Listen up: When a patient finally feels heard
In April 2017, Williamsburg resident Sandra Magda Elk had blood drawn to check on her thyroid. For nearly two decades, she had experienced problems with how the gland functioned and regularly had it tested. This time the results were significant: Sandra had Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid.
“I wasn’t surprised when I heard,” says Sandra, a 48-year-old, stay-at-home mom of three, “and it was only discovered by Amy Harrelson.”
Sandra had sensed that things weren’t right with her previous tests.
“I found Amy Harrelson and knew right away when I went to her office that she'd be great,” Sandra remembers. “Everyone was so nice, and Amy really looked at my records. “I got more labs done, and it was then that Amy shared with me my life-changing results.”
Physician Assistant Harrelson, part of Sentara Internal Medicine Physicians at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, works to put patients at ease and build trust.
“I always strive to treat people inside and outside of the clinic as I would want to be treated,” says Amy, who is Board-certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. “I want patients to know that I respect their concerns and questions by being engaged in their visit.”
She helped Sandra arrange her Endocrinology visits to help manage her Thyroid.
“Until then, I kept hearing ‘you’re being monitored,’ but I felt worse and worse,” says Sandra. “When I met with the endocrinologist with Amy’s support, I learned that my thyroid had been unmanaged since 2011, and I had thyroid cancer.”
Surgeons removed Sandra’s thyroid, and she has recovered well. In addition to several specialists, she continues to see Amy to monitor her health and manage supplements and medication.
“I requested to see Amy monthly,” says Sandra. “She listens to me and explains everything thoroughly. I’ve recommended her to all of my family members and my friends.”