Friday, February 15, 2002
Steamboat Springs Frankie Hannah has a good reason to leave the office these days.
When patients call with the flu or minor injuries, the physician's assistant doesn't wait for them to come to him.
Hannah goes to them.
Yampa Valley Medical Associates began offering High Country House Calls in January.
The idea of home visits began circulating among medical professionals in Steamboat Springs a few years ago, but the idea never took off until recently.
Hannah checks on illnesses, examines orthopedic injuries and performs minor surgical procedures.
When a patient calls for an appointment, a phone consultation helps Hannah determine if a home visit would be appropriate. Some injuries or ailments, he said, are serious enough to require a clinical setting.
His colleagues at Yampa Valley Medical Associates, he said, gave him the support he needs to offer his services beyond the clinic's walls.
Dr. Lambert Orton, one of the doctors on staff at Yampa Valley Medical Associates, credited Hannah with pursuing the idea of house calls in Steamboat.
The convenience of at-home visits, he said, particularly attracts the attention of visitors to Steamboat.
When illness disrupts their vacation plans, Orton said, they want to get well quickly so they don't spend all of their downtime in bed.
"It's a way to help vacationing tourists," he said.
Parents likewise appreciate the convenience of staying at home with their sick children, rather than toting them to the clinic, he said.
Orton said he was pleased with the positive response to High Country House Calls.
"There's a lot of time for growth," he said.
Hannah makes his visits Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but he accommodates schedules that might not fit within that time frame.
Visits usually run a half hour to 45 minutes.
The setting in which Hannah offers care gives him a different perspective about his patients. Going into people's homes, he said, lends a more personal feel to his work than seeing patients at the clinic.
"It's a good way to do outreach," he said.
Hannah said he would like to eventually expand High Country House Calls to a seven-day a week service.
In the meantime, he intends to concentrate on building a strong patient base.
The sight of Hannah knocking on doors with medical kit in hand might conjure up images of country doctors on horseback making the rounds to patients. But for Hannah, it's not so out of the ordinary.
"People may think I'm going back to the good old days," he said. "But it's a good service, and people really do appreciate it."
To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org