Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kristen Lee, owner of Upstream Family Medicine, gives four-week-old Baylor Sansotta a well child check-up Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 in Soldotna, Alaska. His mother Erin Sansotta watches in the corner as her son whines about how cold the otoscope is that Lee uses to check his ears. said care provider and owner Kristen Lee, who runs the practice with Tara Lathrup

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kristen Lee, owner of Upstream Family Medicine, gives four-week-old Baylor Sansotta a well child check-up Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 in Soldotna, Alaska. His mother Erin Sansotta watches in the corner as her son whines about how cold the otoscope is that Lee uses to check his ears. said care provider and owner Kristen Lee, who runs the practice with Tara Lathrup

Soldotna medical practice continues to grow

Upstream Family Medicine has been steadily expanding in the Soldotna community for three years.

The small team practice has been increasingly incorporating the use of electronic records and communication into their daily operations, said care provider and owner Dr. Kristen Lee, who runs the practice with Dr. Tara Lathrop.

Incorporating the use of existing and emerging technologies assists in providing well-rounded treatment for medical patients, Lee said.

Patients at Upstream include newborns, children, pregnant women, adults and seniors, she said.

Families can make appointments over the Internet and refill prescriptions electronically, Lee said.

“In addition to the routine electronic health records, we are working to get all of our patients registered on our portal so they can review their labs, email us questions, and request appointments online,” Lee said.

“At the beginning of the year, we will be using a new after-hours phone system to allow patients to reach the on-call doctor with urgent questions when we are not in the office.”

Upstream’s approach to practicing medicine meets a wide range of abilities and ages, Lathrop said.

Lathrop, who was hired full-time this fall, grew up in Kenai. She went to the University of Washington for her undergraduate degree and then the University of Nevada in Reno to complete her medical degree.

Addressing the different needs of patients can be challenging, especially in rural Alaska, Lathrop said.

Behavioral health, including anxiety and depression, or more severe chronic mental diagnoses are often overlooked or under treated, she said.

Part of the goal of family medicine is to take care of the whole person, and often that means the whole family, Lathrop said. Emotional, spiritual and mental issues all contribute to the treatment a patient requires, she said.

Practice manager Will Lee said family medicine is all about preventative medicine. The practice aims to incorporate methods that can improve standards of care, he said.

Kristen Lee wanted to work in family medicine because of the flexibility to address the various needs of patients, not individual issues, and to be able to do so long term.

Often times seeing the patient in the context of the family helps to better respond to their needs, she said.

Expansion comes naturally in medicine, but staying up to date on the most efficient and encompassing ways to address patients and the community is vital, Kristen Lee said.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulclarion.com.

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