UC-DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER: May Stop House Calls For Seniors
Budget cuts and the "dismissal of two key geriatricians" at University of California-Davis Medical Center have put a house call program for "older housebound patients," in jeopardy. The Sacramento Bee reports that Drs. Andrew Duxbury and Kathryn Locatell are being laid off because the center is losing money on the Physician Home Visit Program. But physicians and program advocates say the house call program is "a humanitarian necessity and that terminating it would be shortsighted." Duxbury, who is the program founder, said, "I hope the university can continue this program in some form, as many of these patients are physically unable to get to the doctor." Dr. Fred Meyers, chief of the department of internal medicine, said although he appreciates the value of the program, it "is labor-intensive, the cost is high and the reimbursement is low."
According to the Bee, the program began in 1992 and expanded into a training program for doctors "in the art of home visits." Some 200 home-bound patients are currently served by the program. Duxbury said the before the program existed, "people often did without needed health services." Locatell, who expressed shock at her dismissal, said, "It's really shortsighted for the university to abandon its investment in these programs at a time when the older population is burgeoning." The Bee reports, however, that UC-Davis officials said the root of the problem with the program is not the demand for its services, but with the university's entire geriatrics program. Meyers said, "We had to re-evaluate our approach to the whole (geriatrics) program. It wasn't involving other departments. It was becoming isolated." Dr. Mary Haan, director of the UC-Davis Center for Aging and Health, said, "There have been problems with the geriatrics program for many years, partly because of lack of leadership and inadequate financial support from the health system and medical school." Haan "has been appointed to a committee to map the future of geriatric care at" UC Davis Medical Center, the Bee notes (Perkins, 6/9).