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House Calls Make a Comeback

Jun 6, 2008
Perhaps you're not old enough to remember, but it wasn't that long ago that the sight of a man carrying a small black bag up the walk to your front door could mean only one thing. Can you guess? No, it wasn't an IRS auditor. Not an insurance salesman. It was not even someone selling Amway or running for mayor. It was the doctor coming to your house.

Back in those days physicians would often visit patient's homes to render care. Most everyone thought it was good idea, but this convenience seemed to vanish as doctors became increasingly inundated with patients during the baby boom.

This might be a pretty short story except for Family Home Care and Hospice (FHCH), a home health agency headquartered in Spokane, WA. FHCH currently serves home care patients in Eastern Washington State and in Northern Idaho. FHCH has now launched a new service providing primary care medical services in patient's homes. Known as "House Calls" the new service will offer patients a generous selection of medical services including routine check-ups, prescribing medications, monitoring medications, blood draws, and more. After the first visit and diagnosis, patients can continue with their House Calls provider or they may also do any follow-up with their normal physician.

Medical professionals staffing the House Calls program are Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNP). They have additional training and are specially licensed for providing medical services in the patient's home. These skilled professionals would rather see a patient in a home environment instead of at a clinic or a hospital.

"We love this program because it allows us to spend more time with our patients," said Carol Charles, ARNP. "When we can get to know them more closely and see how they're living, we can many times recommend treatment options that will fit more closely with the patient's lifestyle. This is an advantage for the patient that isn't possible at a hospital or clinic."

House Calls is a perfect service for the home-bound or people for whom the task of getting to the doctor's office is just too daunting. But, House Calls is not limited to people who are immobile. The service can be used by anyone who prefers their primary care medical services to be delivered at home.

"The majority of our patients are elderly." explained Alicia Bowman, FHCH's coordinator for primary care services. "They certainly have the need, but there are also quite a number of younger patients. This is not a service only for the elderly."

Across the nation, services such as House Calls which provide needed primary medical care in the home are rare or non-existent. Without services such as House Calls, many elderly or less mobile patients will not seek medical attention and will allow their condition to worsen until emergency treatment is needed. Even in ideal circumstances, some bed-ridden patients will put off medical care long enough that their illness becomes much more advanced. The presence of a service like House Calls in a community is a foundational element in the health care of this segment of the population.

While the Spokane area has demonstrated a significant demand for a House Calls style service, increasing elderly populations in communities all across the country means that this style of primary care medical service will be needed in most areas.

"Home health agencies like Family Home Care and Hospice are in a perfect position to offer this valuable and necessary service to their communities," noted Michael Nowling, President of Family Home Care and Hospice. "I believe this service trend, if adopted by enough home health agencies throughout the country, will be a huge benefit to our aging population and will also relieve some of the burden on our hospital emergency rooms and staff."

The largest privately owned home health agency in it's market area, Family Home Care and Hospice has been seeing patients in the Inland Northwest for more than 40 years. Family Home Care and Hospice has been honored by Medicare as one of the top 1 percent of home health agencies in Washington State. They have also been recognized as being among the top five percent of home health agencies in the nation.
About the Author
Michael Nowling is the President of FHCH, a home health agency in the the area area, WA. The largest privately owned home health agency in the the area area, FHCH has been serving the inland Northwest for over 40 years.
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