We get a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Jim Teague in this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. It’s #26 in the patient’s perspective marathon. As I mentioned in the intro, if you are not familiar with the marathon, check out the Perspectives on Healthcare website to learn more. Jim was an Army brat that was born in North Carolina and moved around the world until he finally settled just outside of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
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Here is the interview transcript:
Rob Oliver: Welcome to the podcast. What’s your name, sir?
Jim Teague: My name Rob is Jim Teague.
Rob Oliver: Sounds vaguely familiar as we’ve had a guest of similar last name not too long ago. Jim, where are you from?
Jim Teague: Originally or now?
Rob Oliver: Let’s go both.
Jim Teague: Okay. Originally I am from the south. I was born just outside of Charlotte, went to College at Clemson University in South Carolina, but I grew up a military brat, so I traveled halfway around the world and back. Spent two and a half years in Greece, six years in Germany. Graduated high school in West Germany at the time. So I’m dating myself here, but now I live in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So I think only because I’m sensitive to it, because I’ve got family in the area. Like you may have moved around a little bit, but there’s some bit of a North Carolina accent that you still carry with you. A little bit maybe, and that’s just a comment in passing. I will leave it alone and I will move on to the next thing.
Jim Teague: No big deal either way.
Rob Oliver: Okay. I’ll tell you this, and that is a good accent for me. It makes me feel connected to home and connected to my roots. So that’s a nice thing. Can you tell me about yourself and your background in health care, please?
Jim Teague: Okay. With healthcare. As far as my background as being a patient, I may be one of the least interesting people you’ll have on all day. I have had so few major encounters with the healthcare system as a patient that there’s not a tremendous amount to talk about as a provider. I did work as an emergency medical technician on campus, running with the ambulance service out of the fire Department at Clemson University while I was going to College, and that’s part of how I paid to go to College. But as a patient, I’ve had very few things we could talk about. Whatever.
Rob Oliver: Sure. Are you one of those people that you only see a provider when you need it, or are you like a proactive making sure that you get in wellness exams and so on?
Jim Teague: Oh, no, I’m very proactive. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve had so few major encounters with the medical system. I just had my check up last week and everything came up roses, except for obviously always the Battle of the Bulge trying to lose the weight, but all of my numbers came in fantastic and the doctor was very happy and I’m very happy. When I do have issues, I had them off as quickly as possible. If I realize something’s happening, I’ll go get it taken care of early as opposed to waiting and letting it become something bigger.
Rob Oliver: Okay, so where did your mindset come from to say I’m healthy and I want to be Proactive in that instead of saying I’m healthy and I don’t want to see a doctor unless I absolutely have to Where’s the difference here for you?
Jim Teague: I’m not really sure where that comes from. I think it was just a determination on my own that when I have ready access to the healthcare system and I have an issue, to me, it’s always been a better idea. And I think part of it I will say this, I did have one issue that I didn’t mean to let it get to the size that it did to being as big as it was. And I had assist and I had that cyst removed twice. But because of the procedure that was done, it came back both times, and from time to time it gets affected. Finally, it got to the point where I went in to see the doctor and said, we have got to take care of this thing. And it had gotten to the point where it was big enough to where the doctor and the insurance provider agreed that, yes, I needed to actually go in and have full blown under the anesthesia surgery to get rid of it. And that wasn’t really a lesson as far as staying Proactive. But I think if the people in the health care system would have been a little more Proactive working with me, it never would have come to that point. And plus, it’s also watching family members who wouldn’t go to the doctor and wouldn’t have things taken care of until they became a major issue and sometimes, if you’re not careful, that can become deadly.
Rob Oliver: Right. So you’ve had limited medical experience, and I’m just wondering, along that journey, have you met any healthcare heroes?
