Originally from Canada, and having done clinical rotations all over the United States, Dr. Ashley Bernotas has come to love the community she serves in and around Plattsburgh. She thought she was only coming here to be a resident for three years, but now considers Plattsburgh home because of the relationships she’s made. She’s been working in family medicine because of its importance to overall community health.
"Family medicine is critical because we provide preventative care which is vital to keeping patients disease free or well-controlled while helping to lessen their illness burden. A big part of my relationship with my patients is helping them connect with the right providers and specialists in the area who can help them overcome health barriers."
Dr. Bernotas gets to know her patients on a personal level because knowing the whole person helps her take better care of them. It’s her favorite part of the job because it allows her to personalize care to make sure they’re getting the best medical treatment. One way she does this is by offering access to medical resources in the area as part of the University of Vermont Health Network. CVPH has many programs taking place in conjunction with UVM Medical Center which helps address the shortage of physicians in smaller communities.
“Plattsburgh is a rural area and doesn’t always have what my patients need. Because I get to know them on a personal level and also know what resources the network offers, I’m able to help them overcome barriers to their health. It’s all about forming relationships,” says Dr. Bernotas.
Knowing family dynamics and treating multiple members of the same family gives Dr. Bernotas a unique perspective on her patients. By integrating herself into their lives, she’s able to offer more holistic care.
“I was seeing a single mother who had some behavioral health issues which were causing her to miss appointments and forget to take her medicine,” says Dr. Bernotas. “She eventually wanted to touch base with a counselor, but unfortunately she couldn’t take her children with her when she attended the counseling sessions. So we contacted a community resource who could care for her children while she saw the counselor. That’s the value of having relationships in the community”
While this is just one example of many, its successes like this that keep Dr. Bernotas around to connect patients to all the resources that the UVM Health Network and our community have to offer. And it just goes to show how much of a difference relationships can make in their lives.