Spotlight on Michael Israel, M.D., Family Medicine and Interim Chief Medical Officer at Bluestem Health

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Michael Israel, M.D., specializes in family medicine at the Bluestem Health Thompson Clinic. He is no stranger to the Lincoln community having cared for patients at the Thompson Clinic prior to it becoming part of the Bluestem Health organization. Dr. Israel received his Medical Degree from the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine in 2011, and completed his Family Medicine Residency through the Lincoln Medical Education Partnership in Nebraska in 2014. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. He also serves as the Interim Chief Medical Officer at Bluestem Health.

Dr. Israel is committed to the belief that all patients deserve high quality care and have access to services when they need them. For over 60 years, the Thompson Clinic has provided comprehensive primary care in Lincoln. When Dr. Richard Thompson, who is Dr. Israel's father-in-law, decided to retire, the Thompson family wanted to ensure that the services provided at the clinic would continue being offered long after his retirement. That's when the family looked at Bluestem Health as the right partner. 

"Bluestem Health is an excellent fit for us," says Dr. Israel. "Their mission is to care for all patients, to accept all insurances and the uninsured, and to treat everyone equally." At the Bluestem Health Thompson Clinic, Dr. Israel sees patients ranging from babies a few days old to patients 99 years old, and for a variety of general medical issues, from school physicals, diabetes, hypertension, and sinus infection to mole removals and joint injections. While Dr. Israel's goal is to deal with all medical issues as much as possible, there are those instances when he determines a patient needs a different level of care at which point Bluestem Health's team helps coordinate that care. "We see patients that come in routinely, and then we'll see the patient that hasn't seen a physician in 20 years and presents with more complex medical issues. It's very rewarding to work with all different types of patients."

Along with caring for his patients, Dr. Israel is the liaison between Administration and the physicians and other providers in his role as Chief Medical Officer. This involves chart reviews to ensure the best quality care is being given to patients, overseeing the providers and their credentialing process, and being an ambassador to the community on behalf of Bluestem Health. Dr. Israel also serves as the Medical Director at a Lincoln plasma center, works at urgent care facilities across Nebraska, and until recently was the Medical Director at the Lancaster County Corrections facility. The diversity in types of patients he comes in contact with through these different organizations has given him a vast knowledge of medicine. "Sometimes you see different variations of the same thing. You can't teach experience. With medicine changing all the time, you may see something you haven't seen before, then read about it, and then the next time you are better prepared to treat your patients. It's integrated throughout healthcare."

As part of the Lincoln community, Dr. Israel believes Bluestem Health's role in the community will continue to grow as they work to develop an integrated behavioral health model of care that will have a greater impact on those requiring services. With the decreasing number of primary care physicians in the U.S., Bluestem Health is committed to meeting the challenge of making health care accessible to everyone. 

Dr. Israel is married and has two children, ages 9 and 1. When he is not at the clinic, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf and catching the sports action of his two favorite teams: the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals. He also serves on the board of the Lincoln Chapter of the American Cancer Society, and gets involved with various other organizations when possible.

What Dr. Israel enjoys most about being a Family Medicine physician is developing relationships with his patients -- getting to know them and what is going on in their lives, in their children's lives, what they do for a living. "Building a rapport with them means better patient outcomes. Family medicine is built on trust, and I believe my patients are more likely to follow my instructions if they trust me."