Jim Teague: Oh, yes, I have my health care heroes written down right here. So the first two that I would like to recognize are my general practitioners, my regular doctors, Jonathan Wilson and Hannah A. Coin. And I just got to see Dr. Wilson last week for my physical, and they always treat me well, and they will listen to my concerns. And I’ve got a great relationship with both of them. I don’t know if we’re allowed to mention dentists, but if we are okay. My dentist for 18 years now is Carl Hutcherson at Mountain View Dental Clinic. He has treated my entire family for these 18 years. And my wife and I, he’s still our dentist. Our daughter has moved on to her own plan, and she had to go with somebody else. But he’s treated us well over the years. He actually did the braces for both of our children, and we love them. And we couldn’t imagine being with anybody else. And then for the only two real ongoing issues that I have. And one of them is not an ongoing issue, but it was a major issue is my right shoulder. Just over a year ago, I had a rotator cuff surgery there, and it ended up being a bigger issue than what we thought initially once he got in there do the surgery. And so I’m right on the very tail end of my recovery on that. And for that one, that was done by Ralph Pacerelli at Eh orthopedics they’re based in Greensburg, and he did a fantastic job, actually, this past week, Michelle and I have been participating in the senior games here in Westmoreland County, and I’ve had an opportunity to really put the shoulder to the test with pitching horseshoes and playing pickleball, and it has come through with flying colors. So I’m feeling very good about it at this point. And then I do have an ongoing issue with my knees. I have arthritic knees, and so those do have to be treated, and eventually I will end up getting knee replacements, at least for the right knee. But my knee doctor is Greg Visignani and he’s also with Eh orthopedics in Greensburg, but I generally see him down in Connellsville. He’s got an office there. So those are my healthcare heroes.
Rob Oliver: Excellent. Okay. For a guy that says, yeah, I’m relatively healthy, you’ve got a rather extensive list to say, well, I go to this guy for this, I go to this. You may compare yourself to others and say, I don’t have that much, but it sounds like you’ve got enough to keep you busy and make sure that you are attentive to what’s going on in your body?
Jim Teague: It’s mainly the knees at this point. Those are the only real ongoing issue Besides some minor dental stuff. But, yeah, so it’s really the knees. And that’s just one of those things. I used to run a lot when I was much younger, and then, of course, I was in the military for six years, so I had to run there. And that’s one of those things that I think it catches up with most people. And I’ve got full blown arthritis in both knees.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. Okay. What does quality health care mean to you?
Jim Teague: Quality healthcare, I think, is one having access to it, that’s a problem for a lot of people and then having physicians who are attentive to your needs and a health care system, an insurance system that will help you take care of those issues. And so I feel like I’ve been very fortunate with that. My insurance carriers UPMC and they have been nothing but wonderful as far as I’m concerned. And any time that I have needed treatment has been available, I’ve been able to find the people that can provide it. And they are caring, they are compassionate, and they have done a great job. And that’s part of the reason why I feel like I’m as healthy as I am as compared to a lot of other folks. I do not have very many issues. I feel fortunate that being healthy runs in my family, but it also is one of those things that you’ve got to know how to take care of yourself and then seek out the people that you need to see when you have an issue and take care of it as quickly as possible.
Rob Oliver: It makes a whole lot of sense. It’s a simple and yet practical approach to it. Right. Good. So what do you wish your medical providers understood about you?
Jim Teague: Wow. I don’t think there’s anything that I could think of that they don’t seem to understand about me. Like I said, I’ve got a very good relationship with Doctors Wilson and a coin and we have talked at length about my medical history and I feel like they’ve got a very good grasp of where I am physically. I think they also understand what it is that I’m trying to accomplish, particularly with trying to stay healthy and to be Proactive. So one of the hobbies that I took up before the Pandemic was obstacle course racing. And through the process of training for that, I dropped almost £40 and I got into pretty good shape to the point where the physical that I went to towards the end of 2019, the physical I had done, my numbers were so good and my conditioning was so good that Dr. Wilson said something to me. I’ve never heard from a doctor because prior to that I’ve had high blood pressure issues and I wasn’t on any medication. Everything was perfect. And he said, you have done something that people rarely do. You healed yourself through the process of getting in shape and exercising. Unfortunately, with the Pandemic, everything went backwards and I’m trying to get back on track with that. But my doctors actively encourage me, even doctor visit nanny with the knees. He still encourages me to go out there and to work out. He says, you know what your limits are, listen to your body, stop when you need to, and then come see us when you need to. They understand what I’m trying to accomplish and what my desires are, because I’m getting to that age where, yes, medical things really become a consideration and a concern, but I expect to be healthy well into my eighty s and possibly even ninety s. And that’s just from being Proactive, taking care of myself and working with my physicians instead of what I see some people doing where it feels like they’re working against them sometimes.
Rob Oliver: Okay, so you’re doing obstacle courses, you’re participating in the Senior Games. Have you been active your whole life or is this kind of a development later in life?
