Posts Tagged ‘Patient Centered Medical Homes’

Sorry, but I am not accepting new doctors at this time

June 1st, 2013 No comments

This past week, I got an email from my independent doctor saying that she is going to close her practice.  Darn.  I have gone to her for about 10 years and I am pretty settled in.  I only had to get on her case a few times and she was pretty responsive to my ideas and complaints.  I wasn’t a whiner, but I never hesitated to pursue an issue with her.    So, after my July annual exam, I will be shopping for a new doctor.  Fortunately, I will be able to take my time, because generally, I am pretty healthy and I don’t deal with ongoing chronic health problems (well, except for excess weight).

Yesterday I was part of a “patient panel” at the Maine Quality Counts educational session for 75 Patient Centered Medical Homes.  Most of them were brand new to the PCMH brand and ideology. The model for PCMHs  includes Patient and Family Advisory councils for each practice.    This was the 3rd time that MQC has asked me to be part of a panel, so I am getting more comfortable with it as I go along.  3 other brilliant and engaged patients/consumers were also on the panel.  Our moderator was Bev Johnson, CEO of the Institute of Patient and Family Centered Care.  My only discomfort with being part of this panel was that I didn’t feel that I was prepared very well and didn’t really know what was expected of me.  The four of us met with Bev before the panel discussion, and she didn’t tell us what to do.  She gave us a simple format and the rest was up to us.  OK…I can handle that.  Bev is all about Patient Centeredness, and that must be what it is like to be in a practice or Hospital that embraces that concept.  The voice of the patient is wanted and necessary and the patients are  highly respected and honored.  Bev is such a wonderful, gentle teacher and so highly regarded for her work, and I completely understand why.

So, each of us patients introduced ourselves and told our stories of Patient engagement.  I was stunned by the powerful stories of the others on the panel. Amazing really!  When I finished my story about becoming engaged before my hysterectomy for uterine cancer in 2011, I added a little zest.

I told the audience…almost all of them providers…that I was not part of a PCMH, and in fact my independent doctor was shutting down her practice and I wasn’t a patient of anyone.  I said I lived in Bangor, on Pearl St, and that  I was up for bids!!   It was perhaps the lightest moment of the day….and the entire group cracked up.  BUT, surprisingly 2 Bangor PCMH practices bid on me.   That was so funny…   I told them if I chose one of their practices that I would help them with their Patient and Family Advisory council.   The one thing that occurred to me after I got home was that I didn’t make a choice after their bids.  Maybe I should have politely told them  “I’m sorry, but although my doctor is closing her practice, I will not be accepting new doctors at this time”.  Talk about turning the tables!  Patients hear that a lot…”Dr X is not accepting patients at this time”.  I spent 10 years in my previous practice under the care of a very young PA waiting to become a patient of the practice’s doctor.  When that PA told me she was leaving and I would get yet another very young, inexperienced PA, I asked again about becoming a patient of the doctor who co-ran the practice with her husband.  Again, I was told…”she isn’t taking any new patients”.  My arguments about being a patient there for 10 years didn’t pan out, so I found the newer doc….who is now shutting down her practice.

All joking aside, when patients lose their regular doctor for any reason, it is a big deal.  The established relationships, trust and the comfort that comes with a long time provider is gone, and we, the patients, are burdened with the chore of finding someone new.  There is nothing like the trust we put in our regular doctors….just think about it.   We engage with them on our  journey of staying well or attaining wellness. That patient/provider partnership is the key to success.  So, finding a new doc to fill an old doc’s shoes is a daunting proposition.  I will find one, but I will take my time and do some asking around and quality and review checking online.

In the meantime, I will keep those two practices in mind, because they were brave enough and interested enough to actually  bid on ME!!