I am often reminded of what “home” means. As many of you know, I was raised in Southwest Florida and have personally witnessed changes that, as a young man, I never would have thought possible.
I have personally witnessed our community undergo incredible growth. Plus, we have all seen technological advancements impact every part of our lives.
Nevertheless, a few things have not changed all that much. In some ways, Naples and Marco Island remind me of the Collier County of my youth—they are still “small towns” with all the charm and benevolence that those two words imply.
We notice things. We wave to friends and smile politely at strangers. Many of us still read the newspaper. We don’t just know our neighbors, we help them, too. And though we have all benefitted from the extraordinary technological advancements in health care, we’re still a collection of people helping people.
I continue to be so proud of the extraordinary team of medical professionals at Physicians Regional Healthcare System, but I always remember that we are part of this “people helping people” community spirit. No one reflects this humanitarian concept better than the newest member of the Physicians Regional primary care team, Dr. Michael Helton.
Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Helton specializes in all aspects of primary care for adults and geriatrics. He received his M.D. at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in Montserrat, West Indies. Dr. Helton completed advanced training in pulmonary care and completed his residency at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City.
A lifelong resident of Tennessee, Dr. Helton and his wife moved to Naples three years ago. The father of three and grandfather of two promised his wife, a Florida native, that he would bring her “home” one day. And he made good on his promise.
Before joining the primary care team at Physicians Regional Medical Group, Dr. Helton worked as a hospitalist, predominantly at our Pine Ridge facility. To explain, when someone is admitted to the hospital and their primary care physician is unable to oversee their care, a hospitalist takes over. At discharge, the patient returns to the care of their primary care physician or specialist.
As part of our primary care practice, Dr. Helton specializes in internal medicine which differs from family medicine. Primary care physicians who specialize in family medicine see everyone in the family—babies and grandparents alike.
As an internist, Dr. Helton’s patients are adults—age 16 and above. Internal medicine is more focused on adult issues such as hypertension, COPD, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, and thyroid and gastrointestinal issues.
When asked to describe himself as a physician, he replied: “I was taught to sit down and talk to people, look them in the eye and be compassionate. In some cases, they are scared. They don’t want to hear bad news. It’s my job to put every patient at ease regardless of their situation.”
Dr. Helton also places a premium on listening: “I pick up 80% of the diagnosis by just listening—before I even touch them,” he says. “The patient will often tell you the diagnosis if you just listen.”
Much to his surprise, Dr. Helton was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes just five years ago. The diagnosis didn’t just change his life and lifestyle, it transformed his practice with a brand-new level of compassionate care. “It changes your entire approach once you’ve been the patient. It happened to me. I know what it’s like to be vulnerable.”
His personal health care goal now mirrors his time-honored approach to patient care: “What can I do to get ahead of this disease and keep it under control?”
Today, Dr. Helton is a go-to physician for diabetics. “Diabetes isn’t the end of the world—it is manageable.” He’s also not a fan of the phrase, “I can’t do….” His preference is to work with his patients on what is possible.
Dr. Helton accepts his reality and reminds others how empowering it can be to accept their own: “Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t work. It’s going to be there when you open your eyes.”
A word to the wise: Keep your eyes open.
Dr. Helton sees patients at our Marco Island and Collier Boulevard locations. Call 239-348-4221 to make an appointment or visit PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com.