In-home doctors’ visits provide Bethesda Terrace residents uncharted access to convenient health care through house calls.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, it was common for doctors to make house calls. While that practice eventually phased out, replaced by patient visits to doctors’ offices, the house call, or more accurately the “apartment call,” is making a resurgence at Bethesda Terrace, thanks

The Benefit of House Calls

The theory is that these house calls better and more conveniently serve seniors where they spend the most time—in their homes—and is part of a concerted push in medicine to provide access to more convenient primary care. “We are seeing a rise of convenience with virtual care, but for older people, virtual care isn’t always the best answer,” says Dr. Michael Nash, a Mercy physician who sees patients at Bethesda Terrace. “The senior patient is not always comfortable with technology, so the traditional model of home visits is much more valuable for the older patient population to get better access to care.”

House Calls at Bethesda

House calls at Bethesda Terrace began in April 2021 with just four patients. By autumn, however, 10 patients were seeing Dr. Nash. Visits can range from wellness screenings to annual or intermittent checkups, where Dr. Nash can order lab work. He can also treat conditions such as skin infections, UTIs and pneumonia, and write prescriptions for medicine and equipment such as walkers during the visit.

Andrea Tripp, Senior General Manager of Bethesda Terrace, is the direct liaison between the residents and Dr. Nash. She sets up their appointments, answers their questions and addresses their immediate needs. Bethesda Terrace is among the first senior living communities in the St. Louis area to explore this innovative model of residential healthcare. “We like to have a full spectrum of everything available at a resident’s fingertips,” says Andrea. “We can provide residents anything they need, if and when they need it.”

So far, feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive. They say that these house calls are convenient and time-saving, alleviate the need to drive in bad weather, and provide relief to family members. Just a few months ago, a visit to the doctor was difficult for Bethesda Terrace resident Joan Willhoite to plan. Not only did she have to coordinate a date and time that worked for her, but she also needed to coordinate with her daughter, who normally drove Joan to her appointments. Joan can schedule her doctor’s appointments easily now that she is a patient of Dr. Nash.

Bob Hynes was one of Dr. Nash’s first Bethesda Terrace “house call” patients. He enjoys Dr. Nash’s camaraderie, and says the visits remind him of when he was a kid and his doctor would come to his house. When Bob hurt his arm in an accident, Dr. Nash came to Bob’s apartment and helped with treatment. “He is always available and urges me to call him if I have any problems,” he says.

Dr. Nash recognizes there are other benefits to house calls that may not be quite as obvious. “These visits allow me to see how my patients are living on a daily basis,” he says. “I can see how they are storing or managing their medications, or if there is anything in their apartment that might increase their risk of falls.”

Currently, Bethesda Terrace is serving as the organization’s “case study” for this program, and therefore is the only Bethesda community offering in-home physician visits. The goal is to show that this model provides excellent care for residents, and that residents are healthier because of the physician’s accessibility. “Sometimes they may need to go to a specialist or an urgent care center or ER, and if that’s the case, I can certainly help guide them to what they are in most need of,” says Dr. Nash. “But for residents who mostly need wellness visits and general checkups, the in-home visit is a great option to consider.”

Whether in independent living, assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing, Bethesda offers the right amenities, services, programming, and staff to make every day full of purpose. See for yourself and tour our independent living communities, including Bethesda Barclay House – Clayton, Bethesda Gardens – Kirkwood, Bethesda Orchard – Webster Groves, Bethesda Terrace – South County, Village North Retirement Community – Florissant, and The Oaks at Bethesda Villas – Kirkwood/Webster.