Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Under Fire

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Under Fire

Common Sense Family Doctor is a regular feature on our website. Today’s topic involves the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

In the ‘Fake News’ era, AHRQ is one of the good guys. The nerd’s nerds. AHRQ is the ultimate eat-your-spinach news that’s good for you, even if you don’t want to hear it or believe it. Not every medical recommendation proves to be fully correct, and we learn from practice. But it is the fact-free ideas that are zealously embraced and defended despite evidence.

Science is much more painstaking.

(One example: the argument that “vaccinations cause autism.” No, it turns out they don’t. That research was never duplicated, and the ‘science’ that initially suggested it was pure cheating by an unethical researcher. Those claims have been thoroughly debunked — partly through the independent efforts of the AHRQ.)

The AHRQ uses transparent science to scrutinize health claims without regard for the prestige or commercial influence of the source. AHRQ must remain independent of political or commercial bias to insure our health care spending actually improves the public’s health.

Read the Common Sense Family Doctor here: Once again, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality stands in the line of fire, published March 6, 2018

Posted in: Community Health Policy

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Celebrate National Nutrition Month March 2018

Celebrate National Nutrition Month March 2018

March is National Nutrition Month and many resources are available to help families and communities learn more about healthy eating.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics designates a new theme for nutrition month each year and this year’s theme Go Further with Food focuses on smart food choices and developing good habits in planning shopping, preparing and eating. Preparing meals to go further includes planning meals and snacks in advance to reduce food loss and waste.

For some of the best information about healthy eating, go to and read about Health Eating Style and Guidelines for Food Variety.

MyPlate Healthy Eating

Posted in: Your Health

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Should A Mobile Health App Be Your Next Prescription?

Should A Mobile Health App Be Your Next Prescription?

Common Sense Family Doctor is a regular feature on our website. Today’s topic asks, should a mobile app be your next prescription?

“If you nibble it, scribble it.”

At Mainstreet Clinic, I have encouraged many of you to try Lose It!, a free app that makes calorie counting easier (thank you, Gale!). What’s good about this tool is — if you stick to the format — it mirrors your actual eating behaviors.

I often hear frustrated people say, “I don’t eat anything and I can’t lose a pound!” But a nutritionist said recently on a public radio conversation, “If you nibble it, scribble it.”

Lose It! helps you scribble and keep track of, specifically, every snack and every meal. Lose It! tracks the calories burned via dozens of different exercise options — thereby encouraging you to exercise. The feedback puts you in control. Weight loss inevitably follows.

Read the Common Sense Family Doctor here: Should a mobile app be your next prescription? published January 29, 2018

Posted in: Community Health Policy, Your Health

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Many People Feel That Without Coverage, They Can’t Get Care

Many People Feel That Without Coverage, They Can’t Get Care

As seen in the Lawton Constitution December 21, 2017

Priced out of health insurance? Or do you feel it is too expensive to use?

We enjoy quality medical facilities and excellent health care providers in Lawton. But these services do not help people who cannot afford to access them.

Many working people feel they have been priced out of health insurance. And since health CARE has been inseparably linked to health insurance COVERAGE, many feel that without coverage, they can’t get care. While many who do have coverage feel that the cost of getting care makes their health insurance too expensive to use.
“The cost of health care in 2016 exceeded $25,000 per family,” according to the Milliman Index. And worse, cost per family has doubled from $12,500 in 2005, when Milliman first began tracking it.*

Direct primary care clinic membership offers personalized care, no insurance required

Direct primary care clinic membership is “centered around you,” old-fashioned health care from a personal physician. An old idea made new again. And clinic membership is also an ideal source of care for people who have no health insurance or who feel their coverage is too expensive to use for primary care.

Membership allows for unhurried visits where your Doctor has more time to hear your concerns, understand your health problems and provide you with the care and treatment you need.

Nationwide, face-time with a primary care Doctor averages seven to 10 minutes per visit. In direct primary care, Doctor face-time averages 35 minutes or more.** Ample time with your primary care Doctor is the foundation of effective health care. Time together builds trust. From trusting relationships, coupled with your Doctor’s expertise and experience, come the best decisions for your health.

