At Sentinel Primary Care we aim to restore primary care to the way it ought to be: personalized, attentive, and high quality.
At Sentinel Primary Care we aim to restore primary care to the way it ought to be: personalized, attentive, and high quality. The financial pressures of healthcare are turning doctoring into an industry; no doctor wants to rush people in and out of their visits, but financial realities have increasingly changed primary care into an assembly line. The doctor is a cog and you are a widget in a large machine, and efficiency and “performance metrics” matter more than the individual. At Sentinel Primary Care we’re doing it differently. Three things set Sentinel Primary Care apart:
- First, the primary care is better. Because we spend the time it takes to do primary care well, your experience is better. We’ll take the time to get to know you as a person so we’ll have a better sense of the whole picture of your life; you won’t be a widget at Sentinel Primary Care. This also means having enough time to figure out a new symptom or new problem; rather than throw a pill at a symptom or make a quick referral for someone else to figure it out, we can spend the time to sort through what’s going on, potentially saving you needless tests or specialists or medications. With a smaller patient panel we can see you quickly for new problems, and you’ll be seeing a familiar face. We’ll be available after hours and on weekends for emergency phone advice.
- Second, we’ll use your time effectively. With longer visits we can accomplish more; if you have several items to discuss we can probably do it all in one visit, saving you another trip to the office later. Since we have more time we stay on schedule, so you aren’t stuck for 45 minutes in the waiting room, losing time at work or with family. Sometimes you won’t even need to come to the office for a visit; if the topic for the visit doesn’t need an examination then let’s just talk by phone, or even better we can use video to meet face to face--no wasted time driving, no waiting room time, and no co-pay. With a smaller patient panel we can process paperwork faster, like that form you need filled out ASAP.
- Third, through your membership at Sentinel Primary Care you help us care for the uninsured; we give a portion of our patient spots to the uninsured, so you’re not only purchasing better healthcare for yourself but you’re helping provide the same care for someone who can’t afford health insurance at all. You might have thought that the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) meant that everyone has health insurance now, but the year after the Affordable Care Act took effect, one in six of North Carolinians were still without health insurance; especially vulnerable are those who work but don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance and don’t make enough to purchase their own health insurance.
Our model is far simpler than traditional insurance used at the doctor’s office; Sentinel Primary Care operates based on membership fees rather than on payment from insurance companies, and your membership fee covers all of your visits through the year, so you don’t have to deal with co-pays, deductibles, denied claims, or mysterious bills that show up six weeks after your doctor’s visit. Because your membership fee covers your office visits, you pay nothing additional when you come see us. In essence, we operate based on your membership fee and we leave insurance out of it--that’s much simpler!
Even better, basing the practice on an annual membership fee rather than on insurance reimbursement allows us to give you longer visits, more personalized care, and improved access to us (for more about the benefits see above “What Makes Sentinel Primary Care different?”). To ensure quick access, adequate time for our visits, and fast turnaround on lab notification and paperwork we limit the number of patients in the practice, so Sentinel Primary Care will remain a small, personally-focused practice.
Additionally, as part of our mission we provide the same attentive primary care to those who can’t afford insurance; we give same extended visits, the same improved access, the same personal care. By joining Sentinel Primary Care you’ll help us help them!
Yes, you will still need insurance for care that you receive outside of Sentinel Primary Care, like specialist visits, x-rays, and physical therapy; these outside caregivers will bill your insurance for their services. Additionally, although we will draw your blood here in the office, we will send most of the lab tests to an outside laboratory that will then bill your insurance. Finally, you will use your insurance to cover vaccines we administer.
Depending on your particular situation you may want to consider a lower-cost/high-deductible health plan. High deductible plans tend to have lower monthly premiums and can save you money on insurance cost while your annual membership fee pays for your office visits at Sentinel Primary Care.
We give plenty of time for office visits; we schedule an hour for annual physicals and 30 minutes for routine follow-up visits. Generous scheduling gives us adequate time to address the topics for the visit without feeling hurried, time to discuss what’s on your mind, and time to sort through new symptoms or problems that have come up. This last item can even end up saving you time and money in the long run; if we take the time to figure out a new symptom then we can focus any subsequent testing and treatment, potentially saving unnecessary tests or specialist referrals.
Sentinel Primary Care is a general internal medicine practice (i.e., primary care for adults), so we see individuals age 18 and up.
Our mission is to help those who otherwise lack access to medical care. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) reduced the number of uninsured people in North Carolina, but many people still fall in an “in-between” gap with no employer-sponsored health plan, too young for Medicare, too high of an income for Medicaid, and too low of an income to buy their own insurance. Please see our eligibility policy for criteria.
We’ll draw blood in the office and send it to LabCorp for processing.
Similar to most medical practices today, Sentinel Primary Care provides office-based services but not hospital services. The hospitals in the Triangle all employ “hospitalists” to care for hospitalized patients; these full-time in-hospital physicians have become the norm across the country and will take care of you if you are admitted to a hospital.
As has always been the case, your physician will continue to review the summary from your hospitalization so that we can stay up to date with your healthcare.
Sentinel Primary Care is an office based practice, so we don’t come to any of the area’s residential facilities to provide care, but we’re happy to see you here in the office and we can work with your residence to coordinate your primary care.
Sentinel Primary Care is “concierge for the middle class” so our pricing is meant to be affordable. The fee varies by age; see our Payment Model page.
For charitable care members, the fee is based on the length of the visit and on minimum wage; hour-long annual physicals will cost one hour of minimum-wage and half hour follow-up visits will cost 30 minutes of minimum-wage
Definitely! We want you to be sure that Sentinel Primary Care is a good fit. If you’re interested but not quite sure then you have two options: first you can call us to set up a brief visit to meet Dr. O’Connell, meet the staff and see our office. The visit is free and is a chance for you get a feel for the environment here. It won’t be a doctor’s visit per se (i.e. we won’t do things like check your vital signs, examine you, or give medical advice), but it will be your opportunity to meet us to help you make your decision.
Second, you can come for a one-time visit to address an acute medical problem (like going to an urgent care) or for a consultation on a medical issue. Essentially it's a single-visit membership! See the Payment Model page for more details.
Yes! You can sponsor a friend, family member, or anyone else so that they can join Sentinel Primary Care.
The charitable ministry of Sentinel Primary Care is an essential part of our work; we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and welcome your financial contributions to support our care for those without insurance.
You can support us in two ways. First, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to Sentinel Primary Care. Second, if our charitable care spots are full, you can sponsor an uninsured individual who is on our waitlist so that he or she can join Sentinel Primary Care as an annual fee member. By paying an annual membership fee on behalf of someone who can’t otherwise pay, you’ll give them immediate access to the full primary care services of Sentinel Primary Care. Such sponsorship is also tax deductible.
Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm
Closed on these holidays:
New Years Day
Note: If a holiday falls on a Saturday then we will be closed on the Friday before, if the holiday falls on a Sunday then we will be closed on the Monday following.
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