Aspen Medical Center Blog

covid test

What You Have to Know About “Inconclusive” COVID-19 Test Results

There are several benefits to obtaining a COVID-19 certification. Perhaps you are suffering from flu-like symptoms or have been infected with the virus. If you’re going on vacation or seeing a sick relative, you should consider getting tested for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 test can detect SARS-CoV-2 infection regardless of the purpose for testing. Additionally, they may also work in different ways. However, while a COVID-19 test can help determine whether you are infected, it is not always accurate. Other times, results can be “inconclusive.”

Read on to learn more about “inconclusive” COVID-19 test results, as well as what to do next.

The Fundamentals of COVID-19 Testing

While all COVID-19 tests can help you determine if you have the virus, some are more accurate than others. Although most COVID-19 tests collect nasal mucus, others collect saliva from the mouth or throat.

Viral antigens in your mucus are detected using rapid assays (proteins found on the surface of viruses). Antigen testing, on the other hand, produces results in a couple of minutes (much like a pregnancy test). The latter is less exact and more likely to result in false negatives, meaning a person infected with the virus might have an incorrect negative result.

To detect the virus’s genetic material, COVID-19 PCR, viral RNA, and nucleic acid tests must all be performed. After this process, results may be ready within hours, or even a day or two. Additionally, such false-positive results from these tests are uncommon.

Because of the ease and speed with which antigen testing may be performed, it is still widely employed. If the antigen test results in a negative result, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test should be performed as a confirmatory test. Inconclusive outcomes, on the other hand, are the exception.

The COVID-19 Test Results

COVID-19 tests can yield one of three outcomes:

1. Positive Result

SARS-CoV-2 or antigens were discovered in your mucus sample, depending on the test.

2. Negative Result

Neither of them was discovered at the time.

3. Inconclusive Result

A laboratory’s interpretation of a test result may be incorrect, leaving patients with an inconclusive result. If the laboratory is unable to interpret your test owing to a variety of variables, such as a lack of mucus sample, a new infection, or nearing recovery, your results may be inconclusive.

Steps to Take with An Inconclusive COVID-19 Test Result

Receiving an inconclusive COVID-19 test result is disheartening, given that it provides you and your loved ones no peace of mind. Whatever your purpose for testing for COVID-19, if your results are inconclusive, you should retest.

Following an inconclusive test result, continue to self-isolate or follow quarantine recommendations until you obtain your new test results. You may also speak with your doctor or a local health agency to learn more about what to do if your lab results are unclear.

Seeking Medical Advice

If you’ve recently been exposed to COVID-19 or are having any coronavirus symptoms, the smart thing to do is to isolate and schedule an at-home testing service or at the nearest clinic nearby.

COVID-19 testing is available at a number of pharmacies and clinics. Contact your local health agency for more information on COVID-19 testing. If your flu-like symptoms increase or do not improve, see a doctor.

Additionally, it would be best to seek emergency medical attention if you or someone you know is suffering from breathing problems, chest discomfort, confusion or brain fog, trouble focusing, trouble sleeping, as well as pallid skin, lips, or nail beds.


These signs and symptoms may indicate a medical emergency, but it’s important to note that these are not the only ones that should be addressed. At the age of a pandemic, almost any sickness should be treated immediately. At the same time, continue strengthening your immune system through a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management, among others.
If you need to schedule a PCR test in Santa Fe, Aspen Medical Center can aid your needs of urgent care. Our experienced medical staff are experts in offering essential primary care designed to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Give us a call today to set an appointment!

check up

Why Getting an Annual Physical Examination Is Important

Every new year, there is one common goal that many people share―that is to be healthy and free from sickness for the years to come. Coming from the wreck brought by the pandemic, becoming strong and healthy is one of the top priorities of many. 

While eating a balanced diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the trusted methods for achieving the goal, one should not forget about the importance of having checkups, particularly the annual physical examination.

What Is an Annual Physical Examination?

An annual physical examination is a physical checkup done to detect and monitor a person’s health condition. It typically covers the following procedures:

  • Physical exam
  • Lab test
  • Other examinations and tests

Why You Should Consider Conducting One

1. It Paves the Way for Preventive Care

Preventive care is crucial in keeping a person healthy and fit, as it helps maintain a person’s health before any problems even occur. 

Annual physical examination is one of the best preventive procedures a person can undergo. It allows the person to be treated for the symptoms and get the needed medical attention before it becomes more than they can handle. It also reduces the risk of becoming a victim of a major illness or health condition.

2. It Is a Spot-Check for Unhealthy Changes

If the doctor realizes that there are unhealthy changes in the person, such as the weight and blood pressure changes, the doctor will be doing a good deed by informing the person of the situation. It will also allow the physician to guide the patient to the right path by prescribing accurate treatment.

3. It Makes Treatments Cost-Effective

Cost-effectiveness of the treatments prescribed is another benefit of an annual physical exam. The examination helps point out the health conditions that need immediate attention, which allows the doctor to prescribe only necessary procedures and medications.

4. It Is Good for the General Health

It is an excellent practice to get annual physical examinations to boost one’s health in general. It provides health benefits, such as improving your health conditions and discovering your medical history.

5. Keep Your Medical Records Updated

Annual physical examinations are essential in keeping your medical records updated. A physical exam will also keep you updated on your immunizations. Remember that your medical record is evidence of your medical history and records, including allergies, previous illnesses, and past operations.

In emergencies, you will need your annual physical examination records immediately. That is why it is good to update your records and keep them accessible. 

6. Answers Your Medical Questions and Concerns

It provides the patient and the doctor a chance to discuss and address the patient’s medical concerns. The doctor and the patient can share ideas and thoughts, including the possible outcomes of a particular medical condition. In addition, the doctor can explain the examination findings to the patient.

It is also an effective practice that can strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.


A yearly physical examination is a procedure that everyone should never neglect. It serves as a guide to monitor and maintain a person’s health condition. It is one of the best preventive measures that you can have to ensure that your health does not have to suffer in the future. Now that you know the importance of having an annual physical examination, choosing the right doctor and medical clinic is the next step.

Aspen Medical Center is an established primary care provider that provides urgent and thorough care services to its clients. Included in these many outpatient primary care services are the comprehensive annual wellness visits and physical exams. If you are looking for a reliable medical clinic in Santa Fe, call us at (505) 466-5885 to book an appointment.

asthma inhaler

Common Asthma Triggers in the Holidays and How to Avoid Them

Most people love the holidays. However, that sense of joy and celebration can also cause asthma symptoms to flare up. Your best strategy is to be aware of the situations in which you are more susceptible to an asthma attack and make plans to avoid any precipitating asthma triggers as much as possible. 

Here are some tips for helping you reduce your chances of having an asthma attack during the holidays.

1. Drastic Temperature Changes

The cold weather and early darkness of the winter months often bring fewer opportunities to get outside and exercise. These conditions can cause the body to begin releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause the airways to narrow. 

The adrenaline in the body can also trigger the release of inflammatory mediators that can also lead to airway constriction. For these reasons, holidays can be hazardous for an asthma attack.

2. Smoke in the Home

When you spend time in the kitchen or at the dining table, you are likely exposed to cigarette smoke. If the weather is cold and windows are closed, smoke can linger even when not smoking. Even though you may not be eating, breathing smoke can exacerbate asthma symptoms.

3. Smoke in the Outside Air

Many folks try to avoid smoke indoors by spending time outside. However, cold air can actually increase the damage done to the airways. The colder it is, the harder the airways have to work to allow oxygen to enter and carbon dioxide to leave the lungs. Wood-burning stoves can also produce particulates and chemicals that can cause the airways to constrict.

4. Scents of the Season

Instead of candles, try decorating with pine or evergreen branches. You can also hang wreaths or other decorations with a pine scent. If you must have a scented candle, choose a candle with a label that indicates that it is made without fragrances that can trigger asthma symptoms.

5. Dust and Pollen

Dust and pollen are common allergens, especially during early spring. If you plan to go on a hike or play outside with your kids, try to do so during the cooler morning hours. Also, wash your hands before and after going outside, and change into fresh clothes to reduce the amount of dust and pollen that may have settled on you.

6. Pets

So many of us love our pets, especially during the holidays. However, try to limit your pet’s presence in the house, and make sure that your pet’s fur doesn’t always come in contact with your face. Bathing your pets regularly can also help minimize the number of allergens they release into the air.

7. House Plants

Many people enjoy decorating with their plants, but house plants can actually be a common asthma trigger. Be sure to keep plants far from your face, and try to limit your exposure to the plants’ fragrances. It can also be helpful to have a friend with asthma check the plants for pests, dust, and mold before investing in a new plant for your home.


While it may be challenging to avoid all asthma triggers during the holidays, you can better prepare. The most important thing to do is understand how your asthma works and what may trigger asthma symptoms in you. By being aware of your symptoms and the situation around you, you can better avoid asthma triggers.

Aspen Medical Center provides primary care and urgent care. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM, offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. If you need a primary care physician in Santa Fe, get in touch with us today! 

putting band aid

Tips on How to Avoid the Holiday’s Most Common Accidents

The holiday is indeed the most wonderful time of the year and probably the most filled with activities. Because of this, the season is also prone to lurking mishaps despite its festive mood. The time from November to January is one of the busiest for most emergency departments and urgent care facilities in the country. 

To enjoy the best you can and keep your loved ones safe and happy this season, follow our guide below to prevent the most common mishaps during the holiday. 

Be Careful in Decorating

Decorating the interiors and exteriors of your home entails proper safety precautions. Keep away from using unsteady ladders, as this causes a considerable number of falls while decorating for Christmas each year. Additionally, avoid lifting too heavy items above your head since doing this will strain your muscles.

When decorating your house for the holiday, do the following:

  • Do not lift heavy objects alone.
  • Do not stand above the second-highest rung. 
  • Ensure that your body stays within the ladder’s borders. 
  • Keep one hand on the ladder at all times.
  • Make sure your ladder is locked open and steady.

Concentrate When Cooking

The kitchen is another area of your house that you should pay attention to when it comes to safety. This is why we recommend that you prepare sufficiently for the holiday as hurriedly cooking can put you at greater risk of starting an accident in the kitchen. 

To ensure the safety of your family, try these tips:

  • Keep your kitchen clean and clear.
  • Plan your holiday meals.
  • Ready several oven mitts.
  • Separate cooked ingredients from the uncooked ones. 
  • Sharpen knives before using them. 
  • Wash your hands, surfaces, and utensils after every time you touch raw meat. 

Keep Yourself Healthy

Because of the busyness of this season, it is easy to get caught up in the celebrations and forget one’s daily routine. If you have a chronic illness, you should never risk doing this. So make sure you pack the necessary medications for your holiday trips and give your primary care doctor a call to ask for a prescription. If it helps, you can set alarms for taking pills, checking your blood sugar, and others. 

Watch What You Eat

Even if it is a holiday, try to think before eating anything. This is because overeating leads to various health conditions, especially acid reflux and heart attack. Keep in mind the following:

  • Always have a designated driver when going out to drink.
  • Eat a balanced meal by including fruits and vegetables. 
  • Eat slowly. 
  • Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages. 

Unwrap Carefully

Surprisingly, even unwrapping gifts can bring a lot of dangers when done carelessly. Presents wrapped in thick plastic are especially prone to causing lacerations and cuts. Whether you are using box cutters, knives, or scissors, always be careful in cutting items open. And properly store these tools away when not in use so they do not end in your child’s hands or get lost in piles of wrapping papers. 


The holiday is a fun and busy time that may make you forget about following basic safety rules and precautions. However, bear in mind that many accidents happen when people are most careless about what they do and their surroundings. 

Use our simple tips above as your guide this season to ensure the safety and full enjoyment of the entire family!

If you need an urgent care center, turn to Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM, offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. Give us a call today.


4 Tips to Help You Choose the Best Primary Care Physician

Your primary care physician is responsible for giving you general care in medicine. They’re the first people you go to when you have medical concerns, and they can lead you to more specialized professionals if you need them. When choosing one for yourself or your family, it’s important to pick someone perfect for you.

Many types of doctors can provide primary care, including internists, geriatricians, and nurse practitioners. If you’re interested in looking at the full list, you can always check with your health insurance provider. You’ll most likely choose a doctor from one of their lists because getting an out-of-network primary care physician can be more expensive than necessary.

Here are some other ways to help you choose the best primary care provider for you and your family:

1. Think About the Qualities You’re Looking for in a Doctor

The idea of the perfect doctor will vary for different people because everyone has different needs. Before you choose one for yourself, it’s best to know what you’re looking for. You could prefer a female doctor over a male. You might also prefer someone whose practice is closer to home.

If there are specific conditions you’d prefer your doctor to be familiar with, you should keep that in mind. It’ll also help to have specific values or goals in mind that you’ll want your doctor to have as well. That way, you’ll be assured knowing that you more or less have the same opinion on important things.

2. Ask Your Family and Friends for Recommendations

Word-of-mouth recommendations are very common practices when it comes to choosing a doctor. This is because some people may have more experience with some physicians than others, and picking their brains for their wisdom can help you make a better decision.

If you prefer someone in your area, your family and friends could also be more familiar with the doctors there. You can ask them about their positive and negative experiences and see if that matches with what you’re okay with. They might also know more personalized information about the doctor they’re recommending.

3. Consult Your Health Insurance Provider

Consulting your health insurance provider is another smart move when looking for a primary care physician. That’s because most providers will already have a list of primary care doctors you can choose from. If you decide to make an appointment with any of them, you won’t have to worry about expensive fees.

If you have an HMO insurance plan, you can only choose from the list of doctors provided for you. You’ll only be able to choose an out-of-network doctor if it comes with a referral for an emergency situation.

4. Consult Multiple Healthcare Databases

You can also choose a primary care physician based on multiple healthcare databases. The American Medical Association’s Doctor Finder website is one of these databases filled with suggestions for professionals who can meet your needs.

Other databases include MedlinePlus’ directories, and the Medicare Physician Compare tool if you have a Medicare insurance plan. While these directories aren’t great if you’re looking for a specific individual, they can help narrow down your search and show you a list of possible primary care physicians in your area.


You can try these tips when looking for a primary care provider to ensure you’re getting a professional who can meet your needs the best. And when you’ve narrowed down your options, you can call them up for an initial consultation.

For the best primary care physicians in Santa Fe, Aspen Medical Center is a locally owned outpatient medical facility. We offer state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. Get in touch with us today for more information.

family physician

3 Reasons Having a Family Doctor Is Essential

If there’s anything the global pandemic has taught people all over the world, it’s that nothing is for sure! No matter how secure you are in your life right now, you can never tell what may happen—you may feel healthy today, but there’s no telling if you’ll still have a sound mind and body in the future.

Given the uncertainty of life, it’s crucial to protect and prepare yourself in case of medical emergencies! Knowing the way or contact number to the nearest hospital is not enough—you must include having a family physician in your plan.

What Is a Family Physician?

A family physician can serve as your primary care provider—they will handle any medical concerns you have, from treating the common cold to figuring out what’s causing your rash.

Suppose you have any major concerns about your health. In that case, you should make an appointment with a family physician immediately so that they can properly diagnose you and give advice on the necessary treatment. If you prefer to make a phone call, you can reach out to them as well.

Why You Should Have a Family Physician

In case of any medical concerns, family physicians can serve as your one-stop shop to get you back on the road to good health. But aside from these claims, there are many practical uses for a family physician. 

Here are some of the many reasons you should have a family physician:

Easier Access to Medical Services

Hospitals are places where you can get immediate medical assistance when you’re ill or hurt. However, if you don’t know what to do in the case of an emergency, getting the help you need will be harder. You’ll be forced to call the hospital and explain what’s happening. In the process, you’ll waste a lot of time and effort—and that can be enough to make your condition worse!

With a family physician, you can access medical care much faster—your doctor can prescribe the proper medication, which you can then pick up on your way to the hospital. This will speed up your recovery and help you get back to normal sooner.

Personal Connection

When you have a family physician, you’ll be able to get a personal connection with them. You’ll get to know the people who are treating you, and you’ll be able to build trust with them. This can make treatment easier since you won’t be surprised by anything.

A family physician is a general practitioner who has seen their patients before. They’ll be familiar with your medical history, while you could be a stranger to the other doctors you might see. This means you can state your reason for visiting them sooner and more efficiently than you could state it to another doctor. The family physician will also ask specific questions about your condition and how you feel.

Ability to Refer You to Specialists

Sometimes what you need is not a family physician but a specialist—for example, a dermatologist. When you have a family physician, you’ll be able to refer to them specifically when you need a specialist. They will know what you need, allowing them to refer you to the best doctor to treat your condition.

The family physician will also recommend the best specialists to you. They are familiar with the doctors around your area and know who’s the best for what you need.


At the end of the day, having a family physician is best for your health! When you get sick, you can visit them and receive the best treatment for your condition. If you need a specialist, you can refer to your family physician, who will refer you to a specialist that specializes in the kind of treatment you need.

If you’ve been in search of the best primary care physician in Santa Fe, look no more! Our primary care providers at Aspen Medical Center are trained to care for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly and everyone in between. Check-in online today!

doctor and patient

The Different Health Risks in Leading an Inactive Lifestyle

You’ve probably heard of the term “couch potato,” and chances are you may have been called that. If you aren’t aware of what it means, it’s simple: you have an inactive lifestyle. As the name suggests, an inactive lifestyle is a life with little to no physical activity, such as exercise.

