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Offset the Symptoms of the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder

As winter approaches, some people experience the “winter blues,” feeling sad from shorter days, climbing into bed earlier, and not ready to wake up on dark mornings. 

“Winter blues” are different from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), a type of depression related to the change in seasons. SAD begins and ends at the same time every year.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 5% of adults in the U.S. experience SAD whereas 10% to 20% of people may get a milder form of the winter blues. SAD affects women more than men and it tends to start in young adulthood.

The most common form of SAD occurs in winter, although some people do experience symptoms during spring and summer.

Signs and symptoms of fall and winter SAD may include:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Crave comfort foods such as carbs and sugar. 
  • Problems with sleeping (usually oversleeping) and weight gain due to feelings of extreme fatigue and low energy.
It is normal to have some days when you feel down, but if you feel down for more than a few days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, you should consider seeing a doctor.

Do not seek to diagnose yourself as you may have another reason for your depression. With Direct Primary Care, you have longer appointment times with your provider, allowing for a full evaluation to consider your pattern of symptoms as many times, SAD is part of a more complex health issue. 

There are treatments for seasonal depression. If you have any type of depression, talk to your primary care provider, they are there to help.

Direct Primary Care Can Help With Holiday Health Problems

Let us make sure that health concerns don’t take over your celebrations.

The holidays are a time of celebration, but they also come with certain health hazards. Whether it’s an injury during decorating or increased blood pressure from excess food, you need to be careful this holiday season. We’ve outlined 3 common health problems that may arise during the holidays and how we can help you stay safe and merry this holiday season.

1. Excessive Stress

The holiday season can be stressful due to the expense of gifts, food, and the pressure of meeting everyone’s expectations. You may think that being stressed is okay, but prolonged stress can affect both your physical and mental health. The season can be especially difficult if you’re already struggling with a mental illness like anxiety or depression. Many people go undiagnosed with depression and can feel helpless during the holidays because they don’t know why they feel the way they do. 

With Direct Primary Care, you can work with your provider to know your triggers and assist you through the holiday season. For instance, if you recognize that having your entire family around will put you on edge, you can plan for a few small gatherings rather than one big one.

When you can prepare for the holiday season, you can lower the possibility of high-stress situations. 

Here are a few tips from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that you can try to help you to reduce holiday stress:

  • Accept your feelings
  • Maintain healthy habits
  • Set boundaries
  • Make time to connect

2. Accidents and Injuries

Many people refer to the holidays as the most wonderful time of the year, but from Thanksgiving into the new year, there tends to be a sharp increase in accidents and injuries associated with the holidays. Injuries range from falls during decorating to strained back or neck from excessive bending and lifting, cuts from unwrapping gifts or preparing food or other food, or alcohol-related injuries. 

Many of these can be avoided with preparation and not getting distracted. In the case that you do hurt yourself, Direct Primary Care provides access to your provider and unlimited access to our 24/7 urgent care. Whether you are taking preventative measures or are already feeling some soreness, our providers can help you prevent further injuries this holiday season.

3. Spikes in Chronic Diseases

Temptations of alcohol, rich dishes, chocolate, and candy are everywhere during the holidays.  If you are living with a chronic disease like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, and more, your symptoms may increase during the festivities. Not sticking to your exercise routine and letting up on your healthy diet can be a risk when you have a chronic health condition. 

As the holidays approach, Exemplar Care’s Direct Primary Care providers can help you practice preventative care and make sure you are prepared for the holidays.

We offer health exams and blood work to let you know abour your current condition and what risks you should look out for. With a clear understanding of your health and nutritional goals, you can plan for some healthy alternatives to supply at your celebration and know exactly what you should and shouldn’t indulge in.

Those with otherwise healthy hearts can develop an irregular heartbeat, known as a “holiday heart” which causes an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (the most common type of heart arrhythmia). This is a serious condition and if you feel that your heart is racing during the holidays or you have shortness of breath, seek medical assistance. 

As long as you are prepared to take care of yourself, you will have a great holiday season. With Direct Primary Care, your provider is your advocate and is proactive about your health. They will assist you in practicing preventative care. Our providers are available to help make your holidays more fun-filled.

