Be Seen, Get Screened's Physician Spotlight Q&A series highlights the work of health care professionals on the front line in the fight against colon cancer. In our latest Q&A, we talked to Dr. Curtis Chastain, an internal medicine practitioner for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA.
Be Seen, Get Screened: Tell us a bit about yourself and your professional experience.
Dr. Chastain: I am a Board Certified Internal Medicine practitioner who has been in practice for more than 20 years. Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I completed my medical training at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans.
Be Seen, Get Screened: What led Our Lady of the Lake to start up the nation’s first health program dedicated solely to men’s preventative care?
Dr. Chastain: I read an article in a leading magazine titled, “Why Women Live Longer than Men.” It outlined the most common reasons why men DO NOT practice preventive health care, which included:
- They don’t have time
- It’s a sign of weakness to go to the doctor
- The fear of “what if they find something?”
- Not wanting to get a prostate exam
- “I feel fine.”
Most men tend to procrastinate when it comes to their own health. Going to the doctor makes many men uncomfortable. I wanted to create a safe environment where men could feel “safe” to talk about health issues and be educated about important preventive health care.
Be Seen, Get Screened: Does providing care for men present any unique challenges when it comes to colon cancer screening compliance?
Dr. Chastain: Men need to be coached a bit on the concept of colon cancer screening. Once the topic of colon cancer screening comes up, many men cringe at the thought of having a colonoscopy. It takes time to educate them about the exam and explain to them that it is not as big of an issue as they imagine.
Be Seen, Get Screened: What do you say to patients who are hesitant to get screened for colon cancer?
Dr. Chastain: First I tell them that I have been through it and I relate my personal experience in order to help them overcome their fear.
Then I ask them, “If you don’t get a colonoscopy, what exactly do you want me to tell your family when they ask me why you never had a colonoscopy?” I tell my patients that I will be sure to show their family my notes that it was highly recommended, but refused.
Be Seen, Get Screened: You’ve headed up Our Lady of the Lake’s Executive Wellness program for 12 years now. What made you decide to pursue that program?
Dr. Chastain: I realized there was a subgroup of individuals who desired health screenings and more comprehensive evaluation and testing that may not be covered by traditional insurance. These are individuals whose biggest challenge is finding the time to have a comprehensive evaluation, and individuals who are willing to fund their own health evaluation experience.
Be Seen, Get Screened: What opportunities and challenges does an Executive Wellness program present?
Dr. Chastain: A big opportunity that comes from the Executive Wellness program is that it allows me to have a good length of time, about 3 to 4 hours, to really dive into an individual’s health metrics. This helps to identify areas of health risks that he or she may have that could otherwise lead to problems.
Be Seen, Get Screened: How do you address colon cancer screening with Executive patients?
Dr. Chastain: We make it a seamless part of the Executive Wellness program. The education component is up front, and the colonoscopy becomes a normal part of the half-day experience.
Be Seen, Get Screened: Do you have anything else to share with us?
Dr. Chastain: Men face unique health challenges, and one of the most dangerous is their reluctance to seek health care. Wellness visits are so important for men to maintain because major conditions that men are at risk for, like colon cancer and heart disease, can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis.