Doctors Make House Calls Despite Higher Costs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    House calls can save taxpayers money by reducing emergency room visits. (Published Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011)

    Tough economic times and rising costs still are not deterring some doctors from going the distance and making house calls.

    One North Texas physician, Dr. Frank Elliott, sees patients in his office in the morning and visits home-bound patients in the afternoon.

    Elliott has been a primary care physician for more than 30 years and has spent the last five making house calls to about 100 patients, complete with his medical bag.

    "I enjoy this. I sit around and talk to my patients usually, and they become friends," said Elliott, whose practice is in the Dallas Medical City building. "It's rewarding. And I enjoy driving and I enjoy listening to the radio."

    He makes house calls, despite the higher cost of everything from malpractice insurance to the gas needed to drive to patients' homes. The patients appreciate his visits, which don't cost them a cent more out of pocket.

    Christy Johnson's 84-year-old grandmother, who lives in Richardson, would have a hard time physically getting to the doctor's office.

    "She has diabetic neuropathy, so she has calluses on her feet and they hurt really bad. So, it's a big challenge for her to get up stairs and in the elevator," Johnson said.

    Johnson said house visits are "much more comforting and personal than going to a hospital."

    Elliott said he has saved other patients from rushing to the emergency room with every problem, which saves taxpayers money since Medicare pays the bills. It's just another reason he criss-crosses the Metroplex to visit the sick.

    Though there are other doctors in North Texas who make house calls, The Texas Medical Association does not see it as a growing trend.