The home visiting service brings health care to the home

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — Stacey Shelor was tired of waiting rooms.

She was having a harder time getting doctor appointments for her family members and was looking for a change.

She became a client of Agenacare Housecalls shortly after its launch in 2019 through a mutual friend of the owner.

“I tried this and it was absolutely fabulous because you make a phone call, they set a time and they’re at your place which is good because you feel comfortable at your place,” he said. she declared.

Salem resident Shelor liked that Agenacare could do everything a GP would.

“And I also love that this group of professionals treats you like you’re a family member or a friend, rather than just a number,” she said.

Now, these services are also available to residents of the Lynchburg area.

Whitney Pugh, owner and founder of Roanoke-based Agenacare Housecalls, launched the company in the fall of 2019 after working in corporate medicine for years, tired of what she described as a system of failing health.

“I remember sitting there thinking, ‘I hate what I’m doing. I went to school for seven years to run people in and out like a cattle market. I was so frustrated with it,” she said.

As a family nurse practitioner, she decided she could complain about it or fix it.

“I was sitting there with my husband and I said, ‘I’m going to start a call-to-home emergency care practice on mobile, and I’m going to go to their house,’ and I remember he m ‘ looked and was like, ‘What?’ “, Did she say.

Just months after its launch, the COVID pandemic hit the region.

Pugh had to decide whether she would continue or stop. But she never closed or refused a patient.

COVID-19 put Agenacare on the map, she said, as patients needed to find alternatives to what they were used to in terms of primary healthcare.

It started with 25 patients in 2019 and grew to 500 patients in 2020.

When COVID-19 hit, it calmed Shelor to have a professional she knew come into her home fully masked and protected.

“They were even wearing a hazmat suit, God bless them,” she said.

If her family needed a COVID-19 test, Agenacare was able to come to their home and do that as well. They also perform annual physical exams, sports physical exams, and strep tests, give stitches, and perform blood tests and X-rays.

“It was fast, efficient and they were out. That’s the other part of it is that they come in and go out. They listen to you and they take care of what needs to be taken care of regarding your health issues and then it’s over and you don’t have to sit and wait,” she said. .

Pugh said the average time from when a call is made to when a provider shows up at their home is two hours.

“That way you don’t have to sit in a waiting room (emergency room) or wait for hours for emergency care,” she said.

In 2021, it was time to add a team of healthcare professionals to support Pugh, who ended up serving nearly 10,000 patients.

“We just kept thriving and growing,” she said. “I really wanted to take it like you know how the doc was going back to homes years ago. That was really what I was reporting because sometimes change doesn’t always mean for the better,” she said.

Pugh said that although the flagship office is based in Roanoke, his team can travel statewide to see patients, lending itself to the Lynchburg area where it has developed a client base over the years.

Agenacare recently opened in Lynchburg and plans to open a physical office once it gets busier.

Pugh is proud of the company’s growth, but especially of its customer service.

“You’ll find that from the time they call us, to the dispatchers, to the vendor, to the follow-up calls, they’re always treated with respect and kindness,” she said.

Agenacare also doesn’t take out insurance, a move, according to Pugh, that removed much of the stress and hurdles of healthcare.

“If the insurance determines that you can’t do something or that they don’t want you to do something, they tell you that it won’t be paid. And then you get your hand held because the patient doesn’t want to pay because it’s too expensive and the company can’t afford it,” she said.

Thus, the company does not take out insurance and charges only one lump sum per visit or membership.

“With insurance, even though people might have premiums of $500 to $1,000 a month, the reimbursements for us, per home visit, would be $50. It’s just not feasible and it doesn’t work,” she said. “So we took that whole chunk out so we didn’t have to deal with the insurance and neither did the patients.”

Besides COVID-19 testing, other services include flu shots, suture and wound care, medical exams, telehealth, IV nutrition therapy, and lab swabs.

The company offers direct primary care plans, family memberships, and corporate memberships.

Shelor said her days were over of sitting in crowded waiting rooms and she felt safer when medical professionals came to see her.

Agenacare not only sees his family, but also his extended family.

“It just became part of our life,” she said. “I consider them my general practitioner. I don’t call anyone else. It is to him that I call for everything.

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