Unless you were around in the 1950’s you probably don’t know that it was common to see a man carrying a small black bag knock on a neighbor’s door. Who would it have been? Today you might think, insurance salesman, Amway salesman or even political office seeker. Would it surprise you to know that it was the family doctor?
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.
There wouldn’t be much to this story on house calls and medical services in the home if it were not for an organization known as Family Home Care and Hospice (FHCH) of Spokane, WA. A home health agency, FHCH serves patients in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington State. The company has launched a new service offering primary medical care in patients’ homes. The new service, aptly named “House Calls”, will offer a wide range of primary care services including diagnosing medical conditions, check-ups, drawing blood, prescribing medications and monitoring of medications. House Calls patients may continue to receive their on-going and follow up care from the House Calls medical professional or their care can be coordinated with or referred back to their regular physician.
FHCH providers are Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNP) who have been specially trained and licensed to provide in-home medical services. The ARNP staff at FHC prefers to visit a patient in their home rather than in a clinic or hospital setting.
“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.”
The House Calls service is perfect for bed ridden or home-bound patients or patients who have difficulty getting to the doctor’s office. However, the service is not restricted merely to the home-bound, but can be utilized by anyone in the community who would like primary care medical services to be performed in their home.
“Certainly the greatest need for the service is among the elderly,” said Alicia Bowman Primary Care Coordinator for FHCH, “but the service is not restricted that group alone. We also see a goodly number of younger patients.”
In FHCH’s primary market area, as in many communities across the country, there are no services which provide primary medical care on an in-home basis. This means that, without the House Calls service, many patients will not see a medical professional until their condition becomes serious enough that emergency treatment is needed. Even in the best cases, home-bound patients often postpone their medical care long enough that their conditions have worsened. The availability of quality in-home medical care is essential to the continued health of these patients.
The demand for a House Calls style service in the Spokane area is vigorous. The situation is likely much the same in other markets. The increasing population of elderly patients across the nations means that such in-home services will be required in most communities across the country.
The expertise and systems for programs like House Calls are found in the many home health agencies in communities throughout our country,” added Michael Nowling, President of FHCH. “If home health agencies throughout the nation took on this challenge, it would be a tremendous help to our elderly residents and would also represent a significant decrease in the load currently being experienced by hospital emergency rooms and ER 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.