“This is not football with the clock tick, tick, ticking down … Direct primary care clinic membership is like baseball. You have the time you need.” — Dr. Birdwell

The flat monthly membership fee includes:

  • Annual comprehensive wellness and medical exam
  • Unlimited clinic visits with same day/next day appointments
  • Discounts on labs, imaging and medications provide major savings
  • 24/7 communications via cell, text and email
  • Wellness counseling
  • Referrals to medical specialists and hospital-to-home coordination
  • Coordination of care to maximize the value of any insurance our members have
  • House call option
  • No long-term commitment

Ask about it at work!

Direct primary care clinic membership is a “care first” employer-sponsored group health benefit:

  • A flat monthly fee for all primary health care can be budgeted easily
  • Quality health care that can be accessed quickly and after hours is the ideal health benefit for business owner and employee alike
  • Many occupational health services are included in clinic membership
  • Vision care, too

MainStreet Direct Care proves to be the ideal (or only) source of care for many SW Oklahomans. With or without coverage, we help maximize the value of any insurance our members have and seek less-expensive alternatives where possible. Dispensing many prescription medicines at very low cost helps many families make ends meet.

When extra tests or specialized care is needed, we take time to help members make decisions and find strategies for affordability.

Direct Primary Care is the future of health care, available today. It’s about care, not coverage

* Source: Milliman Index ( Total cost includes coverage premiums plus the costs of care for a typical family of four, covered by an average employer-sponsored PPO plan.

** North Carolina State University MBA project comparing North Carolina direct pay medical practices to data collected from traditional practices

Posted in: Direct Primary Care, Workplace Health

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Artificial Intelligence Will Not Make Family Physicians Obsolete

Artificial Intelligence Will Not Make Family Physicians Obsolete

This essay from the Common Sense Family Doctor makes the case that artificial intelligence will not and cannot replace doctors. In fact, the explosion of information, and the data-crunching capacity of computers, makes the human element more vital and useful than ever. Decision making in health care draws upon medical facts, yes; but at least as much on costs, personal preferences and values.

Read Blog: Artificial Intelligence Will Not Make Family Physicians Obsolete

“As more information becomes readily available, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and allied health professionals will become more important as the interpreters of that information in accordance with the specific clinical and social history, values, and preferences of the patient and her or his family.” — Look It Up!: What Patients, Doctors, Nurses, and Pharmacists Need to Know about the Internet and Primary Health Care Kindle Edition

Posted in: Community Health Policy, Health Blog

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Indian-Style Red Lentil Soup for Winter

Indian-Style Red Lentil Soup for Winter

Featured Winter Recipe

Indian-style red lentil soup warms the tummy during fall and winter. Bursting with flavor, Patsy Bassel’s recipe blends aromatic, flavorful spices and garnishes.


3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 celery stick diced
1 jalapeño diced
2 cloves garlic minced
4 tsp ginger minced
2 cups red lentils rinsed
2 15 oz can chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp paprika
Lemon slice
Parsley (for garnish)
Yogurt a dollop (for topping)


Heat 1 Tbsp oil in small pan. When hot, add cumin and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, about 15 seconds until seeds begin to pop. Set aside. In another pan, heat 2 Tbsp oil. Add onion and garlic until soft. Add jalapeño, garlic, ginger, carrots, celery and cook until fragrant. Add spices and salt including the cumin and mustard seeds. Let spices release flavor for 1 minute. Add lentils, broth, and water, then diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils begin to break down, 30 minutes. Add lemon slice 10 minutes before done. Remove lemon slice. Garnish with parsley and yogurt. I like to serve it with a crusty French baguette or naan. Makes 8 servings.

Posted in: Health Blog, Your Health

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How To #FightFlu This Season

How To #FightFlu This Season

Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself, your family and vulnerable people in our community

Flu shots can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work or school due to the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

A 2017 study in Pediatrics was the first to show that flu vaccination also significantly reduced a child’s risk of dying from influenza.

