VNA’s Visiting Doctor Program Launched

NORTHAMPTON — A generous gift from former Easthampton resident and long-time Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter Russell T. Flanagan will enable the Northampton-based VNA/Hospice Alliance to bring back an age-old practice: physician house calls.
The VNA/Hospice Alliance, part of Cooley Dickinson Health Care Corp., received an $80,000 donation from the Russell T. Flanagan Trust. VNA/Hospice Director Carla M. Braveman said that 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of the donation will go toward funding the startup costs for the Visiting Doctor program, a new concept for the VNA/Hospice Alliance. Initially, the program will be available to residents of Amherst, Easthampton, Hadley, and Northampton.

Calling the program a first in Western Mass., Braveman said the Visiting Doctor program is designed to provide physician services to patients who cannot easily get to a doctor’s office for medical care. “We want to make the physician’s house call an easily accessible service in our area,” she said. “We want to make life a little bit simpler for people who are homebound due to chronic or terminal illness and lighten the burden of their caregivers.”

Braveman credits former VNA/Hospice Director Joan Keochakian with the vision for the new program. Currently, Keochakian works as a special projects assistant to Craig N. Melin, president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.

“When people are terminally ill, chronically ill, or cared for at home by others, it can be very difficult for them to get to a physician’s office,” said Keochakian. “I always thought, ‘we have our visiting nurses, therapists, and social workers … why not a visiting doctor, too?’ Then I met a doctor who shared my conviction, and we began to put this program together.”

Dr. Stephanie Osiecki returns to New England after working for eight years in a nationally recognized program for frail community dwelling elders in San Francisco. She was a clinical faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco, and taught geriatric medicine to doctors in training.

“I think that people who struggle with chronic and terminal illnesses and the family members and friends who care for them are heroes,” she said. “I really enjoy working with this population. I like to spend a lot of time with patients and really get to know their problems and their priorities.”

Osiecki said her services will be available to patients who have a regular doctor and cannot get out of their homes temporarily, as well as to patients who will require the services of the visiting doctor on an ongoing basis. “If a patient has a regular doctor and temporarily cannot get to the office, I will be available to make a house call and work closely with the patient’s regular doctor until they can get back to the office,” she said. “If a patient doesn’t have a regular doctor and needs to be seen at home on an ongoing basis, then I can provide primary care to that person.”

The services provided include physical assessments, health care prevention, prescription of medication, and blood tests, she said. In addition, end-of-life care, geriatric assessment, and dementia assessment will be offered.

Comments are closed.