The Road to Recovery: Optum Offers Total Care for Patients’ Physical and Mental Health

Healthy Living September 2022

To say 2020 did not begin as expected is a large understatement. As this difficult beginning to the decade gives way to a semblance of normalcy and hope, many seniors are returning to activities they’ve been forced to neglect during the years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal among these is health care. And while things like a yearly physical, preventative screenings, and prescription drug management are top of mind for many, that is only a part of the total health picture, says Dr. Anh Pham, Chief Medical Officer for Optum Medical Group and a practicing physician in Long Beach.

Healthy Living September 2022
Dr. Anh Pham, Chief Medical Officer, Optum Medical Group

“For me, I think of wellness as a total mind/ body connection. It’s focusing on the health of the entire person, which is physical health, mental health, but also the spiritual. Really, without paying attention to all those aspects, we can’t engage in total wellness for ourselves,” said Dr. Pham
Continued good health, she says, is a result of both receiving needed health care but also taking stock of what is important (and what one may have missed during the last few years) in life. From revisiting a hobby, reconnecting with old friends, or even just getting outside for a walk in beautiful Southern California, any and all can aid in better mental and physical health, and ultimately, a longer life.

This is especially important to seniors who found their health challenged by not only the unknowns of the pandemic, but also the isolation that came with it. Surprisingly, one way that many older people are revisiting human connection is with that first return visit to their primary care physician.

“I don’t think anyone ever anticipates enjoying going to the doctor’s office,” said Dr. Pham. “But when we started seeing patients back in the office again, you’d be surprised at how many people were excited to just come and see a familiar face and talk to people who genuinely care for them.”

Dr. Pham notes that Optum’s community-based care model is a large part of making people feel at home. With locations throughout Southern California staffed by professionals who often live right in the same neighborhood, there is a feeling of familiarity and a deep understanding of patient needs.

The result, Dr. Pham said, is that patients are flocking back for in-person care. “I would say we’re busier than ever. There’s been a lot of delayed care where people just didn’t feel comfortable coming in for the last couple of years, and so now they’re making up for it by having their physicals and taking care of any preventative procedures,” she said.

“The demand to see a doctor is very high right now. Optum is working hard to meet that demand by providing different types of visits to meet the patients where they are, whether it’s in person, a telehealth visit, or in the home for people who can’t reach us in our offices.”

While stressing how important the preventative care model is, Optum also stresses the importance of wellness. Dr. Pham notes that mental health and wellbeing are incredibly important in total health. With the collective traumas of the pandemic, more and more patients are comfortable broaching the subject with their doctors.

“At the end of the day,” said Dr. Pham, “health care is such a personal journey between the care professional and the patient. That’s the underlying relationship that is the basis of everything.”