Left to right: Mark Rosen, PA; Dr. Paul Benson; Caleb Youngblood, PA; Leon Bullough, NP.
The Be Well Medical Center was founded by Dr. Paul Benson in 1980 in Berkley, Michigan. Since 2006, the practice has been housed in its own building, designed especially for that purpose by Dr. Benson himself.
Be Well is a family medicine practice, meaning it provides primary medical care for patients of all ages. A family medicine physician maintains a lifelong relationship with patients, often treating multiple generations of patients from the same family. He or she is the coordinator of care for the patient, treating many common conditions but also having the option of referring the patient to other health care providers or facilities for more specialized care of certain conditions. Throughout, the family care physician remains in communication with the patient and any specialized providers to oversee the health care of the patient. Read more
Goldunn’s Autumn Grove Baxter (“Baxter”) is the boss of the Be Well Medical Center.
Baxter believes that a medical practice must be governed by two main principles: To compassionately provide top quality health care, and to keep the office well-stocked with tasty dog treats. As long as these two principles are met, he exercises a very paws-off leadership style, to the point that the humans may even at times come to think that they are the ones in charge.
His educational background includes successful completion of Obedience and Canine Good Citizen classes. He is registered with both the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club as a purebred golden retriever. Among his accomplishments is first place in the Sportsman Kennel Club’s “sit your dog in the hula hoop” contest in Puppy School.
Baxter enjoys greeting patients, and keeping up the morale of staff and patients alike with his wagging tale and personable manner. Dr. Benson observes, “The patients really, really look forward to seeing him. There are many times I’ll walk into an exam room and Baxter’s on his back getting a belly rub from patients who are on the floor with him.” Read about Dr. Benson
Be Well Staff
Amber Hooper Amber Hooper is Study Administrative Coordinator for the Be Well Medical Center’s Clinical Research Studies. Be Well and its patients participate in many clinical trials of HIV prevention and treatment medications seeking United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
Amber’s role in the clinical trials is primarily administrative or behind the scenes. She handles such tasks as recordkeeping, completing and submitting required paperwork, communicating with government regulators, etc.
Amber earned a Medical Assistant Certificate from the National Institute of Technology (now Everest College). She worked as a medical assistant and receptionist in medical offices for eleven years. In fact, she started at Be Well in 2016 as a receptionist.
She states that one of the most striking things about working at Be Well is that somehow a group of very different people from very different backgrounds have become like family to each other and enriched each other’s lives.
Amber enjoys euchre and other card games. She is a music lover, with a preference for heavy metal and rock and roll. She’s big into tattoos, has several of her own (her favorite being her Rob Zombie tattoo), and is even engaged to a tattoo artist.
As a Be Well co-worker describes her, “Amber is super funny. The patients love her. She can turn a bad day into a good day.
Caleb Youngblood Caleb Youngblood, PA-C, AAHIVM, has been a physician assistant with the Be Well Medical Center since 2011. As a premed student, Caleb obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Health Sciences from Grand Valley State University. He earned his physician assistant degree (called a Master’s of Medical Science) from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He then passed the certification of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, which allows one to apply for licensing in any state.
As a student, he was primarily interested in primary care and cardiology. At Wake Forest he became especially fascinated by infectious diseases. He did all his elective rotations in infectious diseases, and in the Wake Forest program the bulk of the patients in those rotations were HIV patients.
He loved the medical professionals he worked with on these rotations, and found the patients’ stories diverse and compelling. This area of medicine, he decided, was where he belonged. Since the bulk of many HIV patients’ care comes from primary care or family doctors, his growing interest in infectious diseases and HIV specifically fit well with his intention to become a primary care physician assistant.
Although fellowships are not common for physician assistants, and certainly not required, Caleb successfully completed a post-graduate fellowship of a little over two years in HIV Medicine at the AIDS Health Care Foundation in Los Angeles, where he exclusively saw HIV patients in both in-patient and out-patient settings.