The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the fluincluding older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

What’s new this flu season?

The recommendation not to use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.

Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated).

Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.

Main options for flu shots this season

Standard-dose flu shots

Most are given into the muscle with a needle (one is given into the skin). The virus used to make vaccine is dead; you cannot get the flu from a flu shot! MainStreet has this quadravalent.

High-dose shots for older people

There are now data that this stronger dose of shot adds greater flu protection in people 65 and over – an especially vulnerable segment of our population. This version is available at several local pharmacies and it is paid for by Medicare. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control (#FightFlu)

Fact Check: Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

No. The flu vaccine is made with killed virus or a recombinant method using non-living ingredients.
So the flu shot can’t give you the flu. But a few people may develop flu-like symptoms after getting a flu shot for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Reaction to the vaccine. Some people experience muscle aches and a slight fever for a day or two after receiving a flu shot. This may be a side effect of your body’s production of protective antibodies.
  • The two-week window. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect. If you’re exposed to the influenza virus shortly before or during that time period, you might catch the flu.
  • Mismatched flu viruses. In some years, the influenza viruses used for the vaccine don’t match the viruses circulating during the flu season. If this occurs, your flu shot will be less effective, but may still offer some protection.
  • Other illnesses. Many other diseases, such as the common cold, also produce flu-like symptoms. So you may think you have the flu when you actually don’t.

Posted in: Health Blog, News, Workplace Health, Your Health

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Gazpacho: It’s Salad In A Bowl

Gazpacho: It’s Salad In A Bowl

Featured Fall Recipe

Download Newsletter: September/October 2017

Chilled Gazpacho Soup is a refreshing and healthy dish that’s quick and easy to make. Try Terri Bartlett’s simple recipe.


1 small to medium red bell pepper
1 small to medium green bell pepper
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled
2 or 3 green onions (with about 1 inch of green tops left on)
2 stalks celery
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup cold water
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 large avocado (should be ripe, but still firm)
Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions on back page


Chop the bell peppers, carrots onions, cucumber, and celery into large pieces. Place in a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice, water, and cilantro. Blend to desired smoothness (I like my gazpacho “chunky”). Add the tomatoes, jalapeño, salt and pepper, and “pulse” the blender for about 5 seconds more. Chill for at least an hour before serving; the colder the better! Provide slices of avocado for garnish. Serves 6.

Posted in: Your Health

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Murphy Farms Rebuilding in Walters, Oklahoma

Murphy Farms Rebuilding in Walters, Oklahoma

Murphy Farms Has Rebounded from the Storm with New Products and a New Store in Walters

Download Newsletter: September/October 2017

After a devastating storm in May, Murphy Farms has rebounded with several new products and a new on-site store at the farm (view google map), five miles west and one mile north of Walters on Hwy 277/281.

Murphy Farms is rebuilding with expanded products, including baked goods from certified organic milled grains, grass-fed beef, and hydroponic green vegetables. Old favorites are still for sale at the Murphy Farms Store: Heirloom fruits and vegetables, raw honey from their own bees, and homemade preserves.

Dr. Birdwell says: “Home-grown ‘real food’ is a key to good health. Take advantage of this local treasure and visit the Murphy Farms Store soon!”

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life … improve your health by keeping a balanced diet, featuring foods that contain vitamins and minerals: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and sources of protein.” Read more at

Murphy Farms Store

Get driving directions on Google Maps

Store Hours

6:00 am to 8:00 pm every day

VIP Text List

Join by texting 88202 and entering “murphyfarms”



Posted in: Your Health

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Fear of Falling and Keeping Your Balance

Balance Exercises You Can Do At Home

Fear of falling and keeping your balance is a huge concern for many seniors and people over 50, along with families and caregivers. Balance exercises directly impact this risk and can be a key to preventing falls. Balance exercises can give you confidence while walking, standing, etc.

David Jack and Silver Sneakers present this guide to balance exercises you can do at home:

Watch more exercise videos from The Silver Sneakers YouTube Channel.

Posted in: Health Blog, Your Health

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