Appointments are scheduled every 20 minutes - we try to keep a balance between new patients, Pap's/physicals, and urgent/brief appointments. On lightly scheduled days, there may be more time to spend with the doctor. However, on busy days, we try to adhere to the schedule as much as possible in order to keep waiting time to a minimum.
New patients with current or chronic medical concerns will be asked to establish care in two office visits - this is so we have ample time to take care of your needs. During your first visit, we will discuss your full medical history, address your most pressing health concern, and order appropriate tests. In a follow-up visit, we will do a head-to-toe physical, review your test results, and follow up on any remaining concerns.
If you have absolutely no medical problems and only need a preventive physical or prescription refills, your care can be established in a single office visit.
Many patients come to the general practitioner's office with an extensive list of medical concerns and the expectation that every concern will be diagnosed and treated in one visit. When you see a dermatologist, they focus on your skin. If you go to a gastroenterologist, they discuss stomach issues. It is neither practical nor in the best interest of your health to cover a variety of issues and make rushed diagnoses in one appointment. Symptoms that may seem simple (e.g. abdominal pain) often lead to detailed questioning and education, exams, and discussion of appropriate lab tests. Therefore, we ask that you prioritize your medical concerns and be prepared with the names and dosages of your medications if you need refills.
If you have multiple or complex health concerns, I will let you know what we have time to cover at the beginning of your visit. If we need more time to thoroughly address your needs, I will ask that you schedule a follow-up appointment. This is to ensure that you receive the best care possible and as a courtesy to other patients waiting to be seen.
In general, morning appointments are available on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday while afternoon appointments are available on Wednesday and Friday. Available appointment times may vary on some weeks depending on staff scheduling and we sometimes book appointments by special arrangement.
If your health concern is straightforward and you do not wish to come into the office or there are no appointments that suit your schedule, a Virtual Consult may be appropriate. These are brief medical consultations conducted over phone, email, or Skype. Virtual Consults are not covered by insurance and have a $75.00 fee, which includes the documentation and prescriptions for your condition.
I see patients age 18 and older.
Appointments must be cancelled or rescheduled within 24 hours of the appointment time. If you miss your appointment or do not cancel or reschedule at least 24 hours in advance, you will be charged a $50.00 missed appointment fee.
If you have been in an accident, we will be happy to see you but will not bill your medical insurance for these types of injuries. Full payment will be due at the time of your visit. We will provide you with an invoice that you may submit to the appropriate third party insurance company (i.e. car insurance) for reimbursement. This applies to motorcycle and bicycle accidents as well.
Please note that we do not see worker's compensation injuries or fill out disability forms. FMLA and sick leave forms are filled out as long as the diagnosis is within my scope of practice.
These types of visits are not medical in nature and are considered administrative exams by insurance companies - this means that they are usually not covered by insurance. We do not bill insurance companies for administrative exams and full payment will be due at the time of your visit. Contact us to inquire about our fee schedule.
We charge $35.00 for TB tests. Tetanus shots are paid at the time of your visit and reimbursed if covered by your insurance.
If our office is closed and you would like to be seen immediately for an urgent concern (non-emergency), please contact one of the following urgent care centers - both offer same-day, evening, and weekend appointments. For medical emergencies, go directly to the nearest Emergency Room.
Piedmont Primary Care (Oakland and Piedmont): 510-594-7400
Alameda Center Physicians (Alameda): 510-769-1118
If you are an Alta Bates Medical Group patient, you may visit the following page for a list of in-network urgent care centers: Alta Bates Urgent Care Centers
Note: Urgent care facilities are not the same as the ER (Emergency Room). Urgent care facilities are for non-life-threatening conditions that need attention right away. These include minor traumas such as cuts, sprains, eye injuries, flu, fever, insect bites, and simple fractures. Patients are usually seen on a walk-in basis, and many centers have extended hours.
If you are an established patient and have an urgent health concern, we will always try to work you in for a same-day appointment - just give us a call. We do not accept walk-in appointments.
If your health concern is straightforward and you do not wish to come into the office, a Virtual Consult may be appropriate. These are brief medical consultations conducted over phone, email, or Skype. Virtual Consults are not covered by insurance and have a $75.00 fee, which includes the documentation and prescriptions for your condition.
I do not admit patients to the hospital but will facilitate admission when needed. As an inpatient, you are cared for by hospital specialists. I am kept apprised of your progress but will not be visiting you in the hospital. I only see patients in the outpatient setting at my office and will resume your care after discharge.
Most referrals will require an appointment with your primary care doctor first. Referrals are done on a case-by-case basis - please contact us if you have questions regarding referrals.
This depends on your age and current health conditions.
Insurance and Payment
We always recommend knowing about your insurance benefits to prevent any surprises and to get the best care possible - knowledge is power! A good place to start is to call the member services phone number on your insurance card or visit your insurance carrier’s website. Find out your benefits for office visits, preventive physical exams, and well women exams with Pap tests. Important details to know are your deductibles and the types of services they apply to, co-payment or co-insurance amounts, and any restrictions. HMO patients only have co-pays.
If you need help understanding your benefits, feel free to contact us - we’re happy to help!