Be Well is perfect for someone with his background and interests. About half or slightly more of his patients are HIV patients, so he can pursue his interests in both HIV medicine and primary care here.
He also very much likes the philosophy of the office, and its diverse patient base. “People are treated with respect here. They are not being judged. They can feel confident to let their guard down and be honest about their feelings, ask questions, ask for the help they need.”
“I definitely made the right decision,” he says, “I’m happy and proud to be an HIV specialist. I wouldn’t want to do any other kind of specialty care. I want to help people who have gotten a truly frightening diagnosis understand that nowadays HIV doesn’t have to change their quality or length of life.”
Caleb met his wife in college, and knew right away they were right for each other. They have two young children now, and he says the most meaningful part of his life is watching them grow up. In addition to being a husband and father, he stays plenty active away from the job. He’s a big sports fan. He’s also a marathon runner. 3:43 is his best time so far, but he’s working on improving that.
He loves to cook, and is a diehard foodie who is always checking out new restaurants. Which restaurants would he recommend currently? In the Detroit area, Selden Standard is his number one, with honorable mentions to Mabel Gray, The Apparatus Room, and Joe Muer Seafood in the Renaissance Center.
Chris Petrat Registered Nurse Chris Petrat is our Medical Assistant Manager/Patient Care Specialist/ Michigan Leather Runner Up. He joined the Be Well Medical Center in 2016. Chris is from Port Austin in the Thumb. He moved to the Detroit area in 2014, wanting more out of life than was available in a small, rural town.
He obtained a Medical Assistant Associate’s degree from Ross Medical Education Center and later obtained an online Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. He worked as a medical assistant for ten and a half years, the last two of those years at Be Well. In the meantime, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from South University in Novi, graduating in 2018.
He likes working in this practice because of the variety of patients, including a large contingent from the local LGBTQAI population. Being a member of that community himself, and knowing that, as studies confirm, there are significant disparities in health care for that and other minority communities, he has always been interested in helping to rectify some of the disparities. “I heard about this practice through word of mouth. Dr. Benson is well known and admired in our community. What he was doing here really spoke to me.”
He wants patients to know that they can always count on getting the best care from him. The human element of his job is hugely important to him, and he finds that patients are often comfortable talking to him not only about their medical issues but personal issues as well. He sees it all as being a part of helping people, as he always wanted to do. “Health care is the highest form of helping people. When people come to you and they’re sick, watching their health progressively improve is really rewarding.”
Chris is the opposite of a homebody. When he’s not at work he’s sure to be out doing something or other, whether it be attending concerts or cruising with his foodie buddies to check out a new restaurant.
He’s happy as a registered nurse, but may not stop there. If not physician assistant then he may look to move up to being a nurse practitioner. “I’d like to take my nursing to the next level,” he says.
Christopher Sleeper The Be Well Medical Center has taken an active role in researching new HIV treatments by participating in clinical trials of treatments seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Christopher Sleeper is the Study Coordinator of Be Well’s Clinical Research Studies.
Chris’s job is to oversee Be Well’s participation in the clinical trials, which includes such tasks as coordinating with the sponsors of the trials to ascertain which are appropriate for Be Well, working with patients to ensure that they understand and are complying with all they need to do, making sure the appropriate data is gathered and recorded, and more.
Chris grew up in Ludington, MI. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Lake Superior State, majoring in biology and chemistry. Ever since, he has spent his entire career in health care. His previous experience has mostly been in oncology; he’s enjoying the opportunity to broaden his horizons by working with HIV patients.
He joined Be Well in July 2018. As an indication of how committed he is to his job, he is willing to commute daily from his home in the Lansing area. Outside the job, Chris is married and has two sons. He enjoys cooking, hiking, and taking an interest in his sons’ myriad sports activities.
Colin Colter Colin Colter is a physician assistant at Be Well Medical Center.
Colin grew up in Dearborn. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University, taking all the premed requirements en route to majoring in Psychology with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. After graduating from college, he spent a year in Wyoming working with kids with learning differences and ADHD. He then returned to Wayne State and completed their two-year Physician Assistant program.
