Choosing a PCP for your Child
A primary care provider (PCP) is a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant who acts as a patient's main health care provider for common medical issues. A PCP refers patients to a specialist when needed.
Listen as Eileen Costello, MD, discusses how at Boston Medical Center we provide a variety of clinicians to help deliver the best possible care. Our team of physicians and nurses has been recognized by a number of independent organizations for overall excellence.
Eileen Costello, MD
Eileen Costello, MD is a primary care physician at BMC, board certified in pediatrics. Her special interests include providing primary care to children on the autism spectrum and with mental health disorders.
Melanie Cole (Host): A primary care provider, PCP, is a doctor, nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant who acts as a patient’s main health care provider for common medical issues. My guest today is Dr. Eileen Costello. She’s the Chief or Ambulatory Pediatrics and the Medical Director of the Primary Care Clinic at Boston Medical Center. Welcome to the show, Dr. Costello. So tell us a little bit about Boston Medical Center’s primary care services. What’s involved? What does that mean?
Dr. Eileen Costello (Guest): Well first of all thank you so much for speaking with me today. So at BMC we have a very busy primary care practice with about 15 primary care pediatricians. We see babies starting in infancy, often they are born right here, but even if they’re not we are happy to see babies starting in the immediate newborn period until they’re about 21 years of age. We have lots of people who speak a variety of languages which is very important in our community. So a good number of providers speak Haitian-Creole, Spanish speaking providers. We have providers of both genders, both male and female. We have physicians and nurse practitioners who provide primary care to our children.
Melanie: So speaking of children, Dr. Costello, when a parent is looking for a primary care provider, this is a big deal for parents because they want to find somebody that they feel that they can trust, and somebody that they feel they can take through their child’s teenage years and beyond. What should they be looking for and what questions would you like them to ask potential providers?
Dr. Costello: That’s such a great question because I think it is a really big deal especially when you’re having your first baby you don’t even really know what it means to have a relationship with a pediatrician over your child’s life. I would usually tell parents learn everything you can about the potential pediatricians that you might take your child to. For example, do you prefer male or female, which people choose sometimes based on gender of their child. Would you want someone who is sort of young and hip, just out of training, or would you prefer an older person who’s been in practice for a number of years. What language do you speak? Because we have providers who may speak your language which certainly would make coming to a doctor and speaking in your native tongue so much easier. And then some of it is philosophical. People might want to have a pediatrician who understands that they have an alternative life style. For example, that they are vegetarian or that they plan to homeschool their children, those kinds of things. You want to work with somebody who is comfortable with the manner in which you plan to raise your child.
Melanie: So when you’re talking to them and primary care providers, pediatricians, will let you have sort of a meet and greet, yes? Has that been your experience?
Dr. Costello: Yes. In general, we prefer to talk to people on the telephone to do our meet and greet. People can call in and speak to one of us and ask a few questions. Those conversations are usually pretty quick and we’ll ask questions, they’ll ask questions. People sometimes learn about us from their friends or family members. Or sometimes when they’re in the nursery they’ll ask for a recommendation for a particular kind of pediatrician and they might get a recommendation there.
Melanie: So what is the difference with a pediatrician and someone who is called maybe a family practice physician? Is there a difference there?
Dr. Costello: There is a difference. Family practice docs, and we do have a family practice here at Boston Medical Center, take care of children, adults, and pregnant women. So they do some pediatrics, some internal medicine, and some Ob/Gyn care. They can follow a mother through her pregnancy and then take care of the mother and the baby together after the baby is born. As pediatricians, we are child advocates and healthcare providers only for the children, not for the mothers. However, in our adolescent clinic we do have a program called Teen and Tots, where teenage mothers can get their Ob/Gyn care with us and then the adolescent medicine provider can provide care both to the mother and to the infant at the same time.
Melanie: So how does this work together for the medical home? What can people expect from a primary care provider as far as the other things that maybe go on, maybe there’s a nutritionist on staff, or somebody to help them with their child’s medications. What is the medical home?
Dr. Costello: That’s such a great question. We are a certified patient centered medical home here in the Department of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, which means that every child who comes to our clinic will have a designated pediatrician as well as a nurse practitioner on the team, a social worker on the team, a patient navigator on the team, which means if something comes up with the family, for example if the child is hospitalized or the child develops a medical condition, that it’s not just the pediatrician that they would interact with. They would potentially interact with the nurse practitioner or the social worker or the navigator depending on what the needs of the child and the family are. And we meet weekly to review cases and assign tasks to people on the team to support the pediatrician and the family.
Melanie: What a great way for families to feel like they’re really getting good, solid healthcare. So tell us a little bit about your team of physicians and nurses at the primary care clinic at Boston Medical Center.
Dr. Costello: Well I think Boston Medical Center has a long and storied history and it tends to attract a certain kind of medical provider and nurse. I am very proud of the group of people that we have assembled here to take care of our patients because their hearts are very much in the mission of the hospital which is to provide exceptional care without exception to all comers. So we turn nobody away. We see everybody and we try to meet them where they’re at in their own language and that is sometimes because the provider speaks their language or because we have a very active translation service here. And we try to meet the needs of a family that will affect their child’s health. For example, if a family has food insecurity or difficulty paying utility bills or needs support around housing, we have advocates that can help families provide the best care outside the hospital to keep their children healthy.
Melanie: And that’s really what it’s all about. So Dr. Costello, wrap it up for us in what you want people to know about Boston Medical Center and choosing a primary care provider that would be just a great fit for their family.
Dr. Costello: I would say if you deliver here we are very committed to connecting people with a primary care provider and a team that will follow your child overtime. We make multiple appointments from the very beginning, from the very first visit in our primary care clinic so that families can be reassured that they will see the same provider over and over and over again. Continuity is a really important part of building a relationship with your pediatrician and getting the best care for your child.
Melanie: Thank you so much Dr. Costello for being with us today. You’re listening to Boston Med Talks with Boston Medical Center. And for more information you can go to BMC.org. This is Melanie Cole thanks so much for listening.