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Lisa Marzano and Dr. Caroline Stephens

Lisa Marzano didn’t think highly of primary care until she met Dr. Caroline Stephens, a family medicine physician at Tryon Medical Partners Gaston. At the multispecialty medical practice where Lisa was previously a patient in Florida, she saw three different internists in two years because two of them quit. By the time she moved to North Carolina, she wasn’t sad to leave the third. 

When her employer, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, offered Tryon Medical Partners through Tryon Direct, Lisa signed up. She’s glad she did.

“Dr. Stephens is personable, asks a lot of questions and is thorough,” says Lisa. “When I had issues, she dealt with them directly instead of referring them out. She answered all my questions and she wasn’t in a hurry. She was interested in me and making sure I was okay.”

Direct primary care helps employers strengthen their companies by managing the ballooning costs of healthcare while ensuring that employees stay healthy. Employers who offer a direct primary care option also offer insurance options to their staff, but lean on the direct primary care clinician to build a relationship with the patient, to help them quarterback their own healthcare.

“I am not sure I understood the ins and outs of direct primary care, but it’s been a very positive  experience,” says Lisa. “I had plenty of choices, but I made the right one in Dr. Stephens.”

In Lisa’s case, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association contracts with Tryon Direct to give Lisa and her coworkers patient-driven, proactive care from the highly trained primary care physicians of Tryon Medical Partners. Employees get free access to primary care physicians like Dr. Stephens and unlimited office appointments and virtual visits in addition to free routine lab work that can help diagnose life-altering conditions.

“My bloodwork showed that I was a raging diabetic,” Lisa explains. “Past bloodwork had come back with all sorts of red flags, but the provider never addressed those irregularities. With Tryon Medical Partners, I had a message on the portal the same day with a personal message from Dr. Stephens saying, ‘we need to deal with this immediately.’”

When Lisa went in for her follow-up appointment, Dr. Stephens spent about 45 minutes with her.

“Dr. Stephens was so kind and concerned about not only my physical health, but how I was dealing with the diagnosis as well.” Lisa admits that she was very overweight at the time, but that Dr. Stephens treated her weight issue with compassion and sensitivity.

“She encourages me,” says Lisa. “She doesn’t make me feel bad about the weight I need to lose. Other providers do, or don’t take me seriously because I have difficulty losing weight.”

Dr. Stephens started Lisa on a minimal dose of diabetes medication. She also encouraged Lisa to make changes in her lifestyle.  In the next six months, Lisa lost over 30 pounds and her A1C, which was 12.6, is now 5.5, no longer even in the pre-diabetic range. Her cholesterol was also out of control, but it is now all within normal limits. 

“I don’t think I could have been successful if it weren’t for Dr. Stephens’ cheering me on,” Lisa adds. 

Rather than simply writing referrals to other doctors, Dr. Stephens is hands-on. “I believe she knows what she needs to know and will refer out when necessary. I had a contracture issue in my hand and she referred me to a great orthopedist. She has said that if she needs to, she is more than willing to ask a specialist for help. I trust that about her.” 

Lisa relies on Dr. Stephens to see her as a whole person: “I have two prescriptions for mental health that I’ve been taking for several years. Previous primary care physicians refused to even talk about taking over those prescriptions. Dr. Stephens now manages that medication.”

Tryon Medical Partners Gaston is the one-stop shop she needs for most of her care.

“Dr. Stephens has made a huge difference in my life,” says Lisa. “Her care has made me less anxious about my health. I trust that she’s on my side.”

“Billy Graham Evangelical Association desires that employees enjoy good health in every aspect of life; body, mind and spirit,” says Bill Musick, vice president of human resources. “We are proud to offer Tryon Direct services in Charlotte and the surrounding area so that our employees receive more personalized care which encourages better outcomes for their wellness journey.”

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