Friday, September 30, 2022

Williamsburg couple brings back old-fashioned medical visits with new practice

Christina and Jake Munch have opened Defiant Direct Primary Care in Williamsburg to provide a closer doctor-patient relationship. (WYDaily/Courtesy Christina Munch)
Christina and Jake Mutch have opened Defiant Direct Primary Care in Williamsburg to provide a closer doctor-patient relationship. (WYDaily/Courtesy Christina Munch)

Two doctors are bringing a new type of practice to Williamsburg that focuses more on doctor-patient relationships and less on insurance requirements.

When Jake and Christina Mutch first met as kinesiology health science students at William & Mary, they were like many aspiring young physicians—with bright eyes and dreams that they would connect with their patients. 

But after graduating from William & Mary and attending graduate school, they quickly realized the typical doctor’s office experience wasn’t what they wanted to provide for their future patients.

“So we are both family physicians and working in the traditional health care system and we were frustrated with the quality of care we could provide in that system,” Christina Mutch said. 

She said many patients are familiar with the story: You make an appointment weeks in advance, sit in waiting rooms for an hour, see the doctor for about seven minutes and then get hit with a confusing patient bill.

During a wilderness emergency medical technician course in New Hampshire, the Mutches were turned onto the idea of becoming doctors of osteopathic medicine by the program director. Doctors of osteopathic medicine are fully licensed physicians who have a more holistic approach to medicine, with emphasis on the full-body treatment. 

That means while the physicians do prescribe pills and medication, they also put an emphasis on full-body health practices such as sleep, nutrition and mindfulness.

“So we get extra training in [the musculoskeletal system] that we learn on top of the traditional medicine model,” Christina Mutch said. “Our main tenant is that mind, body and spirit are all connected to treat the person as a whole.”

The pair eventually graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and when thinking about where to open their new practice, they looked back to where they first met: Williamsburg. 

“We love the happy medium of a small town vibe that’s in Williamsburg and we just fell in love with the community,” she said. “We love it and we’re looking forward to being here for a long time.”

But the Mutches didn’t want to bring just any type of medical practice to the area. They wanted something that would provide patients with a more direct and deep connection to their doctors which is why the pair opened a direct primary care office, Defiant Direct Primary Care.

A direct primary care medical practice means patients don’t have to deal with the hassle of health insurance, Jake Mutch said. Instead, patients pay a membership fee and have access to as many doctor visits as they want without the long wait times or speedy appointments.

Without the restrictions of insurance, the practice doesn’t get paid by appointment so the physicians can take longer with patients and really get to know them in order to better treat them. This model of health care also allows physicians to attend to house calls if needed, such as for a parent of four children who might find it difficult to schedule an appointment.

Because of those benefits and flexibility, the Munches expect it will result in patients coming in for health needs sooner as opposed to waiting until the last minute.

The model also means the physicians are working with a smaller patient pool than practices that work with health insurance companies, which is why there are less wait times and a more intimate relationship with the care provider.

“We’re trying to eliminate barriers to good care,” Jake Mutch said. “This current system is difficult to understand and direct care in our practice is about realigning that doctor-patient relationship.”

The Mutches said the model of health care is taking off as many medical students look to providing a different level of care for their patients. They wanted to bring the service to Williamsburg so patients could have the option of health care without the hassle of insurance.

“It’s going to make family medicine through direct primary care more popular,” Jake Mutch said. “I think once you show what family medicine can be, and show a viable mom and pop family practice again, that will revive that old fashioned doctor-patient relationship.”

Defiant Direct Primary Care opened this month at 2225 S. Henry St. To learn more, visit the practice online.

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Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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