We believe in providing you with personalized care so that you remain as healthy as possible.

If you would like to explore membership options and schedule an initial consultation, give us a call at 515-650-4370 or contact us.

The Difference Between Healthcare and Sickcare 

Reactive versus proactive care

Healthcare is the key term used to define the medical care and services used to treat individuals in a community, (for example, the “healthcare system”) the one-word term is often misinterpreted as health care (two words), which describes the measures taken to focus on, protect, or improve an individual’s overall health. As such, they can be considered singular (health care) and plural (healthcare). 

Sometimes, “healthcare” or “health care” are used in place of the term “sick care” or “sickcare,” which is more accurate depending on the context.

The U.S. consistently spends more on healthcare than any other country and is among the least healthy of nations. Traditional healthcare in the U.S. focuses on treating a person only after they’ve become sick or injured earning the name sick care.

With a system that focuses primarily on the sick, what change could be made if we focused on keeping the healthy, healthy? 

Ideal healthcare would look at the direct, underlying cause rather than just the symptom, as well as focusing on keeping the healthy population healthy. On top of that, health care should focus on all areas of your life including your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This is known as a prevention model because it aims to include efforts to interfere with the disease process, pinpoint potential problems, and prevent issues before they become serious problems. 

In practice, sick care focuses on stopping you from getting worse and making you feel better rather than necessarily correcting the cause of the problem.

By focusing on only one or two aspects of overall health care, sick care is not a proactive practice as it rarely moves you back towards health and prevent the problem from occurring again. 

To establish and maintain good overall health, we can take many proactive – or preventative – steps such as exercise, a healthy diet, and reducing or eliminating the consumption of harmful substances.

With Direct Primary Care (DPC), our providers take time to get to know our members and seek to understand the direct, underlying cause of their health concerns rather than just the symptom. Through DPC we practice health care that focuses on all areas of your life including your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

A focus on prevention does not imply that there will be no disease or symptoms, but it does embrace the idea of extending each individual’s disease-free lifespan and working alongside our members to advocate and promote their health. 

If your current healthcare isn’t focused on prevention, then it’s sick care, not health care!

To learn more about making the shift from sick care to health care contact Exemplar Care or call 515-650-4370 to learn more about our Direct Primary Care membership.

Handwashing Helps Prevent Spread of Infectious Diseases

Personal hygiene begins and ends with your hands

With RSV, flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses on the rise again, it is important to be properly washing your hands at the correct times to prevent sickness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call hand washing “a do-it-yourself vaccine” and suggest you remember the five steps that have a lot of science behind them.

  1. Wet hands with clean running water.
  2. Lather soap to cover the front and back of hands.
  3. Scrub the backs of your hands,  between the fingers, and under the nails. 
  4. Rinse your hands with clean water.
  5. Dry your hands completely using a clean towel.

Key Times to Wash Hands

As children, we are taught to wash our hands before dinner.  It is important to remember that germs don’t care what time of day it is. Clean hands prevent sickness, so it’s important to learn the basics of hand hygiene. According to the CDC, the key times to wash your hands are:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching the garbage

Handwashing is only one part of hand hygiene as looking after your skin is important as it is your most effective barrier against infection. After your hands have been dried, you can look after them by applying water-absorbent hand cream and using gloves when washing dishes, gardening, or managing chemicals. 

If you become sick or develop skin irritation, consult a doctor.

We are always open and available to discuss your health. 


More Personable and More Accessible Primary Care

What are the different ways to contact your provider at Exemplar Care?

At Exemplar Care, we are offering a better way to gain access to the health care you deserve. There is a different and better way to do primary care than calling for an appointment, waiting in the waiting room, and only seeing your provider for five to ten minutes. If you become a member of Exemplar Care you will receive personable care whenever and from wherever you are.


With Direct Primary Care, you don’t have to see your healthcare provider in person, yet we know many prefer this option and at times in-person is necessary. When your provider needs to examine you for whatever reason, doing so in person is usually easier. We like to build relationships with our members and our first consultation of one hour allows a good foundation on which to build our relationship with you and understand your personal healthcare needs. 