More and more people are now switching to a sedentary lifestyle, with people spending hours upon hours sitting in front of the TV or a computer screen. What’s worse is that it’s not just in the US, but it has also become a global problem. When you think about it, some of us are inadvertently made to become sedentary, especially at work if it’s a 9 to 5 job in front of a desk.

In this article, we’ll shed some light on how an inactive lifestyle can put your health at risk. Read on below to learn more.

How an Inactive Lifestyle Affects the Body

When you lead an inactive lifestyle, your body will undergo the following changes:

  • Burns fewer calories, making you susceptible to weight gain
  • Metabolism will take a hit, and your body will have difficulty in breaking down fats and sugars
  • Your bones will be weaker
  • Blood circulation will be poor
  • You become more susceptible to body inflammations
  • Hormonal imbalances may occur
  • Your muscle strength and endurance will decrease

The Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle

Since you’re not physically active, you’re more likely to develop chronic diseases. The risks of leading an inactive lifestyle are as follows:

  • Obesity
  • Cancer (colon, breast, and uterine cancers)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type 2 diabetes

All of these risks can lead to one thing: premature death. The more sedentary you are, the higher your risks.

Getting Started with Exercise

If you have been inactive, it’s best to start slowly. As you become more active, you should keep adding more activities. However, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by this because you need to ensure that what you’re doing is appropriate for your age and health. What matters is that you at least do something. Eventually, you can switch up your goal to get the recommended amount of exercise for your age and health.

How to Be Active at Home

Here are some ways you can be active at home:

  • Do household chores because most of them involve physical work
  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood
  • Stand up and walk around the house if you’re taking a call
  • Put on a workout video and follow what’s being shown
  • Get exercise equipment, such as a treadmill or a stationary bike. If you’re tight on a budget or space, you can get smaller equipment instead, such as dumbbells, yoga balls, or exercise mats.

How to Be Active at Work

As mentioned earlier, many jobs involve sitting in front of a desk for long periods of time. With this in mind, it can be tricky to insert being physically active at work. Luckily, there are ways to do so, such as:

  • Get up and move around at least once every hour
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Take advantage of your breaks by walking around your building or office
  • Go to a co-worker directly instead of sending an email


We should always take care of our bodies to save ourselves from adverse side effects. The easiest way to do so is to engage in physical activity, and what’s even better is that it doesn’t have to be strenuous. As long as you do physical activities, you will maintain your body’s condition.

A primary care physician can advise you on matters related to physical health. If you’re looking for primary care physicians in Santa Fe, look no further than Aspen Medical Center! Our medical experts are trained to care for all ages, so we can guarantee that you’re in good hands. Contact us today for a consultation!

back pain

Busting 10 Common Misconceptions about Back Pain

Many people commonly experience back pain. About 80 percent of people will develop back pain at some point in their lives.

The symptoms of back pain can vary between people. While some can be sharp and brief, others can be dull and lasting.

Still, many myths and misconceptions surround back pain. Here are some of them:

Myth #1: If You Have Back Pain, You Should Rest

The most prominent myth about back pain is resting. When you have a sore back, you can lie down and lie on a pillow, but you must also maintain a regular schedule. Your back pain will get worse if you lie in bed all day. 

To relieve back pain, it is necessary to move frequently. 

Myth #2: Back Pain Is Caused By Damaged Discs

While discs are the most common source of back pain, other issues can also cause pain. For instance, muscle strain, arthritis, or even stress can cause pain. 

Multiple studies have found that about 20 percent of people with back pain visit a doctor. These people tend to experience more severe back pain, so doctors should even take more time to test them.

Myth #3: Most People Have Back Pain at Some Point in Their Lives, So You Have to Learn to Live with It 

While it is true that most people experience back pain, it should not be considered normal. If your back hurts, you should consult a doctor to figure out the cause of the pain. 

Myth #4: Lifting Heavy Objects Can Cause Back Pain

While lifting heavy objects can lead to an injury, it is not always the cause of back pain. Back pain may be more likely to occur if you lift heavy things every day. 

Myth #5: Your Doctor Can Diagnose Your Back Pain with an X-Ray

An X-ray is only recommended for people with limited mobility. Some people think they can fix their back pain with an X-ray, but doctors do not recommend this method. 

Myth #6: Bad Posture is the Leading Cause of Back Pain

Bad posture is often associated with back pain, but most people do not have bad posture. In fact, about 40 percent of people have a normal posture. Therefore, a person’s posture is not a good measure of their back pain. 

Myth #7: The Best Way to Reduce Back Pain Is to Take Painkillers

Many people think that taking painkillers can help them recover from back pain. However, painkillers can make the pain worse. Painkillers can relax the muscles and cause further spasms, which is why doctors cannot recommend them as a solution. 

Myth #8: A Hot Tub Can Help Heal Your Back Pain

A hot tub is a good option for back pain, but a bathtub can also help. Baths can help relax aching muscles. 

Myth #9: You Should Avoid Back Exercises If You Have a Sore Back

If you have minor back pain, light exercises can be helpful. However, it is essential to talk to your doctor before you start any physical activity. 

Myth #10: Back Pain Can Help You Avoid Back Surgeries

Back pain is not necessarily a sign that you need surgery. Many people with back pain do not need surgery. 

If you do need surgery, back pain can indeed help you avoid a more severe problem. 


These myths and misconceptions about back pain can be dangerous and lead to more severe conditions and even surgery. If you have back pain, let your doctor know and discuss the pain and other symptoms. 

Aspen Medical Center is a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Española, NM, offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. If you deal with minor to significant back pain, you should seek medical help. Our well-trained primary care physicians here in Santa Fe will assist you with the utmost care. Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help!

man with flu

4 Preventative Measures to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Whenever the cold and flu season is just around the corner, you need to take certain precautions to avoid getting hit with the flu. While you might enjoy most of your nights cozying up indoors with your family and friends, the last thing you want is to spend most of your time feeling awful and curled up with a pile of tissues. This guide offers some tips you can follow to stay healthy and build up your immune system to prepare for the cold and flu season.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is still one of the best defenses against the cold. Instead of eating too many saturated fats, sugar, processed foods, and red meat, it’s better to stock up on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains. By eating these types of foods, you can build your immune system to become more robust and responsive. Some of the things you should consider eating include:

  • Selenium-rich foods like chicken, egg yolks, seafood, and whole grains
  • Citrus fruits, red bell peppers, and kiwi for your daily dose of vitamin C
  • Carrots for beta carotene and vitamin A
  • Vitamin-D-rich foods like yogurt and salmon to help you build your immune system
  • Beans, crabs, and turkey meat (dark) for zinc

Get Plenty of Rest and Sleep

If you like staying up late and pulling all-nighters, you may want to refrain from doing that once the flu season hits. Not getting enough puts you at risk of falling ill and weakening your immune system. If you want them to function at their best, you need to get at least seven hours of shut-eye every night. This is because losing some of those hours of sleep can cause inflammatory markers to go up and your immune system function to go down, increasing the likelihood of you getting sick. Since nights are longer during the cold season, take advantage of it and get as much sleep as you can.

Stay Active Even When You’re at Home

We all know how hard it is to stay active and do all your workouts when it’s wintertime where you’re mostly stuck at home. However, you really need to adopt some good indoor exercising habits to help keep your body active and avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. Think of it this way: winter is the best way to take up a new sport that you can play indoors. If you like going out for a jog or cycling around the city, you can instead do yoga or indoor rock climbing as an alternative. It can help you mix it up when it comes to your workout routine but still remain active and fit.

Get a Flu Shot

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading around the world, people didn’t seem to give that much thought to vaccines and flu shots. In today’s post-pandemic world, getting vaccinated and getting your shots just became much more important than ever. So if you want to give yourself that added protection against the flu, it’s best to get your flu shot every year and give your immune system a better fighting chance against the thousands of different strains of the flu virus out there.


Colds, flu, and other illnesses can give you a pretty hard time, so you better be prepared once the flu season starts. The best way to stay healthy during this time is to take preventative steps even before you feel any of the first symptoms. Follow this guide and prepare yourself better against what you’re up against every flu and cold season.

Aspen Medical Center welcomes you to our locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM. We offer family urgent care and primary care services to all our clients. If you have any health concerns that need to be addressed, let our urgent care specialists examine them for you. Contact us today to set an appointment.

flu shot

How to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Flu Shot

Getting your regular flu shot can help keep you protected against the seasonal flu. Aside from reducing your chances of catching the flu, getting a flu vaccine can also reduce the transmission of the virus to high-risk individuals. So, it’s really important to get your flu vaccine every year. But did you know that there are some practices you can do to make your flu shot more effective?

Get the Timing Right

Not many people realize this, but it matters when you get your flu shot. You need to time your flu vaccine right to get maximum protection. This is because it will take around two weeks from the time you get your shot for your body to develop the antibodies it needs to protect you from the virus. Getting it too late may not give your body enough time to develop enough antibodies. According to the CDC, the end of October is the ideal time to get your flu shot so it can be most effective.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Regardless of whether you’re getting your flu shot or not, it’s essential to eat a healthy diet to keep your body healthy. But eating healthier before and after getting your shot can really help boost the effectiveness of the flu shot. That’s because a healthy diet can help promote a healthy immune system.

In particular, you should focus on eating foods that are good for your gut health. For example, probiotics are often essential in keeping your gut biome healthy and can help you fight off the flu. Other healthy foods you should add to your diet include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fermented foods, and yogurt.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep plays a crucial role in a person’s health. So, it’s best to develop good sleep habits so you can have quality sleep each night. Fixing your bad sleep habits is especially crucial leading up to your flu shot. After all, you’d want to be well-rested when it’s time to get your shot.

Aside from that, inadequate sleep can also increase your chances of coming down with the cold. When you’re not getting enough sleep each night, your body weakens, and your immune system can get compromised. 

In fact, a study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that the vaccine’s effectiveness was down to half in those who had less than five hours of sleep in the nights leading up to their flu shot. Since the body isn’t getting enough sleep, the immune system wouldn’t have enough time to repair and build itself at night.

Exercise Your Body

Regular physical activity is another essential aspect of personal health. And it can also help you get the most out of your flu vaccine. Engaging in plenty of physical activity can help get your body ready for the shot. In particular, regular cardiovascular exercise was found to improve a person’s response to the flu shot, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of lifestyle changes you can do to help increase the effectiveness of your flu shot. In general, it’s all about keeping your body healthy so it can be ready to receive the vaccine. This can be through quality sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise. The timing of your flu vaccine also matters.

Keep yourself healthy and protected from the flu with the help of Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM that provides flu shots and other primary and urgent care services. Schedule an appointment now!

scratching rashes

Hives and Rashes: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever had raised, itchy welts on your skin, you may have wondered if they are hives or rashes. Rashes take many forms, usually presenting themselves as inflammation or discoloration of your skin. Hives can resemble rashes since they consist of itchy welts, and they both look swollen and red. 

Hives are triggered by allergies, while rashes have a wide range of possible causes. Despite looking similar, they require different treatments. It is crucial to understand the difference between the two, so you can treat your hives or rash properly and prevent them from worsening. Here’s what you need to know:

All About Hives

Hives are raised welts that feel incredibly itchy and can vary in size from tiny to large. They show up anywhere on your body and typically disappear in 24 hours, although new hives may appear to replace them. It’s easy to identify hives since they manifest as raised, pink or red patches or bumps and are single welts or bigger clusters of them. Sometimes they are accompanied by a stinging sensation. 

Some people experience hives in the same place, usually associated with a specific trigger, like food or medication. Doctors refer to this as fixed hives. You can quickly resolve hives by staying away from the trigger, which can be food like fruits, milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, pollen, insect bites, animals, and medicines. However, some people develop hives for other reasons, like scratching, pressure, infections, exposure to the sun, chemicals, or extreme temperatures, stress, and illness.

All About Rashes

On the other hand, “rash” is used to describe any sort of inflammation or discoloration that makes your skin appear different. Rashes are usually a symptom of a different health issue. They can occur in one place or spread throughout your body. 

Unlike hives, rashes can look different from each other. They can be red, blotchy, scaly, or blistered. Rashes are typically itchy, but some can be painful. You can get a rash when you’re sick with another illness, like measles or shingles, so it’s crucial to visit an urgent care center when you have an inflammation accompanied by a fever or significant pain.

There are many kinds of rashes. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is one of the most common rashes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a definite cause, but it can be hereditary. Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition where you’ll have a crusty-looking or greasy rash that pops up on and around the scalp, caused by several environmental factors, your health, and your family history. Contact dermatitis is a rash caused by touching an object that irritates your skin, like detergent, chemicals, plants, or some types of body care. Rashes may also appear due to viral, fungal, or yeast infections.

Diagnosing Hives and Rashes

Rashes and hives have different underlying causes, so it is crucial to visit your family physician as soon as possible to isolate the cause and seek the appropriate treatment. Doctors can typically identify hives simply by looking at them, but it can be challenging to pinpoint the trigger. They may need to conduct a battery of tests like allergy tests, bloodwork, or even a skin biopsy to determine the cause.

On the other hand, diagnosing rashes is a bit more complicated. The doctor will look at your rash and ask you several questions, such as when they first appeared, if they are itchy or painful, and other symptoms you may be experiencing. These symptoms may be difficulty breathing or a fever, which may signal a severe allergic reaction.

The doctor will try to identify the cause of your rash by asking about the food, chemicals, and medication you have consumed recently. They’ll also want to know about your exposure to unfamiliar places that may have had strange plants or animals. They will ask you about new body care products you’ve been using, like detergents, which can result in rashes. However, if they suspect you of having a viral or fungal infection, they’ll take a skin swab and send it to a lab for analysis.


When you have a cluster of itchy bumps, it can be difficult to tell whether they’re hives or rashes. By understanding the differences between the two and seeing your primary care doctor right away, you can get the proper treatment and prevent the inflammation from happening again.

Aspen Medical Center is a walk-in clinic and urgent care center that provides primary care to people of all ages. We offer a wide range of state-of-the-art services, like on-site x-ray, urgent care appointments, sports physicals, and more. Contact us today to book an appointment.

woman with doctor

Everything You Need to Know About a Pap Smear Test

Has the doctor prescribed you to take a Pap test or a Pap smear? If so, then this article will be perfect for you. Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about a Pap smear test so that you can prepare yourself before the procedure. It’s better if you are informed than to take the test without any idea about it.

So, let’s get to it!

What Is a Pap Smear?

First, let’s define what a Pap smear is. The terms Pap smear and Pap test are just the same things. Essentially, a pap smear is a test or a screening procedure for people suspected of or at risk of having cervical cancer. The test aims to look for any presence of precancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix. During the process, the cells from the cervix are gently scraped away and examined for abnormal growth. This test is also used to diagnose other conditions such as infections or inflammations.

Who Takes a Pap Smear Test?

Anyone can take a Pap smear. However, age will matter. In fact, the American Cancer Society recommends that screening should start at the age of 25. Also, a Pap smear is usually recommended for women who have an increased risk for cancer or infection. 

People who are HIV positive and have a weakened immune system for chemotherapy or an organ transplant are required to have frequent Pap smears. 

What Are the General Reminders When Getting a Pap Smear?

If you’re about to have a Pap test, you should prepare for it. Here are the things you should take note of before getting the test: 

  • You should not have menstruation on the day of your Pap smear. If you have, the doctor will most likely reschedule the test because the result could be less accurate.
  • As much as possible, avoid having sexual intercourse, douching, or using spermicidal products the day before your test.
  • If you’re pregnant, the safest time to have a Pap smear is when you’re in the first 24 weeks of your pregnancy. 
  • Try to stay calm and take deep breaths during the procedure. 

What Happens During a Pap Smear?

You should know that a Pap smear may feel a little bit uncomfortable. But the good news is that the test is just very quick. To give you an idea, here’s what may happen during the procedure: 

  • First, the doctor will ask you to lie on your back on an examination table with your legs wide open and your feet resting on the supports called stirrups.
  • Then, don’t be shocked because the doctor will slowly insert a speculum device into your vagina. The device will keep your vaginal walls open and provide access to the cervix.
  • After that, the doctor will scrape a sample of cells from your cervix using a particular tool.
  • Finally, the cells from your cervix will be preserved and sent to a laboratory to be tested. 

What to Expect After the Test?

If you’re feeling some discomfort or a bit of cramping after the test, don’t panic because it is only normal. In fact, you could also experience very light vaginal bleeding immediately following the test. But, if the discomfort or bleeding continues after the day of the test, you should immediately tell your doctor about it. 


Now that you know more about a Pap smear, there’s no need to be afraid of the test anymore. You need to have it, especially if your doctor recommends it, because that can tell if you have abnormal cells in your cervix. If detected early, infections and inflammations can be treated properly. There’s also a higher chance to prevent cancer because treatment can start before it spreads and becomes a more significant concern. 

You can have a Pap test at Aspen Medical Center. We are a medical clinic in Santa Fe providing primary care to our patients. Our medical staff is trained to care for people of all ages, from infants to the elderly and everyone in between. Book your appointment with us today!


Sinusitis vs. Migraine: Getting the Best Medical Care

Yes, we all suffer from occasional headaches. However, there could be more to the story if your headache is combined with a stuffy or runny nose or aching brows and cheekbones. Perhaps you could be suffering from sinusitis or migraines, yet not know which one is your condition. 

