Frequently asked questions

What is unique about St. Joseph Primary Care?

At St. Joseph Primary Care (STJPC), patients will see the same board-certified physician each visit. There will never be any mystery about the cost of services and patients will be given the time needed with the physician to comprehensively address their healthcare needs. We do not file with insurance companies or other managed care entities (though we will provide forms if patients wish to do so). This drastically reduces the cost of delivering care and allows Dr. Trinh and her staff to focus entirely on the health needs of her patients. Furthermore, STJPC offers a Membership Model Medical Practice where patients pay an annual membership fee to join the Membership Care Program (MCP). Patients receive high quality, comprehensive, and personalized Christian health care. Fee to join our practice maybe tax-deductible. Note: The Membership Model Medical Practice at STJPC is the same as a Direct Primary Care.

Who are ideal patients for St. Joseph Primary Care?

Our service model meets the needs of the uninsured, the under-insured (those with high deductible plans), and people seeking a personal and enduring relationship with a physician who shares their values. Ideal patients are people who want to receive care from a good doctor, affordable, convenient but quality care, flexible appointments, easy and direct access to their doctor, longer hours with a doctor, focus on a whole body (holistic care) and not just medications, social ethic, and caring for those less fortunate.

How does the Membership Care Program (MCP) work?

A patient who pays for the MCP makes an annual contribution upfront to cover as many doctor visits as the patient may need in one year – including physicals and wellness visits. The fee is paid whether the patient sees the doctor or not, and non-refundable. Patients who join the MCP become a member of St. Joseph Primary Care. Members receive high quality, comprehensive, and personalized Christian health care from a board certified physician.

What is the different between the Membership Care Program and Concierge Care Plan?

There is no difference between the two terms. We find it is easy for our most patients to relate and understand the term “membership” care more than the “concierge” care. We want to associate the concept of a gym membership (workout and exercise) better than the concierge type of service. Regardless of which term being used, all services are the same. Some concierge care plans can cost thousand of dollars with all kind of tests and procedures. We believe with a good relationship between the doctor and patients, mix with a little discipline, a good health, and great spirit can achieve.

How many times I can be seen under this agreement?

You may be seen as often as you like or need. There are no limitations to the number of visits over a quarter or year.

How long I can spend with the doctor at each visit?

In order to deal with all of your concerns, we attempt to give you as much time as you need. Typically visits at STJPC are 30 minutes to one hour. You can let us know when you need extra time with the doctor.

What are the limitations of the Membership Care Program?

The annual contribution does not replace the patient’s health insurance. It does not cover all lab, procedure or X-ray charges, or visits to other doctors or hospitals. Certain insurance providers (e.g., HMOs, Medicaid, Medicare) will not work with direct primary care practices.

How many patients will be accepted in this practice?

To maintain a high level of accessibility and exceptional standards of care to our patients, STJPC plans to accept up to 600 patients, compared with 2500 plus accepted in standard family medicine practices.

How long has St. Joseph Primary Care been in operation?

The clinic opened on Monday, August 4, 2014.

How many doctors at the St. Joseph Primary Care?

STJPC will accept 600 patients for every 1 doctor. Currently, we are almost there. Once we passed the 600-number, we will recruit another provider. Note: on an average, there is 1 doctor for every 2,500 patients in a traditional primary care practice.

Who is my doctor?

ThuHuong (Thu) Trinh, M.D. has been practicing family medicine for more than 20 years. She graduated from Princeton University, received her Doctor of Medicine degree and completed her residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is Board Certified in Family Medicine.

Why provide care through this model of health care?

After years of service to our community, Dr. Trinh wanted an opportunity to bring together spiritual, mental and physical health concerns when partnering with patients to achieve health goals. Dr. Trinh sees a need to develop relationships, to look beneath the presenting problem to address chronic or unknown stresses which impact health. This takes time a standard practice cannot afford. Additionally, by opting out of managed care and working for a modest salary, we are able to meet the needs of the uninsured and those with limited resources in a sustainable manner.

How does Direct Primary Care (DPC) or the Membership Care Program(MCP) work?

A patient enrolled in a direct primary care practice pay an annual fee. The fee is paid whether the patient sees the doctor or not. Direct primary care medicine does not contract with an insurance and the payment relationship is between the patient and the medical provider. At St. Joseph Primary Care, patients join the Membership Care Program by paying an annual (membership) fee. Please visit AAFP for more information on the DPC model.

Insurance What is the difference between an HMO and PPO insurance provider?

HMO stands for Health Management Organization. This type of insurance started in the 1980s to try to bring down the cost of medical care. By limiting the kinds of treatments and procedures a patient may receive and specify which doctors a patient can see (narrowing to those that are the least expensive) these companies have been able to offer a lower cost premium to the patient. Many doctors decided to stop taking patients with this type of insurance because the insurance payments do not cover the actual cost of providing care. HMO plans do not work with STJPC. PPO stands for Preferred Provider Organization. This is a “fee for service” type of insurance where the doctor is paid after the patient is seen. Patients may see any doctor they want to, but if the doctor is not on the preferred provider list, the patient will pay more out of pocket.

Will my insurance pay for the Membership Care Program?

The upfront fee for unlimited primary care visits at STJPC is separate from any fees paid to or by your insurance company. This is a separate fee for which the patient is personally responsible. However, you may be able to get reimbursed by your health insurance company as an out-of-network provider. Check with your health insurance company on how you may get reimbursed for out-of-network services.

Membership Fee Coverage
Will the membership fee cover labs, X-rays and specialist visits?

