Home Visits

On Wednesday, I was able to participate in my first house call, with Dr. Henderson. When we got to the church where we were supposed to meet the interpreter and then go from there to the patient’s house, there was a misunderstanding and the lady whose home we meant to go  walked in. After some confusion and talking back and forth through the interpreter, we were able to communicate our desire to talk to her in her own home. She cheerfully invited us and so we piled into the cars to head for her apartment.

As I watched this happen, I wondered why it was so important to Dr. Henderson that we go to her home. She was there, we were there, it made more sense to just treat her there as she was expecting us to. We went through an awful lot of hassle to drive a few miles down the road to do the exact same thing.

Once we got in the apartment, took our shoes off,  sat down on the chairs the family pulled out for us, and started talking to her, I realized why the doctor cared so much that the visit be in the patient’s home.  Sitting in her living room, we were able to hear about her family, we saw pictures of them on her walls and heard stories of the major moments in her life they depicted. We were able to get a better feel for her diet. We saw exactly what and how much she was eating. It gave us a much bigger  sense of who the patient was as a whole, not just as a list of symptoms. It was personal, conversational, and relaxed. The patient felt heard, and the doctor was able to better judge where she was.

I saw that the point of the house call was to invest more in the patient. A doctor could address the patients concerns more easily and more quickly in the clinic. A house call isn’t about efficiency. It was about getting to know her, to step into her life, and to take the extra step in caring for her as a person. There is an added element of love in being willing to drive the extra miles, take your shoes off, and listen for awhile that often gets left out of a standard office visit.

7 thoughts on “Home Visits

  1. This must be so different than your experiences helping to treat the Haitian people who lost everything in that natural disaster – that sounded more like a cattle call than the one-on-one experience you’re describing. It makes sense, though, that these home visits can offer you so much more as a physician. I can’t help but think about all the wonderful ways God is using you! This program seems to really offer something meaningful and helpful. At least these people have homes, pictures, and furniture. Your perspective on poverty, health care, and culture is being shaped in a way to uniquely fit God’s needs for your life. I’ll bet it’s different for each one of you students, and there is something purposeful about that, as well…who knows where each of you will end up, and what population you’ll be serving. But what you CAN know, is that what you’re learning is what God WANTS you to learn. So…continue to drink it all in!!!

  2. Margaret! You know I wanted to help out with this, but after the stroke I’ve been sidelined in so many ways. You’re in my prayers and I know you’re doing good. It’s a blessing to hear about it from those that visit me just like you’re doing for folks there. You must know it’s appreciated. Keep it up! In Christ, David

  3. Your blog is so formal sounding – I miss the stories and humor you usually put out there. Still, it’s good to read something of your day in Tennessee. Are you getting to actually help the people or just watch all the time? Can’t imagine apartment amenities being a problem for you (LOL), but what about the city? Do you have to worry about your safety? How big a problem is the language barrier for what you’re trying to do? Got your own personal interpreter, I’ll bet! Well, I’ll keep checking in. Make a difference!

  4. Hi Margaret: Am so glad that you got out in the community and were able to see first hand how some of the people you are caring for actually live. I am glad that you now understand why the doctor took the extra time to make a home visit. Too many times in today’s world, we don’t take time to listen and understand how people actually feel, want and need. I am happy you are observing and that they seem to make this a priority. The world would be a much better place if everybody took the time to really care what another person was saying or feeling. That you get to experience this type of caring is a plus in your desire to help as a doctor. Hope everything else is going well, everybody here misses you and ask about you all the time.Love you

  5. Home visits, huh? clinic time, too, I suppose. Just what the doctor ordered! lol Seriously, though, all these experiential things that you’re putting yourself through is going to make you into one incredible doctor. Add in God’s love, direction and purpose and, wallah,…life with meaning! I’m not surprised with the path you’ve been put upon, God’s been favoring you for some time! It’s amazing to watch you being led and your willingness to follow – quite an inspiration for me! As always, you’re in my prayers!!!!!

  6. Keep hearing about what you’re doing, so had to check it out for myself. The cross-cultural blog and this one suggest you’re in your element. Can’t help wondering about all those immigrants – the language issue has got to be hard. But finding solutions is what you do best. 🙂 You’ve had to overcome so much to get to where you are, that that internal strength and determination can only be God-given. It’s such a pleasure to see someone capitalize on her spiritual gifts. I’ll keep praying – for you, the program and the people you’re working with! And, I’m going to look forward to the stories!!!! What’s next?

  7. I understand you’ll be home soon. Looking forward to yet another amazing presentation. What a great doctor you’ll be! We’re all praying for the success and influence of this program. See you soon….

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