Monday, December 8, 2008

healthcare reform, role of volunteer healtcare professionals

I continue to be amazed that no plan refers to the reservoir of healthcare professionals who have retired from active clinical practice. These doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare professionals could be mobilized into a structured organization that could add dramatically and immediately to meet the health care needs of the uninsured and others in our population without ready access. These professionals could be mobilized into existing practices, free clinics or into the rapidly increasing numbers of retail Clinics. In my experience, the state medical boards form the greatest obstacle to the utilization of this vast resource by not facilitating the granting of volunteer licenses. These could be limited in scope until competency was established. Some of the greatest impact could be for the management of patients with chronic medical conditions. For that population, evidence-based protocols are available that could assure best practices.
I am in my 25th year of serving the indigent in a free clinic setting. Along with a superb nurse practitioner, and 3 retired RNs, we hold regular clinics to manage insulin dependent diabetics, patients with resistant hypertension and dyslipidemia. The future benefits of such care have a predicable benefit for the health and costs. In other words, provide care now or pay many $ in the future for the neglect.
I was also the volunteer medical director of a Community effort that realized savings of $34 million in health costs avoided by a multidisciplinary approach, including protocol driven 24/7 nurse telephones consultations, healthwise manuals provided to all in the county and educational programs and industry engagement.
Why do we continue to waste this opportunity and enormous resource for our nation’s patients in need??? I am a board member of the Transylvania Regional Hospital and serve on its quality council. In addition, I am a national consultant to hospital medical staffs. I am an AMA and ACC member, retired from active cardiology practice in the fee-for-service arena.
However, I continue to care about the heath care of our nation’s population!

Frederic G Jones ,Sr. MD, FACP, FACC
Consultative Cardiology
140 The Pinnacle
Sapphire NC 28774