If you find yourself in this predicament, you must first consult your doctor or urgent care physician. With their expertise, you can be guided to the proper diagnosis and treatment. At the same time, be prepared to learn if the source of your headaches is not what you expected! 

After all, you could be suffering from migraines instead of a sinus infection or seasonal allergy headache. Read on to learn more about distinguishing the two and how to get the best medical care for you.

Sinusitis or Migraine?

If you have a cold, allergies, or nasal obstructions, you may get sinusitis and suffer from sinus headaches. This form of headache can be caused by inflammation of the sinuses or the brain cavities that connect the nose to the brain, in addition to sinusitis. Its acute stage may last up to ten days. Meanwhile, its chronic stage can last up to 12 weeks.

On the other hand, migraines induce a more severe sort of headache that can be caused by a variety of factors such as stress, hormone changes, or a lack of sleep. This neurological disorder causes nasal congestion and headaches. Migraine pain or discomfort is usually unilateral or throbbing, and it worsens with daily or strenuous activity.

Similarities and Differences

It’s common to mix up sinusitis and migraines, mainly because they are similar in symptoms like pressure on the head or cheeks, sneezing, nasal congestion, enlarged nasal membrane, swollen eyes, and headaches.

Sinus headaches occur due to viral or bacterial infection, whereas migraines have an unknown cause. Chemical messengers in the brain, neurons, blood vessels, and tissue are all involved. Several circumstances can also bring on migraines. Despite their similarities, the two illnesses manifest in entirely distinct ways.

You may have a sinus headache if you have a fever, cough, congestion, and headache. Green or yellow mucus could indicate a bacterial sinus infection, which can induce headaches. 

Meanwhile, migraines are distinguished by pain, vision loss, light flashes or bizarre forms, peculiar tastes or scents, and erratic noises. They are hereditary and are more common in women.

Migraine: Symptoms and Treatments 

Certain foods, activities, and environments can cause migraines. One will have to manage nausea, vomiting, nasal discharge, and sensitivity to bright light, specific odors, and loud sounds among the migraine symptoms.

To treat migraine headaches, one may need prescription drugs, tablets, injections, and nasal sprays. These medications are also used to treat seizures, depression, and cardiac problems.

Sinusitis: Symptoms and Treatments

A sinusitis headache may be accompanied by thick nasal discharge and fever if an infection occurs. Additionally, patients with sinus infections frequently complain of ear or upper tooth discomfort.

Your urgent care physician may prescribe a decongestant or an over-the-counter nose spray to help relieve swelling. To assist nasal secretions, take a hot shower and hydrate with warm liquids. If the symptoms persist, seek antibiotics from a walk-in clinic physician to immediately kill the bacteria in your system.


Headaches can appear in our lives in various ways, and due to their resemblance, it’s easy to confuse a migraine with a sinus headache. 

Recognizing the similarities and differences between the two will help you determine if you have a migraine or a sinus headache and seek suitable treatment. Furthermore, you should always seek medical help and avoid self-diagnosing.

Are you looking for primary care physicians in Santa Fe? Aspen Medical Center has the resources to care for you and your family with essential primary care designed to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Our medical staff has extensive expertise caring for patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. Call us now for an appointment!

kid walking in leaves

Treating Children’s Asthma in the Fall Season: A Guide

Around the fall season, asthma flare-ups occur in a lot of children, especially as they are just going back to school. Some are unfortunate enough to even be hospitalized more times during the fall season than any other season.

There are many ways to help your child cope with asthma during the fall season. Here are a few quick tips to manage asthma and identify its probable causes.

Fall and Asthma Triggers

Fall is also considered by many as flu season, as there are significantly higher amounts of viruses festering at this time. For children with asthma, this is an even more delicate case as they have a higher chance of contracting any illnesses during this season.

Exposure to allergies and viral infections will worsen conditions, especially if they are surrounded by their classmates at school. For those with graver cases, they can contract respiratory infections and wheeze because of asthma. This can also lead to hospitalization.

What Causes Fall Allergies

During the fall season, there are a significantly higher amount of allergens present in the air. Most notably, ragweed, a plant that contains an alarming amount of pollen, grows rampantly during this season. 

This would typically start around September and dwindle down by late November. A single plant of ragweed triggers asthma, as it contains microorganisms that draw out a reactive response from your child.

The worst part about ragweed would be that under immense pressure and unfavorable conditions, it will only produce more pollen, which spells bad news for asthmatics. 

How Going Back to School Triggers Asthma

For kids, going back to school means more exposure to any airborne allergens that can trigger asthma. Preventing them from staying outside may help reduce exposure to allergens like ragweed, but there are more dangers inside the classroom as well.

Anything, from chalk dust, dust books, mold, and even pet residue from classmates may trigger it. They might also be affected by exercise-related asthma. If they have any other existing food allergies, that might also be one cause for triggering their asthma.

You can never play it too safe at school. Make sure to take the proper safety precautions as you do so.

Quick Tips to Deal with Seasonal Asthma

There are a number of ways to help prevent your child’s asthma from being triggered. Here are some that you can do.

1. Get a Flu Shot

When your child has asthma, they are at greater risk of contracting the flu. Prevent any more from occurring by making sure your child gets a complete round of flu shots.

2. Take Asthma Medication

If you notice any flare-ups, make sure to consult with your care provider about the right medication to take, and the right dosage. See if there are any adjustments to make to the medication as well.

3. Take an Allergy Test

Having allergies on top of asthma can be very harmful. Make sure you take tests to see what allergens your child’s body reacts to. This will help your care providers work with you to seek the proper treatment for your kids.


The fall season is a dangerous time for asthmatic kids, and we must always remain vigilant. Seeking the proper help as well as getting tested and vaccinated will prevent any flare-ups for your children during this time.

Get the best care and help for your child through Aspen Medical Center. We provide urgent care services in Santa Fe to ensure that everyone gets the proper treatment they need. Check in online with us today.


Why Flu Shots Are Still Important during the Pandemic

Flu season exists for a reason. Unfortunately, it does not stop just because the world is currently fighting a pandemic. Viruses spread year-round, but most of the flu activity peaks between December and February. Before that season begins, make sure that your body is prepared for it. Get your flu vaccine as early as October to give your body enough time to respond to the vaccine. 

Since COVID-19 is still here and will not go away anytime soon, you must make yourself healthier. Staying healthy is the best defense your body can do to avoid any virus from wearing out your body. This one little move could be the protection that your body needs against any destruction. 

Every winter, hospitals get more patients due to the cold season and the flu. If you do not want to be part of this patient volume, get vaccinated for the flu as early as you can.

Who Should Get Flu Shots?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, anyone aged six months onwards should get their respective flu vaccines. The most vulnerable people are encouraged to participate in this call. If you belong to the following groups, you should prioritize getting flu shots as soon as possible:

  • You are a child or someone aged 65 and above
  • You have respiratory illnesses
  • You have lower immunity due to certain diseases

If your health condition is at a severe level, it would be best to consult and get your doctor’s approval first. When you take care of yourself through this small action, you have a high chance of not getting the flu during the flu season. 

How to Get Your Flu Vaccine

There are many ways you can get your flu vaccine. Here are some of them:

1. Get Your Flu Shot During Your Annual Wellness Exam

If you take a wellness exam annually, you can schedule it from October onwards and secure your flu vaccine by then. Make sure that you inform your doctor or anyone from the clinic ahead. You can also register your vaccine during your child’s vaccination schedule. Just make sure to notify all concerned parties beforehand. 

2. Request for a Vaccination Schedule

If you have no scheduled appointment with your health center, you can also secure an appointment for this purpose alone. Book a schedule with your clinic ahead so they can prepare and secure the vaccine for you. If you plan to have the whole family get the flu shots, notify your clinic in advance about the number of people you intend to bring. 

Is It Safe to Get Both COVID-19 and Flu Vaccine?

One of the biggest concerns in people’s heads is both vaccines’ safety, especially when mixed. However, there is no problem at all. Getting the COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time is considered safe. 

The mix does not result in long-term side effects and does not alter the vaccine’s effectiveness. However, you have to be familiar with the side effects that each vaccine could give you. For example, some people experience chills or headaches upon receiving their COVID-19 vaccine, but these eventually disappear. 

Mixing the two does not make these side effects worse either. They are natural effects of your body developing immunity against a virus. 


People have no complete control over how the virus spreads and even on how it exists, but there are small steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your loved ones from experiencing the worst from it. Getting flu shots is one of the many steps. Listening to authority and following health protocols are another. If you have not taken your flu vaccine yet, consider scheduling one soon.

Aspen Medical Center is a locally-owned urgent and primary care medical facility located in Santa Fe and Espanola. We offer state-of-the-art services, which include flu shots for all. Call us at 505-657-1799 to book an appointment. 

First Aid Training - Burn injury

An Overview of Burns and How You Should Respond to Them

Human bodies are highly sensitive to different environmental variables. This is why people can experience a range of symptoms from something as simple as a change in temperature. Although we can train our bodies to withstand high and low temperatures, no amount of conditioning can make a person resistant to fire.

When a person is burnt, it’s usually classified into one of four degrees, with the first being the lightest with the fourth being the most damaging. Dealing with burns is an urgent matter, regardless of their severity. For this reason, it’s beneficial to learn the proper way of determining and treating these conditions.

How Does a Person Get Burnt?

Burns are injuries that can come from different sources. However, they typically come from hot substances like boiling liquids, steam, fires, and even hot containers or heating implements. Other heat sources include electrical surges, harsh sunlight, corrosive chemicals, and even strong amounts of radiation.

Although people experience a burning sensation after experiencing friction from hard substances, it’s technically not a burn. Instead, the skin’s damage is due to heat energy and the coarseness of an object’s texture. This leads to a throbbing sensation which should generally subside since the damage only occurs on the outermost layer of skin.

What Are the Different Degrees of Burns?

A burn is categorized into four different levels, depending on its severity. First-degree burns are typically dry and red, showing signs of inflammation with the skin turning white when pressed. This type of burn should heal completely within a week with no scarring.

A second-degree burn is painful even to exposure to air. Additionally, the skin will seep fluid and can form blisters. This is why it’s necessary to have it bandaged or treated with topical creams and moisturizers. Although this burn doesn’t lead to scar formation, the affected skin may permanently turn darker after healing within one to three weeks..

A third-degree burn is extremely painful and always forms blisters. It can take more than 21 days to heal, depending on the affected area and the person’s skin sensitivity. If your wound develops burns immediately, it means it has come in contact with extremely high temperatures. The affected area of the skin typically results in severe scarring after healing.

A fourth-degree burn is usually painless after being away from the hot substance or environment. This is because the burn has dug deep into destroying a person’s nerve endings. The dry skin turns into a waxy white or charred black color and cannot heal without surgical treatment.

Unfortunately, some burns can seem mild but deepen over time. This is why you must be sure about the cause and extent of damage to your burnt skin. It’s best to seek a medical expert at an emergency ward for an immediate diagnosis.

What Should I Do If I Get Burnt?

It’s important to clean the burn and keep it protected with a dressing. This will prevent further irritation or risk of infection. It’s best to avoid touching the burnt area and moisturize the wound to prevent scarring. Depending on the severity of your burn, you may or may not require major medical treatments.


Some burns are easier to treat than others, depending on their severity and the area affected on your body. While minor fourth-degree burns are easily treatable with first-aid kits, you will need immediate medical attention for more severe cases. Even if you’re not hurting too much, you shouldn’t use your pain tolerance as an excuse to avoid professional medical assistance. Remember to keep the contact details and directions to your local clinic for any urgent outpatient medical needs.

Even if you have an urgent medical emergency, you should still look for reliable healthcare services for assistance. At Aspen Medical center, our facilities are open seven days a week. If you need to visit an urgent care center in Santa Fe, NM, contact us today.

Doctor Pointing X-ray Result

What Urgent Care X-Ray Results Can Disclose

An urgent care X-ray is a typical radiographic test that helps your physician do a non-surgical internal test in your body. It helps in diagnosing, monitoring, and treating various medical symptoms. It is among the basic procedures doctors would recommend for heart or lung disease.

Although there are patients apprehensive about X-rays, even up to now, because of the risks involved, the benefits still outweigh the risks, and your doctor recommends it as needed only to help in treating your condition more accurately. 

Your doctor may order an X-ray to inspect a painful region, track the course of an illness, or evaluate the effectiveness of ongoing treatments. 

The following are the most frequent problems that urgent care X-rays can reveal:

1. Lung Problems

Chest X-rays can detect cancer, inflammation, or infection in the lungs. X-rays can reveal if you have a chronic lung condition like cystic fibrosis, emphysema, COPD, and several other conditions, making it a vital part of diagnosing lung conditions.

2. Heart-Related Lung Problems

Another condition that a chest X-ray can reveal is abnormalities in your lungs caused by heart problems. When pulmonary edema happens to you or when fluid accumulates in your lungs, the problem can be beyond your lungs. It may be caused by severe heart conditions such as congestive heart failure.

3. Heart Conditions

X-rays can easily show the size and shape of your heart. Any abnormalities can indicate various heart conditions such as enlarged heart, congenital heart disease, heart failure, pericardial effusion (fluid buildup), or malfunctions in your heart valves. 

4. Blood Vessel Abnormalities

Aside from the shape, size, and outline of your heart, the aorta, pulmonary arteries, and veins of your heart can also be detected via X-ray. It can detect congenital heart disease, aortic aneurysms, and other severe blood vessel issues in patients.

5. Calcium Deposits

Chest X-rays can reveal the existence of calcium deposits in your heart or blood vessels, which indicates that your heart valves, heart muscle, coronary arteries, or the protective sac around the heart are damaged. It can also detect calcium deposits in your lungs caused by a previous infection or disease. 

6. Arthritis and Osteoporosis

When a patient complains of bone discomfort, the doctor may order an X-ray to rule out arthritis or osteoporosis, frequently difficult to detect on the surface.

Often, patients won’t even realize they have it until they are in their later stages. It is why an X-ray is crucial to detect them at the onset to help doctors recommend appropriate care immediately.

7. Potential Fractures

If you have any numbness, soreness, or pain in your limbs, an X-ray can check if it’s from a potential injury or fracture that must not be ignored, as it can aggravate microfractures to more severe injuries. 

8. Postoperative Changes

When a patient has had chest surgery in the lungs, heart, or esophagus, X-rays can help monitor recovery progress or lack thereof. Your doctor can examine any lines or tubes implanted after surgery to ensure no air leaks or fluid buildup.

9. Hidden Infections

An inside infection might be one of the most challenging things to identify at times. Diseases within the body might remain dormant for weeks or even months, developing without the patient being aware of the problem.

With an X-ray scan, you can discover the source of the problem and detect any anomaly in its earliest phases, allowing your doctor to recommend appropriate treatments immediately.

10. A Pacemaker, Defibrillator, or Catheter

A chest X-ray usually is taken after the placement of a pacemaker and defibrillator in a patient. It can show if the position is correct, especially since pacemakers and defibrillators have lead content attached to the heart to maintain regular heart rate and rhythm. 

X-rays can also check for catheters, which are small tubings necessary to release medications or for dialysis. 


Conditions that may call for an X-ray also include cancers, tumors, digestive problems, blocked blood vessels, tooth decay, or if a patient has swallowed indigestible items by accident and many others. 

An urgent care X-ray is critical to detect severe conditions before they get worse, so if your doctor requires one, trust that it is in your best interest. Finding out about these issues early on will help your doctor swiftly give a treatment plan before your condition worsens. That said, never hesitate to get one!

Aspen Medical Center is the only locally owned outpatient medical clinic providing quality primary care and urgent care in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM. Allow our cutting-edge services and facilities to make a difference—book an appointment today. 

person getting a shot

Flu Season: Everything You Need to Know About Flu Shots

The flu, medically recognized as influenza, is a viral respiratory infection that affects millions worldwide. Its symptoms include a slight fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and general fatigue. While most cases of the flu tend to go away after enough best, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused flu-like symptoms to be a major cause for concern.

Flu vaccines are updated yearly since strains grow and develop to be resistant to medicines. For this reason, getting a flu vaccine is recommended to keep yourself from getting infected. Since a flu vaccine isn’t for everyone, it’s vital to know your research before booking a schedule for a shot at your local clinic.

The Flu Vaccine’s Development

Since influenza strains develop over time, the seasonal flu vaccine needs to be manufactured months in advance. The basis of the vaccine is the result of extensive research on which strains will be most present in the upcoming season.

People can typically take one of two vaccine variants, with each providing protection to a set of influenza viruses. The trivalent vaccine protects individuals from three flu viruses: one influenza B virus and two influenza A viruses. On the other hand, a quadrivalent vaccine offers protections for two viruses of the A and B strain simultaneously.

The Flu Vaccine’s Recipients

Getting a flu vaccine is generally a safe procedure, but it can be more necessary for certain individuals. Those who are particularly in need of the flu vaccine are the following:

  • People with chronic medical conditions
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant women
  • American Indians
  • Alaska Natives
  • Healthcare workers
  • Caregivers
  • Children between six months and five months of age

There are exemptions to getting the flu vaccine. For example, children under six months of age shouldn’t receive these medical procedures. Instead, it’s better to protect the child’s adult family members from lowering the chances of infection.

