As the population in the U.S. ages, it means more people are visiting the doctor more often. That can be a problem because many seniors have severe health issues or trouble driving or walking.
A throwback to an earlier age, Dr. Rabia Khan, fellowship-trained geriatrician for Lee Memorial Health System, spends her day making house calls.
“Fort Myers has a very large geriatric population which benefits from the doctors actually going out to their homes, so it has come around full circle,” says Dr. Khan.
At 92 years old, Russell Grasso has chronic leg pain. His wife Priscilla has health issues including balance problems. It’s difficult, even dangerous, to leave the home.
“I can’t take a chance, she fell four times,” says Mr. Grasso.
“He shouldn’t be driving because he’s so old, but he does. That’s how we get around,” Mrs. Grasso said.
That’s when Lee Memorial Health System’s House Calls program comes into play.
“We’re going out and seeing anybody that needs our services. They have trouble getting out of the house, either they have difficulty walking, or they’re really short of breath or they have chest pain. Any cognitive issues also, then we will come out to their house and see them,” says Dr. Khan.
Doctors are able to spend more time when they come to a patient’s house, about an hour and a half for the first visit. They assess not only the patient but how they function in their own home.
“If I notice that somebody is losing a little bit of weight, I’ll open up their fridge and say ‘Hey, you know, what’s going on here.’ If I need to bring in some older adult services, I can order that. If I notice that they would benefit from having a nurse coming out to the home with physical therapy, occupation therapy, we work with the local home health agencies,” says Dr. Khan.
In-home visits go a long way in keeping people out of the hospital.
“The whole point is to keep them from falling through the cracks,” says Dr. Khan.
So the old-fashioned house call is a welcome idea.