The annual contribution (membership fee) covers only services provided directly by St. Joseph Primary Care. Some labs, x-rays and specialists have their own charges and will bill the patient’s insurance a separate fee. Anything not covered by the patient’s insurance is the patient’s personal responsibility. For uninsured patients, these services are the patient’s personal responsibility. However, as your healthcare navigator, and not-for-profit organization, we have negotiated with lab companies and other ancillary service providers to get discounts of up to 75% for our uninsured patients. Because we see patients more frequently and spend more time on the history and physical exam, we can sometimes order fewer lab tests. Additionally, when you purchase our Membership Care Program a comprehensive lab panel is included with your annual wellness visit.

Can the membership fee (annual contribution) count toward my deductible?

The insurance company has to have a bill from a doctor’s evaluation and treatment before they will allow money from the membership fee to cover part of the deductible. STJPC can provide you with a statement of visit information. This part of the annual payment may count toward the patient’s deductible. It depends on the individual insurance policy.

What if I don’t have insurance?

The Membership Care Program (MCP) covers all services provided by St. Joseph Primary Care, regardless of whether a patient has insurance or not. There is no penalty for those without insurance to join our program. Lab tests, imaging, and specialist doctors are not covered by the MCP and are the responsibility of the patient. However, we will work with you to find you the most affordable options and tell you the prices upfront.

How often do I have to pay the membership fee to join the Membership Care Program?

The membership care agreement is meant to be renewed annually. The fee may be contributed once a year or on a quarterly basis.

Can I sponsor my young adult, their family or my parent for care at St. Joseph Primary Care?

Yes. St. Joseph Primary Care may provide just the assurance you need for the care of your loved ones.

Can the Membership Care agreement be canceled mid-year?

The commitment is for the calendar year.

How is it possible that my membership fee can be tax-deductible?

We will equally allocate your membership fee throughout the term of the agreement (12 months). A portion of your membership fee will get deducted at each office visit. At the end of each year, any fund that has not being used will consider a charity donation to our #GivingBack program. Like all charity donations, you will get a letter of acknowledgment for your donation(s). We will provide you with the statements for your tax purposes. St. Joseph Primary Care is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit and charity organization incorporated in the state of North Carolina. Thus, gifts and donations are tax-deductible and governed by applicable state and federal tax law.

Medical Emergencies
Will I have to use an Urgent Care or Emergency Room after hours?

While a doctor is available to you at most of the times, there may be medical situations that require more advanced care than she can provide. Only in these cases would you be advised by the doctor to present to an Emergency Room. In the event of a medical emergency, patients are advised to call 911 prior to calling your StJPC doctor to begin evaluation and treatment as soon as possible.

What happens if I have to be admitted to the hospital?

If needed, our physician will arrange for your admittance into the hospital, but not oversee your care nor coordinate with any required specialists. However, we ask that you stay in touch with us once discharged so that we can ensure you get all of the primary care services you need to ensure your return to good health. The continuity of your care is important to us, and we believe that is in the hospital as well as in our clinic.

Do you make House Calls?

There may occasionally be a situation where a patient is unable to come into the office. In these instances, a doctor will be available to see you in your home at a mutually e agreeable time. When patients are in a persistent non-ambulatory state (i.e., cannot come to the office regularly or if they are ill, or are in a custodial care facility or nursing home) we have a special In-Home Care category that provides direct primary care in the patient’s residence, coordinates with caregivers, and regularly communicates with family.

How do I make an appointment?

You can call us at (919) 386-6866 for an appointment and we can see you the same or next day. You can also book your own appointments online through our patient portal – simply provide us with an email address and we’ll walk you through the steps.

Where is St. Joseph Primary Care located?

Our medical office is located at 4400 Falls of Neuse Road, Suite 101. It is in the same building of the McLean Eye Care Center, Riccobene Family Dentistry, and Dentistry for Kids by Dr. Perry L. Jeffries, DDS & Associates, and across the street is Walgreens & Bojangles.

What are your office hours?

Our office is open regular business days (Monday-Friday) from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. We can see patients outside of these hours when needed. This service is available for our Membership Care patients only. The clinic is closed the weeks of Christmas through New Year and the week following Easter.

Do you accept walk-ins?

If you come to the office with an urgent need but without an appointment, we will work to see you as soon as possible, but realize that there may be a bit of a wait while we see previously scheduled patients.

What about after-hours and holidays?

Our goal is to be available when needed, and if a patient is not able to get into our office during normal hours, we will work with them to find a mutually available time.

What if I need medication refills after normal office hours?

The best way to get medication refills is to request it through your pharmacy. If a patient has discovered they are unexpectedly out of medication outside of office hours, they can contact us for refills to avoid missing a dose.

What procedures and services do you provide?

The lab tests we provide include urinalysis, microscopy, blood glucose, A1C, urine pregnancy and hematocrit. The diagnostic procedures we perform include ECG, spirometry, pulse oximetry, audiometry and PPD for tuberculosis. We also provide influenza (flu shot). For procedures outside of these we have numerous relationships with labs and providers and have negotiated heavily discounted rates for our patients.

Can you help with medication costs?

Our practice strives for an evidence-based medicine approach that usually requires fewer and less expensive medications. We try to be price-sensitive when prescribing. We also stay abreast of discounts on offer at local retailers and can usually find affordable options for our patients.

Do you provide or refer contraception or abortion?

We affirm the positive pro-life message of the Catholic Church. We do not provide or refer for contraception, abortion, sterilization or euthanasia. We care for the needy, support marital chastity, encourage the use of Natural Family Planning and provide compassionate hospice care at the end of natural life.

Do you prescribe pain medications?

No. STJPC does not offer chronic pain management and will not dispense or prescribe chronic pain medications (for example, chronic daily narcotics). We will provide you with a referral to a pain management center if you need this specialized form of care after evaluation by our physicians.