Start the New Year with a Primary Care Provider

Valley City Doctor Tanya Diegel encourages people to establish relationships with a primary health provider to benefit from having a partner in managing health.

Rochelle Haugen of Dazey, started seeing her family practice doctor more than a decade ago. Now, her four children and husband see the same physician, Diegel of Essentia Health-Valley City Clinic. Haugen said that familiarity with her family members’ health histories is comforting for her.

Diegel said Wednesday the big value is “so that you establish a relationship when you’re healthy, and therefore you’re better equipped when you’re ill. If you have chronic problems every day, if I know what you’re like when you’re healthy, I’ll know what you look like when you’re ill.”

“I like it a lot, because she knows everything,” Haugen said. “She treats my kids like she would treat her own.”

Haugen appreciates the reminders for annual physicals and well-child checkups. Those appointments provide primary care physicians like Diegel – or “Dr. Tanya” as she’s known to her patients – with important information.

“The biggest benefit of having a primary care physician is having a provider who’s familiar with you when you are healthy,” Diegel said. “By establishing a relationship with a primary care doctor when you’re healthy, the better they can take care of you when you are not healthy.”

As Diegel gets to know her patients, she learns who comes in at the first sign of illness and who tries to wait it out. That understanding gives patients like Rochelle peace of mind and confidence in their care. “When Rochelle’s calling in, I know how soon I should work them in,” Diegel says. “Or if I say, it’s OK to wait this out, she trusts that too.”

Diegel said she encourages patients to have health maintenance exams, “and annual wellness visits. They don’t replace physicals, but they are a good opportunity to talk with your doctor about preventative and health screening exams.” Diegel said recent changes to Medicare rules under national health care reform now allow the exams for Medicare patients.

Regular visits with a primary care provider allow the patient and doctor to focus on prevention as well. “It’s beneficial to catch things in the early stages when treatment can be localized, before the issue has affected the rest of the body,” Diegel said.

Diegel said she feels so fortunate to be able to provide this kind of comprehensive care to patients in the Valley City area. She was born in Valley City, and enjoys raising her four children here.  She and her husband built and operate an assisted living facility in town as well. “I am committed to providing health care in the community,” she said. “My husband and I provide services to the community at all stages of life.”

Sometimes, Diegel does wear her “mom” hat when caring for families with children like the Haugens. She knows the comfort a child gets form seeing the same provider again and again.

“There’s no struggle to examine them,” Diegel said. “It’s less scary for them.”

Haugen agreed, and said the advantages of having a primary care provider – especially one who’s as kind and easy to talk to as Diegel – are clear. “It benefits you and your health because they know your history,” Haugen said. “It helps your kids because when they go to the doctor, they’re more relaxed.”

By getting to know all aspects of her patients’ health and their relationships with others, Diegel is a valuable partner in maintaining a healthy life. “We want to keep the whole you in perspective,” she said.