Years ago, doctors made house calls. And many people were appreciative to have a family doctor drop by their homes to check in on people who might be sick, or just wanted to know that everything was all right.
That is the case again as Dr. Lee Forest, a family doctor of 15 years, is changing what it means to say “the doctor is in.”
The doctor comes in as a sort of throwback through Forest’s House Calls and Virtual Visits service. Forest, who has worked as a family doctor in Stratford for 13 years, has visited local homes since April.
Forest says issues with health insurance reimbursements and advancements in medical technology influenced his decision to do home visits.
“It’s blending the old school mentality with all the modern conveniences of modern technology,” Forest said. “We put all the pertinent things in a vehicle. It’s a mobile office. Most anything we can do in the office we can do in their home or office environment.”
Plus, visiting patients at home gives him a chance to build a better relationship with his patients and understand their challenges if they’re feeling ill and still have to navigate around their houses.
“You get connected with patients a lot better,” said Forest. “While I still use computers during home visits, you can put the computer to the side and give all of your attention to the patients and put it on when you’re not around the patient anymore.”
Forest, a Fairfield native and resident, wanted to become a doctor as a way to help his fellow man. He also knows that health is the most important thing in a person’s life.
“I decided I could have the greatest impact in helping people live better, longer and more enjoyable lives through their continued good health,” he said.
Before opening his family practice, he lived in New York City, where he attended the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. After medical school, Forest had a residency at Peninsula Hospital Center in Queens, New York.
So far, the home visits have been successful, Forest said. He has about a dozen patients and has made 20 home visits since getting started. He said the service is ideal for seniors who may not always be physically able to get to an office or parents who need to stay home to watch over a sick child.
“It has been excellent. You feel part of the family when you go to a house and make a connection. You get to learn more about the patient and see the environment they’re in,” Forest said. “You feel like part of the family and the patients really appreciate that.”
Forest’s office is also offering a new Direct Primary Care program, which offers health services to people who do not have health insurance. For $49 a month and $20 per visit, patients will get a full range of care services, including EKGs, blood testing and discounted medicines. Forest’s practice is the first in Connecticut to be part of the DPC network. Forest said it came out of the frustration with dealing with insurance companies.
“It’s usually 80, 90 or 100% of what [patients] need. If they need specialized care, we do what we can to negotiate the best prices,” he said.
Forest said he has about 100 patients in the program, which started last summer.