Adult care home (ACH) owner/operator Erika Covaciu easily recalls her reaction when she first heard about a doctor in Portland who made house calls to people who were homebound. “Is this for real?” she thought. “I had to pinch myself because it seemed too good to be true.”
Erika had learned about Doctor Housecalls, the business that Dr. Benneth Husted started in 1993 before incorporating it, two years later, as the nonprofit Housecall Providers.
“One of my residents who had Alzheimer’s disease was seen by Dr. Husted,” says Erika. “She had severe behavioral problems on top of her other health issues, so taking her out of the house to doctors’ appointments was a real struggle, to say the least.”
As veteran caregivers like Erika know, people who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia have a hard time bouncing back when they are taken out of familiar environments. Sometimes the impact from going to a medical appointment can leave a person agitated and out of sorts for days or even a week, which can be equally hard on the caregiver. “We needed help now, and I couldn’t wait to hire someone two or three weeks down the road,” Erika says, “so I was very grateful that Dr. Husted helped solve this issue for us.”
Erika estimates that in the last 32 years, she has cared for more than 60 residents, and that easily 90% of them became Housecall Providers patients. When a new resident came into her house, she “moved mountains” to get them onto Housecall Providers because Erika knew the level of care they would receive and how beneficial it would be for the patient, their family – and her, as the main caregiver.
“Whenever I have a vacancy and a family tours my home, I would always bring up Housecall Providers. I would say, ‘Whether your mom, dad or whomever is going to move into my home or not, you need to know about Housecall Providers.’ People are always grateful for the tip,’” she says.
Currently, all five of her residents are receiving medical care from Housecall Providers. And it is the availability of the primary care providers and the rest of the team that she appreciates most in this partnership.
“As a caregiver, it’s so important that when somebody has a fever, and we don’t know what the cause is, to be able to put that call in to Housecall Providers, and know that maybe not today but tomorrow my resident is being seen before it becomes a big issue,” she says.
Erika recalls a time when Maria Bucio, family nurse practitioner with Housecall Providers, was the primary care provider for her home. One of Erika’s residents had a very challenging health problem, and Maria made herself available even though she had a full day of appointments on her calendar. That commitment to care was not lost on Erika.
“I would have needed to hire transportation and companions, but because Maria recognized what a big issue this was, it saved me from going that route. What more could you ask for? It’s a real partnership,” she says.
Having an adult care home is not an eight-hour-a-day job. Owners like Erika who are also caregivers need to be available all day long, seven days a week.
“You’re at your home all the time and finding the right help – the right help – is very hard. When you do, it’s like hitting the jackpot, but jackpots only happen once in a while,” she says.
One thing that Erika and other caregivers within the Portland metro area can rely on is the continued commitment of Housecall Providers to serve as partners in caring for our most vulnerable members.
“We are so lucky,” says Erika, “to have this service in our community.”