Interesting story from his time in the Physician Assistant program: He was interested in learning more about HIV and LGBT care, but the program included very little on these topics. So on his own initiative, he contacted the State of Michigan Department of Health & Human Resources and got them to agree to put together a weekend seminar on HIV testing, counseling, and referral services, which six interested students and two professors from the program then attended.
While he was doing some community volunteering during his time in the program, he learned about Be Well Medical Center. He arranged a two-month internship here to finish the program, and subsequently was hired for a permanent Physician Assistant position in 2019.
Colin’s interest in medicine stems from childhood. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was just 5 years old, and survived until he was 16. So doctors, hospitals, medicine, etc. were a big part of his family’s life for almost his entire childhood. He became comfortable with that world, and interested in that world.
One thing he became aware of through his childhood experience with his mother’s battle with breast cancer is just how important the human element of the practice of medicine is. Yes, you certainly want health care providers who are fully competent, who make accurate diagnoses, implement the most promising treatments, and so on. But when you or a loved one is on the receiving end, you see how much it matters that your doctor has a good bedside manner, manifests compassion, is a good communicator, etc. This insight informs how he practices medicine every day of his career.
He believes that his degree in Psychology is very relevant to what he does for a living. In family medicine and primary care, a lot of what a provider is faced with has to do with life problems other than purely physical symptoms and conditions. Patients routinely talk to their primary care provider about emotional issues and how they’re affecting their relationships, sleep, weight gain, etc. Studies estimate that 30% of primary care concerns mental health issues. Probably in no area other than psychiatry itself is a background in psychology as valuable as it is for family medicine and primary care.
Colin says he loves working at Be Well Medical Center for the positive attitudes and how well people get along and work together. You see it both in the interactions with patients and in the behind-the-scenes work of the staff. One thing he singles out that he is appreciative of when it comes to working at Be Well is the opportunity it provides to work with segments of the population — AIDS/HIV patients, and the LGBT community — that have historically been underserved in this country and around the world.
Deborah Golindano The best umbrella term for what Deborah Golindano does is perhaps “Patient Advocate/Referral Coordinator.” It has to be something very broad like that, because she wears a great many hats. Let’s mention three of the most important ways you might come in contact with her or benefit from her services, understanding that this is only a partial list.
She arranges referrals. If your provider needs you to see a specialist, she’ll match you up with the most appropriate one based on multiple factors, such as whether the provider has someone specific in mind that they’d like you to see, the many years of experience our office has had working with local specialists and knowing which are the best, and the specifics of your insurance.
She handles medical records requests. Such requests can come up in many contexts, such as if a specialist you are being referred to needs your lab results or other records, if you’re moving away and switching to another primary care physician and need that physician to have your records, or if you’re making a disability claim and an attorney or a court requests your medical records that are relevant to that claim.
She is in charge of disease management. What this means is that she makes sure that the care you are receiving fits the latest guidelines for your condition. For instance, a patient with diabetes needs to be seen in person in the office a certain number of times, needs to receive certain tests, etc. Or patients of a certain age may need to get colonoscopies or mammograms with a certain frequency. She checks the records on all our patients and alerts you what you need when.
For someone so deeply enmeshed in so many aspects of a medical practice, the surprising thing is that Deborah came to medicine fairly late in life. Her first degree was an Associate’s in Computer Science from Macomb Community College. Next was a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Walsh College. She worked in the business world early in her career. Seven years of that was while living in Venezuela after marrying a Venezuelan man. Back in the States she worked as a mortgage loan officer at a bank for 15 years. She was bored with that kind of work by then, plus the real estate market went haywire, so it was time to move on. That’s when she went back to school, earning an Associate’s degree in the medical assistant program back at Macomb Community College.
Her first full time job in the medical field came when she was hired here at the Be Well Medical Center in 2009. When she started she was working the front desk; obviously her responsibilities have expanded greatly in the years since.