We collect co-pays and co-insurance at the time of your appointment. If you have an unmet deductible, we collect the estimated fee at time of appointment. Contact us to find out what the current fee schedule is. If we collect an estimated fee to apply towards your deductible, we will bill your insurance to determine the exact amount owed for the visit. If this amount is different from the estimated fee, we will send you either a reimbursement or a bill (if there is a balance). We accept payment in cash, check, or credit card.
Please understand that for any medical office or facility you visit, insurance billing is done as a courtesy. As a patient, you are ultimately responsible for the payment of your medical fees. If we bill your insurance and there is a problem getting the claim paid after several attempts on our end, we allow you to investigate the claim further before forwarding you a bill.
When contacting your insurance to investigate a claim, it is best to speak to an actual representative - the automated claims information will rarely give you the level of explanation you need. To bypass the automated system, you can often say “operator” or “representative”.
We submit prescriptions to your pharmacy electronically - they will be sent within a few hours of your appointment. Contact your pharmacy directly to find out when your prescription will be ready - once a prescription is sent, we have no way of knowing this information.
All insurance plans have mail order services for prescriptions. Instead of returning to your pharmacy every month, you can have a 3-month supply of medication mailed to your home, usually free of charge. In addition, you will often only have to pay 2 co-pays for a 3-month supply (instead of 3). It is a convenient service for those on daily medications.
A formulary is a list of drugs covered by your insurance plan. In an effort to prescribe you the most cost-effective medication for your condition, you will sometimes be asked to check which medications are covered under your plan. I will provide you with some alternatives to ask about. Usually they are generic drugs, but if you require a name brand medication, you can see which ones are available under your plan and how much they will cost you.
Once you find out more about which medications are covered, you can notify the office by email (link to formulary, PDF, list, etc.) or phone. I will then review the options and select one to send in to the pharmacy. Since there are so many insurance plans, each with their own formulary, I need your help with this step to smooth the prescription process.
If you need a non-formulary medication (one that needs prior approval if a formulary drug doesn't work), you will be asked to get the prior authorization form faxed to our office. We will provide you with a prescription to get us the necessary form. We request that patients obtain these forms.
Tests and Results
Lab results are usually posted electronically within 24-48 hours. Some results take longer depending on what was ordered. Pap results take 4-5 days. No news is good news, but if you want to hear one way or another, contact the office. Minor abnormalities are discussed at the follow-up physical appointment.
Preliminary reports are usually ready in 1-2 days, but if there is an urgent matter, our office is called and you are contacted the same day.
We are happy to provide you with whatever documents you need. You may drop by our office anytime we’re open, send us a self-addressed-stamped-envelope with your request, provide us with a secure fax number to send your documents to, or send your request via email.
A positive test is a large, raised, red bump occurring 48-72 hours after it is placed. If you cannot come into the office to get it checked, you must measure the diameter from one edge to the other in millimeters and contact us. Only if it is raised, is it positive.
It depends. The total should be below 200, but it's the breakdown that is most important. LDL ("lethal, lousy, low") should be below 130 for most patients, and even lower if you have or are at risk for heart disease. HDL ("happy, healthy, high") should be over 40. Limited nuts, flaxseed, avocado, olives, olive oil, and canola oil can raise HDL, but they are also fattening. Aerobic exercise helps boost HDL while weight training helps decrease LDL.
If you have always had normal PAP's, are at no risk for STD's, HPV negative, and are over the age of 30, you can have them every 2-3 years. However, most gynecologists recommend yearly pelvic exams, because currently that is the only way to check for fibroids, ovarian cysts, and tumors.
HPV testing can be ordered for any patient. If you get a Pap test done in our office, HPV testing will be done automatically if your Pap is abnormal.
We do not stock and administer the Gardasil vaccine, but can recommend offices that do. Generally, this is given to girls 9-26 for HPV prevention.
Most insurance companies consider travel medicine a luxury and not a medical necessity, therefore, it is usually not covered. All travel clinics charge a consultation fee plus additional fees for the vaccinations. Our consultation fee is $60.00. We can provide prescriptions for anti-malarial medication, traveler's diarrhea, flight anxiety, and insomnia. Because we're not a travel clinic, we do not stock vaccines other than tetanus.
If you need more extensive protection, please call one of the following offices:
Please send us a signed release for medical records with an address or fax number along with a $25.00 processing fee and we will take care of the transfer.
We don't accept other records until you are an established patient. We prefer that you release the records to yourself and bring them in. We often do not need the entire chart and will make copies of the pertinent information necessary to complete your medical record. Medical records can be sent in PDF format.
If you have a high blood pressure reading in the office or already have high blood pressure, having a home monitor can help fine tune treatment options. A one-time reading in the office is only a snapshot and isn't as helpful as keeping a log of morning and evenings readings for a week, then once a day when possible. After you get your own blood pressure monitor, please bring it to your appointments along with your own log of readings. We will compare the readings of your home blood pressure monitor with our reading in the office. This information can factor into the decision of when to treat with, or adjust medication. Reasonably priced digital blood pressure monitors are available at pharmacies, Target, and Walmart.