At Sentinel Primary Care we aim to restore primary care to the way it ought to be: personalized, attentive, and high quality.
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. 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 the next FAQ “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!
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 changed primary care into an assembly line. Three things set Sentinel Primary Care apart:
- First, we give you the time you need. Sentinel is not an assembly line! Visits are long, and we’ll invest the time to get to know you as a person so we’ll have a better sense of the whole picture of your life.
- Second, the primary care is better. Spending more time means having enough time to figure out a new symptom or new problem; rather than throw pills at symptoms or make referrals for someone else to figure out what's wrong, we can sort through what’s going on, potentially saving you needless tests or specialists or medications. With our smaller patient panel we set aside same-day visits for new problems, and you’ll be seeing a familiar face. By keeping up with your care from specialists we can be a "quarterback" for your healthcare.
- Third, we work 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. If you're on the road or busy at home or work then we can use video visits to meet face to face for appropriate issues. With a smaller patient panel we can process paperwork faster, like that form you need filled out ASAP.
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.
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.
We’ll draw blood in the office and send it to LabCorp for processing.
Dr. O'Connell is able to refer to any of the specialists in the area, both those in private practice and at Duke, WakeMed, and Rex/UNC.
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. Similar to most medical practices today, Sentinel Primary Care provides office-based services but not hospital services.
As has always been the case, Dr. O'Connell 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's pricing is meant to be affordable and 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 or acute 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.
We donate a portion of our care to those without insurance; please see our eligibility policy for criteria.
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.
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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.