House calls help out-of-town patients feel at home

2012-02-07 13:15:15 by Andrea Joliet, Assistant Director, Interactive Marketing & PR, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Although physician house calls may be a thing of the past, Dr. Ananth Murthy, director of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, has resurrected them at Akron Children’s Hospital.

While he’s not calling on patients in their own homes, he is making house calls at the Akron Ronald McDonald House. The practice began as a courtesy for families who traveled a great distance to receive treatment from him.

This includes 5-year-old Arav Mathapati of Sterling, Va., who was born with a bilateral cleft palate.

“Dr. Murthy is a top-notch surgeon and Arav has done extraordinarily well under his care,” said Mallikarjun Mathapati, Arav’s father.

After Arav had outpatient surgery, he and his dad stayed at the Akron Ronald McDonald House. Because Dr. Murthy needed to see Arav for follow-up within a few days of his procedure, the Mathapatis stayed at the House for a couple extra days, rather than making another 12-hour round trip between Akron and their home in Virginia.

Instead of scheduling Arav and other out-of-town patients for follow-up visits in his office, Dr. Murthy started making house calls at the Ronald McDonald House.

“To have these families travel such great distances to see you is really quite an honor,” said Dr. Murthy. “I’m happy to provide this courtesy for them. Plus the house is so close by, it’s almost like another unit of the hospital.”

Sometimes Dr. Murthy stops by the Ronald McDonald House on his way home from work just to say hello. In this setting, he’s also able to provide minor care, such as removing stitches or changing dressings, or making sure his patients are healing properly before they leave.

Another benefit is the home-like environment, which can help put a child more at ease than being in a clinical setting. It can also give Dr. Murthy a glimpse of what the child is like at home.

Anne Collins, executive director of the Akron Ronald McDonald House, recalled that after his surgery, Arav was not feeling well. “Dr. Murthy coming to see him made it that much easier on him and was definitely appreciated by his dad,” she said.

Anne also noted that Dr. Murthy sometimes stops by on the weekends to check on his patients, when it’s presumably his day off. “The care he shows for his patients is truly impressive,” Anne said.

Dr. Murthy has been making these house calls since he first joined Akron Children’s in 2009. He’s not sure just how many patients have benefitted, but estimates it’s at least a half dozen. Because many procedures are scheduled over summer vacation, especially when travel is involved, Dr. Murthy expects he will be making more House calls over the next few months.

“It’s a nice way to break up the day, while making our patients feel extra-special,” Dr. Murthy said.

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