Hear Me Roar
September 2018 Issue
Photography by Christian Lee
Dr. Laura C. Knobel
Laura C Knobel MD LLC, Direct Primary Care Practice
Family: Husband, Peter
When did you decide to be a doctor?
I decided to pursue a career in Medicine when I was in junior high school. There were some health issues going on in my family at the time, and my brother was having some issues, as well. It was our family doctor who was able to recognize how those health issues were affecting my brother and address it. That sold me on family medicine.
You’re a Direct Primary Care physician. What's that?
Direct Primary Care has been a lifesaver for me. I was frustrated with the way Medicine has become a business based not on patient needs, but rather on the number of visits or procedures you do. In Direct Primary Care I have the ability to sit and spend time with my patients, listen to ALL issues and concerns they have, and help guide them to the appropriate care. We can go back to good old-fashioned, common sense medicine, where the needs of the patient come first. It has made practicing medicine fun again.
You’ve been a vocal and physically active advocate for change in health care practices for years and you have been to Washington, D.C. more than once in pursuit of this passion. What is it like to plead a case, or fight a battle at that level?
When you go to Capital Hill as a family physician, you spend most of your time meeting with the health care aides of the legislators, rather than the actual legislators. They are ones who do most of the health care work, monitoring and writing bills, etc. When I was still living in Massachusetts, I had the opportunity to go to D.C. with a group of Biotech company executives. We spoke with every legislator directly. One thing we heard consistently from legislators was they were not hearing from their constituents that there were problems with our health care system. It tells me, as a physician, I need to encourage my patients to become more interactive with their senators and representatives and to share their stories and frustrations.
What brought you down South? How do your practice and patients in Bluffton differ from those in Boston?
I came to the Lowcountry for the first time for a pediatric conference and fell in love with the area, the sun, and the people. I was a solo family physician in Boston, taking care of all ages from newborns to grandparents. With my current practice, I am again working solo, but the majority of my patients are older. I would also say that my patients here are aging better than those up north, as the winter and snow take their toll.
Are there health benefits to Lowcountry living?
Living in the Lowcountry encourages an active lifestyle, which keeps people moving and in better shape. The abundance of sunshine creates a positive environment with regards to mood and emotions. Put both of these together and you get happy, healthy people.
The theme of this issue is #AnAppleADay. Is there any truth to the old adage eating one a day keeps the doctor away?
If you equate eating an apple a day with eating a healthy diet, it can certainly improve overall health. Eating healthy can reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease and can minimize the effects of diabetes, just for a few examples.
Your patient roster covers the entire family spectrum, from infants to grandparents. What are the benefits of a family having one primary care physician?
There are a number of benefits. First, if multiple family members are ill, they only have to go to one doctor, thus saving time. I like to think I am teaching my younger patients about their health issues as they grow. I start asking them questions when they are three, and it is like a game. It makes it a lot easier to ask the more difficult questions when they are teens. Family doctors are also uniquely qualified to care for children with special needs as they grow into adults with special needs.
What new health care trends are on the horizon?
The health care environment is very disorganized right now, and there are many suggestions as to how to fix it, such as single payor, or Medicare for all. The use of technology is also changing health care, from watches that can monitor your heart and blood sugar to robots assisting with surgeries.
Name three things life has taught you to have a healthy respect for:
1. The importance of having good health
2. Family, sharing the good times along with the bad
and knowing you are always welcome to go “home”
3. Having good friends to spend time with.
Is laughter really the best medicine?
If you can find the humor in life, things always look better.
Do you think having a healthy attitude contributes to good physical health?
A healthy attitude contributes greatly to good health. Eating well and exercising regularly are really important in maintaining health, too. I also encourage my patients, especially care givers and mothers, to remember to make time for themselves in their otherwise busy days. I use the airplane analogy that when the oxygen mask comes down, put yours on first, otherwise you won’t be there to help others. The same goes for the caregivers; if you allow yourself to burn out, you won’t be able to help anyone.
What Makes You Roar?
Helping to make a difference in peoples lives makes me Roar! The Direct Primary Care Model has given me back the ability to spend time with my patients, listen to their needs, and help guide them through what can be a very confusing health care environment to make sure they have the best health care outcomes they deserve.