amazing perk to our members at Elevated Health where our aim is to deliver Amazing, Affordable, Accessible HealthCARE. 

 

Get Out in Nature!

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Written by Dr. Paul

Want to know one of the best things you can do for your health this summer? This one thing can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate, and at the same time improve your mood, increase your energy levels, and make you more creative. This amazing thing is nature!

Today, the majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and technology is constantly controlling our attention. People are spending more time indoors, online, and isolated. Multiple recent studies are showing the benefit of nature on our brains and our bodies:

  • A 2009 Dutch study found a lower incidence of 15 diseases including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and migraines in people who lived within about a half mile of a park or green space.  

  • A 2014 study in Japan had people walk for 15 minutes in different forests or in a city center. The forest walkers had a 16% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 2% drop in blood pressure, and a 4% drop in heart rate.

  • A 2015 Stanford study looked at functional MRIs of participants’ brains after 90 minute walks in both nature and urban settings. The people that walked in nature as opposed to those that walked in an urban setting showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with depression and depressive thoughts.  

  • A 2012 study showed that hikers on a 4 day backpacking trip could solve 47% more puzzles requiring creativity compared to a control group prior to taking the same hike. Other things may have accounted for this, but similar studies have also shown improvement in attention and cognitive function after time in nature.

A recent National Geographic article highlights how nature exerts its beneficial effects. Researchers believe that being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to slow down and rest, like an overworked muscle. Nature essentially works by lowering stress. Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior. As seen in some of the above studies, measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating have shown that even short doses of nature can calm people down and sharpen their performance.  

Make the most of this summer and your vacations, and do one of the best things you can do for your health – get out in nature!

Why do Men Avoid the Doctor?

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June is men’s health month, so we at Elevated Health figured this is a great opportunity to encourage our male patients to drop in for a visit and discuss how we approach men and their health differently.

It’s pretty well established that men tend to die earlier than women, but men are also only half as likely to go to the doctor over a two-year period of time, and twice as likely to say they’ve never had contact with a doctor or health professional.

A recent survey suggested why men are reluctant to see a doctor. These were their top three excuses:

  • They are too busy.
  • They are afraid of finding out something might be wrong with them.

  • They fear uncomfortable body exams (i.e. prostate or rectal exams).  

At Elevated Health we practice what is called relationship based medicine. Our goal is to get to know all of our patients personally and build a relationship with them over time. Because of this approach, our male patients tend to feel more at ease with us. We don’t use pressure tactics or guilt to convince them they need to do something or have something. As we develop a relationship with them and earn their trust, they know we care, have their best interests at heart, and would only advise them to do something we truly felt necessary.    

We also aim to make ourselves easily available and accessible to our patients. If you’re too busy to come in for a visit you can schedule a phone or a video visit from the comfort of your home or office. If you send us a text or an email with questions about your health, we’ll get back to you the same day. We can even order your lab work remotely. If we feel we need to see you face to face, we’ll schedule you at your convenience with little to no wait time.

Most importantly, we love what we do and take pride in changing people’s health care experience – especially those who have had bad experiences in the past or have usually been nervous to go the doctor.

Now that we’ve covered all of your excuses, if you are a man and do not have a relationship like this with your physician, join us at elevatedhealth.md to see how your health care can be better, easier, and more personal. See you soon!

How Much Exercise Does Your Heart Need?

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New research suggests that to keep your heart in the best shape, you should try to exercise for 30 minutes four to five times a week. Although it’s well established that exercise is important to prevent heart disease, there has been debate over how much is necessary. As we age, our arteries become stiffer which can lead to heart disease or stroke.

In this new study, researchers found that people who exercised two to three times a week for 30 minutes a session had healthier medium sized arteries which are important for blood flow to the head, neck, and extremities. People who exercised four to five times a week for 30 minutes or more, had healthier large sized arteries which are important for blood flow in the chest and abdomen, as well as healthier medium sized arteries.

Exercising four to five times a week seems to be the optimal amount of exercise for arterial health. Remember however, that any amount of exercise is beneficial to reduce your risk of heart disease, and that exercise or physical activity can be cumulative over the course of the day and doesn’t have to be done in one block of time.