Washington, D.C., Hospital House Call Program Provides Care for Elderly Residents
A program developed by the geriatric department of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., hopes to reduce health care costs by providing house calls to elderly residents, the Washington Times reports. The hospital’s Medical House Calls Program, which began in 1999, assists about 150 to 170 patients weekly. A staff of 17 physicians and social workers travel within a 10 mile radius of the hospital to treat elderly patients and address emotional issues. George Taler, who oversees the program along with Eric De Jonge, estimates that the house calls cost $35,000 annually per patient, compared with $75,000 for a patient who might require transportation to a hospital for the same treatment. Several hospitals in other cities have inquired about the program, according to Patricia Harris, the hospital’s director of geriatric education. The large elderly population in need of at-home care in D.C. plays a major role in making the program successful, Rick Wade, senior vice president for communications for the American Hospital Association, said. Nationally, house calls to Medicare beneficiaries increased by 40% between 1998 and 2004, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (Toto, Washington Times, 10/24).