Dear beloved current and future patients:
I hope this letter finds you well. This is to let you know about my new practice, Heartland Endocrine Group at 4620 E. 53rd Street, Davenport, IA, which will be opening up on December 3rd, 2018. My practice will now be a direct care clinic and this is a new model in medicine, at least in the Quad Cities. What is direct care, and how can you have more control over your health in the future?
This practice will be able to treat you in an integral fashion, helping you to improve your quality of life and potentially help you come off medications, while improving your outcomes. I don’t want my care for you dictated by a third party. I like to be the one you call when you have problems, and to be able to see you in a reasonable time period when you’re not well — you pay out-of-pocket for your care, but you can be reimbursed by your insurance and often the total cost is not much different.
As you live a longer life, the traditional medical focus on multiple drug regimens has evolved to include a more holistic view of what’s required to live a long and healthy life. According to the latest U.S. Census, 30 percent more people are living to 90 plus than did in 1980. In the 2015 United States of Aging Survey, those who are older than 50 named physical and mental wellbeing as some of their top concerns. I want to help you live those years with good function and good health as your endocrinologist.
The shift in medicine
You may have noticed that medicine has been changing over the past decade. I have as well. Pharmaceutical companies offer us drugs for ailments that are “as seen on TV.” New drugs are plentiful but are really expensive. Americans remain in relatively poor health. We are tired, frustrated, continue to gain weight, are sometimes beset by what some in the medical community call “adrenal fatigue.” The adrenal gland, a hormone-producing gland, is actually a workhorse. We have been told by the internet that this gland is ailing, weak, requires support, and that such support will improve our quality of life. As can be seen by a Google search, only 10 to 20k people have adrenal insufficiency in the US — that is, between 40 and 60 people per million of the general population. Secondary adrenal insufficiency, from the pituitary, is twice as common, but still rare. The adrenal gland is obviously a strong hormone producer.
Both hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue are treated by general practitioners, very few people are seen by endocrinologists. We are specially trained in two-to-three-year fellowships after a three-year residency to treat hormonal diseases, but there are only 5,000 of us nationwide. Patients who don’t see an endocrinologist often are given supports or supplements, natural or synthetic, that contain the hormone that the human gland naturally produces, and only suppress the hormone production by the body — supplementation does not heal any disease. Did you know that brand-name Synthroid (levothyroxine, $70 per month or more), which treats hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid disease, has been the top-prescribed medicine in the United States for several years, with 21.5 million fills per month?
That many people do not have hypothyroidism. Those figures are just for Synthroid, not generic levothyroxine, Armour, nature-throid, all other thyroid preparations, including compounded thyroid (all of which really don’t help you lose weight).
What is a free-range physician and why did I become one?
Why are free-range doctors as different as free-range eggs are from the store brand? Because they can take their time and can solve your individual problem. Many things in life can be just ok. That even includes some healthcare that you receive, say for a fever when your doctor has no opening. However, when you have a chronic, disabling condition, it is better to get care from someone well-trained to handle your disease and someone who knows you and cares about you. You need a free-range doctor there to sit and listen and to advise you specifically with your particular case in mind. You also need to rule out obscure diseases that might really shorten your life. All the while, you want to improve your lifestyle so that you can avoid (more, worse) chronic diseases.
What can I, as a free-range doctor, provide you? I can look for the root cause of symptoms, sometimes medical and sometimes non-medical, and can personalize the treatment for you. It’s not a one-size fits all: I believe that each patient with diabetes, thyroid, adrenal, pituitary disease, or polycystic ovaries deserves an individualized and comprehensive care plan. Sometimes, thyroidmom.com is not correct about what you need tested, and proper testing, including ruling-out obscure conditions, is needed. Sometimes with a free-range doctor like me, you can discuss your spiritual life and how it impacts your health. You may be happy to have me spend sufficient time with you to listen to your concerns. However, using my experience, training, and by employing different techniques until you feel better and your long-term health is better, is the main difference I can provide.
Endocrinologists like me specifically treat you if you have autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s, Addison’s, Graves’s disease, and type 1 diabetes. Sometimes, like British Prime Minister Theresa May, you may be misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes, because your autoimmune diabetes occurred when you were older. Sometimes, you do have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but would do better without medications, like some herbal/dietary support. Sometimes, your Graves’s disease is going into remission and you just need follow-up to make sure it stays there. You might even need thyroid support for a short term, because your fertility is sub-optimal, but not as a long-term solution. As free-range doctor, I can do all of this with you.
Often, free-rangers don’t take insurance — I don’t want my care for you dictated by a third party such as an insurance agency. Even though I have an electronic medical record, there is fragmentation of information that makes it difficult for me to coordinate with pharmacies regarding your care, which also waylays your approval for medications and supplies to improve your health. A truly successful solution depends on partnership: patients (first), healthcare professionals, and pharmacies who work together for the ultimate benefit of you, the patient. By choosing a free-range doctor, you can build a strong working relationship to improve the quality of your life and the care for your chronic medical conditions.
To your health,
Mary Kathleen Figaro,
MD, MS, FACE
I hope to see you soon and to take care of your endocrine needs at Heartland Endocrine Group. I will be practicing at 4620 E. 53rd Street, Davenport, IA 52807. You can get in touch with Heartland Endocrine Group online at www.heartlandendocrinegroup.com or by calling our office at 563-424-6306.
• Endocrine glands make hormones; there are over 50 hormones created by endocrine glands in the body. The thyroid gland, for instance, produces hormones that help control the rate at which the body burns calories, rate the bowels excrete, function of the liver and muscles, bone turnover, and most other functions of the body. Other glands produce hormones that are very specific, such as the parathyroid gland, which produces parathyroid hormone and only regulates bone and calcium levels in the body.
• Like the nervous system, the endocrine uses chemicals as communicators. Instead of using nerves to transmit information, the endocrine system uses blood vessels to deliver hormones to cells. Endocrine diseases are common and happen even when one step in the process doesn’t work as it should.
• Endocrine disruptors, a category of toxic chemicals used in consumer products and agriculture, are associated with a diverse array of health issues. These non-natural compounds or mixtures of chemicals can mimic, block, or interfere with the way endocrine hormones work. This is possibly why there is higher testosterone levels and more polycystic ovarian syndrome in women now than before, and can contribute to weight gain and to lower testosterone levels in men.
• An endocrinologist can help with problems of growth and development, metabolism (body energy levels), reproduction/menstruation (infertility assessment), and specifically, with thyroid disorders and uncontrolled diabetes.