The Flu Vaccine’s Effect

After receiving the flu shot, it will take two weeks before your body develops appropriate antibodies for flu protection. During this period, you’ll still be vulnerable to the flu. For this reason, you should maintain good hygiene and avoid crowds or touching your nose and mouth. These precautions are similar to what you should do after getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

The immunity to the flu will naturally decrease over time, but it should give you enough protection to last the yearly flu season. However, the continual growth of influenza viruses will require you to take another shot to maintain your body’s proper response against flu infections.

The Flu Vaccine’s Side Effects

General side effects from receiving the vaccine include redness, swelling, or soreness from the injection site. You may also have a low-grade fever or general body aches. Thankfully, these symptoms tend to go away on their own without any need for OTC medicine or prescription medication.


Since a diagnosis of COVID-19 requires a rapid test to confirm, it can be distressing to wait for results while experiencing flu-like symptoms. Thankfully, vaccines for the flu and COVID-19 are readily available to protect against these diseases’ more severe health complications. If you’re fit to receive the vaccine for either illness, it’s best to take it as an extra defense layer to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.

Getting the flu vaccine is a long-term investment to your health and your loved ones’ protection. This is why our team at Aspen Medical care provides services to help you make the right medical choices. Take your flu shots in Santa Fe, VM, by visiting our facilities today!


The Concept of Herd Immunity in the Age of COVID-19

For almost two years now, the world has concentrated on efforts and urgent care for the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccinations are currently ongoing across the globe, and many doctors and healthcare workers hope to finally overcome the virus or achieve herd immunity.

However, there are still many issues around the globe when it comes to proper pandemic response. Most countries’ conditions are still less than ideal for treatment and containment. If only vaccination or effective treatment and response were as simple as getting a PCR test in Santa Fe today.

We have to look at other facts to gauge worldwide response. It will at least give us a real update to know when we can see good statistics on its elimination. Or at least a dramatic decline of the virus.

The Reality of Today’s COVID-19 Pandemic

Vaccination remains the top priority in the effective elimination of the virus. Second, three key treatment methods are coming in for a COVID swab test, quarantining, and proper treatment of emerging symptoms. These are the primary pandemic responses in place to know who are carriers and separate them from the general populace for treatment.

Once a primary care doctor sees a positive result for the coronavirus, treatment is made ASAP. Many advanced treatments are in place, whether it’s for a mild or a severe case. The main goal is both isolation and successful treatment to contain the virus and avoid spreading it further.

Ultimately, by consistently carrying out these pandemic solutions, we can dramatically decrease active carriers until positive cases are eliminated. Vaccinated citizens can start outnumbering potential carriers until a very few percentages of the world’s population only has the virus. Up until the point where only patients in treatment will carry it until each case is successfully treated.

Herd community is a possibility in many countries with advanced vaccination programs. But the whole world is still trying to catch up, with many variations of the virus spreading anew. These alarming developments have to be consistently worked on as they can affect the progress we’ve made so far.

Can the World Achieve Herd Immunity?

We can achieve freedom from COVID by dramatically reduced COVID-19 infections and herd immunity through mass vaccinations. Herd immunity works when these two conditions are met, resulting in an extreme decline in cases.

The first condition still poses many difficult issues around the world. Ideally, we want a percentage decline where 90 percent or more of the world’s population are tested, treated, or vaccinated, leaving 10 percent or less to worry about for treatment. A far more realistic approach in real herd immunity is still with mass vaccinations. A perfect example can be seen with the earliest measles outbreak. It was resolved by an effective measles vaccine treatment, with 95 percent of the population successfully vaccinated. These are the rare instances we can say that herd immunity is achieved and the world has successfully beaten the virus.

Final Thoughts

As with any severe case of illness, you have to fight it with the proper response and treatment. COVID-19 has shown us that many health systems are in place to address it—in this case, isolation and preventive measures help contain it. Fast and appropriate medical responses are crucial in the effective treatment and further spread of any illness. 

Aspen Medical Center offers urgent and primary care physicians in Santa Fe who provide prompt and appropriate medical attention. We accept new and walk-in patients for the same level of treatment for everyone, including weekends and evening appointments, seven days a week. Get in touch right away for any urgent medical needs.

woman with stomach pain

3 Serious Medical Conditions Associated With Abdominal Pain

It’s pretty easy to dismiss stomach aches as something minor. Most people usually associate this symptom with mild issues such as indigestion, constipation, and the like, so they often think that there’s no cause of worry. After all, even though it feels pretty unpleasant, it will dissipate on its own after drinking water and getting enough rest.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case for most people. Believe it or not, abdominal pain can also signify more serious medical conditions. Thus, you must familiarize yourself in differentiating whether your aching stomach poses a grave concern or not.

Abdominal pain that frequently comes back and lasts for several days is not normal. And suppose you feel a sharp pain in your stomach that gradually worsens over time, followed by other symptoms. In that case, it’s best to see your primary care doctor since you might be suffering from a severe medical condition like the ones listed below.

1. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a complication that refers to an inflamed or infected appendix, a tiny sac of tissue in the lower right area of your abdomen that serves as an extension of your large intestine. For this reason, the most recognizable symptom associated with appendicitis is abdominal pain.

It starts as a dull ache in the middle part of the abdomen, which is relatively easy to ignore. But as the infection gets worse, you will start to feel sharper pain that moves slowly toward the lower right part of your abdomen within 12 to 24 hours. Other symptoms also include fever, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

2. Hiatal Hernia

Hiatal hernia arises when the upper part of your stomach starts to bulge through the muscle that separates your chest and abdomen, pushing up through the opening of your esophagus. A hiatal hernia that is small in size usually doesn’t cause any problem. However, large bulges can potentially obstruct internal organs and impede body functions.

One of the early signs of hiatal hernia is chest and abdominal pain. And as the condition worsens, you may also start to feel shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food into the mouth, and the like.

3. Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes the inflammation of the digestive tract, causing it to bleed and develop ulcers. According to a primary care doctor, it can also be pretty disruptive since it leads to excruciating abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, and malnutrition.

Currently, doctors still don’t know what causes this disease. However, researchers recently found a link that the disease may be genetic. They discovered that 15 to 20 percent of people who develop Crohn’s have relatives that suffer from the same illness.


Given all the information above, it’s pretty clear that you must never ignore what seem to be mild symptoms such as abdominal pain. The medical conditions above can be deadly, but there are ways to treat them when detected early. So instead of diagnosing yourself, it’s best to visit and consult an experienced primary care doctor to determine what is ailing you.

Aspen Medical Center is a locally owned outpatient medical facility based in Santa Fe. Here in our care center, we offer first-rate primary and urgent care services for patients in dire need of treatment. If you’re worried about your symptoms, schedule a consultation with an experienced primary care doctor today!

Digital Blood Sugar Meter with Injections and Medication

Debunking 5 Common Myths About Type 2 Diabetes Management

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which sugar or glucose levels build up in the bloodstream. Meanwhile, Type 2 diabetes is a form of diabetes that causes the body to ineffectively produce insulin to lower down the body’s sugar levels. In effect, patients may feel constant hunger, lack of energy, fatigue, extreme thirst, and weight loss.

People with type 2 diabetes may need to undergo various treatments to help their bodies produce more insulin. Others may have to change their diets completely to adjust the sugar levels in their body without needing insulin. However, management of the condition can be a bit tricky. Additionally, there are many myths about managing type 2 diabetes. Read on to find out which ones are true and which ones are not.

1. There’s No Need to Monitor Blood Sugar

Monitoring the blood sugar is the only way to know if the sugar levels in the patient’s body are rising or staying within the target. Depending on the doctor’s treatment plan, patients may need to check their blood sugar multiple times a day.

Patients can use a blood glucose meter, where they need to prick themselves to draw out blood samples used for testing. They can also use continuous glucose monitors to check their blood sugar levels. Both options are quick and easy to use, even without a health professional’s supervision.

2. Cinnamon and Turmeric Can Cure Type 2 Diabetes

As of writing, there are no known ways to cure either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Hence, there are no magic food, herbs, or spices that can cure diabetes. However, there is much research done to find how to cure Type 1 diabetes. Both types of diabetes can be prevented as long as patients experiencing symptoms early on are brought to a hospital for observation.

However, people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes still need to regularly pay attention to their health, diet, and sugar levels. They should also periodically check in with their doctors to make sure everything is in order.

3. It’s Okay To Skip Medication When Blood Sugar Is Under Control

Keeping the blood sugar levels of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes doesn’t solely depend on medicines alone. In some cases, people with the condition could keep their blood sugar levels at bay by simply changing their lifestyles.

The patients changed their diet, tried to lose weight, and they frequently exercised. In effect, their blood sugar levels stayed low even without their medicines on hand all the time. However, if the condition progresses, then, of course, you might need to follow your doctor’s orders and take your prescribed medications even if the sugar levels are under control.

4. It’s Not Safe to Exercise

Exercising regularly is a critical part of managing blood sugar levels. It helps boost the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Getting active is a way to lower A1C, which shows how well-managed your blood sugar is over time.

However, it’s unsafe to do any exercise program that you prefer. It’s advisable to consult your doctor about the best way to exercise for your condition and status. Also, inquire about your medication and the insulin dosage you use during exercise.

5. Taking Insulin Is a Sign of Mismanagement

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disorder. Using insulin shots to manage blood sugar levels is always a good thing. After being diagnosed, most people are only prescribed oral medication and lifestyle changes to keep the situation under control. Over time, our body will produce less insulin which means taking oral medication may not be enough.

Taking insulin doesn’t mean you failed. It only means you need to take extra measures to ensure that your body gets the recommended amount of insulin to stabilize your blood sugar levels.


Diabetes is a complex disorder. Myths shouldn’t make people fear the disease. Instead, they should fuel people’s need to learn more about their health conditions to help them make better choices. 

Aspen Medical Center is dedicated to serving your health care needs. We offer urgent and primary care for patients seeking medical assistance. We accept walk-ins, but you can also schedule a check-in appointment online. Sign up on our website and pick your preferred schedule.

person typing on laptop

How Protein and Fat Impact Glucose Levels

Many people are cautious about their sugar and carbohydrate intake because consuming too much can cause many health issues now and in the future. However, thinking that sugar and carbohydrates are the only macronutrients you should regulate is a dangerous misconception. 

The truth is, you must monitor all types of food you ingest. Most people are not aware that proteins and fat can increase your glucose level, leading to potential harm to your body. They could also play a role in improving your blood sugar level.

To understand the concept of how protein and fat can affect your blood sugar level, you should also have a little knowledge about the relationships among the three macronutrients. Read on to know the relationship between carbohydrates, protein, and fat. 

Understanding Macronutrients 

The calories you ingest every day are responsible for providing your body energy to perform tasks. The three primary sources of calories are carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. For a healthy and balanced diet, you must not consume them separately. Instead, you need to prepare dishes that contain all three.

To understand what the statement above means, here are a few examples:

  • Low-fat (2% ) milk mainly contains carbohydrates, less protein, and a small amount of fat. 
  • A grilled chicken thigh without any sauce or seasoning contains protein and a little bit of fat with no carbohydrates.
  • Corn on the cob mainly contains carbohydrates with a limited amount of protein.
  • Peanut butter is composed of a large amount of fat and some protein. 

Balancing Macronutrients 

If you want to work on calorie budgeting to lower the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, you can look at macronutrients as a whole. Here are simple steps to try:

  • Go for whole foods instead of highly processed ones
  • As much as possible, take out sugar-sweetened drinks from your diet
  • Drink as much water as you can
  • Stay away from refined grains and added sugars
  • If you love vegetables, opt for non-starchy ones instead

The Proper Food Diet for a Normal Blood Glucose Level

According to research, the human body has different = glucose responses to varying carbohydrate, protein, and fat combinations in food. The sad reality is that it is nearly impossible to recommend one perfect combination for anyone looking to maintain a healthy diet.

The truth is, there is no one perfect piece of advice to maintain an average blood sugar level. The best option is to monitor your blood glucose daily. After getting the results, try to record them and compile them to bring to a walk-in clinic and let the primary care doctor make a further and thorough study about the perfect diet you should observe.

Final Thoughts

It is crucial to monitor your blood glucose level regularly. For a week, you can check it after you wake up, then the week after that, check it before meals. On the third week, check it an hour or two after finishing your meal. If you have a particularly indulgent or large dinner one evening, you can check in on your glucose level then, too. 

Remember that individual tests can help you determine the perfect balance you need for daily food consumption. You can also choose to share the results with your doctor in an urgent care center to have a more precise measurement of your food intake.

If you are in need of a primary care physician in Santa Fe, visit Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally-owned outpatient medical facility that offers the best primary care and urgent care services in Santa Fe, NM, and surrounding areas. Call now to schedule an appointment!

woman stretching

The Importance of Your Liver in Your Sugar Metabolism

Sugar metabolism is essential as it provides fuel for the body. It keeps the body energized, thanks to glucose consumption. 

But did you know that the liver can significantly affect and help with sugar metabolism? If this information is new to you, you should know that one of the liver’s many functions is regulating blood sugar. The organ plays a central role because it contributes to a lot of metabolic processes in the body. 

In this article, we will discuss how your liver affects your sugar metabolism so that you can understand how essential it is to keep your liver healthy. 

The Liver Serves as a Storage of Sugar

As you know, sugar is one of the primary sources of energy in the body. Without it, your brain, central nervous system, and red blood cells may not function properly. One of the many things that a liver can do is to serve as your storage of sugar. It keeps your blood sugar level consistent so that your brain always has energy, and other parts that need sugar always function at their best. 

In instances that you have too little insulin in your body, your liver will continue to release more sugar into the blood. Remember, if you have little insulin, sugar can’t enter your body’s cells. That is why the liver is there to help you release more sugar even without insulin. 

While your liver keeps your blood sugar level consistent, there are times when the liver releases considerably more or less sugar into the blood. So, you also need to control and balance your insulin or carbohydrate intake to avoid having low or high blood sugar. 

The Liver Can Supply Counter Regulatory Hormones

Your liver can supply you with counterregulatory hormones, such as glucagon, stress, and growth hormone if you have low blood sugar. These hormones can help you recover from having low blood sugar as they bring an extra supply to your system. Once the liver supplies you with the counterregulatory hormones, the reaction in your body can last many hours. 

The Liver Can Replenish Sugar

The liver cannot only store sugar, but it can also replenish sugar. Once the liver provides you with extra sugar to help you cope with hypoglycemia, it can replenish itself as soon as possible. If you have enough sugar stored in your liver, you can manage your low blood sugar for a while. So, you also need to help your liver have enough sugar to keep by not skipping your meals because that’s when your liver will store sugar. After your meal is digested, the sugar from your food will flow directly into your liver. This sugar is also known as glucose or glycogen, and your liver will store it for a later time when your body needs it. 


Generally, taking care of your liver is essential because it can help you, especially if you need sugar in your body. It acts as your body’s fuel reservoir, so when your body does not have enough energy, your liver will save the day. If you constantly feel tired, sluggish, and fatigued, you must consult your doctor right away because there might be something wrong with your liver. 

If you are looking for a primary care physician in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM to check your liver, just visit Aspen Medical Center! We have professionally trained staff providing a range of services, including vaccinations, sports physicals, and urgent care services. Our medical team is trained to care for people of all ages. Schedule your appointment with us today! 


4 Tips to Help You Choose the Best Primary Care Physician

Your health should be your number one priority. This is especially true for those of you who are on the older side. And while exercising and dieting is a great way to stay healthy, it’s also important that you have access to the best medical care available. To get the best medical care, it’s important that you choose the right primary care doctor for the job.

Now, this is easier said than done as finding the right doctor can be rather tricky. This is why we thought it would be useful to put together a couple of tips that will help you choose the best primary care physician available. If this is something you’re interested in, read on for our picks of the four tips that will help you find the best doctor possible.

Choose a Doctor That Your Family or Friends Recommend

It can be rather difficult to gauge how a doctor will be without actually experiencing what it’s like to be under their care. This is why one of the best ways to find the right doctor is via your family or friend’s recommendations. 

Because they’ve actually experienced what it’s like to be under their chosen doctor, they are able to give you a more accurate assessment of just how good a doctor is. And while you can opt to check reviews online, you can’t really trust them as much as your friends and family.

Opt for a Doctor That’s Near You

Convenience plays a huge factor when it comes to choosing a primary care physician. The last thing you want to do is to have to drive for 3 hours just to see your doctor. This is why you should consider the location of your doctor’s practice. 

Now, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to location as everyone has different preferences. With that being said, we do suggest choosing a doctor that is near enough for you to find it convenient.

Choose a Doctor That Suits Your Medical Needs

Everybody is different and everybody has different needs. Your age, gender, and medical conditions all play into your needs as a patient. When choosing a doctor, it’s best to consider your needs and base all the decisions you make on those needs.

This means choosing a doctor that’s an expert in their field. If you want to go the extra mile, we also suggest choosing a doctor that’s board-certified in your area as this indicates that they are well equipped to take care of your specific demographic.

Choose a Doctor That You Can Easily Communicate With

Lastly, you’ll want a doctor that you are comfortable communicating with. This is vital as you should let them know whenever something is bothering you when it comes to your health. This will go a long way in catching early complications and prevent them from getting worse. We suggest sitting down and having a conversation with your potential doctor so you can properly gauge whether or not they are a good fit for you.


We hope these tips prove to be useful when it comes to helping you find the best primary care physician available. While it may be rather tedious to be thorough about choosing a doctor, it will all be worth it in the end as the best doctors will help keep you healthy for the years to come. We implore you to invest your time and effort into this, as it will help improve your overall health.

