HEALTHCARE SPOTLIGHT: Life Care Center Thrives With On-Site Physicians
By Space Coast Medicine & Active Living // February 27, 2015
MEDICAL SERVICES SHOWCASE
Dr. Sharar, Dr. Smith Making A Difference In Patient’s Lives
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Dr. Zafar Sharar started working on-site at Life Care Center of Palm Bay in July 2010, he was entering a brave new world. Physicians working out of nursing homes was a new concept.
Over the past almost five years, the idea has spread tremendously. Life Care Physician Services, a subsidiary of Life Care Centers of America, currently has more than 80 doctors working out of nursing and rehab centers in 17 states.
In January 2011, Dr. David Smith joined the program, serving out of Life Care Center of Melbourne. He and Dr. Sharar continue to serve patients at their respective facilities, and each has received positive feedback from residents and families and has grown in his profession.
“The role has evolved over time,” said Dr. Smith.
“The patients we get are more and more complicated medically. It’s more challenging, but it’s also more rewarding when you see a patient who wasn’t expected to recover actually improve and return to a higher level of function.”
“More and more the families are understanding the benefits of the program,” said Dr. Sharar. “They’re finding that it’s easier to get a hold of us. We get to spend more time with the patients.”
Clinical data shows that quality measures like pain, pressure ulcers, falls and restraints are improved in facilities with on-site doctors, including Life Care’s Melbourne and Palm Bay locations.
Another positive impact is that these physicians reduce the number of “bouncebacks,” residents who return to the hospital within 30 days of admission to the nursing center.
Reducing bouncebacks is good for several reasons.
For starters, whenever a patient leaves one medical care setting to go to another, the risk of gaps in communication goes up. Then there’s the confusion of navigating the health care system, the extra paperwork and the cost involved. Physically, a hospital stay means inactivity, which leads to loss of muscle and increases the risk of blood clots or strokes.
“The critical parts that we’ve found are the admission and the discharge,” said Dr. Sharar, “and those are where we’ve made the most improvement, making sure that when they get home they have the tools and follow-up care they need.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Take a Tour – Situated an hour south of the Kennedy Space Center and within four miles of the beach in Melbourne, Florida, Life Care Center of Melbourne focuses on the comfort and health care needs of residents and patients.
At both local Life Care facilities, the average readmissions rate for patients using the on-site physicians as their attending physician is lower than the national average.
In fact, in April 2014, Dr. Smith had zero patients readmit to the hospital.
While zero bouncebacks is impossible to sustain over the long-term due to uncontrollable factors, it’s becoming more achievable in the short term.
“This was a professional milestone for me,” said Dr. Smith.
“It is the ultimate proof that establishing an on-site physician in a skilled nursing facility actually works, and it gives me great satisfaction to know that I am making a difference in patient’s lives.”
For both Dr. Sharar and Dr. Smith, this is the ultimate goal. And the past five years have shown that these doctors and others like them can achieve it in a big way.