Meet Laura Pennavaria. Dr. Pennavaria received her MD degree from the University of California, San Diego in 2001. She completed a residency in Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, California, and is Board Certified in Family Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She has practiced in a variety of settings, and has spent a significant amount of her career serving in physician executive roles, in addition to maintaining her practice. This experience in an administrative capacity allowed her to see firsthand how the ever-increasing bureaucracy and red tape have driven physicians and their patients farther apart. And the beginning of Homestead Family Medicine!
Please tell us a little bit about your family.
A: “My husband, Michael, and I own a small farm just East of town. We live there with our two teen sons, Jean-Luc and Marc. We have a whole menagerie, including cattle, pigs, goats, turkeys, chickens, and ducks. We also have four dogs. My husband is a full time farmer, and our boys do a ton to help out around the farm. Our older son graduated from Bend High last year, loves football (and still plays!) and is working toward a career in Law Enforcement. Our younger son is a sophomore at Bend High, and loves to sing and play piano. He’s very talented, even auditioned for The Voice last year and made it past the first round!.”
Please tell us about your current career. What do you love most about what you do?
A: “I am a family doctor. I’ve been in practice for almost 20 years, but have had my current practice for about 8 months, and I have loved every minute of it! I am a solo Direct Primary Care doctor. It’s a different model, one that’s new to Bend, so people are having to wrap their heads around it just a bit. I don’t take any insurance at all, hence the term “direct.” Mine is a membership-based practice, with a very affordable monthly membership. I especially love taking care of families, so I have family discounts. Insurance companies still pay for the labs and meds I order, but if someone doesn’t have insurance, they can get labs and meds from me at about 10% of what they would typically pay. What this model affords me is precious time with my patients. I routinely spend an hour or more with my patients, and am never rushed. My patients love it, and are able to call me directly (I answer the phone), text me, email me, etc. It’s a model that puts a new twist on old-fashioned medical practice, harkening back to a time when doctors had relationships with their patients, took time to listen, made house calls, and were available after hours when a patient is sick or worried. What I love most about what I do is the relationships I am able to form with my patients. Each one of them is truly precious to me.”
Q: What are a couple of your favorite restaurants in our community?
Q: How long have you lived or worked in our community?
A: “Since 2012.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in our community?
A: “I have met many very interesting people here, but I would have to say that the most interesting is Larry Kogovsek. He is basically a full time volunteer, working mostly on homelessness, peer support, and hospice. He has had such interesting and varied experiences in his life, and now has basically devoted himself to building community. I’ve been pretty active in working to improve health care delivery in our community, and Larry is often at the table of whatever committee or work group it might be, ready to dive right in and help. Here’s an interesting little article about him: https://acommunitythread.com/larry-kogovsek.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
A: “My usual answer to this question is Spain and Sicily. I’ve traveled quite a lot, but have never been to Spain. I’ve been to Italy, but not Sicily, and that is the place of my husband’s heritage, so I would like to visit there with him someday. But RIGHT NOW, I would really just like to travel to Huntington Beach, CA to see my parents. Because of the pandemic, we may not see each other at all this year, outside of Zoom.”
Q: What is one of your favorite movies? TV shows?
A: “I love old movies. My very favorite is Gone With the Wind, but there are so many! My favorite more recent movie is The Notebook. I’ve watched it probably twenty times and I literally sob every time. I’m such a sap.”
Q: What advice would you give to people?
A: “Be kind, and cultivate gratitude.”
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about our community?
A: “I love supporting local businesses, and there are so many. I guess the businesses that spark nostalgia are those that started when Bend was much smaller, and have grown with the town. Businesses like Johnson Brothers Appliances, Mike’s Fence Center, and restaurants like Pine Tavern. There are so many solid organizations here.”
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you meet for this lunch?
A: “I would love to have lunch with Dr. Anthony Fauci, both to thank him for his leadership during this pandemic, and to pick his brain about infectious diseases and public health. And I would have lunch with him on the deck of the Pine Tavern.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
A: “A river runs through it! A beautiful, accessible river, at that.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
A: “Right here in Bend, enjoying my family and my practice.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “Climbing South Sister. We are planning for this later in the year.”
Q: What is your go to band when you cant decide what to listen to?
A: “Right now it’s the Doobie Brothers.”
Q: In hard times we can sometimes see and recognize greatness in those around us. Hard working. Positive attitudes. Helping on the front lines. Who is one of our local shining lights today?
A: “Katrina Van Dis, the Executive Director of the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance. She works tirelessly to improve the local food system, and is well respected by everyone whom she encounters.”
Q: What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?
A: “So many places to choose from… Yosemite.”
Q: Favorite month? favorite holiday? and best single day on the calendar?
A: “My favorite month is July, because we usually take a fun family vacation. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, because it is all about family and gratitude. The single best day on the calendar is Winter solstice, the inflection point of darkness that signals daily increases in daylight.”
Q: What would you rate a 10 out of 10?
A: “Chocolate chip ice cream.”
Q: What is one or two of your favorite smells?
A: “Our farm after a rain, and Thanksgiving dinner cooking.”
Q: Who inspires you to be better?
A: “My kids.”