By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
As Dr. Krystyna McNicoll and Dr. Gary Green settle into their new office at Saint John’s Physician Partners, the Palisadian-Post checked in about their history working together over many decades and their philosophy of care.
How long have you two worked together?
Green: We both started at UCLA. We practiced together at UCLA and then at Pacific Palisades Medical Group, and now at Saint John’s. This is our third place that we’ve practiced together. So, we have a really long history.
What led you from UCLA to the Palisades?
Green: There were a lot of changes at UCLA and so we felt the institution no longer had our best interests at heart. The way the practice had evolved, we just weren’t able to deliver the kind of care that we really expected and we thought that a smaller group would be able to provide that.
McNicoll: And being able to make decisions regarding patient care ourselves rather than being beholden to.
I understand large institutions have their own rules and parameters, but for a long time, it allowed us to really make our own decisions, being at the small organization.
Green: And being a little more flexible in that regard, I think for 16 years or so, we had that at Pacific Palisades Medical Group. Then with the changing aspects of medicine, there’s also advantages to being part of a larger organization.
The nice thing about this current place we’re in kind of combines both. It combines a small office where we can give personalized, individualized care, but we have the backing of larger organizations.
For example, that provides better IT support, so we now have access to electronic medical records that allow us to literally get patient records from anywhere in the country they’ve been seen.
I’ve always been a big believer in the value of old records, and so the more information you can get about a patient’s past history, the better you can take care of them.
Right now here, we have the ability to do telehealth visits, which in the pandemic, has been really helpful in terms of being more efficient and allowing patients to stay safe while still getting their medical care.
What’s it like working with the same person for so many years?
McNicoll: I almost don’t think about it, I just view it as a seamless thing and it seems like a natural progression. We share a lot of similar philosophies regarding the practice of medicine and patient care. We know each other’s friends and families too.
Green: One of the disadvantages of a larger practice like at UCLA is that you can’t be there 24/7, and so the people who are covering for you may not share your same philosophy and may not take care of the patients the way you do. Not that it would be wrong, it would just be different.
Dr. McNicoll and I, because we’ve worked together for so long, we have that similar philosophy, so I feel really comfortable when I’m not on call or I’m not in the office that she takes care of them in the same way that I do.
Just on a personal note, just to show the confidence I have in Dr. McNicoll, when my kids were born like 25 years ago, I asked her to take care of them and she’s been their doctor since they were born. I obviously have a lot of confidence in her as a doctor, not just with my patients but with my family as well. I think you also take care of my parents as well.
Tell us a bit about the Saint John’s philosophy of care.
McNicoll: Well we’re learning but I think the overall message that we’re getting is compassionate care, and that may sound trite, especially these days, but I truly believe seeing the way the staff have been working, the other colleagues at this office, that they strive to do their best in terms of providing good quality care, compassionate, everyone matters.
Also being part of a large organization, Providence also has some unique benefits for patients, they’ve set up a mental health system for patients for referral and social work capabilities as well for referral.
There’s also pharmacy benefits where pharmacists work with physicians and staff to check for maybe alternatives for patients based on their insurance, so they’re helping patients that way. Or if a patient needs authorization for a certain medication so the insurance will pay for it, there’s a whole pharmacy benefits system set up for those patients. So they practice what they preach.
Green: It’s the patient first philosophy, so realizing that we’re here but we’re really here for the patients. I think that’s one of the things that attracted us to join Saint John’s was not only was it was a larger organization, but it also seemed to put the patient care really front and center. That’s what we’ve seen as well. That’s been really helpful and it’s really sort of fit with our philosophies in terms of making sure that we get the best patient care.
McNicoll: Yes we’re part of a large organization now but I don’t see any of the negative that a large organization could potentially pose, it feels comfortable. The benefits without any disadvantages.
Green: We both had a little bit of trepidation about the move because anytime you’ve been someplace for many years, you’re always a little bit nervous about where’s everything going to be and are you going to fit in and is it going to fit with you.
It’s been actually easier than I thought it was going to be because at the end of the day, whether they’re using electronic records or you’re using paper charts … it’s still all about the patient care. All those things kind of go out the window when you’re in the room with the patient and you’re just focused on them, those other things really become peripheral to the main focus. That’s what we’ve been trained to do and what we’ve been doing for all of these years, is taking care of patients and that part hasn’t changed.
Are you both still accepting new patients?
Green: Absolutely. It’s nice to see patients that we’ve seen before, but it’s also good to see new patients and have new challenges and get to know patients as well. I think we both already have seen new patients come in.
What else do you want the community to know?
Green: The nice thing about Dr. McNicoll and I covering each other’s patients, if a patient calls up, they’re either going to get her or I, so there’s a familiarity there.
We each have our own kind of areas. While we both practice general medicine, we both have specialty areas. So for example, Dr. McNicoll specializes in women’s health issues, so some of my female patients, I’ll refer to her if they have specific gynecologic issues, and then I specialize in sports medicine, so she might send me patients that have had an injury or have an exercise problem or a musculoskeletal problem.
Primary Care Pacific Palisades – Saint John’s Physician Partners is located at 881 Alma Real Drive in Suite 101. For more information, call 310-829-8923.
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