WHEN MOST PEOPLE THINK ABOUT DOCTORS MAKING HOUSE CALLS, the image that immediately springs to mind is a grandfatherly figure walking around a quaint town with a little black bag in tow, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Dr. Carolyn Cavuto is helping to turn that outdated impression on its head.
In-home medical care—a staple of the past— has become a viable option again thanks to health care providers like Dr. Cavuto, who has more than 10 years of experience in the field and started Mobile Physician Group (MPG) in 2012. Her team offers comprehensive medical services for patients throughout South Jersey in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.
“Home care is a growing area of practice,” Dr. Cavuto says. “Some people might not know about it, but there are a few of us out there specializing in it. There’s a big need for it and I think the need is growing, too.
“I’m passionate about it and I love going into people’s homes. It’s so different than clinical work, where you’re just running through patients. When you’re doing home care you can spend a litt le more time with the patient and the family and get to know the family dynamics.”
Mobile Physician Group practices family medicine for patients who are homebound according to Medicare guidelines. MPG sees about eight patients per day, mainly from Mercer, Burlington, Cam den and Gloucester counties but also from Atlantic, Cumberland, Ocean and Salem counties on occasion.
By eliminating the need to visit a hospital or doctor’s office for appointments, a heavy burden is lifted for both patients and their caregivers.
“It’s a project to get someone who is homebound outside of the home for an appointment,” Dr. Cavuto says. “They have to be washed and dressed; they have to be fed and given medication; transportation has to be arranged; and getting them from the house to the transportation or the transportation to the doctor’s office is also a challenge. The whole ordeal takes several hours, and the n you run into issues with mood changes or anxiety.
“It’s very stressful and in some cases it can be very expensive, and caregivers may lose vacation time at work trying to make it hap pen. Home care is low-key and it’s more relaxing for both the patient and the family.”
Although some patients may be considered homebound because they use a wheelchair or walker, that is by no means the only type of patient who qualifies for home care. MPG runs the full gamut, including those with advanced heart failure, ALS, advanced COPD and even people who are temporarily homebound, after having surge ry, for example.
Dr. Cavuto has longstanding relationships with local health care agencies as well as hospices, as she is also certified in palliative medicine. She uses those connections to develop the optimal plan of care for her patients.
“Home care involves a lot of teamwork,” she says. “It’s not just about what we do; it’s about how we coordinate services with everyone else and provide as much care as we can for the patient. We coordinate with nursing home care agencies, home care companies, infusion teams and certain specialties that are more likely to come out to the home, like podiatry or ophthalmology. We also work with the family members or guardians to make sure the patient is taking the correct medication and is safe in their home.”
Joe Talarico and his 104-year-old mother Adelaide—who lives with him in his Mount Laurel home—have both been patients of Dr. Cavuto’s for years. He appreciates her flexibility in helping to find the right treatment options and her sensitivity toward his mother’s age, and believes home care can have a great impact on someone’s health.
“I’m very high on Dr. Cavuto—I think she does a great job and I like the way she does it,” Talarico says. “I’m old enough to remember when doctors did house calls way back when. It is refreshing now to have someone providing this service for us older folks. Most physicians really don’t know their patients as well as they used to because they don’t go into their homes and know what their living conditions are. Frankly, I think that makes a big difference in how you treat someone.”
In addition to Dr. Cavuto, MPG’s staff consists of three nurse practitioners who have extensive experience in home care and bring advanced certifications to the table. They each handle certain areas of South Jersey, allowing for patients to be seen usually within three to five days of calling for an appointment.
When Talarico developed Bell’s palsy last April as a result of medication he was taking, he was pleased with how quickly Dr. Cavuto was able to see him.
“I put a call into Dr. Cavuto and within 24 hours she was sitting in my living room trying to help me get over it,” he says. “That’s the kind of service I’m looking for when I’m having a crisis. When I needed her, she was there.”
Unlike mobile doctors in the past, who were limited in the services they could offer, MPG can provide EKGs, X-rays, ultrasounds and laboratory testing such as cholesterol and blood sugar testing. “There are a lot more resources that can be brought into the home than 10 years ago,” Dr. Cavuto says.
Home care has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations, and Dr. Cavuto says many of her patients have remarked that they wished they had sought it earlier. They appreciate being able to call MPG when an issue arises, instead of rushing to the emergency room or urgent care center.
“One of the things that drives me is knowing there are so many people out there with a high-level need,” Dr. Cavuto says. “Chronic disease management is very challenging but it is also very rewarding. We do whatever we can to offer our patients care as well as comfort.”
Mobile Physician Group
Serving South Jersey
(855) 674-3627 | MPGDocs.com
Photography by Gary Mattie
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 10 (December 2018).
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