Pharmacist Dhaval Patel & Pharmacy inside Be Well Medical Center The Be Well Medical Center has its own pharmacy. Our patients of course are free to have their prescriptions filled at any pharmacy they choose, but many enjoy the convenience of having a pharmacy in the same building as their family practice.
Dhaval Patel is the man who runs our pharmacy. He received his degree in Pharmacy from Gujarat University in India. He worked for six years for Roche Pharmaceuticals, then moved to Toronto. After studying and passing the necessary tests to be licensed as a pharmacist in both Canada and the United States, he worked as a pharmacist for three years in Canada before moving to the U.S. in 2008. In 2009 he joined the Be Well team.
As a pharmacist, Dhaval does far more than just hand out medications. He carefully checks the prescription, reviews the patient’s profile, checks for any conflicts with other medications the patient might be taking, and makes sure the written instructions provided with the prescription match the doctor’s instructions. He counsels the patient to make sure he or she understands what the medication is for, how and how often they are to take it, what the possible side effects are, and any special additional instructions that come with the medication (e.g., if they are not to consume alcohol while on the medication). Only then does he dispense the medication.
Dhaval is accredited by the American Academy of HIV Medicine as an HIV Specialist Pharmacist. Only a small minority of pharmacists have this special additional accreditation. The standards for it are rigorous, requiring recertification every three years.
Dhaval is a personable man who describes Be Well as an excellent place to work. “I enjoy every day,” he says. He is very much a family-oriented person. He is married, with a son in college, a daughter in high school, and parents who live half the year with him and half the year back in India. When he’s not on the job he’s pretty much always spending time with his family. Some of their favorite activities include cycling, hiking, and movie night every Friday.
Elizabeth Jones Elizabeth Jones has worked as a medical biller since the early 1990s. In 2017 she joined the Be Well Medical Center team. She earned an associate’s degree in Health Care Administration from Oakland Community College, and then attended Central Michigan University, where she also studied Health Care Administration. As a medical biller, Elizabeth’s job consists largely of facilitating communication among the patients, Be Well’s health care providers, and the insurance companies, Medicare, and other payers. She makes sure that the proper numerical codes are used to convey to the payer what services the physician has performed. She communicates with patients to keep them informed of where things stand with their insurance, and how much, if anything, they are responsible to pay.
When a claim is denied or partly denied by an insurance company, she follows up to see if something — providing additional documentation perhaps — can be done to get the decision changed. In some cases there may be a second or third insurance that she can try to collect from. The best part of her job, she says, is the satisfaction of getting an insurance company to pay a claim that they wouldn’t have paid without her efforts.
Elizabeth has lived her whole adult life in the metro Detroit area. She is the proud mother of three adult children and grandmother of seven grandchildren. She is active in her church, and her interests include reading, movies, shopping, and cooking.
She wants our patients to know that they can always contact her for assistance. “I’m here to help patients with any issues or questions they might have in regards to their accounts or their insurance.” She is especially concerned about situations where medical expenses or potential medical expenses are so burdensome that either a patient is devastated by them, or foregoes needed medical care to avoid incurring them. If you ever find yourself in such difficult straits, please contact Elizabeth so that she can work with you to arrange a payment plan that you can handle.
Esther Draper Many years ago, a young doctor named Paul Benson opened a family practice in Berkley. Things were slow in the early going before he established much of a patient base, so he had the luxury of routinely leaving the office for lunch. He got into the habit of dining at Monty’s Grill on Woodward, owned and operated by a friendly couple named Monty and Esther. He was enough of a regular that they eventually put a little “Reserved for Dr. Benson” sign on his favorite table by the kitchen.
Time passed, the practice grew, Dr. Benson became busier and busier at work, and visits to Monty’s became less frequent. Then in 1986, Monty and Esther sold the restaurant. They stayed in touch, though, as by then they had become good friends. Esther Draper in fact describes herself as Dr. Benson’s “adopted mom.” Though they didn’t own their own restaurant any longer, Esther continued working in the same field, waitressing at various local restaurants for the next decade or so until multiple back surgeries made it no longer realistic for her to work on her feet.
