May 14, 2019
Karon Argue, left, shares a bit of sunshine with Dr. John Hagens, her family doctor who’s been at her side for 18 years through some serious health issues. Sunday, May 19 is World Family Doctor Day.
Story by Bretton Davie | Photo courtesy of Karon Argue
As a children’s book author and illustrator, Karon Argue from High River understands the power of stories. As a patient, she knows the importance of having a family doctor and team who understand her story.
Karon has faced life-threatening health issues due to complications from type 1 diabetes and a H. pylori infection. Her family doctor of 18 years, Dr. John Hagens, has been by her side as she battled through sight loss as well as kidney and pancreas transplants.
“He is in the loop with everything that is going on, and that has been a key factor in my care. I always have that person who is looking out,” says Karon, who explains that Dr. Hagens sees all her test results and works closely with both her family and her network of specialists, physiotherapists, lab technicians and other healthcare professionals to quarterback her care.
Sunday, May 19 is World Family Doctor Day, and Karon’s story shows the value of having an ongoing, trusting relationship with a family doctor or nurse practitioner who knows your story. This continuous relationship is called continuity of care.
For Karon, having a family doctor who knows what matters to her has made a huge impact not only on her health but her life. There were times when Karon, a mother of three, was hospitalized and Dr. Hagens arranged for her to be in a room where she could see her kids waving to her from the nearby school playground.
“I didn’t think I was going to get to see my kids finish elementary or junior high,” Karon explains.
“He knew where I was mentally, and he knew that my kids were very important,” she says.
“As family doctors, when we are working with our colleagues, we can share the relational information we know about our patient as well as the medical information, and that provides an important patient context,” says Dr. Hagens. “That way we can advocate for them not just as patients but as people.”
Now, thanks to her own determination, the support of her family and the dedication of everyone on her care team, Karon is watching her children flourish as adults and is herself thriving.
“After losing my sight, I finally wrote and illustrated my own children’s book. Who do you think shares it with their new interns or families at home? My doctor and my healthcare team,” says Karon in a digital story she recently produced.
Having continuity with a primary healthcare provider has many benefits, including lower risk of chronic disease and early death. Plus, a family doctor/nurse practitioner and team can help connect you to other care you may need.
“When we make an impact on a patient’s life, it is not something that we, as physicians, do alone. Continuity runs in multiple directions. It is between family doctors and specialists; it is between doctors and patients; and it is also runs within the multidisciplinary team in the medical home,” says Dr. Hagens.
Your primary healthcare team can be your medical home — your home base for health through different stages in your life.
Stay connected to your medical home with these tips:
Don’t have a family doctor? Visit the Find a Doctor page.