If you are searching for primary care in Santa Fe, Aspen Medical Center is your best choice. We provide state-of-the-art medical facilities and expertise to ensure that you are well taken care of. For more information on our services or to book an appointment, contact us at (505) 466-5885.

man getting injected

More Than a Jab: 5 Reasons You Should Get a Flu Shot

Getting a flu shot every year has been essential since its discovery and is an additional layer of protection during the pandemic. The jab may not prevent the virus, but it can help prevent flu-related illnesses, which COVID-19 can make us more susceptible to.

Children as early as six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual flu vaccination through any licensed influenza vaccine appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status.

1. Saving Lives

Even the flu can sometimes cause serious complications that may require hospitalization. Dehydration, worsening of chronic illnesses, bacterial pneumonia, and ear infections are only a few of the issues someone catching the disease can experience. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting a flu shot, especially during the pandemic, will allow the health care system to conserve scarce medical resources for people with Covid-19, saving more people.

2. Reduced Sick Days

Catching Influenza not only requires you to rest at home but causes a lot of downtimes. Since it’s a viral infection that affects the respiratory system, not getting the proper medication may lead to flu complications. 

It can also be an issue for employees. The sickness can affect your productivity at work, hurting your capacity to earn income. Did you know that the flu is the reason for 111 million lost workdays and $7 billion lost in productivity and annual sick days?

3. Varied Strains

The influenza virus evolves quickly, and health organizations like the CDC do their best to predict which strain is likely to be prevalent and the type of vaccine that needs to be distributed. 

As soon as the vaccine comes into contact with our immune system, it activates and creates antibodies that fight off the virus. Therefore, as soon as the vaccinated person comes into contact with the actual flu strain, the body is protected and ready to fight it without getting sick.

4. Nothing to Fear

The side effects from the vaccine, such as headache, stuffy nose, or sore throat, are all minor. Other than those, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Many people don’t even experience any side effects, and those who do often report them as minor. 

5. Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is the concept that refers to the inability of disease to transmit through a population because of immunizations. The more people are immune, the more difficult it is for a virus to spread. Since the flu spreads quickly, it is crucial to develop herd immunity to prevent further infections. Remember that you’re not only doing it for yourself but the people around you.


Getting vaccinated against flu is a great way to prevent yourself from acquiring the virus. The shot saves lives. Flu’s most common symptoms include fever, aching muscles, chills, sweats, headache, cough, and sore throat. Even if you do acquire the flu virus, the vaccine can make the sickness less severe. However, if you develop complications aside from the primary symptoms, don’t hesitate to take a trip to the emergency room.

Aspen Medical Center offers the best primary care in Santa Fe. If you’re feeling sick and suspect a flu infection, we are ready to take care of you. Contact us through our website or set an appointment by calling our hotline number at 505-657-1799.

man smoking

Turning Over a New Leaf: Tips to Help You Quit Smoking for Good

Everyone knows how bad it is to smoke tobacco because it can impact one’s health in the long run. However, despite the risks, many people still find it hard to quit smoking cigarettes, especially those who have become dependent on it almost all their life.

Regardless if you’re someone who smokes occasionally or a person who has spent their lifetime smoking a pack a day, getting rid of your habit can be truly challenging. Unfortunately, smoking tobacco can become addictive not only physically but also psychologically.

That’s because the nicotine cigarette contains can become addicting, causing people to feel a temporary sort of high, which only makes them want to do it more. When you force yourself to quit, you could end up experiencing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. If you wish to live a healthy lifestyle, keep reading below to find out how to quit smoking and curb your addiction.

Develop a Realistic Plan

Once you realize there is no better time to quit smoking than now, the first step you need to do is decide that once and for all, you wish to stop smoking cigarettes. It’s up to you if you can go cold turkey or ease your way into it and lessen the sticks you smoke each day.

The important part is creating a plan you know you can hold onto and ensure you’re on the right path towards ridding cigarettes from your life. While it only requires a short while to quit smoking altogether, it will still involve long-term challenges that could cause you to relapse unless you receive primary care and obtain the professional support you need to keep going. 

Understand Why You Smoke

Knowing why you began smoking in the first place could help you have a better idea of what type of smoker you consider yourself to be. Every time you reach out to a cigarette, understanding why you do it could decrease your chances of smoking and instead, lean on healthy options.

If you’re smoking because you’re stressed out or depressed, you could think of going to a walk-in clinic to attend a therapy session. It doesn’t matter if you’re a chain smoker or a social smoker, if you have other addictions linked to it, like alcoholism or gambling, the more reason for you to seek professional help.  

Discover What Triggers You

Part of knowing exactly why you smoke is being familiar with the events and situations that trigger you to reach out to a cigarette, inhale nicotine, and exhale your problems away. It could be things, places, or people that every time you encounter them, you need to take a smoke break.

When you learn what makes you want to smoke, you have a better idea about the activities, feelings, and experiences associated with those triggers. Once you visit a medical clinic for help, you can let your doctor know about your smoking habits. It will allow them to help you figure out what’s the best course of action that will eliminate smoking from your life for good.


It can be tough to quit smoking, especially if you’ve spent a majority of your life turning to cigarettes to receive temporary happiness and help you forget about your problems. While the first step is always the hardest, it isn’t impossible to cut off your bad habits. It is never too late to seek a better life, one that’s healthier and better for you and your lifestyle. If you wish to cut off smoking from your life, you should develop a realistic plan, understand why you smoke, and discover what triggers you. Asking for help from a family physician is also necessary to achieve the expert guidance you need to turn over a new leaf.

Are you looking for a primary care doctor in Santa Fe offering tobacco cessation solutions? Aspen Medical Center provides urgent care and primary care services. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment!

asthma in summer

5 Ways to Prevent Asthma Attacks During Summer

Many would agree that summer is the best season of the year. Indeed, there is no experience much like basking in the golden sunlight, swimming in the blue sea, and feeling the warm breeze against your skin. Once the summer season arrives, it feels like anything magical can happen—once you’re in that warm weather state of mind, living feels lighter, easier, and more beautiful!

However, although summer is a universally beloved time, it isn’t a perfect season. During the warmer months, the temperature can get so high you can get dehydrated, sweat sticking to your clothes feels uncomfortable, not to mention the humidity leads to uncomfortable days under the heat.

Warm Weather Woes

With summer comes bright sunshine and luscious evergreen, but what many forget is that the season also brings forth uncomfortable heat and humidity, which is never a good combination for asthmatic individuals. If you think that winter mornings are as bad as they could get, you haven’t experienced the brunt of summer afternoons!

If you have asthma, it’s crucial to watch out for summer, as the increase in humidity can trigger some symptoms. Moreover, the combination of heat and humidity creates a fertile breeding ground for dust mites, mold, and other allergens, which could affect your breathing.

To an asthmatic person, heat and humidity aren’t just irritating—they can trigger asthma symptoms and even cause serious problems, which may require urgent care!

Managing Your Asthma in the Summer

Summer is inevitable, but asthma symptoms are avoidable! If you’re an asthmatic, you can still feel comfortable during the season and prevent summer symptoms from flaring. Just read on below to find out how:

1. Stay Cool

The key to surviving summer as an asthmatic is to avoid inhaling scorching air. Stay away from hot and humid weather by staying indoors and spend the hottest times of the day in an air-conditioned space.

2. Drink Water

Hydration is key to reducing asthma significantly. Water will thin out the mucus, clearing the lungs and making it much easier to breathe. If you can’t afford to spend your day inside the house, remember to bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day.

3. Plan and Prepare

The heat won’t be able to catch you off guard if you have a game plan in place! Before going outside, make sure to check the Pollen Count and the Air Quality Health Index in your area to determine whether it’s safe to go outside or not.

If you’re going outdoors, bring everything you need just in case you experience asthma symptoms—always have your reliever medication on hand no matter the weather because you never know what can happen.

4. Know Your Limits

Many asthmatics tend to suffer during the summer because they don’t realize when they’re over-exerting themselves. Exercising and hanging out with friends is alright, as long as you make sure that you know how much you can handle. 

5. Seek Medical Help

Before summer arrives, make sure to have a chat with your doctor about your asthma treatment, especially when you know your asthma is worse during the warmer months. If you’re facing a heatwave and feel like your symptoms can’t be dealt with alone, don’t hesitate to visit a walk-in clinic for urgent care.


Just like other seasons, summer isn’t perfect, and it has its unpleasant characteristics. Some may find it easy to overlook or adapt to the heat and humidity during the warmer months. 

Still, others find it much more challenging to adapt to summer, especially when they have health conditions such as asthma. Keep our tips in mind so that you can survive summer asthma and have and enjoy the season as much as you can!

If you need emergency medical care for your asthma, just visit Aspen Medical Center! You can make an urgent care appointment to decrease wait times or simply walk in to be seen. Our clinic locations in Santa Fe and Espanola are open seven days a week to address your urgent health concerns. Check-in online today!

aches and pain

5 Health Risks Due to Pandemic-Induced Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity has always been regarded to have serious implications for people’s health, according to the World Health Organization. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year, people were essentially forced to stay inside their homes which may have encouraged some people to lead sedentary lifestyles. This led to what experts call “pandemic-induced physical inactivity” as the lockdown restrictions reduced public access to physical activity opportunities like visiting gyms, public parks, pools, and sports centers.

Lack of physical activity has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for a lot of conditions. The problem is, many people are not aware of those risks. So, how exactly does an inactive lifestyle affect your body? Let’s enumerate some of the risks:

Chronic Health Problems

Failing to exercise can contribute to the development of chronic medical conditions. According to a report released by the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of disease and disability around the world. The worst part is, these could be chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

We are currently in a waiting game in terms of vaccinations for COVID-19, which means many people are still stuck in their homes, with very little motivation to go out and exercise. These conditions could actually lead to some people developing mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Obesity and Weight Issues

Maintaining an optimal weight during the pandemic can be quite a challenge. With very limited choices of retailers, grocery stores, and food service establishments, staying healthy and active was difficult, to say the least. As such, people resorted to eating less healthy options while others ate whatever was available to survive the lengthy lockdowns. That combined with the lack of exercise leads to obesity and weight issues, which increases the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Weight problems are also associated with reduced quality of life and poorer mental health.

Increased Risk of Osteoporosis

One of the lesser-known risks associated with an inactive lifestyle is developing bone problems. Osteoporosis, a chronic health condition where the bones of the body get thinner and more brittle, is linked with a lack of exercise. With most of the population spending hours upon hours sitting behind a desk and working from home, the probability of developing osteoporosis is at an all-time high. This is further compounded by the fact that some people in a remote working setup tend to work longer hours as the boundary between home and work is blurred.

Chronic Aches and Pains

As mentioned above, working long hours behind a computer is bound to cause some detrimental effects to an individual. Lower back pain, stiff neck, and nerve compression due to awkward postures are just some of the possible risks when living a sedentary lifestyle. According to a large population study published by the National Institute of Health, physically active individuals are less likely to develop chronic pain.

Mental Health Problems

As the uncertainty and insolation brought about by the COVID-19 lockdowns take a toll on many individuals, the risks of having mental health problems are that much higher now than ever. Add to that is the physical inactivity that was also the result of the pandemic. This increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems associated with spending more than a year of inactivity. 


With all the risks associated with physical inactivity listed above, you should understand just how crucial it is for you to find ways to stay active and healthy. As most countries expect to get their vaccinations within the next few months and beyond, this is the perfect time to devise ways to bring back your active lifestyle.

For more health-promoting tips and articles, check out Aspen Medical Center’s blog. We are the only locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe, NM, offering a range of services, including vaccinations, sports physicals, and urgent care services. Whenever you need help from a primary care doctor and other specialists, contact Aspen Medical Center. Call us today to schedule an appointment.


Everything About Chronic Pain: From Definition to Management

Everyone has felt pain at least once in their life. From light bruising to intense stinging pain, most people can describe what it feels. There are also people who live in constant pain that a pill or a day of rest won’t be able to solve what they’re feeling. These people are living with conditions that sprout chronic pain, something that’s a lot more common than you think.

What Is Chronic Pain?

As the name suggests, chronic pain is a discomfort that can come and go no matter what you do. Some people experience this on a daily basis because of inflammation or dysfunctional nerves. This pain can last for weeks, months, or years.  

Is Chronic Pain Just a State of Mind?

Not exactly. 

While pain signals do come from the nerves, which are controlled by the brain, it is not like people can just stop thinking about the pain. The feeling and sensation are all real and won’t go away out of wishful thinking. Some people have pre-existing conditions where chronic pain is just one of the symptoms to go through.

What Conditions Cause Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can stem from different sources for patients. Here are some of those conditions:


One reason for chronic pain may be aging. As the body and bones degenerate as we get older, some people will start to feel it. One common condition that people may get is osteoporosis, which is when the bone density starts to weaken from the inside, making people more vulnerable to fractures.

Autoimmune Diseases

Other reasons for chronic pain are autoimmune diseases. The body needs the immune system to protect the body from harm. When someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it means that their own immunity system is damaging the healthy cells of their body. Here are just a few autoimmune diseases that cause chronic pain:

Diabetes Type 1

Diabetes type 1 is the kind of diabetes that someone is usually born with, in contrast with the acquired diabetes type 2. Autoimmunity affects the pancreas, destroying the cells that help produce insulin for the body. People with type 1 diabetes have reported experiencing back pain and neuropathy pain. 


Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that affects all of the organs in the body and often manifests redness in the skin. Patients with lupus experience chronic joint pain, rashes, and fatigue.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that can cause small bones to fuse over time. People who have this will report back and neck pain that runs through their bodies.

How to Manage Chronic Pain

Before anything else, get yourself checked by a professional. If you may have any life-threatening conditions, you will need a diagnosis.

Once you know what you have (or don’t have), you can try physiotherapy to help ease the pain through various techniques.


Living with chronic pain is definitely not easy. It is debilitating to do your everyday tasks and feel constant discomfort when you shift your body or move around. There are things you can do to alleviate the pain, like stretching and going to physiotherapy. However, if it is unbearable, the first way to go about it is to visit a medical professional to diagnose you properly.

If you find yourself in great pain and in need of urgent care, visit Aspen Medical Center, a locally owned medical facility and walk-in clinic in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM. We offer urgent care services to help you find the source of your extreme discomfort and help you alleviate it. Get checked for your pain today. 

What is Dermoscopy

Dermoscopy is performed with a handheld instrument called a dermatoscope. It is a noninvasive powerful tool used in the screening and detection of skin cancer.

Dermoscopy is mainly used to evaluate pigmented lesions in order to distinguish malignant skin lesions. These lesions can be melanoma, pigmented BCC from benign melanocytic naevi, and seborrheic keratosis.

Several studies have demonstrated that dermoscopy is useful in the identification of melanoma when used by experts. It may be up to 35% more accurate than clinical diagnosis. In addition, it may reduce the number of benign lesions excised.

Dermoscopy has also been proven beneficial in diagnosing and managing a myriad of other skin disorders ranging from inflammatory conditions, hair diseases, to infestations.

At Aspen Medical Center we perform full skin cancer screening exams. We are committed to detecting skin cancer at the earliest possible stage while avoiding unnecessary biopsies.

Our dermoscopy specialist, Gina Ortiz, PAC, MPAS, attended the American Dermoscopy Meeting in Big Sky, Montana during 2018. In addition to further training at the UNM Skin Cancer Center.

Gina will continue to refine her skills by attending the American Dermoscopy meeting this July in Colorado Springs.

woman coughing

Cold vs. Allergies: What’s the Difference Between the Two?

If you’ve ever had a runny nose in the middle of summer, you’ve probably always wondered if it is indeed a cold caused by a viral upper respiratory infection or just seasonal allergies. Both conditions have very similar symptoms, and it’s easy to mistake one for the other. The question is, what’s the difference between colds and allergies? With help from a local primary care doctor, we try to answer what the common cold and seasonal allergies are and how you can tell one from the other.

What Are Summer Colds?

The common cold is caused by any one of hundreds of different viruses that attack the upper respiratory system. You’ve probably heard of rhinovirus, which is just one category of viruses that are one of the leading causes of the common cold. There are hundreds of different strains of rhinovirus that cause colds, but catching a specific strain of the virus could actually help you produce immunity to that particular strain. 

Compared to seasonal allergies, colds are upper respiratory infections that could happen to you all year round but are more prevalent in the colder months. Colds aren’t caused by cold climates or exposure to cold air. Some of the common symptoms of colds include:

  • Body Aches and Pains
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sore Throat

What Are Summer Allergies?

On the other hand, allergies work in an entirely different way. They can sometimes mimic the effects of a cold, and they’re also very likely to strike in winter. However, they are far more common in spring, summer, and fall because of the proliferation of allergens in the air. 

Allergies are manifestations of the body’s allergic reaction to plant pollens released during the growing season. These allergens are often inhaled into the nasal passages. Once your body detects the presence of these allergens, they will begin the process of ejecting it out of your body through sneezing, resulting in a runny and stuffy nose. Some of the most common symptoms caused by seasonal allergies are:

  • Itchy, Watery Eyes
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Skin Rashes, such as Eczema or Hives
  • Sneezing and or Wheezing

How Is a Summer Allergy Different from a Cold?

