Episode 79: Dr. Natalie Gentile & Dr. Kirsten Lin of Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh - PA

Updated: May 8

Direct Primary Care Doctors, Managed Services Organization


The Doctors of Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh
Dr. Kirsten Lin & Dr. Natalie Gentile

Dr. Kirsten Lin was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area and currently lives in the North Hills with her family. She graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as well as a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She went on to receive her M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and then completed her internship and residency in Family Medicine at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital.

Dr. Lin previously practiced medicine in Western PA for 12 years as an employee of large health systems, where she did not feel able to provide the best possible care for her patients. As a result, in October 2017, Dr. Lin opened Family Matters Direct Primary Care (Family Matters DPC) in Hampton Township, where she provides affordable, personalized healthcare without all the red tape.

Dr. Lin is also a regional lecturer and has been featured on various radio programs, educating healthcare workers as well as the general public about Direct Primary Care services and care options.

Dr. Natalie Gentile (she/her) is board-certified in both Family Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine. She is a proud Pittsburgh native from Mt. Lebanon and is grateful to serve the community through the direct primary care model. As an attending physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, she saw that the current primary care model in the US lacks continuity, access, and time with patients. Therefore, when she moved back to Pittsburgh, she opened Gentile Family Direct Primary Care, and is now a co-founder, with Dr. Kirsten Lin, of the Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh.


She enjoys the work-life balance that being a DPC doc allows, and loves spending time with her husband and their two young children. Dr. G is a yoga and fitness instructor who works closely with the Walk at Home program as an instructor and now teaches at the Walk Run Lift® Studio in the Strip District. Through her work with Walk with a Doc, she leads the Highland Park chapter that has been active since Spring 2020. She is also a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Carlow College Occupational Therapy program and is on the Board for Plant Based Pittsburgh.

Dr. G is regularly engaged in educating the community through social media and was nominated as one of City Paper's Best Changemakers in 2021.


The opened the nation’s first DPC specific MSO and a celebration of the doctor-patient relationship and physician autonomy.


They started Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh in Jan 2022.


 


The Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh



 



 


LINKS/RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

- The Partnership Charter Book

- Dr. Gentile's Season 1 My DPC Story Interview HERE

- The Walk At Home Program

- Walk With A Doc


CONTACT:

email: admin@directcarepgh.com

website is directcarepgh.com


SOCIALS:

@directcarepgh

@nataliegentilemd

 

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Transcript*


Welcome to the podcast Dr. Gentilly


and Dr. Lynn, thanks so much.


This is so exciting. It's wonderful. Dr. Gentilly to welcome you back to the podcast and Dr. Lynn, it's wonderful to hear a new voice and another story out there on the airwaves for everyone to hear and appreciate.


So, Dr. Genteel, they wanted to start with you for those who have not yet listened to your podcast from last season, when you shared your story. It was so powerful because as a family medicine physician, I really related to , somebody telling you that family medicine, wasn't really the way to go if if you wanted to really have a, a really good medical career.


So could you please share for the listeners who may or may have not have heard your previous interview a little bit about your history and how you ended up opening your DBC in Pittsburgh?


Yeah. So thanks so much for having us back I never knew much about family medicine. So I grew up in Pittsburgh and around here, family med is not really celebrated as much as specialists and internists and going to Pitt med was an amazing experience.


But again, there wasn't a lot of experience in family medicine through our training. So I fortunately had some wonderful mentors there who really supported me through that journey when I fell in love with family medicine and kind of helped me get through that and sludge through that. But there were a lot of pushback along the way.


And what I found so incredible and still do every single day about family med is we can do so much, but I did a recent post on social media about what a family doc can do if we're given the time to do it because our scope is so broad, our training is so broad and there's so much we can do. But in the traditional system, unfortunately with limited time and a referral heavy model, you don't get to do the things that you've been trained in.


So I went to Mayo clinic for my residency and family med was really celebrated out in the Midwest, which was cool. I was able to be in kind of a different environment where family docs are doing C-sections, you know, a couple hours north of where I was a resident. And so it was definitely something I wasn't used to seeing, but then, you know, now back in Pittsburgh and really just, you know, educating the community about what all a family doc can do takes regular work.


It takes regular community education. So after I was on staff at Mayo clinic for a couple of years it was time to move home back to Pittsburgh. And I was offered a couple of different jobs by the bigger systems. That seemed like dream job on paper, especially like doing lifestyle medicine and some bigger settings that would have been really cool.


But I fortunately had a mentor who said, you know, I don't think that you're going to be able to practice the way. I want to practice with that continuity with that time with patients and really talking a lot about one lifestyle and preventative care as well. So that's when I learned about direct primary care.


And it was so funny. I went to the DPC summit and was like, this is amazing. This is amazing. And it's sitting in front of me was a, there was a table of a few different docs and I could see over one of their shoulders, like what looked like an emblem for, I think it was Allegheny health network.


Like it was an implement I was familiar with. I was like, if that person from Pittsburgh, then I super awkwardly after was like, are you guys from Pittsburgh? And it turns out that Dr. Kiersten Lynn was one of the people sitting at that table right in front of me. So, you know, we connected then, and for that following year, actually from Minnesota, I formed by DPC so that when we moved back home to Pittsburgh, I hit the ground running and open Gentilly family director.