Jim Teague: No, I’ve been active my whole life. That’s always been the case. Now it’s just a matter of seeking out other venues, different things to do, because some of the things I’m not going to go out and do Ten K races anymore, my niece can’t handle that. So some of the things that I did when I was much younger, I can’t do. But like with obstacle course racing again, I haven’t done an obstacle course race since 2019, since before the Pandemic, and I don’t know when I will get to another one. It will probably be later this year or waiting until next season just to make sure that everything is healed up the way I want it to be. But no, it’s something that I’ve always been always played sports when I was younger. And then when I got into College, I played softball with the fire Department team. I ran 6 miles a day. And then, like I said, after I got out of College, I went into the Army National Guard. I had to be active there because you have to pass the PT test. And so outside of a period of time, probably after I got out of the National Guard where I found I just wasn’t making the time to work out outside of that stretch, which I finally snapped out of. And I think part of that was after you’ve been forced to exercise. And we see this with military people after they’ve been forced to exercise for so many years, all of a sudden when it’s not a requirement because they’re not going to be taking a test with anybody, they’ll stop for a period of time. I think we all do that. And I gained some weight and then eventually realized, well, this isn’t going to work. I get back to it. So, yeah, it’s something that I’ve tried to do my entire life.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. And more power to you because it takes determination. It takes conscious decision for that. It does. It doesn’t happen by accident.
Jim Teague: No, it doesn’t. You have to be intentional about it.
Rob Oliver: Yeah. There’s the old joke about the guy who says, I woke up this morning and I was laying in my bed and I felt like going for a run, and then I felt like going for a swim. And then I felt like doing jumping Jacks for a while, and I felt like going and lifting weights. His buddy says, So what did you do? He says, Well, I just laid there until the feeling went away. Excellent. All right. So what is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of health care?
Jim Teague: That the medical professionals themselves can do? I think from my perspective, if they could be more Proactive in encouraging their patients to seek out treatment when they need it, make sure that they’re getting those regular checkups. Even people like me, I forget I was past due for my check up and I just happened to be calling in for something else. And they mentioned, oh, we’re showing on our records. It’s been a year and a half since you had your checkup. And oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize that much time had passed. I’m usually more diligent about it than that. And so I said, yeah, no, let’s get one signed up. Let’s do this. So if they were more Proactive in making sure that they’re reaching out to their patients and saying, hey, you’re due for this, you need to get in here and do it. Finding ways to encourage them to stay on track. Because again, I think the best thing to do as far as health care is concerned, is it’s the patient’s responsibility I compare it to. I teach College, and when it comes to scheduling classes, I have some students, they always want to come to me and say, hey, what classes should I take? And my answer is always, I don’t know, what do you want to take? It’s your education. You’re responsible for that, not me. Especially if I tell you, take these classes and then you take the class and you don’t like it, well, then you’re going to blame me. That’s not my responsibility. I say the same thing with medical patients, with everybody. Your health is your responsibility. Your doctor is there to help you. But again, if the doctor can help you by reminding you, yeah, it’s time for this. It’s time for this. You need to get in here and do this. I think that would be beneficial to so many folks, and I think doctors are getting better at that. I think the medical system is getting better about that.
Rob Oliver: Excellent. Jim, listen, I appreciate you coming on. I appreciate you sharing. You got a couple of minutes because my next guest actually is not here yet. Okay?
Jim Teague: Yeah, sure.
Rob Oliver: So what we’re going to do is we’ll wrap up this and then we’re going to chat for a little while, okay?
Jim Teague: Okay.
Rob Oliver: I will say, Jim, thank you for being on today. Thank you for sharing, and I appreciate and respect your perspective on health care. I want to go give you a chance for a shameless plug here. Okay.
Jim Teague: Okay.
Rob Oliver: Michelle had a Teague of Your Own. Are you part of that as well, or is that her thing?
Jim Teague: Okay. No, it’s both of us now. It’s more her than me, but we are both involved in it, and we do engage in training and coaching and speaking especially the training will do that together quite often. But yes, we’re both part of the company, but it’s really her company. It’s all in her name, but it’s our company.
Rob Oliver: Cool. So what kind of training is it that you do? What kind of speaking is it that you do?
Jim Teague: Yeah, the majority of what we speak, coach and train on is leadership, communications, and team building.
Rob Oliver: All right. And so I’m assuming that team building is more than doing trust falls.