In 1999, Esther came to work at the Be Well Medical Center. She started as a receptionist, and now carries the title of executive assistant. She contributes to the practice in numerous ways, including answering the phone, calling patients when appointments need to be rescheduled, organizing all the mail, and more.
Monty has passed by now, but Esther is still going strong. 2018 brought her 80th birthday but not her retirement. Since she’s planning on sticking around until at least age 90, Dr. Benson may well call it a career before she does. Why not work? she says: She likes what she does, she’s still able to provide a valuable service to her employer, it’s nice to have a reason to get out of the house, and the money certainly helps.
Not to mention, she’s still able to learn and grow in her job. When she started, she had never touched a computer in her life. Now, while she doesn’t claim to be a computer expert, she’s certainly competent enough on the computer to fulfill her job responsibilities.
As far as her life away from work, she has always been very active with the Royal Oak Church and remains so. She has taught Sunday school for decades—long enough to have taught multiple generations of the same families.
In addition to Dr. Benson, her other adopted child is Gabby, whom she rescued from a cat shelter.
Heather Durkee The Be Well Medical Center offers something you’ll rarely see from a family medicine practice: A state-of-the-art skin rejuvenation and cosmetic services center.
Heading up this cosmetic services center is licensed aesthetician Heather Durkee. Heather graduated from the aesthetics program at Michigan College of Beauty and has been a licensed aesthetician since 2002. She has taken continuing education classes to further her knowledge in several areas concerning the health and maintenance of your skin.
Heather is trained and certified in a variety of laser therapies, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, several specialty-type facial treatments, and the use of PCA Skin products. Her pharmaceutical skin care product knowledge is unparalleled, and her expertise is invaluable to her patients whose skin she helps keep healthy and glowing!
A native Michigander, she grew up in Oak Park, and currently lives just 10 minutes from Be Well. She enjoys walking, biking, and gardening, and spending time with her kids most of all.
Keyuna Nance Keyuna Nance, LLMSW, has a Masters in Social Work, and is a graduate from Wayne Sate University. She is our Social Worker/Patient Advocate/Medical Case Care Manager at Be Well Medical Center and also works jointly with the nonprofit Matrix Human Services as a care manager and patient advocate.
Keyuna is a guide of sorts. She is the person patients turn to when they are confused, uncertain, in trouble, and they need assistance in navigating their way through the health care system and obtaining the care they need.
Maybe it’s a matter of having lost their insurance. Or there’s a government program to help with their medical costs that they’re eligible for but they don’t know it, and if they did know it they wouldn’t know how to go about applying for it. Or their car conked out on them and they don’t know how they’ll be able to come to the office for their appointments anymore.
When patients run into difficulties like that, they’re more likely to get frustrated and give up, resulting in a risky gap in their care. But if they know they can turn to Keyuna, then they can hang in there as she directs them to the information and resources they need.
Our longtime patients already know Keyuna from her time working at the front desk starting in 2014. But since then she returned to school and earned her Master of Social Work. She chose this career because, “There are people in need who don’t know who to turn to. I can help them.” She is friendly and approachable, funny, always smiling, and constantly learning so that she’ll know of as many options that could benefit patients as possible.
Keynua works extensively with our HIV patients, but also works closely with our providers to coordinate and provide services to all our patients who are in need.
Lakita Lackey Lakita Lackey is the Be Well Medical Center’s senior lab phlebotomist. That means she’s the one who draws your blood when you need lab tests. But there’s more to the job than you might think. A phlebotomist needs the mechanical skills to make the blood draw as painless as possible, and the people skills to keep people calm who might have anxiety about needles. (It helps that Lakita is a self-described people person, who loves working with people and making them smile.) She needs to be highly responsible and meticulous about her work in terms of keeping all the samples properly organized and labeled, and in terms of following all the safety protocols that are so important when dealing with blood and other bodily fluids.