Incredible. And yeah, but when you talk about the time, the time that we are limited by in fee for service, it's amazing. I was just listening to the American family physician podcast the other day, and they were talking about HPV and HPV vaccines and how to advise your patients. And one of the, one of the hosts made a joke.


Yeah. Like we're supposed to do that in a 20 minute visit. And it's it really highlighted, you know, on a, on a major podcast about family medicine, how ridiculous it is to try to build a relationship with your patients, where you have the time and the patients have the time to ask questions and to feel, that the doctors really looking out for them, on a continuous basis, Just incredible that you, that you have that journey.


And thankfully you, you know, you, you did notice Dr. Lynn at that conference, so wonderful. Thank you so much again for sharing your story and, you know, Dr. Lynn, I'd love to hear, your story as to how you even ended up at that conference that you met. Dr. Jensen.


Yeah, absolutely. So, I went to the same medical school as Dr. Gentilly which was at university of Pittsburgh, but I was there about 10 years before she was. And so I, I graduated from there.


There were four of us that went into family medicine out of 150. So that kind of gives you some idea of the family medicine culture there at in the city of Pittsburgh. But in any case, I did stay in Pittsburgh to do my residency at St. Margaret, which was a wonderful place. It was completely run by family medicine docs, and we were the only residents there except for some surgery residents that came in.


So it was a very great experience and. Then after that I stayed in the Pittsburgh area and I practiced for about 12 years. And what you have to understand about Pittsburgh is that we have two major health systems and they're both owned by health insurance covers. So, you know, the conflict of interest there is just at a, at a grand scale.


And it's very difficult to practice medicine in that context. So I was there for about 12 years, like I said, practicing medicine and you know, just like everybody else, it's the, it's the 10 minute appointments seeing 25 patients a day, not having time for my own lunch, you know, those kinds of things, not seeing your kids at night because you're, you're writing your notes and all that.


But the straw that really broke the camel's back for me was that I looked at my schedule one. And I noticed that there was a patient who was a pretty elderly patient with a new cancer diagnosis. And I wanted to add some additional time for that patient. And I found out that I was unable to do that through my own software.


So I went to the office manager. She was unable to do it. So I kind of went up the ranks and I ended up speaking with the vice president of that health system who said to me, actual quote from this woman physicians, can't be trusted to manage their own schedules. And it was at that moment that in my head, I'm thinking, okay, so physicians can be trusted to save your life.


If you're in a car accident, physicians can be trusted to manage your diabetes and all kinds of other things, but can't be, they can't be trusted to manage our own schedules. And it was that moment that I said something is the matter here. And as it turned out, a friend of mine was familiar with direct primary care model.


I had never heard of it, of course and encouraged me to look into it. And the more I read about it and learned about it I realized this is, this is what I need to do. I can't, I can't stay in this other model anymore. So I opened my DPC practice in 2017 and I think I was. Almost a year into it. When I had met Natalie at that DPC summit, the following summer and I was loving life.


I mean, it's, it's like a, it's like a light switch where you, you know, the light turns on and you, you have time to be with your patients, you have the autonomy, you can really have that doctor patient relationship. And it was awesome. And it hasn't been for the past five plus years.


Incredible. And I just, I know that some people listening are still just in disbelief, that that is what that administrator told you, you know, for the people that are listening, just to give you a clue like Natalie and I are just like, are you freaking kidding me?


We have that look on our face. That's just, it's disgusting. It's absolutely disgusting. Cause I'm sorry. You were the one who went to medical school, you know, that's, that's where this whole. Issue with autonomy and physicians having the ability to practice medicine, the way we went to medical school to practice medicine it, it really truly matters.


And so congratulations to both of you for realizing that and for being part of this amazing ecosystem. So I want to jump from there to early in the pandemic, when vaccinations were hard to find who was to be vaccinated was, you know, very, was very restrictive and access to vaccines as independent doctors versus a big healthcare system was also limiting access for your patients.


So, that's at least the first time that I had seen the two of you together in terms of coming together and a call to action on social media. But can you bring us back to that time and share with the audience about how you guys started collaborating?


So just to give a little bit of background at, at that time Kiersten practice is maybe 15 minutes up the road from mine. And we, up to that point definitely had met several times and knew each other and collide, you know, collaborated in a leaning on each other, like running cases by each other kind of thing.


And you know, we're starting to work occasionally together, I would say. And then we really, the vaccine debacle, I think we'll call it really unfolded, but the rollout in our states was incredibly Rocky and it came to be about late November, early December of 2020 when we were. I know fortunate enough to, to have the ability to apply, to get vaccine and Kiersten applied on behalf of her practice, but to include all of us, other DPC docs, if possible, to have access to the vaccine so we could give people vaccines.


Well, what was going on in our city with the restrictions on who could get it is you could be working in a major health system and by virtue of being an employee there, like maybe an accountant working from home at that time, you had access to the vaccine. But for those of us who were physically seeing patients face to face with them are independent physical therapists mental health counselors, anybody who was seeing patients, if you were independent, though, you didn't qualify.