By RICHARD DYMOND
July 29, 2014 — MANATEE — The old-fashioned house calls are coming back with a twist.
A new company centered around bringing medical care to home bound seniors has expanded to the Manatee-Sarasota area.
Leigh Tesar, a nurse practioner with some marketing skills, is touting MD2U, the new medical practice geared toward hands-on or concierge-like care for home-bound patients with chronic and acute illnesses.
MD2U, which also operates in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and Ohio, offers house-calls to home-bound or home-limited patients who can’t leave their home without assistance or have difficulty making and keeping their doctor appointments due to a wide variety of reasons, Tesar said.
The practice is administered by nurse practitioners who can do nearly everything a doctor can, Tesar added.
“All nurse practitioners have advanced clinical training,” Tesar said. “To be a nurse practitioner requires a master’s degree in a speciality.”
According to MD2U officials, the company, which was started in Louisville, Ky., in 2004 by current company CEO Dr. Michael Benfield, employs roughly 100 nurse practitioners helped by almost 300 staff members to generate more than 100,000 house calls in 2013.
Tesar, 32, is no stranger to the area and that was important in her ability to “cover” the Manatee and Sarasota areas.
“Our company places a nursing practitioner in an area and he or she must build their practice from the ground up,” Tesar said. “We are not only the nursing practitioner but also the marketer to get this going.”
Over the last decade, Tesar, who graduated from Sarasota’s Riverview High School in 2000 and got a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Florida in Gainesville and her master’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida, has worked in Blake Medical Center’s emergency room, at Manatee County Rural Health as a nurse practitio
ner and at the now-defunct “Little Clinic” in the Publix Supermarket at 3913 Manatee Ave. W., in the Westgate Shopping Center.
She became friends with hundreds of medical colleagues in those jobs, colleagues who are helping her now locate patients who may desire her services at MD2U.
“Truthfully, when I first heard about the company and what they do and all of their success I said to myself, ‘This seems too good to be true,’ ” Tesar said last Thursday. “I thought, ‘So, what is the catch?’ But I have discovered there really isn’t one. MD2U is effective because it’s what we call a micro-practice. We will usually have much fewer patients than a typical primary care practice and we are very hands-on.
“I’ve become very passionate about this,” Tesar added. “I truthfully think this will be the best care a patient can get anywhere and will keep them healthier over time.”
Badia Bouhamid , 72, who lives in The Meadows, is among the first dozen patients that Tesar has recruited in her practice.
Last Friday, Bouhamid, who is from Morocco and came to America in the 1960s with her husband, Hamid, who is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease, had her second appointment with Tesar.
Tesar arrived at Bouhamid’s ground floor condo in a white coat and the two embraced and chatted while holding hands.
During the exam, Bouhamid never left the chair she was in when Tesar came. Tesar asked Bouhamid about a recent fall she had taken and said she would order an X-ray, which will be provided to Bouhamid via a mobile unit.
“I feel like a millionaire,” Bouhamid told a reporter as Tesar made entries in her lap top computer. “I needed Leigh so badly. I feel like this is a gift from heaven.”
Bouhamid’s story is one that may be typical, said her daughter, Maria Chlih .
Bouhamid is diabetic and insulin dependent. She also has the eye disease, macular degeneration , so she can’t drive. She also takes numerous medications, her daughter said.
Chlih heard about MD2U from nurses at Gentiva Home Health Care of Sarasota, where her mother is still a client.
Tesar said about 40 percent of her referrals come from home health-care agencies.
“Gentiva can do home nursing and physical therapy but mom still needed a primary care physician,” Chlih said.
Bouhamid’s primary care physician relocated recently and Chlih decided to try the nurse practitioner model.
“When mom’s doctor left the area mother was seen by doctors in her old doctor’s group,” said Chlih, who is the hospital liaison for the rehabilitation center at Center Manor Care, a skilled nursing facility in Venice. “These other doctors didn’t know my mom.”
“I chose MD2U because I wanted a hands-on approach,” Chlih said. “My mother needed a concierge type of medical care to keep her medicines and everything else sorted out. Going to an office was not easy and she requires more than a 15-minute doctor visit.”
The first visit with Tesar was one hour and Friday’s was roughly 30 minutes.
If patients have a problem, they can expect a visit from Tesar within 24 to 48 hours, Tesar said.
“We pride ourselves on getting to them fast,” Tesar added.
Money is always an issue in medical care and Chlih said it was a positive experience with MD2U.
“They bill my mom’s Medicare just like going to the doctor’s office,” Chlih said. “There is nothing extra. They do not charge any more for their personalized care.”
Home visits are ranked by MD2U at levels one through four depending on complexity with four, the most complex, costing $180, Tesar said.
“We bill Medicare Part B just like the primary care physician so it doesn’t cost the patient any more than a primary care office,” Tesar added. “Just like in a primary care office, Medicare pays 80 percent and the patient pays 20 percent. The patients don’t give me any money. Our office will bill Medicare and we will send the patient a notice on the rest.”
Tesar said she can handle every chronic and acute condition, including hypertension, diabetes and congestive heart failure. MD2U also has contracted with mobile units for X-rays, EKGs, ultra sounds and lab work, she added.
MD2U can even handle some psychiatric treatment, Tesar said.
Chlih said she was impressed by Tesar’s “micro” approach.
“Leigh is very compassionate and very caring,” Chlih said. “English is my mom’s second language after Arabic. Leigh took the time to explain everything to her in non-medical terms she could understand.
“Ten years ago you had a doctor for 20 years,” Chlih added. “But it’s not that way now. I think this MD2U is an amazing concept. I think this is where the future is going.”
For information: 941-799-6843. MD2U’s website is md2u.com.