Based on their need or situation, many of our members are looking for convenient ways to connect with their provider and they can connect with their Exemplar Care provider through any of the following means of communication. Our providers will communicate with you in whichever form suits your needs. 

Face-to-Face in Telehealth Virtual Chat

This is second to being with your provider in person but allowing you to connect with your provider that knows you and your health history. Virtual visits were useful and became popular during COVID-19 and offer a face-face option from the comfort of your home when you are feeling unwell or if you live far away from the clinic. Virtual visits allow you to receive personable quality healthcare from your provider. Learn more about how telehealth visits work or contact us at Exemplar Care to learn more. 

Over the Phone

Sometimes, our members have questions that require a little medical advice. There are multiple questions that you can ask your healthcare provider over the phone. This is an excellent choice for busy people and our providers are happy to help answer your questions. There are times that you may need to visit the clinic or provide additional details to provide treatment and our providers will communicate this with you. 

Via Email or Text Message or through the Portal

If you have a question or need advice that is not time-sensitive, text messages, emails, or portal messages are an ideal way to communicate with your provider.

No matter how you prefer to communicate, our Direct Primary Care team is happy to accommodate our members. Our goal is to provide personal quality care that meets our members whenever and wherever they are.

If you are interested in learning more about Direct Primary Care membership at Exemplar Care, please contact us. 

Emphasis on Individualized Care Leads Wild Rose to Exemplar Care

Assistance during COVID encourages the establishment of long-term partnership  

The summer of 2020 marked the height of uncertainty about COVID-19. While some businesses were beginning to return to relatively normal operations, there was still plenty of confusion about what to do if—or when—a staff member tested positive for the virus.

It was July when that very scenario hit the corporate offices of Wild Rose Casino in West Des Moines. A team member had a suspected case of COVID-19 and Tom Timmons, President of Wild Rose, says that he was encouraged to contact Exemplar Care to assist with effectively managing the situation.

“It was such a new thing that we weren’t sure the steps we needed to take,” Timmons says, looking back. Exemplar Care provided testing and recommendations for quarantine for staff. Throughout the process, Timmons says he felt like he had a partner in the Exemplar Care team, which led him to further explore their Direct Primary Care and Urgent Care offerings.

Impressed with Exemplar Care’s approach, Tom transferred his primary care to Dr. Jon Van Der Veer at Exemplar Care.

“He is so personable, and I appreciate the way he takes his time with me in my appointments,” Timmons says. “It is never rushed. He has gotten to know me and that is important to me.”

In addition to transferring his personal care to Exemplar Care, Timmons also added coverage to the benefits offerings of the Wild Rose corporate office. He says the business development team at Exemplar Care made it easy for Wild Rose to make the offering to its employees.

Employees who select the benefit have full access to Exemplar Care’s suite of services, including, unlimited primary and urgent care visits; unlimited email, phone, telemedicine/video or in-person access to providers; no copays or per-visit fees, even in urgent care; same-day appointments; annual screening labs; access to reduced-price lab work, medications and radiology services; and the longer appointments featuring wellness coaching and guidance that impressed Tom so much in his initial visit.

And that’s not all. Exemplar Care also offers a number of extras that Tom says he appreciates. That includes bringing services like flu shot clinics to Wild Rose’s corporate headquarters.

“It was simple for us to do,” Timmons says of adding the Exemplar Care benefit. “After seeing firsthand the level of care they provide, it was an easy decision to make. We are a relatively small corporate team so to be able to offer access to such a high level of both primary and urgent care is a big benefit for staff.”

How Direct Primary Care Can Assist You To Better Manage Diabetes

If you are diagnosed with a chronic health condition such as diabetes, you generally have a lot of questions for your doctor such as treatment options, lifestyle changes, other health complications, and where to go to learn more. Many people find it increasingly difficult to gather enough information from their provider, due to short visits with no access to a provider outside of in-clinic appointments, small changes can go unnoticed and can lead to more serious problems.

Direct primary care providers can often tackle chronic health conditions more thoroughly and with better long-term results, simply because they have the time available to truly listen to their patients and investigate all symptoms. 

