Iora Primary Care Spotlight:
Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD
July 28, 2020 | Good Primary Care
At Iora Primary Care, we provide our patients with a whole new kind of care built on genuine relationships that aims to treat the whole health of a person. Team members at Iora work to empower our patients, providing them with the care, advice and insight they need on their journey to better health, happiness and life.
In this interview we speak with a new member of the Iora Primary Care team, Tamaan Osbourne-Roberts, MD, FAAFP.
Tell us about yourself. What was your experience prior to Iora Primary Care?
My parents are both from the Caribbean in Trinidad, they are both immigrants and moved here separately with their families as teenagers. I was born in Guam and moved from Guam to Florida, Long Island, and Mississippi.
I grew up for a little while, went off to college in the Northeast and stayed out there for a few years and then decided… healthcare really is being a physician, that’s what I’m meant to do. So I came back and made the monumental mistake of attending medical school.
Just kidding. From there, I ended up in family medicine. My clinical care has been primarily with underserved communities. Oftentimes with Hispanic communities, Spanish is the primary language for the majority of the patients that I’d be seeing.
I’ve worked anywhere from Trinidad, Colorado to Estes Park to out on the Eastern Plains and Fort Lupton and Frederick, and those areas. I was recently the Chief Medical Officer for Medicaid. That’s what I did immediately before coming to Iora here in Colorado.
What brought you to Iora?
I was exploring Iora as a place to work. And they were exploring me as somebody to hire. Every single person, every time without exception has talked about Iora as a transformational organization that’s working from the ground up. They start from the level of patients and communities and relationships to transform what healthcare is. That’s rare to have dedication all the way from the patient level to the business financing level.
When I got that impression, when I understood what that meant, when I realized it was a real chance to transform, not just policy, but the lives of patients, you know, by having the right ideas, it was a no brainer to really be excited and look for this opportunity and be really happy when I was offered a job.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
I’d say it’s the relationships with patients. In traditional primary care, it’s a hamster wheel. You see somebody, see somebody, see somebody, see somebody.
With the financing and operational models we have, it lets us really understand patients and ensure that we’re doing our best to give them great advice, to build a relationship, to build trust so that we can serve as guides on this life journey.
It’s really great to have an opportunity to have people I work with consistently. We all bring something to the table in regards to the care of the patient. We put it all together and come up with ideas and solutions and help one another out.
Do you have a story you can share about how a close relationship with a patient impacted their health care?
Back in residency, when I was still young, fresh, and idealistic, I had a patient who came to me. He was experiencing issues of heart failure. This kept happening and he’d be in and out of the hospital.
None of his previous physicians had been able to figure out why. I just decided to sit down and I said, “Let me listen to you for a bit.” As I listened, I realized that he had some difficulties with alcohol abuse disorder.
As I listened and worked out the timeline in my head, I realized that would correlate when that was flaring up with when he had heart issues. As a physician, I was able to figure out that the alcohol was actually impacting his heart muscle and causing the problem. Then, it became a longstanding journey after building a relationship. Through listening to him, we got him to a place where he was ready to have treatment for the alcohol use disorder.
We put him on some medications to help, and we continued to help him through some terrible life things that happened. His house had a fire, he was having marital issues, and all sorts of things. But finally, about two and a half years later, right before I was set to graduate, he had stopped drinking alcohol and had managed to maintain it for several months.
We know there are setbacks and we’re here for you. We’re gonna help you with this.
What is your philosophy on good care? How would you define health for seniors?
I would really say that it’s bringing together physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing that involves oneself, one’s community and one’s environment.
It’s not just that the organs are all running, right? It’s not that you’re not having a heart attack or that you’re not having depression or that you’re not having problems with your knees.
It really has to do with creating a life that’s in line with your hopes, your desires, and your values. A good part of that is are all the body parts working, right? A lot of it has to do with your environment and your community.
What are some health tips you’d like to share with seniors?
I would say that it’s important to remember that 70 percent of health on average or more is things that are not necessarily related to medications, surgeries, or procedures.
A lot of it is the things that I say are “simple,” but not easy. It involves working on a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, having appropriate amounts of physical activity, and managing stress. Those four things can account for 70 to 85 percent of health issues.
It’s one of those things that we spend a lot of time on. They’re also topics that are oftentimes the hard things to do. You know, it’s hard to make changes.
If you don’t have physical activity in your routine, where do you fit it in? It’s all those sorts of things, but let us help. Let us find ways; let’s talk.
Let’s work together to see what we can do to help you be the healthiest and be able to live your life the way you’d like.
When you’re not providing care, what do you do in your free time?
I love to cook. I’m big into food. It’s a huge thing for me culturally and professionally as well. I’m actually certifying right now to become a culinary medical specialist.
I like to take Capoeira, which is an Afro-Brazilian art form. I both scuba dive and I free dive. So no tanks as well. That’s been a big part of my life over the past several years. I have climbed 14,000-foot mountains. I have a zest for life.
For another story about one of our Denver area primary care providers, meet Heather Shull, MD.