The fundamental difference between colds and allergies is that the former results from the body’s immune system combatting a disease-causing virus. The latter, on the other hand, happens when the immune system incorrectly identifies an otherwise harmless protein like pollen, pet dander, or dust.

Allergies typically cause a clear nasal discharge, accompanied by an itchy sensation in the sinuses, ears, eyes, or throat. Sneezing is not uncommon, nor is the feeling of stuffiness in the head. It’s very much possible for your eyes to become red and irritated as a result of an allergic reaction.

According to a primary care physician in Santa Fe, NM, the common cold may provoke certain symptoms that are not shared by allergies, such as sore throat, fever, or body aches. Also, a typical cold will run its course within seven to ten days. However, allergies can last for much longer, depending on what you’re allergic to and what happens to be pollinating. As long as you are exposed to these allergens, you will continue to experience the symptoms of seasonal allergies.


Allergies are caused by pollen and other similar allergens floating around in the air, while colds result from a viral infection. Generally speaking, allergies do not cause fever, and they are much more persistent. A cold from a viral infection will last a couple of days until your body has successfully eradicated the virus.

Aspen Medical Center welcomes you to our locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM. We offer family urgent care and primary care services to all our clients. If you have any health concerns that need to be addressed, let our urgent care specialists examine them for you. Contact us today to set an appointment.


What You Need to Know About the Flu Vaccine This Flu Season

Flu may seem like a common disease, but it can sometimes be serious, contagious, and life-threatening. Influenza is so much more than that. Depending on your circumstances, you could get a high fever, profound body aches, serious fatigue, and so on. 

It may not be a problem for young and healthy people, but the situation can be complex for young children and older adults. The worst thing about the flu is how quickly the illness evolves. It should not be taken lightly.

Luckily, there are many ways to protect people from the flu these days. The seasonal flu vaccine may be innocuous but it saves many lives every year. If you are curious how the seasonal flu vaccine works, here is some vital information you should know:

How Does Flu Vaccine Work? 

Similar to other vaccines, the flu vaccine works by triggering a person’s immune response and creating a defense against disease-causing pathogens. When a person develops antibodies against a particular disease, these antibodies can fight against and provide protection from the virus. 

As mentioned earlier, different kinds of flu become contagious depending on the season. 

Researchers predict what flu virus would be more active during a particular period and produce the specific vaccine to defend against it.

In the US, there is a vaccine that fights four kinds of flu viruses (quadrivalent). This flu vaccine is meant to fight the following viruses:

  • The Influenza A (H1N1) virus
  • The Influenza A (H3N2) virus
  • Two Influenza B viruses

Another one can fight three different flu viruses, called the trivalent. It can kill the following viruses: 

  • The Influenza A (H1N1) virus
  • The Influenza A (H3N2) virus
  • One of the two Influenza B viruses

Persons aged six months and older are encouraged to get a flu vaccine every year. Keep in mind, however, that the antibodies work after two weeks, so schedule your flu shot before the flu season—ideally, by the end of October.

The Types of Flu Vaccines You Would Encounter

Here are some essential things you need to know about the available vaccines:

The Trivalent Flu Shot

This flu vaccine is made from three ingredients approved for people aged 65 and above. It also comes with an adjuvant, an element that helps the body build a more robust immune response.

The Quadrivalent Flu Shot

This flu shot is made from four ingredients, and it can be used for people of different age groups, particularly those six months and older. Here are some common ones you might encounter: 

  • FluMist Quadrivalent: Good for people aged two to 49 years old; not ideal for pregnant people, immunocompromised persons, and the like
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent: Recommended for people four years old and above
  • Flublok Quadrivalent: Approved for people 18 years and older
  • Quadrivalent Flu Shot Using an Adjuvant: Best for people aged 65 years and older
  • Fluzone High-Dose: Also recommended for people aged 65 years and older


Both the trivalent and the quadrivalent influenza vaccines are generally available in clinics and hospitals. Before choosing one, make sure that the vaccine you would receive is appropriate for your age and health. The vaccines should also be labeled suitable for a particular period. For example, in today’s time, the products you would encounter are the influenza vaccine products for the 2020 to 2021 season. 

Get your flu shots every year from a trusted clinic. Aspen Medical Center is a provider of state-of-the-art urgent care and primary care in Sta. Fe. We offer immunization services as one of our essential primary care services. If you need one, call us today at 505-466-5885 to book an appointment. 

doctors accessories

In Case of Emergency: Our Guide to Seeking Urgent Care

Urgent care centers function differently from doctor’s clinics and even emergency rooms, and some people aren’t familiar with their services. Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics provide treatment for patients with conditions that require immediate attention but are not life-threatening. They also cover other medical services such as X-rays, lab exams, and even vaccinations.

Here are some things you should know before seeking urgent care:

1. Don’t Wait for an Emergency

Health emergencies of any kind can be incredibly stressful, and it can be difficult to make level-headed decisions if you or someone in your household is in need of immediate medical attention. This is why it’s important to know a local urgent care center before you get sick or injured.

Look up all the urgent care centers in your area and choose one that accepts your health insurance. It should ideally be a center that provides general care. If you have children, you should also locate a pediatric urgent care center in your back pocket. List down the names of these facilities and their addresses, contact information, and operating hours. Keep this list near your phone or in a common area so everyone in your house can refer to it during emergencies.  

2. Try to Call First

Most urgent care centers accept walk-in patients, but given the COVID-19 pandemic, many social distancing protocols can complicate this. If you can, call your local urgent care center before coming in. Medical personnel will screen you via phone call and advise the best time for you to come in.

Even without the pandemic, it’s still best practice to call ahead and ask about the wait time to see a health care provider. If the center doesn’t allow appointments, you will still have a better idea of how busy it is and how long you have to wait before getting treatment. In addition, some urgent care centers allow online check-ins for patients. Providing all your information before dropping by will also help streamline the treatment process.

3. Bring Important Documents

Unlike clinics and hospitals, urgent care centers don’t carry extensive medical records. Even if you’ve been to their facility once or twice before, they still may not have a file on your medical history to treat your condition.

Make sure to take note of all your medical information before you go to urgent care. This includes your prescription medication, previous medical diagnoses, and your primary care physician’s name and contact information. Of course, it’s important to bring your health insurance information, too. You also need at least one photo ID to verify your identity.

When to Skip Urgent Care and Go to the ER Instead

Urgent care centers can help treat simple urgent health concerns. However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, they are best evaluated at a hospital emergency room:

  • Severe head injury or trauma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Signs of stroke (weakness, confusion, loss of vision, difficulty speaking)
  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe burns
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Open fractures
  • Fever in a one-month-old infant or younger


Urgent care centers are convenient options to receive medical treatment for non-life-threatening symptoms and conditions. Remember to bring all pertinent identification and medical documentation with you as well. Most importantly, identify which locations can handle and treat you for shorter wait times and to ensure your safety.

At Aspen Medical Center, we provide efficient, compassionate, and high-quality urgent care services for you and your family. Our clinic locations in Santa Fe and Espanola are open seven days a week to address your urgent health concerns. Please call ahead at 505-466-5885 for patient screening.

ankle sprain

4 Effective Tips for Avoiding Sprains and Injuries

There are very few injuries that will lead you to require urgent care faster than a sprain. Indeed, sprains can be quite severe and painful, especially if they happen in far-flung places where it will be difficult for you to receive medical attention. Considering that summer is close and many of you likely have plans to go hiking or mountain climbing, it would be in your best interest to prepare and try to mitigate any risk of injury.

But how do you go about doing this? To help you out, we’ve prepared a list of four tips that will help you avoid sprains and other injuries:

Warm-up Before Engaging in Physical Activities

The thing that you have to understand about muscles is that they take some time to warm up, especially for underutilized muscles. However, failing to warm up properly can cause some major issues, as the muscles will be more prone to straining. A good way to think about it is to compare it to a rubber band. Rubber, when frozen, is stiff and is more prone to snapping. This is why you need to warm your muscles up before any extraneous physical activities.

Now, you don’t have to do anything too extreme to warm your muscles up. Simply engaging in gentle stretching before any physical activities will go a long way when it comes to minimizing the risk of accruing any injuries.

Wear the Right Shoes

Aside from stretching, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. Slipping and falling is a common cause of many injuries. This is why you’ll want to make sure that you’re wearing the right shoes when engaging in physical activities. If you’re going on a hike, it will be best to wear hiking boots that provide your ankles with support and have tread that will prevent you from slipping.

Provide Extra Support 

Now, it’s important to note that protecting your feet isn’t just about shoes. While shoes are important, there are other pieces of equipment that can provide you with the support that you need. For example, using things like a brace or ankle tape will also be useful when it comes to preventing sprains and injuries. This is because they provide you with extra support while you’re engaged in physical activities to avoid the risks of sprains.

Build Up Strength

An excellent preventive technique for injuries is to strengthen your muscles through regular exercise. By building up muscle strength, you give yourself a stronger base and will make it easier for you to stay on your feet and control sudden changes in body position. While it may seem trivial, this can be the difference between a minor scratch and a trip to the emergency room. Exercises like squats, lunges, and dips will be the key to strengthening your muscles.


We hope the tips we’ve shared above prove to be useful in helping you avoid any unnecessary injuries and sprains. When it comes to preventing sprains, the most important thing to do is prepare as much as possible. Accidents do happen, and injuries can often be unavoidable, but there are always things that you can do to minimize the risk!

If you are searching for an urgent care center in Santa Fe, Aspen Medical Center is your best choice. We provide state-of-the-art medical facilities and expertise to ensure that you are well taken care of. For more information on our services or to book an appointment, contact us today at 505-657-1799!


3 Primary Care Physician Myths You Should Stop Believing

Seeing a primary care physician is a great way to prevent, treat, and diagnose various medical issues. They provide comprehensive medical solutions for chronic conditions and initial executive checkups to make sure you are healthy. Despite knowing these facts, most patients are propagating false information that affects those in need of these healthcare provisions. Worse, it leaves them most susceptible to diseases like COVID-19, diabetes, and more. 

Protecting yourself and others from misinformation on primary care is necessary to ensuring access to medical services for all and addressing immediate-to-long-term health problems. It is just as important as finding the right provider near you. To ensure all these needs are met, consider the following common primary care physician debunked myths: 

Myth #1: You should only call your primary care provider when someone is sick and needs further medical attention 

Most individuals feel that they only need to see a doctor when they are sick and need extra assistance. However, remember that there can be times when you don’t feel sick yet, but it only means that the symptoms are not fully developed. You also need checkups, vaccinations, physicals, and other related processes to keep your health and well-being in check, which is what your primary care physician is trained to provide. 

By getting primary care, it ensures that your medical history, lifestyle, and perceived medical risks are all accounted for, guaranteeing protection against diseases. It can lead to more savings on hospital costs and other treatments because of your more resilient health. Most importantly, it can provide a happier, longer life! 

Myth #2: Any healthcare professional can offer primary care, so finding a primary care physician near you is not necessary

One of the most common mistakes most patients make is that they believe any healthcare specialist is just as trained to give primary care, so seeing a physician is unnecessary. However, they are completely misinformed. The truth is primary care physicians undergo internal medical and family practice residence for three years. They also have to pass an intensive examination to be licensed in their respective states to practice medicine. 

In a clinical setting, primary care physicians take the lead alongside nurses and other supporting medical staff in overseeing medical testing, medication, preventive care, and other related procedures. You can only get this kind of assistance from certified providers nearby. So, ensure you find a reliable one nearby, get yourself and your loved ones checked, and enjoy positive wellness despite these challenging times. 

Myth #3: You don’t need to reach out to your primary care physician during emergencies 

Did you know that your primary care physician can actually be in a better position to handle emergency processes than most urgent care providers? It is because they know your bodily conditions by compiling a comprehensive medical record of perceived risks and preexisting internal or external issues. While it does not mean you shouldn’t go for urgent medical care when needed, it is best to contact your primary care doctor during emergencies. They will relay relevant information about you, offer better treatment, and mitigate further health complications. 


Primary care is one of the most important medical solutions to a better quality of life. Avoiding false information about it can help ensure you and others around you can get the immediate attention needed. Remember all the debunked myths mentioned above and connect with medical professionals like us! 

Are you looking for the best primary care physicians in Santa Fe? Visit the Aspen Medical Center. We provide state-of-the-art medical facilities and expertise to keep your health and well-being in check through vaccinations, physicals, and more. Book your appointment with us today by contacting us at (505) 466-5885. 


Be Vaccinated: Everything You Need to Know About Immunization

There have been a lot of arguments surrounding immunization. Some don’t believe in it, while many others encourage it. But how important is immunization, really?

What Is Immunization?

Let’s define immunization first. Immunization is the process where people are protected against illnesses caused by infection. A vaccine is the material used for immunization, which contains an agent that resembles the disease-causing bacteria. It is made from the toxins that killed or weakened the microorganism. 

When the vaccine is injected into the body, the immune system recognizes the agent and destroys it. So, when the actual microbe attacks you, it will keep you safe against the disease. 

How Important Is Vaccination?

There are many benefits to immunization. For one, getting vaccinated is a lot cheaper than getting treated for diseases when it comes to the costs. Also, vaccination doesn’t only protect you but also the community. 

Immunization is highly recommended in children and adults. How will it help your kids? 

  • It will help protect your children from serious illness and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases that may include amputation, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage, and death.
  • It helps prevent diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough. 

Kids who are not vaccinated have a huge chance of spreading the disease to other children who might be too young to get vaccinated. Other than that, they can spread the disease to adults with a weak immune system. 

When it comes to vaccines for children, they’re only given following a thorough review by experts, which takes a long time. 

Now, how does vaccination help adults? Like the benefits to children, immunization in adults will also help protect themselves and the community from diseases.

At times, vaccination will depend on several factors, such as: 

  • Age
  • Health conditions
  • Travel plans
  • Personal vaccination record

Some of the available vaccinations for adults are:

  • Swine flu
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis
  • Tetanus 
  • Pneumonia

What Are the Necessary Travel Vaccinations?

Besides the usual vaccinations for kids and adults, there are also travel vaccinations necessary. In certain countries, you will be asked to get vaccinated, such as the yellow fever vaccine, which is administered when traveling to African countries. 

If you travel to the US or European countries, you will also need to have vaccinations against typhoid, tuberculosis, and meningococcal meningitis. 

What About People Who Can’t Be Vaccinated?

There are some people who can’t be vaccinated because they may either be too young or sick. You can help protect them by keeping you and your loved ones’ vaccinations up-to-date. 

Indeed, immunization is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and future generations from infectious diseases. With vaccination, it can wipe out diseases that could spread in the present and future. 

You’re not only looking after your family when you get vaccinated; you are also helping protect the vulnerable people in your community. The more people are vaccinated, the fewer people will be infected. In turn, the less widely a disease will spread. 


Immunization plays an even bigger role in our communities today. Now that you know how important it is, make sure you don’t miss a vaccine. Not only will you save your life, but others as well. 

Get your vaccinations here at Aspen Medical Center. We provide primary care and urgent care services to patients of all ages in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM. Check in online today!


5 Tips to Help You Find the Right Primary Care Physician

When it comes to reaching peak overall health, it will pay to work with the right primary care physician. These are doctors who help their patients reach the best and highest quality of life by administering various types of health maintenance and promotion methods. 

The services of a primary care physician include disease prevention, counseling, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic disease and patient education strategies in periodic intervals and checkups. These doctors may aid patients in making crucial health decisions that are aimed at reaching peak health and wellbeing.

Knowing all that a primary care physician can do for your health makes it all the more important to choose the right one to be your healthcare ally. However, it may be easier said than done to find one to suit your health needs if you are gazing down a long faceless list of names. As you prepare to narrow down this list, here are a few considerations to think about when you schedule an over-the-phone or face-to-face consultation with your selected physician:

How to Find the Right Primary Care Physician for You

1 – Consider Which Doctors Are in Your Network

Look into which doctors in your area will be covered by your healthcare plan. Your plan will help you keep your health status up while keeping costs down in the process. If you do not have any health care insurance, it is best to find a doctor that offers an affordable package that will not have you breaking the bank in order to stay healthy.

2 – Do Your Family and Friends Have Any Recommendations?

It is also important to get the input of your family and friends. Ask them if they can recommend any primary care physicians to you based on positive experiences of their own.

3 – How Easy Is It to Get Hold of This Doctor?

When you will need an emergency consult, will the doctor you are choosing be available to see you? How accessible are they via phone? It is important to consider these factors, especially when you will need medical advice in an emergency.

4 – Where Will Diagnostics Tests Take Place?

Speaking of accessibility, it is important to note where you will be taking your diagnostics tests, should you ever need them. Choosing a physician that has a conveniently-located clinic will prove to be useful, especially when you will need to have multiple tests done at one time.

5 – The Proximity of Their Clinic

Lastly, it is important to find a doctor that has a clinic that has a clinic that is easily reachable. Although it is somewhat impossible to find a doctor who has a clinic that is right next door to where you live, you want to find one that is fairly close.


While all doctors may be skilled in their own right, finding a primary care physician to help you reach peak health is a personal decision. Looking into the circumstances and individual pros and cons of each doctor you are considering will help you decide which one you should choose.

If you are looking for a good primary care physician in Santa Fe, you can get access to primary care and all your other medical needs at Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally owned outpatient medical facility in Santa Fe and Espanola NM offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. Call 505-466-5885 to book an appointment.


