Family doctors take it personally
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Specialists in caring for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of patients: That’s how Navy Lt. Mark Liu, a family practice physician at the Bush Branch Medical Clinic on Camp Courtney, describes himself and others in the profession.
Liu said a family practice physician is a doctor who “knows how your family’s health history and situations can affect your health, and we are trained to care for you through all the stages of your life.”
“We treat you from the cradle to the grave.”
In order to provide that type of health care, family physicians are trained in all major medical areas, according to Liu. They care for infants, adolescents, adults and seniors, and can treat everything from dermatological conditions to high blood pressure.
“We are capable of diagnosing and treating 80-90 percent of all problems people bring to their doctors,” Liu said.
Family physicians also deliver babies and perform a range of outpatient procedures, including vasectomies, colonoscopies, exercise stress tests and skin biopsies.
“You’re a whole person, so we treat you like one,” Liu said.
To provide whole family care, family practice physicians must know the most updated treatments and technology. Liu said they must complete a three-year residency in all the medical subspecialties, something a general practitioner doesn’t do. He added that family physicians must also recertify more often than any other medical specialist.
For one of Liu’s patients, personalized care is something she wasn’t used to.
“He feels a lot more like a friend than a doctor,” said April Silvio. “I like [being under the care of a family physician] because we can see the same doctor. At [U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa], you don’t have the personal contact.”
April and her husband, Marine Sgt. Matthew Silvio, just had their first child, Tyler Paul Silvio, born Dec. 26. April said it was reassuring having someone there who had been treating her all along.
“They actually called, and [Liu] came in and delivered my baby,” she said. “I was very nervous, but I felt more comfortable once he was there.
“He also called yesterday just to check up on us. I never had a doctor do that before.”
The Navy has family physicians at the hospital on Camp Lester, as well as branch medical clinics on camps Kinser, Foster and Courtney.