This Living Local segment is sponsored by Medical West

Medical West Hospital in Bessemer is encouraging everyone to have a primary care physician and to see that physician at least once a year.

“Most healthy people don’t go to the doctor like they should because they think there’s nothing wrong,” said Emily Worthy, who is a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine at Medical West. “They only go to the doctor with an acute health care concern that just happened.”

A primary care physician includes pediatricians, family medicine, and internal medicine doctors. Worthy sees adults and adolescents for their primary and chronic health care needs. 

“Everyone needs a primary care physician, even if they are healthy, to help prevent and screen for chronic health conditions,” she added. “It’s easier to manage a patient’s acute care needs that come up.”

Worthy stressed a visit to a primary care physician can lead to prevention, which is key, because screening tests can detect whether the patient needs specialized care. She added that regular visits educate patients on how to stay healthy while lowering health care costs. And if the need arises, visits can make referrals to specialists easier. 

“We can see the total picture before it becomes severe,” she said. “Then we can go ahead and put that patient with high blood pressure on medications to prevent them from having problems with their kidney function later on.”

For more information about choosing a primary care physician, visit