By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published May 01, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I recently had to spend quite a bit of time at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital.

I am one of those people who are interested in health care issues and all the arguments about what kind of health care we should have in this country. Farmer/Physicians Blue This and Green That. Let’s even forget Obamacare, although I kind of like that one.

I vote for AnnieCare. It’s not some big insurance conglomerate where they specialize in turning down claims. AnnieCare doesn’t have a bulging mail room or little cubicles with thousands of mean people with green eyeshades looking for the latest policy loophole which will get the company out of paying for the blood transfusion that saved Mrs. Smith’s life.

AnnieCare is very small. Just one person. Anne Melvin. She’s a Physician’s Assistant at Columbia St. Mary’s and if everyone were enrolled in AnnieCare, nobody would have any complaints and Congress might actually get along.

Let me explain in my own simple way what the difference is between physicians and physician’s assistants.

There seems to be none, except for the amount of schooling you need. They both have advanced degrees, do classroom and clinical training and rotate through specialties, like those kids on "Grey’s Anatomy" (if that show is still on the air).

Now, back to AnnieCare.

I’m pretty sure I met her the second day there. I went to the Emergency Room because I could hardly breathe.

Before you could shout "STAT" or "CBC Chem 7" (phrases I learned from "Grey’s Anatomy") I was loaded with enough doctors to start another network show.

I was being cared for at various times by my primary care physician, an ER doctor, a Pulmonologist, his assistant, a neurologist, a cardiologist, the cardiologist's partner, a surgeon (whom everybody called the best in the city) and a hospitalist, who is a doc who cares for everyone in the hospital, no matter what disease they have.

And then there was Anne Melvin. She was there every day during my first six-day stay. She spoke English I could understand. She didn’t do all the talking. She didn’t crack jokes about me being in the hospital. I was pretty serious about this and she treated it seriously.

I crabbed and intimidated and they cleared me and sent me home.

Four days later I was back and this time I was going to stay 15 days. And that’s when I got my first full dose of AnnieCare.

Anne Melvin is 30. She's from a dot on the map called Abbotsford. Married to an engineer. No kids.

And she is everything I want in a doc. I’m a pretty particular consumer of health care, both for me and for loved ones.

There are some things that the great ones have in common.

I assume they all know their stuff, although someone had to finish last in their med school class. Mine were all highly experienced and accomplished.

I want a doctor who sits. I don’t even like when they stand next to my bed and play with my bed sheet. That seems like a subchapter in the "The Dummies Guide to Acting Like a Doctor." Sit where I can see you. Chair, table. Something where you are anchored, not like you are ready to burn rubber to your next pit stop.

The next thing is, you’ve got to listen to me. I want to tell you how miserable I feel and how worried I am. Be my priest for just a minute. Hear my confession. Let me know you understand me even though we speak different languages.

Then it’s your turn to talk. Tell me what the tests show. Tell me what’s wrong. If you don’t know, say so and tell me how you are going to find out. This not a moment for fear for either of us. No waffling. Don’t try to protect me from my own truth.

My brother is a doctor and he wanted to to talk with someone about me. He got on the line with AnnieCare. When they finished he called me.

"She was fantastic," he said. "She really gets it. She took all the pieces from all the docs and put them together. It was really valuable and amazing."

That’s my AnnieCare.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.