Lakita’s responsibilities have expanded greatly since she started her career. As a Level One phlebotomist, she just did very basic phlebotomy. Now that she is a Level Three phlebotomist, her job includes such additional tasks as specimen management, lab billing, and writing up medical summaries of test results.
Lakita speaks with much emotion about Dr. Benson and Be Well. She is grateful to him for having given her an opportunity way back in 1998 when she was fresh out of a two year lab program at the Lawton School in Southfield, struggling to raise three children, one autistic. Dr. Benson was there for her with emotional support as her mother battled cancer and ultimately succumbed to it. After she moved to Las Vegas for a few years to put her son in a very good school for autistic children, upon her return in 2016 Dr. Benson gave her back her job. She says that he’s far more than just an employer to her; he’s a combination second dad, brother, and close friend.
Her three biggest interests outside of work are cooking, traveling, and shopping. She specializes in seafood and soul food cooking, and is especially known for her pizza spaghetti, a dish of which she always brings to Dr. Benson when she makes a batch. (Requirement of the job.)
As much as she loves her job, she has her sights set on something more, intending to be a nurse. Asked what she would like potential patients to know about Be Well, Lakita says, “Anybody who is looking for quality health care and doesn’t come to Be Well, it’s such a loss for them! If you want health care from a team that is compassionate and cares, and that has the experience and the knowledge, including where HIV is concerned, this is your place.”
Leon Bullough joined the team at the Be Well Medical Center in 2018 as our newest family nurse practitioner (NP).
Leon’s journey toward a career in medicine started in 2006 in Pennsylvania. Working his way through school, he completed a certified nursing assistance program at a technical school, and earned an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from a community college, which made him a registered nurse (RN). He gained some early experience in nursing by working on an orthopedic, trauma, and burn floor of a hospital, and then working as a circulating nurse in an operating room and learning to scrub. He then obtained significant additional schooling in nursing, first earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from California University of Pennsylvania in 2013, and then a Master’s of Science in Nursing with a focus as a family nurse practitioner from Simmons College in 2016.
Throughout graduate school, he continued nursing at the hospital, including working overnight shifts with emergency cases, and ultimately rose to being in charge of the operating room. Leon is certified through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Since becoming a family nurse practitioner, he has pursued his interests in HIV care and prevention, hepatitis C treatment, hormone replacement therapy, and primary care for the LGBTQ community.
He is a strong believer in the concept of inclusive health care, which emphasizes facilitating the access to health care of underserved communities and individuals. He strives to always treat his patients in a holistic manner with dignity and respect, and to achieve patient health goals safely and efficiently while empowering patients with education to enable them to help themselves. He enjoys working closely with his co-workers to provide quality patient care.
Leon has been married for 14 years. Away from work, he enjoys hiking and camping, and tabletop and video games. He’s a big music buff who can often be found at local concerts. He likes running into his patients and friends on such occasions, so if you recognize him next time you’re out listening to music, don’t be shy about coming over and saying hello.
Mark Rosen Physician Assistant Mark Rosen, PA-C, AAHIVM, Certified Research Professional is (very) local to the area. He attended Berkley High School and currently lives three minutes from work.
Mark has loved medicine and known that he wanted to make it his career ever since he took an Anatomy and Physiology class in high school. He attended Grand Valley State University west of Grand Rapids, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Health Professions followed by a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies.
Why physician assistant rather than physician? In primary care there is very little difference between the patient care a physician provides and the patient care a physician assistant provides. The main differences instead lie more in administrative and business matters related to running a medical office. Since Mark wanted to work in medicine specifically for the patient care and did not want to have to contend with those other matters, he felt physician assistant was the way to go.
Mark started at the Be Well Medical Center in January 2017. An important part of his job is providing care to the patients in the many clinical research trials that Be Well participates in. These are studies of new medications and new treatments that must be thoroughly tested before earning approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The patients in these studies must be very closely monitored. He estimates that serving as the sub-investigator for these clinical research trials constitutes about one third of his job.
