White Mountain Medical Center launches primary care



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NURSE PRACTITIONER Jean Ball, who lives in Wakefield, joined Frisbie Memorial Hospital’s White Mountain Medical Center recently. The center will soon offer primary care and imaging services. Ashley Rigazio. (click for larger version)
May 13, 2009
WAKEFIELD — Frisbie Memorial Hospital's new White Mountain Medical Center in Wakefield begins offering primary care and diagnostic imaging services on Monday, May 18.

Primary care services offered include physicals (annual, school and sports), well baby checks, gynecologic exams, blood pressure checks, sick visits, family planning and acute care. All patients are welcome, from babies to seniors, and care for chronic illnesses like diabetes and asthma is available.

Nurse practitioner Jean Ball said she's already seen "a huge response" from the community due the convenience of a locally based practice. Many residents have already booked appointments. "The town's growing, so there's definitely a need for the services we're going to provide," she said.

Adding to the convenience is the option of same-day appointments. "We will be offering same-day appointments for anybody who will be establishing at White Mountain Family Practice or anybody that's associated with the Frisbie system," she said. While no emergency will ever be turned down, in non-emergency cases, patients who do not have Ball listed as primary care provider with their insurance company will need a referral.

Radiology services will also open on May 18 to provide outpatient X-rays of the chest, abdomen, limbs, spine and sinuses. "One stop will take care of most of your needs," said Ball. "Instead of driving all the way to Rochester to have your repeat X-ray, you can have that done right here. That's going to be such a time convenience and travel convenience, especially in this age… And again, being part of the Frisbie family, we're connected with all the specialists and all the services that Frisbie has. We're not just here by ourselves."

Switching your primary care provider to one closer to home is "very easy," she explained: "It's just a matter of calling your insurance company to see if I'm on their list of providers, but pretty much all insurance companies will have me listed, and Frisbie for that matter."

Ball, a 12-year Wakefield resident, brings local flair and 18 years of experience as a nurse practitioner to the practice. "I live here, my kids live here; we go to church here," she said. "This is our home, and I just want to go, go, go. I'm a little anxious."

A Massachusetts native and mother of three, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell with a master's degree in 1990. She started with Frisbie last fall at Family Care of Barrington and looks forward to working with "the whole family unit"—the children, parents and grandparents—in Wakefield.

Ball is particularly interested in community outreach initiatives to promote wellness. "I really want to focus on health promotion rather than just treating them when they're sick," she said of her patients. "I want to focus on keeping them healthy."

And that starts with teaching children healthy habits at a young age: preventing youth smoking, educating them on family planning and abstinence, and stressing the importance of exercise and good nutrition. "There are so many challenges out there with kids these days, and we just have to try to keep them safe and have them try to make good decisions," she said.

Ball and medical assistant Cindy Holmes have discussed teaming up with the Paul School (where their daughters attend school together) on a school-wide wellness program incorporating exercise, "a pound-for-pound challenge" focused on small, achievable goals, and a possible nutrition collaboration with the cafeteria.

"Childhood obesity is just running rampant. I see kids just pounding the sodas," she said. "It's a health care crisis, and it's going to cost the health care system a lot of money. Unfortunately it's going to really affect their health, let alone the financial impact."

But, "you can't say 'your child has to go on a diet,'" she continued. "You have to make some lifestyle modifications for the whole family… It's not just you cut out candy for two weeks."

Ball has high hopes for the practice, which has a total of 11 exam rooms and four full-time staffers. Should the practice grow, there will be opportunities for more job creation. Future plans include cardiology ultrasounds twice monthly and a rotating schedule of visiting Frisbie specialists.

Currently, the center also offers on-site lab services, including specimen collections and outpatient blood tests with results sent directly to your doctor. Lab orders are accepted from any physician or facility, and no appointment is necessary. The lab is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be reached at 522-3750.

Additionally, physical and occupational therapy are available by appointment on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a referral. For more information on these services, call 522-6184.

The White Mountain Medical Center is located at 2531 White Mountain Highway in Wakefield. For more on primary care or to become a patient, please call 522-0186 or visit www.frisbiehospital.com.

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