House Calls

Responding Before a Call Is Needed
Under a pilot program aimed at heading off 911 calls and
trips to the hospital, some paramedics visit chronically ill
patients at their homes to check their vital signs and

I was happily surprised to see this item in the NYT last week. It's a good start to what I think could be a very helpful and effective community health care program.

You know how it is when you or your kids have the flu or a very bad cough, a high fever - something that worries you enough that you want to have it checked out? But to do so, you have to go to a doctor's office or neighborhood health clinic or emergency room - pick your poison - feeling miserable and sitting in a room with other sniffling, feverish, coughing people, and you remember those stories your grandmother used to tell, about how you could call the doctor and he would come to your house.

My littlest brother was saved by a house call. The other five of us had had general flu, but something was a shade different about him. My mother called the doctor that evening - yes, evening - and he read something in my mother's voice, so he came to the house. There, he saw something a shade worrisome in my baby brother and ordered him to the hospital. Brian had meningitis. If my mother had waited a day, he would have died.

I don't ask for today's doctors to make those house calls. But I do think a neighborhood physician's assistant could do so. The neighborhood clinic could serve as the place you go for regular shots, check-ups, x-rays, and setting broken bones, and hospitals reserved for surgeries or the very ill.

Probably all financially infeasible. But boy, wouldn't it work well for the rest of us?