It’s an old-fashioned concept: a person needs medical treatment but has limited ability to travel, so a doctor visits their home. In a rural area with an aging population, like the North Fork, it’s an idea that makes sense to a lot of people.
The needs of his East End community are what Greenport physician assistant Steven Templeton had in mind when he launched Medical House Calls of the North Fork in 2015.
What he’s found in his first two years in business, however, is that one of services most in demand among patients who seek home visits is physical therapy, which his business did not initially offer.
That changed earlier this year.
Medical House Calls of the North Fork has acquired Saundra Perry Physical Therapy in Southold, which allows the practice to provide PT during house calls and build visibility in the community with office space in a prime location.
“We opened this practice up to help people and this will enable us to continue to do that,” Mr. Templeton said. “It’s about being able to offer physical therapy — a completely different specialty — to our patients.”
While Ms. Perry, who has practiced for 40 years, including 25 on the North Fork, has plans to retire, two other physical therapists from her practice will be retained. Office hours will continue on Main Road with the added option of house calls.
“It’s been a long time here,” Ms. Perry said. “It’s been a good run.”
Medical House Calls of the North Fork operates seven days a week, seeing patients across both Suffolk and Nassau counties. The staff includes two doctors and three physician assistants who treat 10 to 15 patients per day, Mr. Templeton said. They deal with most insurance companies and do not charge service fees, so the cost to the patient, most of whom are covered by Medicare, is the same as a traditional visit to a doctor’s office.
“We offer pretty much most anything you can do,” said Michael Cooper of Southold, chief of business development for the practice. Even X-rays and imaging procedures can be performed on a house call, as technology has transformed what’s thought of as an old-fashioned business, he said.
Mr. Templeton said they can also provide suturing services, though he stressed that in many cases, it’s still important to visit a hospital emergency room.
“We can handle a laceration that’s not something that would be done in an operating room,” he said. “But we believe in the emergency room for a true emergency.”
Mr. Templeton, a military history buff, said it’s been particularly rewarding to work with aging veterans across the region these past two years and his practice is exploring ways to partner with the VA hospital on house calls.
“With veterans, a lot of times, I find myself sitting there talking to them for a while after I’m done,” he said. “That’s another thing about house calls — we have a little more time to really connect with the patient.”
Ms. Perry, who moved into her Southold office 15 years ago, said that connection is something she’ll miss in retirement.
“I just love that you get to be so close with people,” she said. “You learn everything about them and have a positive impact on their life.”
Photo: Steven Templeton. (Credit: Krysten Massa)