BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- June marks Men's Health Month, and Naval Hospital Bremerton's (NHB) Urology Clinic wants everyone to go with the flow.
The clinic provides expert patient-centered care related to the evaluation, treatment and management of all urinary tract and male reproductive system disorders, along with a full range of services provided, such as patient education, diagnosis, treatment and management of urological conditions.
"We provide care for conditions of the kidney, bladder, and male reproductive organs,"said Cmdr. Chris Tepera, NHB urologist and director for surgical services. "Common conditions would include kidney stones, blood in urine, urinary complaints, male infertility, screening and treatment for urologic cancers, sexual dysfunction, recurrent urinary tract infections and many more."
There are a few overlapping messages that the Urology Clinic wants to emphasize and not just during the designated Men's Health Month: Men need to be more aware of potential health concerns, even if they are not sick or injured; prevention is the best medicine; and early detection and timely treatment of diseases and injuries ensures a medically ready force and a healthier population.
"Our number one priority is providing the safest, highest quality patient-centered medical care for our veterans, service members and their families. Through visionary leadership and staff dedicated to the Team STEPPS approach, our hospital continues to shape the future of military medicine," Tepera explained, noting that the clinic primarily handles active duty only, but can take other beneficiaries on a case-by-case basis.
According to Tepera, the majority of patients seen in the clinic are males. The main concerns and issues of patients are kidney stones, scrotal masses or pain, blood in the urine and urinary symptoms such as frequency and urgency.
Then there are some medical concerns that really hit below the belt such as the urologic cancers - prostate, testicular, kidney, bladder.
"Testicular cancer is most prevalent in the active duty population age and while not preventable would be considered curable for most," said Tepera. "Kidney and bladder cancer are more common in patients older than 35 and smokers. Although I have diagnosed a 17-year old with bladder cancer in the past. Prostate cancer affects 1 in 6 generally older males. The American Urologic Association's recommendation is to offer screening(s) to men between the age of 55 and 70."
This designated month provides an opportunity to increase awareness about health issues important to men such as urologic cancers, along with skin and colon cancers, hypertension, obesity and heart disease.
"The sooner we can diagnose a cancer, the better off a patient will be. Unfortunately, many urologic cancers are silent in that there are no symptoms the patient will notice. Often times, by the time the patient has symptoms, they already have advanced disease," Tepera said.
Urology Clinic's focus on the importance of recognizing preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of any medical issue and/or disease has garnered the respect of their patients.
The Joint Outpatient Experience Survey (JOES) system recently recognized them for the third time as being one of Navy Medicine's 'Best of the Best' specialty care clinics.
"Our staff was thrilled to find out about our third recognition. I think it reinforces their belief that we provide good service and demonstrates the value in what we do," said Tepera.
The JOES report supplies data that is used in showcase excellence in customer service by clinics, providers, and front desk staff in primary care and specialty care clinics.
"Being recognized in this manner shows that the effort our personnel puts forward. The "put the patient first" (philosophy) is successful and allows our fellow departments to learn from our practices. It indicates that we have created a culture of patient satisfaction in our clinic that guides us in how we function on a day-to-day basis. This culture has been passed through several changeovers in staff and we continue to engrain our personnel with these basic beliefs in providing good care," Tepera said.
Tepera attests that the customer service process involves everyone at the clinic. Mrs. Sharon Sonenshein, administrative assistant, is often the first contact with a patient and coordinates getting every patient seen in a timely manner.
Hospital Corpsmen 3rd Class Harrison Albury, Hannah Carlson, and Danielle Dixon, also do the same as well as provide compassionate care during vitals, examinations, screenings and procedures.
"We really treat the patient the same as how we would want to be treated, which is like family," stated Tepera. "We work to get patients in, in a timely manner for their appointment. We see patients on time because their time is valuable as is ours. We provide prompt treatment when patients have duty obligations and deployments or are in pain."
But for patient-satisfaction to be recorded, the clinic can only do so much. There is a host of statistical evidence which points out that collectively, men are simply not doing as well as they should.
For example, men are less likely than women to seek medical care and are more likely to smoke, drink and choose unhealthy or risky behaviors. Men are less likely to speak openly about their health with their health care provider.
Men can also be hesitant at times to ask their provider for a Urology Clinic referral (women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men). Tepera advocates timely screening for all males, and based on the JOES survey, urine in good hands.
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