Piedmont Health offers a variety of special programs designed to make sure that the health-care needs of all of our patients are being met. Below, we highlight programs that illustrate how we offer care for patients from kids to senior citizens.
When kids are sick, any wait to see a health-care professional can seem like an eternity. That’s the idea behind KidsCare Now, a program that began operating at four of Piedmont Health’s community health centers in the fall. The program offers same-day sick visits at our health centers.
The brainchild of Piedmont COO Misty Drake, KidsCare Now is seen as a way to see more pediatric patients sooner and to help parents take care of their children. She had help developing the program from a committee of Piedmont employees who brainstormed and developed the plan. KidsCare Now is now operating in four sites – Carrboro, Burlington, Scott and Prospect Hill – and will be spread to other health centers in the future.
Amy Rix, Piedmont Health’s special projects manager, designed a logo, came up with the title KidsCare Now, and developed a tagline, “Same day appointments when you need them most.” Then Rix developed brochures that went to 2,500 elementary students in Orange and Caswell Counties. Alamance Regional Hospital features KidsCare Now ads on its waiting room TV monitors and the program was advertised in the Caswell & Person County newspapers.
“It’s good for us and it’s good for them,” said Rix. “If they get a flier, they can come in and register as a patient with us then they are all set if their kids get sick.”
KidsCare Now, Rix said, means that children get their care when they initially feel sick – plus, it helps parents who may want their children to be seen in their primary medical home. Parents do not have to even think about taking them to the ER, which isn’t the best place for a child who is not seriously ill, she said.
“Going to an emergency room is an expensive thing,” said Rix. “It’s better to go to the child’s family doctor who knows the child. A family clinician would know what’s going on with a child; for instance, if a child gets a lot of strep throats, the clinician needs to know that because maybe the child may need to have their tonsils out.”
Eventually the pilot program will be expanded to serve all seven counties where Piedmont has community health centers and the 14 counties from which Piedmont draws patients.
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When senior patients visit Piedmont Health for a wellness screening, the goal is to leave no stone unturned. Medical providers check both physical and mental health as well as overall well- being.
The visits include colorectal cancer and depression screenings, vaccine check-ins to see if they’ve had a flu shot, a pneumonia shot, the shingles shot and T-dap to prevent pertussis. The patient is referred out for mammograms and bone density screenings during this visit.
Doctors check the patients’ basal metabolic index and see if they’ve gained or lost weight. If they are suffering from loss of appetite, doctors talk to patients about eating healthy. And if they are overweight, a doctor consults with the patient and tries to get them into a good exercise program in their county of residence.
If a patient has diabetes, doctors check their eyes, feet and do hemoglobin AIC blood glucose test to see what their glucose levels are. Doctors and nurses also talk about end of life planning.
Sharon Williams, a nurse case manager at Piedmont Health, said patients who have received the screenings range in ages from 60 to 94.
“The most rewarding thing is that one-on-one time with the patient,” Williams said. “A team of health care workers – including the doctor, registered nurse, medical assistant, care manager and pharmacist – play an integral part in the visit. The patient is scheduled for the visit, and is then seen by the team. A follow-up call after the visit helps the team provide answers to further questions or concerns. It’s rewarding to say that we are making a difference in someone’s life.”
If someone has Medicare, they can have an initial physical exam within the first 12 months of starting with Medicare insurance and then they can be seen yearly for their annual wellness visit. The screenings are making a difference, one patient at a time, she said.
The screenings are performed at each of Piedmont’s community health centers. They allow providers to assess a patient’s overall well being, Williams said.
“It’s great,” she said. “I have a time where I can sit down and talk to them and see how they’re feeling. They talk to me about what is going on in their lives and what they like to do, like gardening and walking the dog. I have one lady who walks her dog every morning and every evening. She’s interested to quit smoking so we talk to her about that, too.”
“It helps them,” Williams added. “From their comments afterwards, they always say, ‘This is good to have someone to talk to. It appears someone cares about me and my health.’ ”