Meet a Mom Monday on Greater Lansing Area Moms and this week Dr. Amy Blaising Wallace – mom to three grown daughters and physician/owner of Healthy Values Direct Primary Care in East Lansing.
GLAMoms recently spoke with Dr. Amy Blaising Wallace about her medical practice, how Direct Primary Care models work (and so many advantages) and gained some parenting perspective from a mom of adult daughters!
Welcome to Greater Lansing Area Moms, Dr Blaising Wallace!
Hi Amy! Please introduce yourself, where are you from and where do you live now?
Hello! My name is Amy Blaising Wallace. I am from Battle Creek originally. I have lived in East Lansing for the past 19 years.
You’re a mom of 3 daughters! Please tell us about your children!
Absolutely! We have 3 great daughters – Abigail (24), Margaret ( 22) and Lucille(19) They all go by their nicknames (Abby, Maggie and Lucy) but I was always hoping they would use their full names when they grew up. No such luck thus far!
Abby graduated from MSU and lives in Marquette, MI. She works in member engagement for the Michigan Environmental Council right here in Lansing (now remotely). Maggie is a senior at University of Michigan. She’s a biology major and planning to attend grad school next year in Public Health and Epidemiology. Lucy is a sophomore at Purdue University studying Chemical Engineering.
I’m really proud of all of them (like all moms!) I consider raising these three young ladies and seeing them mature into the people they are today to be the best of all the tough things I have taken on in my life thus far!
Your daughter was diagnosed with a rare brain vascular malformation called AVM (arteriovenous malformation). Would you mind sharing some of your journey with this diagnosis (and treatment) for other families with this similar condition to learn more?
Our oldest daughter Abby was unexpectedly diagnosed with an AVM of the brain in January 2021. She had a seizure and ended up in the emergency room. She then had a CT scan of the brain which showed a large mass. Ultimately, it was diagnosed as an AVM.
This is a congenital (from birth) condition which got larger over time as she was growing up. She was actually very lucky because AVM’s can spontaneously bleed in the brain and this of course can cause lots of bad things such as strokes, brain damage, even death.
Because this was found after her seizure and before it had ruptured (or bled), she was able to see neurosurgery specialists at both University of Michigan and Mayo Clinic and was able to be offered a treatment called Gamma Knife (gamma ray radiation to the AVM) at Mayo Clinic. She is doing well as we wait for the next 3 years to see if the AVM has closed down.
Do you have advice or any recommendations you would give to a family going through a similar health crisis?
My advice to other families going through something like this would be to not be afraid to seek out referrals at specialty clinics around the country. With rare conditions, that is sometimes needed because a hospital or clinic somewhere may be treating more cases whereas your local medical centers are not. It’s also been really helpful for Abby to join a Facebook AVM support group so she can get the input of other people going through the same symptoms and treatment that she has had.
The last piece of advice I would give is that being diagnosed with any condition that’s hard to treat and where there is really no guarantee that treatment will work is hard psychologically – on the patient as well as their family and loved ones. Connecting with others that are going through similar situations can be helpful. I also think counseling is really important if fear and uncertainty are really overwhelming you.
You have been a family medicine physician in the Greater Lansing area for over twenty years! And you have recently opened your own practice, Healthy Values, Direct Primary Care. Please tell us more about what Healthy Values Direct Primary Care is and explain the benefits of this model of patient care.
Yes! I opened Healthy Values Direct Primary Care in October 2022. Direct primary care is traditional primary care that seeks to restore the best aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. As most people would agree, medicine has been changing A LOT in this country. There are a lot of pressures from insurance companies and hospital systems on both doctors and patients.
In the direct primary care model, patients pay a monthly membership fee which covers nearly all appointments and contact they have with their doctor. Fees are transparent and affordable.
Not having to bill insurance companies to be paid allows the doctor the time back to focus on patient care and doing what’s best for their patients.
Doctors who practice in this model have MUCH smaller panels of patients to care for than in the traditional model where many primary care doctors are responsible for 2500-3000 patients. I’m so excited to be transitioning into this practice style! I think it’s great for patients to have the access, attention and affordability they need from their primary care physician.
Additionally, patients can use HSA and FSA accounts to pay membership fees which is a great thing for a lot of patients these days who have high deductible plans. It’s also a great model for patients without insurance. It’s affordable and gives them access to a regular doctor as well as lower cost lab tests and generic medications.
