Dr. Franks" funny bone

Dr. David Frank, an Island resident for 12 years, has taken the medical newsletter and surgically added something unexpected: a funny bone.

Some of his advice on ``Good Sleep Practices:''

``Use caffeine on an emergency basis only. I aim for 85 cups daily or less.

``Do something relaxing before bedtime, like arguing with your spouse over finances or how to raise the children.''

On the ``Meet Our Staff'' portion of the newsletter, Dr. Frank lists ``Koko, 750-pound Lowland Silverback Gorilla, BS in anthropology, (with honors) Harvard, 1996, MBA Yale 2001, listed in Who's Who in American Primates, National Interpreter Certification in American Sign Language. I work with insurers when disputes arise over payment. I find it most productive to meet in person when discussing my issues and concerns.''

Even the legal disclaimer is funny: ``Our corporate attorney. . . advises me to tell you that this mailing is form general information only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. If you have a medical problem, see your doctor. I am not a doctor, I am a newsletter. I am probably sitting at the bottom of a bird cage right now getting pooped on. That should tell you something.''

``I write the whole thing myself,'' said Dr Frank. ``The newsletter is brutally honest, politically incorrect and fun. Typically, medical newsletters gloss over things and make everything nicey-nice in a drive to be inoffensive. But by doing that they are rendered so boring and vanilla they don't have sharply defined points of view.'' Dr Frank noted that his practice and his newsletter are based in science and solid research, so patients can trust what they read is accurate as well as amusing.

Aside from his joke advice above, he said, ``I'm honest about what's going on (in the medical field). ``People who want a scientifically based style will read the newsletter and say, `I'd get along with this doc' and it will bring in patients who are matched to my style and philosophy. People who want herbs and crystals will know that I'm not an appropriate person for them to see.''

Dr. Frank, a UCLA and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, practiced emergency room medicine at Swedish for 11 years before he set up a private practice two years ago.

``I set up a unique practice in which patients pay $99 a month in addition to their insurance to get VIP service, including flexible appointments in which they're seen the same day or the next day, extended length visits and phone and email access,'' he said. ``A full day for me is 10 patients, compared to a typical doctor who usually sees 25 patients per day. I keep a smaller, more personable practice.'' Insurance, Dr. Frank asserts, is great for catastrophic illness, such as a car accident or a heart attack, but he feels it's a mistake to use the insurance system for seeing your family doctor for a checkup.

``The individual patient should have the right to say this isn't right and isn't working for me, so I'll throw 100 bucks at the problem to get what I need'' said Dr. Frank. ``Because patients pay me a fee, I don't have the motivation to run extra tests and do things to generate revenue for myself.''

Dr. Frank's formula and his newsletter are a hit with his current complement of 170 patients, and he notes that he should have 200 patients by the end of the year.

``We're at about 50 percent capacity now, and once we hit the 400 mark, we will close the practice to new patients,'' he said. ``I'm always happy to talk to people about what we are doing...we're approachable here.''

To contact Dr. Frank and get copies of his newsletter, call 206-292-0700.

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