Diabetes management requires awareness and is measured by how well you can control your blood sugar. Therefore, it is important to know what makes your blood sugar level rise and fall and you need to know how to control these day-to-day factors. Having direct access to your provider at Exemplar Care, allows you to contact them directly when questions arise and get a timely response. From diet education to exercise recommendations to medication monitoring, your provider will not only address your diabetes but also maintain the rest of your health. As one of our members, Ken, states “there’s time that we can actually talk about what’s going on in my life and think about the different factors that come into play for me as a diabetic..”

When it comes to successfully treating a chronic condition such as diabetes, nothing beats the personalized attention of a direct primary care physician. DPC allows providers to truly get to know their patients. Our goal is to restore a positive and trustworthy relationship between providers and patients. 

For more information on how direct primary care can help you, contact us at or call us at 515-650-4370.

Podcast: CDC vaccine schedule for children: what it means

Dr. Jon Van Der Veer explains the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimous vote to add the COVID vaccine to childhood vaccine schedules. He answers that that means, when it could take effect, and why he made the decision to vaccinate his children. He also explains why he believes mandates shouldn’t be considered.

Listen to the postcast >

Raising awareness about lung cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer (not counting skin cancer). In men, prostate cancer is most common, while in women breast cancer is more common. 

Lung cancer is when the cells in your lungs grow out of control. It can begin in the lungs and spread to other parts of the body. 

Lung cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms in its early stages. Many of the signs and symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions but finding lung cancer early can mean that it’s easier to treat. So, if you notice any symptoms or changes, get them checked out by your primary care provider as soon as possible.

Symptoms of lung cancer may include:

  • A persistent cough that doesn’t go away
  • Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Hoarseness or wheezing
  • Swelling in the neck and face
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason

How can you reduce your risk of lung cancer?

There are many factors that can determine your risk of developing lung cancer. We have listed key ones below:

  • Smoking. This is the number one cause of lung cancer. Your risk increases with the more cigarettes you smoke a day. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you’ve smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies and aids that can help you to stop smoking. 
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. This is linked to causing lung cancer, seek to avoid areas where others smoke as much as possible. 
  • Exposure to radon, asbestos, or other carcinogens. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals. 
  • Genetics. Your family history can assist in determining your risk for lung cancer. 
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. 
  • Exercise regularly. If you don’t exercise regularly, start out slowly. Try to get active most days of the week, even if only by walking. 

If you are concerned about your medical history, family history, or symptoms, visit your primary care provider to discuss your concerns.

Is Direct Primary Care a Good Fit for Your Small Business?

Health coverage is one of the most important employee benefits an employer can offer yet offering health insurance is getting more expensive for businesses. 

So, what does a small business owner do when health insurance seems unrealistic given budget constraints. 

As a small business, you have an opportunity to effectively manage your company’s healthcare costs by embracing direct primary care (DPC). DPC at Exemplar Care, provides your employees with unlimited access to primary and urgent care for an affordable flat monthly fee. 

Reasons Why DPC Would be a Good Fit For Your Business

1. DPC saves you and your employees money.

A DPC membership provides 24/7 access to primary and urgent care for a flat monthly fee. Many employees with no insurance or high-deductible health plans avoid getting the care they need – or struggle with medical bills until their deductibles are met. 

2. Provides access to convenient, timely, local care.

Employees have access to their provider, during regular business hours in person, via text, phone, or telehealth. They also have unlimited access to our 24/7 urgent care. 

3. Promotes a healthier workplace. 

DPC fosters a close provider-patient relationship, which leads to a more personalized health care experience and a healthier and happier employee. DPC membership also removes barriers to care like co-pays or high premiums.

4. Reduces absenteeism and improves productivity. 

When people have the opportunity to take care of acute or chronic conditions, they are going to be healthier and come to work more often. One of the benefits that avoids absences is that providers can even consult with patients via phone (text, email) or telemedicine. This reduces the need for in-person visits during office hours. They can also visit urgent care 24/7 to receive timely care. 

5. DPC Membership has a low cost.

The low cost of DPC membership allows you to create a more competitive benefits packages for your employees while reducing your overheads. 

If you are interested in bringing the option of DPC to your business, we can help.

Contact Us to learn more about Exemplar Care Direct Primary Care memberships and pricing.