Jim Teague: Yes.
Rob Oliver: Maybe I’ll ask you this. In terms of the medical community, in terms of health care, can you talk about how to empower patients to build a team for themselves in this environment? Because we think about the healthcare team and it’s the doctor, the nurse, the therapist. But I think that the patient needs to be a part of that team and the patient needs to have their own team. Can you talk about how to build that?
Jim Teague: Yeah. I mean, the thing that you have to do is understand again what issues you’re facing, what issues you expect to face. I mean, there are certain things that we all know. We know from our family history, what kinds of things that our grandparents and parents, what kind of ailments or issues they had. And if they have those issues, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re going to have them as well. Now, that’s why my family there’s a couple of things that we all have to deal with and we joke, yeah, these are inherited defects and it’s exactly correct. That’s one of the things you can anticipate the types of treatment that you’re going to need. And I would say try to build that team early, especially once your primary physician has identified issues or you have identified something that you have brought to them, you build your team from that. In my instance, again, for me, it’s more of the orthopedic thing. I know that I’ve got some reliable folks that I can turn to, one that I’m seeing on a regular basis because of the knees. But I know if I have any other issues. As a matter of fact, that’s how I ended up going to Dr. Pacer Alex, because I’ve been going to Dr. Bisigni about my knees and I started talking about the shoulder having problems because what happened is there was a bone spur in there that was tearing everything up. And he said, oh, well, go see doctor Pasarelli. And so I did and we figured out really fast what was going on and that we needed to take care of that problem, tried some alternatives initially, but then we ended up having to go the more extreme but final route to take care of the problem. And he took care of a couple of other issues while he was in there. So it worked out well. But it’s having that team, having those people to work with, identifying them, making sure that you have them in place and that they know who you are and they know your history again, especially trying to take care of things the easier routes if possible before you have to do the big things like going in for surgery and that kind of stuff. But you’re right, it all starts with the patient. You have to build your own team. And I think that applies to anything that applies to pretty much anything in life. Why should healthcare be different? Why should your health care be any different than other aspects? You’re planning your financial life, you usually go to an organization or company and you have a team that is helping you do that. When you’re working in a job, generally, you’re working with other folks, you have a team, you’re working with others. So why should your health care be any different? Problem is people do treat it differently and they don’t see themselves sometimes as being the center of it. So you shouldn’t just be the one who is there expecting everybody to do everything for you. You have to be Proactive and make sure that you’re coordinating everything. And that’s certainly something that I have tried to do with my health care Because my view on it, as always, if you don’t have your health, Then you have nothing.
Rob Oliver: Without that, your options are a little bit limited. And I will say I think it’s interesting to hear you talk about your physicians and making referrals amongst themselves, that they’re picking up on what else is going through your body and say, okay, I’m an orthopedic guy. I’m looking at your knees, but I see that shoulder. It’s not my spot, but I know a guy, right? In that way, they’re facilitating the work within that health care team, within that provision team, and it’s very much the same concept. At the end of the day, though, if you’re not sharing what’s going on in your body, you’re not sharing what’s happening with that position. He can’t make the referral so the whole team is only as strong as the patient, the person that is kind of responsible and taking ownership of that.
Jim Teague: That means being honest with them and letting them know when there is an issue. And I know because I’ve been there sometimes it’s embarrassing to talk about certain things.
Rob Oliver: Right.
Jim Teague: But they can’t treat it if they don’t know what it is.
Rob Oliver: So true and it is important and imperative then to make sure. I talked about this with an earlier guest that communication is two ways.
Jim Teague: Yeah.
Rob Oliver: Right. I want the doctor to be able to speak to me in language that I understand, but I also want him to listen to me and to ensure that he understands what I’m saying and where I’m coming from Because ultimately the person who is an expert on what’s going on in my body is me. Nobody else can tell you what the symptoms are. Nobody else can tell you what I’m feeling, what I’m doing, any of those things. I’ve got to be the one who is in charge of that communication. So it’s important to keep things going that way. Listen, Jim, I appreciate you spending some time with me today. I’m going to bring on my next guest a little bit early. Thank you for taking the time.
Jim Teague: Happy to help.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, like I said, I appreciate you and I do appreciate your perspective on health care. You take care, okay?
Jim Teague: You too. Take care, Rob.
Rob Oliver: Bye.
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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.