Pap Smear: When Should or Shouldn’t You Get One

Pap smear or cervical smear is a test done to screen for any abnormal cells in the cervix. This test can also determine any vaginal infections or inflammation that the patient should be concerned about. However, the main reason for getting a Pap smear is to screen for cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer has been the most prevalent type of cancer that caused death in women in the US. But thanks to Pap smear tests, the number of cervical cancer cases has significantly declined since it had been made available in the 1950s. This is why early detection of cancer, which is what Pap smears are for, can increase one’s chances of getting cured!

If you are between the ages of 21 and 69, it is recommended that you get regular Pap smears at your local family medical clinic. But there are circumstances when a test is not necessary. Here’s how to know when you should get a Pap smear and when you don’t have to:

When Is It Acceptable to Not Get a Pap Smear?

Pap smears may not be necessary if you are considered low risk for cervical cancer. For instance, if you are below 21 years old, whether you are sexually active or not, the risk for cervical cancer is very low. Any abnormal cell presence often returns to normal even without treatment.

The same goes if you are over the age of 69 and you have had regular Pap smears in the past and got normal results. The tests are also no longer necessary if you had your cervix removed during a hysterectomy procedure. However, if you had a hysterectomy because of the existence of pre-cancer or cancer cells in your cervix, you may still need to get the test.

When Do You Need a Pap Test?

Your need for a Pap test and its frequency depends on several factors, including your age and your risks.

If you are between the ages of 21 and 29, it is recommended that you get a Pap test at least once every three years, especially if you are sexually active. The same goes for women aged 30 to 69 years old. Likewise, your doctor may recommend an HPV test every five years, or you can still get tested for both.

It is also recommended for pregnant women to get tested. It is typically done in the early stages of pregnancy because it would be best to get it treated immediately before any conditions worsen if there is any abnormality. Note that the Pap smear should be done before you reach the sixth month of pregnancy. Then, you shouldn’t have a test done until 12 weeks have passed since you gave birth.

How to Ensure That Your Pap Smear Is Accurate?

Pap smear results can come back as unsatisfactory, which could mean that:

  • There was an error in the test administration.
  • The cells couldn’t be adequately evaluated because of the presence of mucus or blood.
  • There were not enough cervical cells to do an accurate test.

To prevent an unsatisfactory test result, you should get tested at least five days after the last day of your period. And then, 48 hours prior to your test, you shouldn’t have intercourse or use tampons, douches, vaginal creams, lubricants, and other vaginal products.


Pap smears are one of the most important tests that women should get, together with a mammogram and colonoscopy. It’s always better to get tested early on so that you can get the peace of mind that you are healthy. Even if the test comes back and it turns out there are cancerous cells, it’s still a good thing that you can detect it sooner rather than later as this will increase the chance of defeating cancer.

You are responsible for your health, so make sure that you get necessary tests like Pap smears from your primary care physician.

If you want to get your Pap smear done, be sure to visit your trusted family care clinic in Santa Fe, NM. At Aspen Medical Clinic, our physicians will always care for your well-being so that you can live a happy and healthy life. Contact us today to schedule your test appointment!

woman doctor

4 Key Medical Appointments You Must Schedule in 2021

Over the past year, health has truly become a priority for everyone. Gone are the days when being healthy only held true for the younger generation. Thanks to technology, senior citizens also no longer have to plan their bucket list around the average lifespan in the US. 

Nevertheless, this is not to say that you can neglect your routine medical checkups. For the most part, many people usually see their doctors when it’s already too late, but you must always remember that prevention is better than cure. Besides, the COVID-19 crisis has compelled people to always take good care of their health, which is why you must not forget to attend your regular checkups.

In this article, we will share four important medical appointments you need to plan for in 2021:

1. With a Primary Care Doctor

Sure, you may only be visiting your primary physician when you aren’t feeling well. But did you know that you must visit your physician at least once a year? Your doctor will perform a physical exam to determine the condition of your health and assess your medical history. If your physician sees any red flags, you will be asked to get some tests such as lab work or imaging service. From there, they’ll determine whether or not you need to get some medical treatments to treat your situation.

2. With an Eye Doctor

The general rule of thumb is to see your eye doctor once a year or every two years. Of course, you need to see one as soon as you’re having some eye problems. During your eye check, keep in mind that the expert will check for signs of the four common diseases. These eye conditions include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration, which are more likely to develop after the age of 40. This is when routine checkups for early prevention become extremely necessary!

3. With a Gynecologist 

Women need to see their gynecologist every six months to once a year. Regardless of sexual activities, they must begin seeing their doctors as early as the age of 21. During a routine appointment, your gynecologist will require you to get a Pap smear, a pelvic exam, and a breast exam to look for any signs of illnesses. At the same time, you must inform your doctor about your overall health and bring up any irregularities in your period. You also have to be honest about your sexual activities and any concerns about your reproductive system.

4. With a Radiologist (Mammogram)

It’s essential to visit a radiologist to undergo a mammogram. If your family has a history of breast cancer, you must consider doing this checkup at least once a year. This is because women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have a higher risk. You will also need to have genetic testing, particularly if your family member has a history of breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer. This genetic testing will require your blood or saliva sample sent to a lab for analysis, and you will receive the result in about a month. 


At this point, we’ve covered four key medical appointments you must make in 2021—primary care physician, eye doctor, gynecologist, and radiologist. While these four appointments are basic checkups, you must still consider your family and medical history to acknowledge which areas require a serious check. Ultimately, these preventive medical appointments may very well save your future—have that checkup today, and your body will thank you tomorrow!

Are you looking for reliable primary care and urgent care? You’ve come to the right place. We’re a locally owned outpatient medical clinic in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM offering state-of-the-art primary care services and an urgent care center. As your health is our top priority, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

covid test

Healthcare Advice: How Urgent Should COVID-19 Testing be

All the news about vaccination programs can be harmful to the public, especially in states and regions that are still struggling with a surge in cases. For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it’s important to observe precautionary measures whenever interacting with individuals outside their household.

Limitation in testing efforts have been due to the shortage of equipment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A year into the pandemic, more local and state health departments are more equipped to handle the influx of patients who want to receive COVID-19 testing. Because of this, it’s not an individual’s initiative to know whether they should get tested or not.

Getting COVID-19 testing due to the rise of new COVID-19 variants

 Besides being a mandatory requirement for official procedures and transactions, getting tested for COVID-19 becomes tricky if you’re unsure of your exposure to the virus. Effective testing is necessary not just for yourself but also for others’ safety. Unfortunately, the recent surge in COVID-19 variants can make it dangerous to get tested unless you’re sure you need one.

Thankfully, the CDC has adjusted its recommendations on who should receive COVID-19 testing. Besides people showcasing symptoms of COVID0-19 with a healthcare provider’s recommendation, asymptomatic patients can get tested if they’ve been exposed to people with a confirmed condition. This revised guideline helps your local community reinforce contact tracing methods since it’s vital to rack asymptomatic and pre-asymptomatic transmission. In turn, this allows authorities to document and notify necessary communities.

Deciding when to get COVID-19 testing

Due to the fluctuating incubation period of COVID-19 infection, there’s no direct time that defines when you should get COVID-19 testing. In most cases, a person with the virus can test positive for up to five days at most after contracting it. For this reason, you could test negative for the first three days of infection before COVID-19 symptoms start to manifest. Since it takes three to five days for symptoms to develop, the CDC notes that it’s best to be cautious with engaging with individuals outside your household for up to 14 days.

Receiving results from your COVID-19 test

Many patients can get their test results within 24 hours. However, this largely depends on the healthcare facilities’ capacity at the time. At worst, it may take two weeks before you can receive the results of your test. This is why it’s vital for individuals suspected of having COVID-19 avoid interacting with others or leaving their household whenever possible. During a self-isolation period of two weeks with no noticeable symptoms, it may be safe to assume that you’re free from COVID-19 or didn’t have it at all. However, the line separating the two can be the difference between being a threat to yourself and others.

Different cities and states have unique testing systems, which is why it might be easier or harder to schedule a COVID-19 test. It’s best to consult with your local authorities and healthcare providers to get a clear timeline of your wait time and expected appointment in light of recent events.


Vaccination is only part of the nation’s healing process, and it doesn’t replace the value of getting tested for COVID-19. For this reason, it’s necessary for unvaccinated individuals, and even vaccinated ones, to remain cautious of their actions and interactions with others. Determining your need to visit a reliable healthcare center should be your priority if you’re developing symptoms of any illnesses.

Aspen Medical Center is a locally-owned outpatient medical facility that offers state-of-the-art services for your healthcare needs. If you need to receive immediate COVID testing in Santa Fe, contact our office today.

doctor with a stethoscope

Signs It’s Time to Set an Appointment and See Your Doctor

If you have a medical emergency, it’s easy to decide to go to the doctor. Usually, you can prevent these emergencies altogether by just going a little earlier, though you may be unaware of subtler signs. Here is a list of reasons why you might need to go to the doctor right now:

Cough and Colds

Cough and colds are a sign of infection that most people ignore. This is because they can be mistaken for an allergic reaction or just a sign of a weak illness that will easily pass. There are instances wherein colds can stand for something more serious, though. If your colds don’t go away over time or downright worsen, go to a doctor. Long periods of congestion can lead to infection at various levels of severity. 

Also, if your cough lasts more than two weeks, that may be whooping cough, which needs medical attention. Even if your cough and colds aren’t so bad but are accompanied by other symptoms, that could be an indicator of a serious infection. 

For example, if you have a fever and/or muscle aches, you may have the flu. If you are in your senior years, an expectant mother, or have a history of heart disease, you should be extra careful. Also, if you have extreme difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or shortness of breath, you should definitely see a doctor as these are not normal cold symptoms. Nausea that leads to continuous vomiting should also be noted here. If that’s the case, you may need to get an IV to help hydrate and nourish your body.


A fever can just be a normal way your body fights infection. Similar to a cold, it doesn’t have to be an indicator of something more serious. In certain cases, such as if your fever is above 103˚ Fahrenheit (39.4˚ Celsius) or lasts more than three days, it could mean that you are about to be very sick and need to see a primary care doctor. 

Sudden Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss could indicate an overactive thyroid, diabetes, liver disease, and a number of other larger issues. It could even be a sign of something dangerously fatal, like cancer. In general, if you’ve lost 10% or more of your body weight in six months, seeing a doctor can save your life.

Severe Pain in Certain Areas

Extreme, sustained pain in the chest, abdomen, or pelvis can mean severe illnesses, so you should have yourself checked. Enduring pains in the chest area could mean a heart attack. Pain in the abdomen, especially if accompanied by nausea and vomiting, could be gallstones. When your pain is concentrated in the pelvis area, that could be appendicitis.

Change in Bowel Movement or Urination

Look for a sudden change in your bowel movement’s pattern. If you see things like bloody stools, diarrhea, constipation, or excessive urination, then you should probably consult your doctor.

Concussion Symptoms

If you’ve suffered a hit to the head, check yourself for signs of a concussion. See if you have any increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, or headaches. Any of these could be a sign that you have a concussion and should thus see your doctor.


This list of symptoms that could be signs that you should seek medical attention is small and incomplete. This is just a starting point of the most common reasons, but there are many more. Monitor your body closely to get an accurate picture of your health, and see your primary care physician if there are any problems.

Looking for a medical clinic in Santa Fe? Contact Aspen Medical Center today! We offer state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services.

From Dream to Reality: the origins of the little clinic next to Aspen Medical Center

When Dr. Andrew Ropp, co-founder and Medical Director of Aspen Medical Center, tells his patients that they can get acupuncture and massage at a little clinic next door, some are still surprised. Aspen Wellness opened a year after Aspen Medical Center and is one of Santa Fe’s most affordable places for these complementary and alternative medical treatments.

Offering both Eastern and Western approaches to health care had been a goal of Dr. Ropp’s since his early days of training in New York over 20 years ago. As a student, he founded the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Club at his medical school. He organized speakers on a whole host of topics such as Nutrition, Homeopathy, and his personal favorite, the topic of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After graduation and his medical residency in Family Medicine, he worked at the Hopi Health Care Center(HHCC) in Arizona. During his three years there, he became licensed in acupuncture and utilized his skills in the HHCC’s pain clinic for several hours per week in addition to his regular duties at the clinic. He saw first hand how powerful acupuncture could be to help people manage pain and how much people appreciated having a non-pharmaceutical option for pain relief.

Since moving to Santa Fe with his family in 2006, Dr. Ropp has concentrated his career on family medicine and operating Aspen Medical Center for primary and urgent care. But his dream of a clinic that provided the option of acupuncture to patients was realized with the help of his wife, Rachel Ropp, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM).

Rachel had always been attracted to Asian cultures. Having grown up in an Asian suburb of Los Angeles, she was inspired to study Chinese, volunteer, and travel in Asia during her college years. Many years later, after seeing her husband study for his acupuncture certification, she chose to come to Santa Fe and attend Southwest Acupuncture College and gain her Masters in Oriental Medicine. After running a community acupuncture clinic in Albuquerque for 4 years, she decided to join her husband at Aspen Medical Center, opening Aspen Wellness next door to his clinic.

Chinese Medicine has been practiced for over 3000 years and consists primarily of herbal medicine and acupuncture. In general, acupuncture is the practice of placing very thin, painless needles at various locations in the skin with the purpose of balancing the body’s energy which has been shown to ease pain. Acupuncture can be used for pain anywhere in the body and also for stress, digestive problems, allergies, insomnia, general well-being, and even for strengthening the immune system. At Aspen Wellness, Chinese herbal remedies are prescribed for common conditions including stress, anxiety, insomnia, hormonal issues, and even the common cold. Nutritional and lifestyle advice from the Chinese medical perspective is available. Patients at Aspen Wellness appreciate having non-pharmaceutical options to treat their health issues. Aspen Wellness also offers massage by Licensed Massage therapist, Stephanie Salazar.

The goal of Aspen Wellness has always been to offer acupuncture for an affordable price. Pre-pandemic, that meant seeing multiple patients at a time in a common space. These days, each patient is seen in a private space with numerous safeguards to keep everyone safe. Despite the changes, the cost remains low at just $30 per treatment regardless of how many issues are being addressed. We are currently providing acupuncture for the lowest price in Santa Fe.

Aspen Wellness offers appointments Monday – Friday and can make accommodations for people who need to be seen after work hours or on the weekend. Call to schedule an acupuncture treatment with Dr. Rachel Ropp if you have back pain, neck pain, knee or any joint pain, headaches, digestive issues, allergies, stress, anxiety, insomnia, or even if you are just curious to try it and see what acupuncture can do for you. For more information, go to or call 505-466-5887.

Coronavirus PSA

We are living in trying times. There is a global pandemic that is ravaging the world. The illness is called Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short. This virus causes an upper respiratory illness but can attack the lungs. It can cause fever as well as cough or shortness of breath, among other symptoms.

The last time the world experienced a pandemic of this scale was probably the 1918 flu pandemic also know as the Spanish flu, so likely no one alive today remembers a time like the one we are living in now. It is a reminder that life is fragile and we are all connected. When this virus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019, no one on earth was immune to it as far as we know. It can infect anyone. Some people have mild symptoms or possibly no symptoms at all, but a significant number of people are becoming critically ill and many people are dying from this virus. It is likely many more will die before this pandemic is over. Hospitals in places like northern Italy have become overwhelmed by this pandemic and it is likely to continue to spread to other regions and get worse around the world before it gets better.

At Aspen Medical Center, we care about your health and safety. We are doing everything in our power to try to prevent the spread of the virus and yet still provide essential medical services. We are cooperating with our state and local authorities and following recommended protocols and guidelines. We are closely monitoring nation-wide and global trends and we continue to gather information constantly. We are allowing employees to work remotely from home when possible. We are using appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE in our clinics. And we continue to follow intensified infection control protocols. We are screening prospective patients over the phone or if they come to our locations and we are sending high risk patients immediately for testing at one of our local state-designated testing sites or to the ER if appropriate. The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has agreed to waive all copays and costs to patients for testing and treatment related to COVID-19. We are prepared to meet whatever challenges come our way in these uncertain and ever-changing times.

We are now offering telemedicine. Telemedicine is a way to get a virtual visit with a health care provider. Secure video chat technology is used and we can conduct medical interviews, do counseling, perform a limited physical evaluation, and if necessary order labs, make referrals, or prescribe medications electronically to the pharmacy of the your choice. This allows us to continue to provide needed medical services but prevent the spread of the virus by providing care remotely. We can provide these services for people who have chronic ongoing medical needs, people who have acute medical needs, and even people who think they might be infected with this virus.

Also, we have temporarily closed Aspen Wellness. So Rachel Ropp, DOM, is not currently doing acupuncture but she still has Chinese herbs available for her patients who wish to purchase them.

During this time of a global infectious pandemic, it is important for all of us to do our part in protecting ourselves and everyone else. What are some of the things you can do?

