Bringing health care home.

After a tangle with a brown recluse spider, Linda Zumbusch needed a little medical attention. But she really didn't want to spend time on a Sunday in the emergency room just because other medical clinics were closed.

So she called Kathy Palm Jorgensen, a nurse practitioner, who showed up at Zumbusch's home, black bag in hand. Jorgensen drained the swollen bite mark, cleaned the area and prescribed antibiotics.

Jorgensen recently opened House Calls Primary Healthcare, a mobile health care service. She sees patients in their homes or workplaces.

"It's a service that is really taking off on the East Coast," Jorgensen said. "For me, this is way to have my own practice without all the overhead of an office. And I can build relationships with my patient's one on one, verses seeing clients in an office for just 15 minutes.

Her services are covered by many insurance plans, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicare.

"There's an insurance code for house calls, but I've been told it's rarely been used in Montana until now," Jorgensen said.

House Calls provides a variety of services, from routine checkups to managing chronic conditions.

"I can do minor procedures such as stitches or removing moles," Jorgensen said. "I can take samples for lab work and see patients managing disease such as diabetes and hypertension."

Zumbusch plans to have her husband, who has high cholesterol and needs blood work done on a regular basis, tap into House Call's services. The Zumbusches are brokers for the government and work from a home-based office.

"He can get his blood drawn without leaving our office and losing time at work," she said.

House Calls' market also includes elderly patients who face transportation hurdles, Jorgensen said.

"And moms at home with three kids," she added. "If one of the kids is sick, she doesn't need to pack up all of them and take them into the doctor's office. I can come to her."

Jorgensen's "office" is her vehicle, which is equipped with a laptop computer and a printer.

"I bought an adapter that lets me plug the printer into my cigarette lighter," she said. "My office phone is my cell phone."

Down the road, Jorgensen plans to purchase a van.

"I wrote a business plan and if I work up to seeing 20 patients a month, I'll be in the clear in two years," she said. "And that includes paying myself a wage."

House Calls is a part-time venture for Jorgensen right now. She also works at Planned Parenthood.

"I've been with them for 15 years and I have a commitment to our clientele," she said. "I see the daughters of some of my original patients now."

Reprinted with permission from Great Falls Tribune Jo Dee Black, Great Falls Tribune

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