Imagine waking up in the morning with a 102-degree temperature, a runny, nose, sore throat and persistent cough.
You think you might have strep throat but are in no condition to drive to the doctor's office.
Or perhaps you're due for your annual physical and dread the idea of sitting in the waiting room among half a dozen sick people, risking infection.
Dr. Penny Burdick, a family physician for 28 years, can help.
Burdick recently opened Wellness at Home, a holistic family medical practice that operates on house calls. She arrives in her "Wellmobile" and spends at least 30 minutes with each patient.
"I've become increasingly discontented with Western medicine practices and 15-minute appointments," Burdick said.
"Fifteen minutes just isn't enough time to really understand a person's medical history, concerns and beliefs, and I decided it just wasn't working for me anymore."
Burdick's first house call was two weeks ago.
The three months prior to that were spent getting proper
licenses and insurance approval - a timely but worthwhile process, Burdick said.
She expects to see an average of 300-400 patients in the Sequim and Port Angeles areas and is accepting new clients.
House calls are appropriate for preventive medical care such as well-child visits and annual physicals, chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and acute illnesses such as ear or bladder infections.
However, in the case of an emergency, patients always should call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.
Visiting patients at home is something Burdick has wanted to do for a long time.
"Seeing someone in their own home gives me a much better idea of who that person is and the stresses in their life," she said.
Because she's contracting with insurance companies, house calls shouldn't cost patients much more - if any - than office visits, Burdick said.
She expects the practice to be popular among families in Port Angeles and the elderly population in Sequim with limited mobility.
Though the introductory appointment takes about one week to schedule, subsequent visits shouldn't take more than one to two days waiting time. Prior to the first appointment, patients are asked to fill out a handful of paperwork so that the examination time isn't taken up with entering data into the computer.
A follow-up appointment is scheduled at the end of each examination for patients with chronic conditions.
If the demand for a home call practice is as high as Burdick is expecting, the University of Texas graduate plans to expand by hiring an associate and being available more days of the week.
Eventually, Burdick wants to open an office for the procedures that can't be done comfortably at home, such as gynecological exams and skin tag removal.
Looking even farther down the road, she'd like to see a fully integrated medical facility open in Port Angeles or Sequim with a massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, nutritionist, counselor and physician all under the same roof.
Until then, Burdick is satisfied building her clientele and seeing patients in their homes.
"Home call practices are a growing fad all over the country as more patients and physicians get more frustrated with the broken health care system," she said. "Like me, others are deciding the system just isn't working for them."
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Doctor is in
- your home
Wellness at Home is a new holistic family medicine practice offering preventative medicine and care for chronic conditions and acute illnesses for patients from infants to the elderly at home. Penny Burdick, MD, is available by appointment from 9 a.m.-
8 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday. For more information, go online to www.drpenny.org or call 461-4538.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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