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Do not go to work or school if you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw away the tissue
  • Practice social distancing (in general try to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people)
  • Avoid non-essential travel (avoid shopping trips and social visits when possible)
  • Reach out to people remotely through email, calling them up, texting, or through social media
  • If you or your child get sick, contact your medical provider or call us at Aspen (505-466-5885 in Santa Fe or 505-747-6939 in Espanola)

At this time, we do not know what the future will bring. What I do know is that at Aspen Medical Center, we will continue to do our best to provide health care, for both chronic care and urgent care needs, to the population of northern New Mexico at both our Santa Fe and Espanola locations. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible

Wellness Visit

Wellness Visits at Aspen Medical are designed to keep you healthy

There are two types of visits to Aspen Medical Center. There are “problem-based visits” and “wellness visits.” A “problem-based visit” focuses on a specific problem. It may be an acute problem such as a cold or flu-like illness, an earache, a sprained ankle or other injury, a cut or laceration, a sore throat, a cough, or a fever, etc. A problem-based visit might also focus on a chronic condition or conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypothyroidism, high blood pressure or hypertension, etc. A problem-based visit can occur as often or as seldom as necessary.

What is a “wellness visit”?

The second type of visit to Aspen Medical Center is a wellness visit. The “wellness visit” is all about prevention. Wellness visits are annual physicals and generally occur once a year. We perform a head to toe physical exam at that time. These visits are designed to help you stay healthy and prevent illness. At a wellness visit, we focus on things like vaccines to prevent diseases and screening tests like pap smears for women to detect cervical cancer. If necessary, we will make referrals for mammograms to screen for breast cancer or colon cancer screening to detect colon cancer. We’ll measure your blood pressure (like we do at all visits) to screen for high blood pressure or “hypertension.” We might recommend blood work after the wellness visit to screen for health conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. The point of the wellness visit is to allow us to detect problems early while they are still relatively easy to treat. 

The “Medicare Wellness Visit”

For people on Medicare, which generally starts at age 65, there is a specific type of wellness visit. Medicare calls this visit an “Annual Wellness Visit” (AWV). It is very similar to our wellness visit. The AWV is also a preventive visit. During the AWV, we’ll discuss vaccines and do appropriate screenings for vision, hearing, fall risk, depression, and dementia, among others.

An ounce of prevention . . .

There has been some debate over whether regular wellness visits are necessary, but we feel they are extremely important. You know the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is what these wellness visits are all about. We know that if we detect problems early, we have a much better chance of preventing them from getting worse or curing them altogether. Prevention is so much simpler, less complicated, cheaper, safer, less painful and more comfortable for you than waiting until problems require more care. So we welcome you to get a wellness visit at Aspen. Our goal is to help you live as long and healthy a life as possible.

What Are Seasonal Allergies

What is an allergy?

An allergy is the body’s overreaction to substances that do not cause a reaction in someone who is not allergic. These substances are called allergens. There are many different types of allergens including mold, animal dander, dust, certain foods, as well as pollen from trees, grass, and weeds. These allergens cause the release of histamine in susceptible individuals which leads to allergy symptoms.

What are seasonal allergies?

An allergic reaction to pollen or mold spores is a seasonal allergy. An allergy to pollen is sometimes called “hay fever.” Seasonal allergies will affect people at the time of year when certain pollens are at their highest levels. The most common times of year for seasonal allergies are in spring, summer, and fall.

Juniper allergy in New Mexico

Seasonal allergies are a common problem in many parts of the world and New Mexico is no exception. One of the most common seasonal allergies in New Mexico is the juniper allergy. Twenty to 30 percent of the population is allergic to juniper. Junipers are coniferous plants of the cypress family. Only the male juniper plants produce allergenic pollen. The female plants are fertilized by the male plants and produce berries but not allergies. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, juniper allergy seems to affect people starting in February and can last through March and into April. Other allergies common to the Santa Fe area include allergies to mulberry or pig weed, cedar and chamisa.

Symptoms of allergies

Allergy symptoms vary depending on the severity of your allergies. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • itching (especially the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, or skin)
  • runny nose or post-nasal drip
  • congestion (stuffy nose)
  • headache
  • pressure in the face (e.g. nose or cheeks)
  • watery, red, or swollen eyes
  • dark circles under the eyes
  • sore throat
  • feeling of ear fullness or ears popping
  • hives
  • difficulty smelling

Allergic reactions can also trigger an asthma attack in susceptible individuals. If you think you have allergies and your symptoms are interfering with your life, consider seeing a health care provider to discuss possible allergy medication and treatments.

What can be done to prevent or avoid allergies?

There are measures you can take to minimize or try to prevent exposure to things you are allergic to such as:

  • Keeping windows closed during high-pollen seasons
  • Wash hands after petting animals
  • Using dust and mite-proof bedding and mattress covers
  • Showering before bed to wash off allergens from hair or skin
  • Regularly washing bedding and vacuuming your home

Allergy Treatments

There are several allergy medications that can be used to treat allergy symptoms. These include:

  • Antihistamines help reduce sneezing, runny nose, and itching. These come in pill form as well as nasal sprays and some medications require a prescription.
  • Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine relieve the stuffy nose of allergies. Decongestants come in pill form or as a nasal spray. Decongestant nasal sprays are available over the counter but should not be used for more than 3 days in a row as chronic use can cause rebound congestion that makes you even more congested after you stop using them. Using decongestants, particularly in pill form, can raise your blood pressure so you should ask your health care provider before using this type of medication.
  • Nasal steroid sprays are one of the most effective treatments for seasonal allergies. They reduce the reaction in the nasal tissues to inhaled allergens. Some nasal steroids are now available over the counter. You will have to use the nasal spray for 1-2 weeks before getting the full benefit.
  • Eye drops help improve symptoms of irritated, watery, itchy eyes. Some of these medicines are available over the counter and others require a prescription.
  • Allergy shots (also called immunotherapy) are an option for people who try other treatments but continue to have bothersome allergy symptoms. These shots include small amounts of allergen so that your body gradually gets used to the allergen. Over time, your allergy symptoms become less severe.
  • Complementary treatments such as acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help control some people’s allergies. They can be particularly helpful for certain symptoms of allergies such as nasal congestion and allergy headaches. If you are interested in acupuncture, come to Aspen Wellness!

At Aspen Medical Center, we provide consultations for allergies as well. We can prescribe allergy medications and if necessary, we can provide allergy specialist referrals. If you are suffering from allergies, come in and see us today!

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

What is Primary Care?

What is Primary Care?

Primary care is the backbone of a well-functioning, efficient healthcare system. Primary care providers (PCP’s) can be physicians, physician’s assistants, and/or nurse practitioners who treat adults and children of all ages for their general healthcare needs. Usually the primary care provider (PCP) is the first contact and principal point of continuing care for patients. The PCP also coordinates specialist care that the patient may need. Primary care results in better health outcomes, reduced health disparities and lower spending, by avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital care. PCP’s, acting as guides for your health, are an important component in ensuring that the healthcare system as a whole is sustainable.

Outpatient primary care services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Chronic disease management (e.g. diabetes, asthma, COPD, depression, anxiety, hypertension, back pain, arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, etc.)
  • Comprehensive annual wellness visits and physical exams
  • Routine and same-day care for all ages
  • Pap smears
  • Family Planning
  • Immunizations
  • Care coordination
  • Weight management
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Cancer screening
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Laboratory tests

Continuity is a key characteristic of primary care, as patients usually prefer to consult the same practitioner for routine check-ups and preventive care, health education, and every time they require an initial consultation about a new health problem. It is generally recommended to follow up with your PCP at least once a year. PCP’s are like air traffic controllers who can help manage and coordinate care, especially for people with multiple complex medical problems. Therefore, it is always important to follow up with your PCP anytime there is lab work or other studies done, if/when you need medication refills, after seeing a specialist, after an illness or injury, or certainly if there is a major health event in your life such as a hospitalization or surgery. Your PCP needs to remain informed about your health status.

If you do not have your own PCP, Aspen Medical Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico is still taking some new primary care patients on a limited basis. We are always available for your urgent care needs (please see the previous blog for a discussion of urgent care). At Aspen Medical Center, we are here to help you get and stay as healthy as possible.

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director



It’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving. This is not only a time when we get together with family and friends and eat lots of delicious food, but it is also a time to give thanks and be grateful.

Gratitude, from the Latin gratus, meaning “pleasing or grateful,” is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, as well as better physical and mental health. There has actually been a great deal of research done on the effects of gratitude and the list of its benefits is almost endless. Perhaps this would be a good time to review some of the benefits of gratitude and to consider some advice on how to practice gratitude in daily life.

Studies show the following benefits of gratitude:

  • Gratitude improves happiness
  • Gratitude improves sleep quality
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem
  • Gratitude leads to more helpfulness and empathy
  • Gratitude improves resilience
  • Practicing gratitude makes you more optimistic and helps you feel better about your life
  • Grateful people are more hopeful and healthier
  • Gratitude improves relationships
  • Gratitude boosts the immune system

Gratitude helps us focus on what we have instead of what we lack. The practice of gratitude does not come easily to everyone and sometimes it is difficult to feel grateful but it is a feeling that can be developed. Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude:

  • Write a thank-you note. Help make yourself and another person happy too by writing a thank you note to someone who had a positive impact on your life.
  • Thank someone mentally. If you are too busy to write a note, just think of someone who did something nice and thank them in your mind.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. One way to bring more of the positive effects of gratitude into your life is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down three things that you are grateful for before you go to bed.
  • Count your blessings. Counting blessings is something that can be done either in writing or just in your head. Listing all the good things in your life and all the ways you are fortunate can be an effective way to experience thepleasant feeling of gratitude.
  • Pray. If you are religious, giving thanks through prayer is a way to cultivate gratitude.
  • Meditate. Meditation is a way to practice awareness of the present moment and bring more peace and balance into one’s life. Gratitude can be an object of meditation by focusing on what you’re grateful for. Make gratitude a habit!

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

What is urgent care?

What is urgent care?

Urgent care is medical care for an urgent problem that is not life threatening. Examples of life-threatening emergencies include a heart attack or a serious head injury. These require a visit to the Emergency Room (ER). Urgent Care centers such as such as ours, Aspen Medical Center in Santa Fe and Aspen Urgent Care in Espanola, New Mexico, are setup to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life–threatening, but also can’t wait until the next day.

When faced with a medical problem that requires immediate care, it is sometimes difficult to determine if it is truly an emergency, or if it is an urgent care issue.

What is considered an emergency?

Urgent care is not a substitute for emergency care. In general, an emergency medical condition is one that can quickly endanger the life or limb of an individual.

Some examples of conditions requiring a visit to the ER include:

  • Compound or open fracture (bone protruding through skin)

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Fever in a newborn (less than 1 month old)

  • Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding

  • Extensive or severe burns

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Severe chest pain or difficulty breathing

  • Signs of a heart attack (e.g. chest pain lasting longer than two minutes, possibly associated with shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and/or pain radiating into the arm or jaw)

  • Signs of a stroke (e.g. sudden numbness, loss of vision, one-sided weakness, slurred speech, or confusion)

Dial 911 without delay for any medical problem that appears to be immediately life-threatening.

ER visits are necessary for true emergencies, such as chest pain that is potentially a heart attack and severe injuries. Minor injuries and illnesses can be evaluated by our urgent care providers.

What conditions are appropriate to treat at an urgent care center?

Urgent health concerns are not considered emergencies but still benefit from prompt evaluation and treatment. Some examples of such conditions include:

  • Accidents and falls

  • Cuts that might require stitches

  • Breathing difficulties (e.g. mild to moderate asthma)

  • Eye irritation and redness

  • Earaches

  • Allergies

  • Fever or flu-like symptoms

  • Sprains, strains, and minor broken bones and fractures

  • Moderate back problems

  • Sore throat or cough

  • Skin rashes and infections

  • Urinary tract infections

  • STD testing

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

The average cost of an ER visit is $2,250 according to insurer Cigna. In contrast, urgent care visits average $170. If one has an urgent care need, it is reasonable to visit an urgent care center first. However, if you are uncertain, it is always best to err on the side of caution and visit the ER if you think you might have a true emergency medical condition.

Aspen Medical Center here in Santa Fe and Aspen Urgent Care in Espanola, New Mexico provide urgent care services seven days a week. Aspen Medical Center is certified by the Urgent Care Association of America. We have x-ray and laboratory services on site. Our commitment to compassionate and convenient patient care ensure that patients with urgent medical needs receive the best medical expertise days, nights, weekends and most holidays.

Andrew Ropp, MD

Medical Director

Protect Yourself from the Heat

Protect Yourself from the Heat

According the Nature Conservancy, “More than 95 percent of New Mexico has experienced mean temperature increases over the last 30 years.” July is generally the hottest month of the year in Santa Fe with average daily high temperatures of 86°F. At this time of year, the risks of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, are increased.

What are heat exhaustion and heatstroke?
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot. If heat exhaustion goes untreated, it can lead to heatstroke. This happens when your internal body temperature reaches at least 104°F. Heatstroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can lead to shock, organ failure, or brain damage. In extreme cases, you can die from heatstroke.

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, pale or cool skin, weakness and/or confusion, dizziness, headache, nausea +/- vomiting, rapid heart rate, and dark-colored urine which is indicative of dehydration.

What are the symptoms of heatstroke?
In addition to the symptoms of heat exhaustion listed above (with the exception of heavy sweating and pale or cold skin), warning signs of heatstroke include fever with a temperature of 104°F or higher, red or flushed skin, lack of sweating, trouble breathing or shortness of breath, fainting, and seizures.

How does a person get heat exhaustion or heatstroke?
Heat-related illnesses occur when a person is not able to keep him or herself cool. The main causes of heat exhaustion and heatstroke are hot weather and exercise. Your risk of heat-related illnesses is increased by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

How can we prevent or avoid heat-related illnesses?
During hot weather, it is important to try to keep cool. This is especially true for babies, children, and the elderly who are more sensitive to the heat. If you are ill, overweight/obese, or have heart disease, you are also at greater risk. People who work outside or in hot settings are also at greater risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Try not to go outside when it is very hot. If you must go outside, wear light-colored, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wear a hat or use an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher here in Santa Fe and surrounding areas. Drink plenty of water. If you are in a hot environment, drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you are not thirsty. If your urine is clear or light-colored, you are probably drinking enough water. If your urine is dark-colored, it may be a sign of dehydration. Try to limit or avoid drinks that contain caffeine (tea, coffee, soda, etc.) or alcohol. Avoid spending too much time outside between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m if possible. Take frequent breaks from the heat/sun and outdoor activities. Do not stay or leave a child in a parked car when it is hot outside. (If there is any danger of forgetting a child in a hot car, you can use the trick of leaving your left shoe in the back seat with the child.)

What do you do if you or someone you know has heat exhaustion or heatstroke?
If you suspect you are getting too hot, get out of the sun/heat into a cooler environment even if it is just into the shade. Lie down and elevate your legs to improve blood flow to the brain. Take off any heavy or tight-fitting clothing if possible. Apply cool wet towels to the skin or take a cool bath to help cool your body temperature. Drink fluids (water or a sports drink). Take frequent sips; do not guzzle. Avoid caffeine or alcohol.

When to call 911:

If someone is displaying the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke listed above, take their temperature. If the temperature is 104°F or more, call 911 and seek medical help immediately. If after trying to help someone cool down, symptoms do not improve or temperature is 102°F or higher after 30 minutes of treatment, call 911. If the person faints or has seizures, call 911. If the person stops breathing, call 911 and start CPR.

Just remember to stay hydrated and do your best to keep cool this summer!

Low Back Pain

Most people will not make it through life without suffering from back pain at some point in time. Back pain can occur in different areas of the back, but low back pain is particularly common. More than 30% of U.S. adults report having had low back pain within the previous three months. Most episodes of back pain will improve within 6 weeks or less, but some people develop chronic low back pain (low back pain lasting more than three months).

There are many different potential causes of low back pain but it can generally be prevented by learning how to improve your posture as well as proper techniques for lifting and exercising.

Sometimes back pain can be serious. Contact your doctor immediately or come to Aspen Medical Center to be evaluated if:

  • Pain goes down your leg below your knee
  • Your leg, foot, groin or rectal area feels numb
  • You have fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness or sweating
  • You lose control over your ability go to the bathroom (to urinate or defecate)
  • Your pain was caused by an injury
  • Your pain is so intense you can’t move around

What causes low back pain? A muscle strain or spasm, sprains of ligaments (which attach bone to bone), joint problems or a “slipped disk” can all cause low back pain. A common cause of low back pain is using your back muscles in activities you’re not used to, such as lifting heavy furniture or doing yard work. Unexpected events such as falling or a being involved in a car accident can also cause low back pain.

A slipped (also called a herniated) disk happens when a disk between the vertebrae (or bones of the spine) bulges and presses on a nerve coming out of the spinal cord. Sometimes people who have a slipped disk don’t know what caused it or sometimes it comes from an activity such as lifting while twisting. Most of the time, slipped disks and other low back pain can be relieved by following a few simple methods.

Back pain can generally be treated with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Gentle stretches or exercises such as yoga can be helpful as well. Using a heating pad for 20 or 30 minutes can help with painful muscle spasms. Ice packs and massage can also be helpful. Weight loss is another way to help improve low back pain over time.

For chronic low back pain, acupuncture has been shown to be a helpful treatment. Multiple studies have shown acupuncture provides significant pain relief in people with chronic low back pain. The Joint Commission, an independent non-profit organization that accredits and certifies 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, recommends acupuncture as an treatment option for pain management. We offer low-cost acupuncture at Aspen Wellness (, phone: 505-466-5887). Often multiple or ongoing treatments are necessary to improve and maintain some level of pain relief. Acupunctureis a safe and healthy alternative to other treatments like narcotic painkillers which have multiple risks but are sometimes used for chronic low back pain.