House Calls No Longer A Forgotten Luxury

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web Producer: Kerry Corum

It's a retro approach to modern medicine, the house call.

The health team's Shannon Samson tells us about a new home visit program in Evansville.

Lisa Alexander is adding on job responsibilities as quickly as some of her patients are adding on years.

Until recently, this nurse practitioner and the doctors she works for, would make house calls only for a select few.

Now they're realizing more patients could benefit from this service.

R.N. Nurse Practitioner Lisa Alexander says, "There are a lot of patients who are falling through the cracks, who haven't been the doctor for a year or two or three, because they simply cannot physically get there and they don't have any family to take them."

COPD and diabeties patient George Snelling has family, but his trips to the doctor just got too much for them.

His wife can't get him and his wheelchair in the car.

George's wife Theda Snelling tells us, "We would have to arrange for someone in our family to come in, and it was kind of hard to get someone to find them a day off that would work with the doctor."

So the doctor started coming to them, or sending out a nurse practitioner, who can do many of the same things as an MD.

Nurse Alexander says, "We will draw labs, just like the home health nurses will draw labs, and yet we can write prescriptions and call those into the pharmacy right then, order other tests. We can take the patient and send them off to the hospital if need be, while we are right there."

And Theda is right there too, her kitchen looking more and more like a pharmacy.

But she doesn't mind, she never wants her husband of nearly sixty years to be anywhere other than home.

Theda says, "We can't do any less for him. We could never, no. We could never do for him what he's done for all of us."

So she's going to return a lifetime of favors and, luckily, she doesn't have to do it alone.

Right now, only a few doctors do house calls but it's catching on, especially since home health care is cheaper than a nursing home in many cases.

With Medicare in crisis, this looks like a way to save some money.