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s a full-time student at Wayne County Community College District, aspiring journalist Kareem Penn, 20, of Detroit has a lot on his plate. Despite his youthful vigor, Penn has to pay close attention to what his body tells him-particularly during cold weather months and when spring allergens fill the air. That's because since Penn was 13 years old, he has had asthma. Yet even before he was diagnosed, Penn was well aware of the symptoms and treatment options for the condition, having grown up with an asthmatic mother and other relatives who also suffer from the respiratory condition.
"Cold air can aggravate my asthma. So can exercise," Penn says. "And spring allergies can bring it on as well."
For years, Penn saw a primary care physician affiliated with a non-DMC hospital. While he liked his doctor, he often had to wait for hours to be seen.
"There was only one doctor in the practice and too many patients," he recalls. "She was just overloaded."
Penn's mom reminded her son that a physician she saw years before, Dr. Andrew Thomas, M.D., was still in practice and affiliated with the DMC. He might be someone her son could see for continued management of his asthma and overall general health.
"I switched to Dr. Thomas at my mom's suggestion," Penn recalls. "It has been a very pleasant experience."
A family physician, Dr. Thomas was able to see Penn right away.
"I didn't have to wait for months to get an appointment," Penn says.
Penn has been pleased with the reduced wait time he has experienced since switching to care under Dr. Thomas and is enjoying the bedside manner of his new physician.
"Dr. Thomas is very hands-on," Penn says. "He gets into the details of why I'm feeling the way I do. He can give me more attention than my previous doctor could."
Dr. Thomas manages the inhaler and oral medications Penn takes to keep his asthma in check. It was Dr. Thomas who also suggested Penn see a specialist for his patient's fluctuating blood-sugar levels.
"My previous physician never referred me for this," Penn recalls.
The competent care Penn receives at his quarterly visits to see Dr. Thomas means Penn plans to keep coming back. And, thanks to the Healthy Michigan Plan Penn recently enrolled in, he doesn't have to worry about how he will pay for the high quality care he receives from Dr. Thomas and his staff.
"I never have a co-pay when I check out after my visits to see Dr. Thomas," Penn says. "My medications have all been covered as well."
Bound for Wayne State University in the fall, Penn is happy his health will not impede his ability to study in his field of choice. And for those times of year when he is feeling off, Penn is happy to have built a rapport with a primary care physician he trusts and likes.
Says Penn, "I'm happy I made the decision to transfer to someone who could help me better manage my health."