A Family Passion for Primary Care
"We grew up at the kitchen table talking about medicine," Mrs. Laurie McManus, registered nurse and practice manager at CP & RP McManus, MD, recalls. "Going into health care was very natural for us. You might say medicine runs through our blood." Laurie and her husband, Dr. Chris McManus, both grew up with parents in the medical profession and learned at an early age about the value of improving people's health. Today, they work together to care for patients at the small primary care practice founded by Chris' parents in Arlington, Virginia.
At CP & RP McManus, Chris and Laurie continue a legacy that began in 1961. That's when Chris' dad, Reginald (affectionately known as "Dr. Reg"), and his mom, Kathleen, opened the practice. Now in his 80s, Reginald still sees patients there four days a week.
"I still tell people the story of talking to my dad when I was young—long before the ages of CT scans and MRIs—asking him how he could figure out what was making people sick when he couldn't look inside them," Chris recalls. "My dad said, 'You just have to ask the right questions and they'll tell you.'"
The McManuses currently work with two medical assistants and an additional nurse practitioner to care for a diverse patient population in their booming Washington, DC, suburb in Northern Virginia. The practice has been caring for many families since the '60s, and a growing number of their patients are young professionals. This patient mix of young, middle age, and older adults reflects how Arlington has changed over the years, as shops, restaurants and Metrorail stations have moved in, attracting more millennials to the area. Many of the older patients know the McManuses well, and the younger patients report feeling at home in the warm, friendly atmosphere of the family-run practice.
This comfort level helps build strong patient-provider relationships, allowing the team to get to the root of tough medical problems. "We take the time to listen to what our patients' concerns are, because so many times, they'll tell us other factors that are going on in their lives that affect their health," says Laurie. "For example, a little chest pain experienced by an 85-year-old could be caused by several factors," explains Chris. "It could be related to an argument he had with his wife, anxiety, or something life-threatening." Establishing trust with their patients and treating the whole person helps catch health issues early.
The McManus legacy extends far beyond being a father-son practice. A lot of their patients remember Chris as a child, and many have seen his and Laurie's own kids grow up, too. Their four adult children have each helped the practice, from working in the front office to modernizing the practice's computer systems.
The McManuses' commitment to improving the quality of care complements their method of treating the whole person, not just a specific ailment, by asking the right questions—an approach Chris believes is becoming rare in a health care landscape that frequently sends patients to specialists too early. He'd like to see a resurgence in intimate patient care in the primary care profession, and he takes pride in identifying and preventing difficult health problems by getting involved early.
This story is courtesy of Heart of Virginia Healthcare, the EvidenceNOW Virginia Cooperative.