New Local Organization Provides Docs for Home Visits

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:27 pm

New Local Organization Provides Docs for Home Visits

Reviving the old tradition of bygone days when doctors in Milwaukee regularly made house calls, The Visiting Physicians Association (VPA), a health care organization headquartered in Southfield, Mich., opened the doors of its initial Wisconsin location last November. Working out of offices at 2448 S. 102nd St., West Allis, the doctors and medical assistants employed by the group to date have provided medical care for 230 Milwaukee area "shut-in" patients, visiting them in their homes and assisted living facilities.
According to Mary Zelenko, the group’s marketing development manager, VPA was created some 10 years ago by Mark Miller, a Michigan man who was frustrated in his search for a doctor to make house calls to his grandmother who had crippling Parkinson’s Disease. He decided to create an organization that would provide patients like his grandmother with comprehensive medical care in their homes.
His idea struck a responsive chord, says Zelenko, and today the VPA does about $28 million of business per year in 17 offices situated in seven states. In the Midwest, along with its new West Allis offices, the VPA operates an office in Chicago, and offices in eight Michigan cities: Southfield, Ann Arbor, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Port Huron and Saginaw-Bay City. It also has five Ohio locations: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Youngstown. And it has an office in Atlanta.
Bob Sowislo, CFO for the organization, says the company made in excess of 95,000 patient visits last year and projects that it will serve approximately 15,000 patients this year.
"Our Milwaukee physicians — Dr. Carrie Castelaz and Dr. Allison Martin, visit about 10 to 12 patients each day," says Zelenko. "They provide most levels of medical care in the home, from routine exams to complex treatment plans. Our doctors will provide either consults or ongoing primary care, whichever is needed. They strive to keep patients healthier in their homes and reduce unnecessary ER and hospital visits. Each one is accompanied by a bilingual medical assistant equipped with portable diagnostics, including EKGs and pulse oximetry. The assistants will draw blood, provide flu shots and B12 shots, and the like. We also employ lab technicians who can do such things as Doppler studies to look for artery blockages.
"We’re actually bringing the doctor’s office to the patient’s home," she says. "The VPA maintains our own quality assurance program to assure that we deliver the highest standard of medical care in a compassionate and respectful manner."
According to Zelenko, the organization’s office staff is a key link in the initiation and follow-through of each patient’s personalized medical care plan. They are always available to answer questions or schedule a visit and their patient coordinators will facilitate referrals and maintain communication between the doctor, the patient, the family or caregiver, as well as home health services.
Zelenko explains that the organization offers psychiatric services catering to both geriatric as well as general psychiatric needs. It provides individual consultation, medication management, or ongoing therapy, whichever is needed.
"Additionally, we specialize in the treatment of wound care in the home. Our specialists focus on treating all forms of skin wounds, including bedsores."
The VPA provides physician services, including individual consults or ongoing primary care for patients in both assisted living and skilled living facilities, she says. "We also provide both pre-admit and post-discharge visits for patients needing follow-up care in the home.
"Should a patient need to go to the hospital, we will coordinate admission and have specialized hospital physicians provide inpatient care throughout the patient’s hospital stay," she says. "And after the patient has been discharged, we will provide prompt medical care back in the patient’s home."
If additional services are needed, the VPA will work closely with home care nurses and other home care services to provide the necessary continuity of care, she adds.
The typical patient served by the VPA is 18 years old or older. Most are elderly and many have disabilities, such as MS or Cerebral Palsy, according to Zelenko. "One of our patients, for example, is an elderly, blind Spanish speaking woman who lives on an upper floor and is afraid to go down the stairs and outside by herself. We’re so happy that we’re able to help her and others like her."
Zelenko says that the VPA accepts Medicare B and private insurance. Medicaid is accepted as a secondary insurance. The organization has been recognized by medical professionals, the media and community leaders. "But recognition is not our goal. Our goal is to touch more lives through quality medical and compassionate care. We want to ease the burden of those patients who find it difficult to get out and travel to a doctor’s office, and we want to help their families and caregivers."

Aug. 8, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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