The Doctor is IN the House!
In the greater Rehoboth area, there are well-established and well-respected systems of doctors and medical services. These groups care for hundreds of patients each day. Other physicians in the area operate more independently.
Behind the scenes, there is a movement afoot in the medical world to establish practices that reduce or eliminate the need for, and dependence upon, insurance coverage. Known as Direct Primary Care (DPC), there is one practitioner who has introduced this model to the greater Rehoboth Beach area.
Christine Degnon, MD, MPH—Dr. Chris to many of her patients—has recently opened a new office, Coastal DPC, at 1409 Savannah Road, Lewes, after a year and a half in a nearby location. At Coastal DPC, her patients know the care and skill she brings to the various medical challenges she encounters each day. People who enroll in DPC with Dr. Chris no longer have to be concerned about restricting their phone calls to the hours the office is open. While not quite 24/7, Dr. Chris does make herself available to patients outside of regular office time.
For example, a patient suffered a serious wasp sting on a Saturday. He called the practice and Dr. Chris met him at the office to treat the allergic reaction he was having. This helped him avoid a trip to the emergency room, and there was no extra charge, as he is an enrolled patient in Coastal DPC. While many may hesitate to consider direct primary care for their medical treatment, the model can work remarkably well.
According to Dr. Richard Samuel, an experienced DPC physician, DPC is a medical model in which “the physician provides the patient with medical care without any insurance....The physician sets a fixed fee for medical care and the patient pays this charge to the physician. In exchange, the physician provides medical care whenever the need arises, including on the weekend and after hours for urgent matters. In most direct primary care practices there are no co-pays or additional charges, and the set fee covers all medical services and procedures provided by the physician.”
Dr. Chris came to the Lower Slower region from McAllen, Texas. Her former practice in Texas was a primary care practice for transgender patients. Of transgender people, Dr. Chris stated, “When you’ve met one, you’ve met one.” This speaks to the diverse medical and emotional needs that trans patients face, each unique to themselves.
She has been reaching out to the LGBTQ community in her practice. In the Lewes/Rehoboth area, Dr. Chris has become active with PFLAG, as she seeks to know the particular concerns that queer residents here face. “I want to let people know my office is a judgment-free zone and a safe place to receive quality primary care, delivered with compassion. I want my patients, and potential patients, to know I am an ally and an advocate.”
In addition to meeting patients in off-hours, Dr. Chris also goes to bat for her patients in negotiating lower lab prices and prescription costs. And when Dr. Chris welcomes a new patient to her practice, the initial visit is two hours long.
Monthly fees for Dr. Chris’s patients are based on age and range from $25 to $100 per month. The monthly charge for patients 100 years of age or older is even lower.
A final—personal—note about Dr. Chris Degnon: she has two dogs, Trudy and Daisy. Trudy is a Malinois and Daisy is a boxer/black lab mix, both rescues. Dr. Chris is a caring provider to these two canines, and she is a caring medical provider to both queer and straight people in Southern Delaware. ▼
Disclaimers: Everyone should consider all factors before choosing to change family physicians. This article is written as an introduction to Dr. Chris as an advocate for healthy living by all LGBTQ persons and their families, and is not intended to endorse her services over those of other health care providers practicing in the region. The author is not a patient of Dr. Chris.
David Garrett is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult transdaughter. Email David Garrrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.