In early April, Carle called Joan Motley of Rantoul to cancel her routine checkup with Frances Kramer, MD, because of COVID-19, and she was OK with that. Not too long after that, Motley received another phone call stating that the appointment was back on, but Dr. Kramer was coming to her.
Concerned about Carle’s elderly population in Rantoul, Dr. Kramer worked with her team and Sue Herriott, Carle Experience advisor, to provide care to patients in the comfort of their own homes.
On April 16, Dr. Kramer took to the streets for the first time with resident George Lessman, MD, to treat her patients on a routine basis.
“We have a large aging population in Rantoul, and we want to keep them as safe as possible during this pandemic,” said Avie Pagel, patient care manager. “Patients are very fearful because they have other chronic diseases, which puts them at a greater risk than others. The house calls help them get the care they need while decreasing their concerns venturing outside to receive these services.”
Motley didn’t know what to expect before Dr. Kramer arrived, but said they covered everything she wanted to talk about. And it was more relaxing than an office visit.
“I’ve been sneezing a lot lately, so they thought it might be allergies,” she said. “Dr. Lessman did the exam, took my blood pressure and I also got my B-12 shot. Overall, it was a great experience.”
Patients must be over 65 years old with no COVID complaints – fever, cough, shortness of breath, or contact with someone who is COVID positive. Every Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Kramer and Dr. Lessman make their house calls and see up several patients.
“The feedback we are receiving, the patients love it,” Pagel said. “The providers can do a basic exam and needs assessment. They also have the equipment to draw basic labs.”
On top of her exam, the doctors addressed the sties in Motley’s eyes and made sure she was continuing with warm compresses.
“Dr. Kramer even changed one of my medications during the visit,” she said. “I could get used to the house calls.”
Pagel believes house calls should be a service we offer at Carle.
“Maybe not for all providers, but I think it’s worth it to remove barriers to the care we provide,” she said. “There are a lot of rules and regulations to house calls; however, during this time, we needed to meet our patients’ needs differently.”
With COVID-19 affecting the way teams work, it’s an adjustment for everyone, but Carle holds strong.
“It’s been tough, but everyone is pulling together,” Pagel said. “The mood here is good. We’re laughing and being as upbeat as possible. Our team has stepped up to help each other.
“This is our family, and you get that when you come to Rantoul. We rally and take care of our patients. They need us as much as we need them.”