What are the biggest differences between traditional medical practices and Direct Primary Care?
The 3 A’s – access, attention and affordability. Patients have regular access to their physician for questions, appointments, emails, even texts. They don’t wait in waiting rooms for appointments where the physician is overbooked and running behind. Many offices draw labs and dispense medications for their own patients right from their offices. Last, the pricing for this model is affordable and transparent. Average monthly membership fees are about the same as a health club membership or a cell phone bill.
What is typically included in a monthly membership with Healthy Values, Direct Primary Care?
All contact with the doctor is included in the monthly membership fee (in person or video appointments, texts, emails, phone calls). Additionally, many in office tests such as urinalysis, strep tests, pregnancy tests are included as well. Some office medications such as steroid injections or anti-inflammatory medicines are also covered. Additionally , some office procedures such as wart removal, ear irrigation or skin lesion removals or laceration repairs are also covered.
What are some of the challenges that come with owning your own business?
Learning new tasks that I’m not used to doing myself and the immense amount of multitasking required to own my own medical practice – those are my biggest challenges with owning my own practice.
The holidays are coming! What is your favorite family activity to do in the Greater Lansing area?
Cutting down our Christmas tree at Anna Lovisa Tree Farm in Bath with whichever kids we can have join us! We also always like to take a trip down to the State Capitol to see the beautiful Christmas tree there.
What are a few of your favorite restaurants & shops to visit in Greater Lansing?
I have lots of favorite restaurants! Altu’s Ethiopian is a favorite as well as Swagath Cuisine for Indian food. I also love Jolly Pumpkin in downtown East Lansing and The People’s Kitchen in Lansing and McAlister’s Deli in Eastwood Town Center. I think The Daily Bagel on Washington has the best bagels in town and I also love Maru and Sansu in East Lansing for sushi. Last, I think Taste of Thai is the best Thai food restaurant in the area.
Some of my favorite things to do as far shopping goes is to go to the East Lansing Art Fair in May and the MSU Arts and Crafts shows in May and December. I also love the Greater Lansing Potters Guild bi annual sale. I’m not artistic myself but I’m a great one for buying other people’s creations!
What is something you wish would come to the Greater Lansing area?
It’s coming! Trader Joe’s opens in East Lansing in spring 2023! And Hall 224 – the new performance space that will be coming into downtown Lansing is very exciting for concerts in a smaller venue. I’m excited for that.
Now some FUN ones! 5 Fun Facts about you!
1.I love tea and don’t drink coffee but love the smell
2. I love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and go there as often as possible
3. I love to run for exercise. I ran cross country and track in college at University of Notre Dame and you will see me running around campus at MSU nearly every Saturday morning
4. I love flowers and planting stuff in my yard. I also love pulling weeds because it’s a great stress reliever. The weeds can’t fight back or talk to me!
5. If it’s a sunny day, I’m happy. I don’t care if it’s 20 below zero or 100 degrees. And I love Michigan’s change of seasons.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me time”?
Watch British shows on PBS or a series on Netflix
Last one – Who would you say was the most influential mentor in your life or in your business?
Professional – probably my father. He was a solo attorney practicing law in my hometown of Battle Creek. He worked with his clients on wills, estates, trusts, etc. He really prided himself on being caring and conscientious. He formed really strong relationships with his clients but he was also very independent and liked making his own decisions and running his own business.
While I chose not to go into law, I feel like I’ve made a lot of my practice decisions based on his example. I feel like we have the same skill set when it comes to how we approach our work and what we value about our client/patient relationships.
Personally, I would have to credit my husband Jim with being my mentor. We have known each other since high school and will be married 30 years in 2023. He has always been extremely supportive of me with regards to all aspects of my life. He’s also always given me great advice and often provides me with a better idea of how to handle situations than I come up with on my own.
If I picked three words to describe him they would be – kind, honest and hard working. Who doesn’t want to emulate those qualities?
Thank you for joining us, Dr. Blaising Wallace! If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Amy Blaising Wallace or exploring the Direct Primary Care model at Healthy Values Direct Primary Care, please see below.
Ways for you to connect with Dr. Wallace
Instagram – healthyvaluesdpc
Facebook – Amy Blaising Wallace, D.O., Healthy Values Direct Primary Care
LinkedIn – Amy Blaising Wallace
Email – [email protected]
Website – healthyvaluesdpc.com