Dr. Rachel Pontemayor’s childhood experiences of family, community and healthcare led her to choose a career in medicine. “I grew up on Guam, an island community and US Territory in the Pacific. I was a sickly child and was always visiting doctors. So I saw first-hand how helpful doctors were to my family—what a difference they made to a community,” she says.
Dr. Pontemayor sees patients at Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) Lynnwood, As a family medicine doctor, she can get to know the whole family, at various life stages. “I enjoy seeing pediatric patients—I can connect with families and help build healthy habits!”
She helps young patients prepare for adulthood, too. “Once a child is 10 or 12, dependent on maturity or developmental age—or the reason for their visit—I usually connect with the parents on having a minute or two without mom or dad during the visit. I feel it’s important to help children foster their independence with a physician, to learn to take ownership of their health.” However, Dr. Pontemayor always lets the child know that she will share their discussions with the parents. “It’s important for a young person to be medically literate before they leave home and need to make health decisions as an adult,” she adds.
Parents bring teenage daughters to their primary care doctor for various needs—such as irregular periods, too heavy flow or increased acne. “During adolescence, it’s also very important to screen for mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and provide appropriate resources to the family,” says Dr. Pontemayor.
“Older women often come to me with issues of increasing urination, vaginal dryness and menopause symptoms. I have options for them to consider, plus can refer to specialists when needed,” says Dr. Pontemayor. “It is a pleasure to care for woman in all stages of life.”
Dr. Pontemayor is accepting new patients. “I like the team-based approach to care at PacMed,” she says. “The specialists are phenomenal. We keep in close contact, which is so important to continuity of care.”
Here are five areas Dr. Pontemayor encourages woman to think about when it comes to their preventive care, at all stages, from childhood to adulthood:
- HPV vaccine – prevents cancers of the mouth, throat and male/female genitals from ever developing by preventing the infections that cause those cancers. “It’s the only vaccine we have that prevents cancer, which is pretty amazing! I always talk with parents to help them understand this important vaccine.” Two shots for boys and girls ages 11–15; or for ages 15–45, a three-shot series.
- Pap smear – helps catch cervical cancer early. “Pap smears aren’t painful, just mildly uncomfortable. Women can feel vulnerable during this vaginal screening, so I take extra care in explaining what you may expect during the exam,” she says. Every 3 years for ages 21–29, and every 5 years for ages 30–65.
- Well-woman checkups – a regular exam that includes diet, exercise, age-appropriate screenings (mammograms, osteoporosis, pelvic exam if needed) and immunizations.
- Contraception – such as IUDs, depo shot and others. For diaphragm or cervical cap fitting, she refers to a gynecologist. And while Dr. Pontemayor doesn’t provide pregnancy care, she does provide prenatal counseling and can continue to provide primary care support throughout and after a patient’s pregnancy.
- Diet – because a well-balanced diet can help women reach their goals and decrease their risk for certain medical concerns. “It is important to discuss your diet with your primary care doctor,” says Dr. Pontemayor. “At PacMed, we can refer you to one of our dietitians for diabetes, high blood pressure, or other needs.”
Dr. Pontemayor is a family medicine physician at the PacMed Lynnwood Clinic. To learn more about Dr. Pontemayor, please visit www.PacMed.org. To schedule an appointment call 1.888.472.2633 or simply schedule online at www.PacMed.org/schedule.
(Sponsored by Pacific Medical Center)