Mark keeps in shape by running. He has a passion for travel. One of his more notable trips was hiking all over Iceland.
Michele Madigan Since 2015, Michele Madigan has served as office manager of the Be Well Medical Center. As one can gather from her title, her job includes leadership and supervisory tasks such as making scheduling decisions, handling any patient concerns that get kicked up to her from the staff level, and running the office in general. But really as much as anything, being the office manager means being the kind of jack-of-all-trades capable of stepping in and doing the work of any of the office staff. Wherever the office is short on any given day, that’s where she can be found.
Michele’s extensive background in the medical field explains why she is able to so smoothly move from role to role wherever she is needed. She has worked in health care for over 30 years. A little over half of that time has been as an office manager, but she also has ample experience working at the front desk of a medical office, doing medical billing, and working in hospital administration, among other things.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Administration from Baker College, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree. On the home front, Michele is kept very busy by her six grandchildren. She is an avid reader, and enjoys playing softball.
Scott Layer Scott Layer has long manifested a kind of wanderlust in his life, moving around a lot to pursue new experiences, take advantage of job opportunities in different places, etc. Most recently prior to moving to Michigan in 2019, he lived in Ohio, but before that there were numerous other stops.
Providing care has always come natural to him. Through church, when he was growing up he often visited nursing homes. He became quite comfortable in medical environments and being with the elderly. As an adult, he has consistently worked in the medical field. He spent several years as a nurse aide, then after completing a one-year medical assistant program in 2017 he has worked as a registered medical assistant.
He started at Be Well Medical Center in 2019. It was the first place in the area that he applied. He has a friend who was a patient here and recommended it as a practice that seemed like it would be a terrific place to work —and it has worked out really well for him.
He’s the jack-of-all-trades at Be Well. As a medical assistant, he brings patients back to the examination rooms, takes vital signs, gives injections, handles EKGs, X-rays, and DEXA scans, and more. But in addition, he has become a sort of miscellaneous maintenance person for the office. If something needs to be checked, moved, removed, repaired, etc., more often than not he is the person called upon to take care of it.
He expects he’ll always work in the medical field in some capacity or other. Likely he’ll go back for more schooling at some point, and then maybe he’ll pursue radiology or some other specialty. Will Scott continue to move about restlessly, exploring new places? Possibly not. He has reached an age, he says, where he craves more stability in his life. He’s ready to discontinue the wandering. So perhaps he’ll be with us here in Michigan for the long haul.
Sophia Cross Sophia Cross has worked as a medical assistant since the early 1990s. She has been with the Be Well Medical Center since 2016. She is currently our Patient Advocate/ Prior Authorization Specialist/ Transitional Care Officer.
Medical assistants need to have a wide array of skills, as their job includes both providing direct patient care and performing more administrative functions. The division of labor in a specific medical practice, though, often means that specific medical assistants tend to be used in some of these roles more than others.
Sophia has worn many such hats throughout her career as a medical assistant, but at Be Well her primary focus is on prior authorizations for prescriptions. What this means is that she works on the patients’ behalf to investigate insurance coverage of prescribed medications. If one of our providers prescribes a certain medication for a patient, she will check with the patient’s insurance company (or Medicare or whoever the payer is) to see if the insurance will pay all or part of the cost for that medication. If not, is there an equally effective medication that the insurance will cover that can be prescribed instead? What about a generic equivalent? How might that affect insurance coverage and ultimate patient cost?
Rather than a patient having to find all this out and navigate through the insurance company customer service, Sophia will put her years of experience to work for the patient.
Another aspect of her job is following up with our patients upon their release from the hospital. This is important, because you never want to leave a discharged patient wondering “What’s next?” By communicating with the patient, she can go over with them any upcoming appointments they have back at Be Well or with specialists to whom they have been referred, their prescriptions, and in general any questions or concerns they might have. She is also sometimes called upon to cover the front desk to check in patients, or to handle incoming phone calls.
Sophia’s educational background includes studying at Wayne County Community College and Ross Medical Education Center. Outside the job, she delights in cooking, gardening — both flowers and vegetables — and the outdoors in general.
She appreciates the family atmosphere of Be Well: “Everyone chips in and supports each other. And Dr. Benson always keeps things interesting and fun.” She approaches her job with the philosophy to always treat patients the way she would want to be treated. “I want our patients to know that if they ever need assistance, I will do whatever I can for them.”
Tandrea 'Renie' Holland Tandrea, or Renie, Holland fills multiple roles at the Be Well Medical Center. She received her certificate as a medical assistant after studying at Ross Technical Institute, and received her certificate as a phlebotomist after studying at Marygrove College. As a phlebotomist, she draws blood from patients for needed lab tests. She started working in the medical field in 1996, and joined Be Well in 2017.
She has lived in the Detroit area her whole life. Among her passions are cooking and traveling. Tandrea is outgoing and loves working with people. She appreciates working at Be Well. She has especially found it rewarding working with HIV patients for the first time. There is “so much to learn,” she says, but it’s all quite fascinating.
She sees a positive attitude as being an important part of her job. A lot of people, she notes, understandably are not in a good mood when they come to a doctor’s office. Rather than responding in kind, it’s important to be extra nice to them, make them laugh, make them feel good about themselves.
Tanyel Nappier Tanyel started as a patient at the Be Well Medical Center before becoming the Be Well staff's Yoga instructor. Shortly after that, she joined the team as a front desk receptionist. Tanyel was born in the Detroit area and grew up both here and in Arizona. After doing hair and make up for 15 years, she decided to change her career. Tanyel became a yoga teacher in 2014. She is a certified Yoga Therapist, and earned her certification in the Beaumont Integrative Medicine Department. Tanyel specializes in Yoga to treat chronic illnesses, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, trauma, and substance use disorders.
Tanyel loved the Be Well Medical Center's staff and office environment so much that she was excited to be offered an additional position. "I have such a heart for the LGBTQ community. Having a place where I myself, as well as my loved ones, can receive quality medical care without the feeling of shame or guilt is a gift. The clinic is one of inclusion, diversity, and non-discrimination. Patients and staff treat each other as family and friends." She states, "Being a part of this office is a honor."
When not working or teaching Tanyel loves to be home with her husband and their five kids. She loves gardening, art, music , reading and watching documentaries. Her charming personality and warm spirit has made her a great addition to our team.
Tate Rodriquez Tate Rodriguez has the kind of magnetic personality that you can’t help but be charmed by. Which is perfect for his role at Be Well Medical Center, where he is in charge of the front desk area and spends much of his work day greeting and interacting with patients, both in person and on the phone.
Given that he is often the first person that new patients speak with or see when they come to the office, you could even say he is the face of the practice. The impression he makes, the tone he sets, can be crucial to how a patient experiences Be Well. And that’s a responsibility he takes seriously.
He’s proud of the progress he has made in his job. He started at Be Well in 2019, and within a few short months Dr. Benson had significantly increased his duties and authority, showing great faith in him. This in spite of the fact that he hadn’t even been out of high school very long when he started, and had no work experience at all like what he does now.
He and Dr. Benson have known each other for far longer than he has worked here, though. And he thinks that might be key to why Dr. Benson believes in him and has given him this opportunity.
His mother was the caregiver for Dr. Benson’s mother for many years as her health declined. The two families came to know each other well and care about each other. “I think Dr. Benson may have seen some of his young self in me, the way family is so important to me, the way my mother and I are so close and have such a loving relationship very much like Dr. Benson had with his mother, just the kind of person I am and the kind of personality I have.”
What might the future hold for Tate? He’s still very early in his college education, having completed one year’s worth of classes at Oakland Community College. That first year was geared toward a possible career in civil engineering, but his experience at Be Well has caused him to rethink that. Now he says he will likely redirect toward some kind of career in medicine. Probably nursing, possibly something in sports medicine.