New TMC medical rovers make old-fashioned house calls | Explore Wellness

Next time you need to go to urgent care, you might be able to get an old-fashioned housecall instead.

Tucson Medical Center officials announced last week that they have partnered with DispatchHealth to give patients comprehensive, at-home, acute care. 

TMC is currently the only hospital in the Tucson metro area providing this mobile urgent care model.

DispatchHealth currently has four active “rovers” (cars) in action serving the larger metro from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, including holidays.

Every rover has an emergency care-trained DispatchHealth medical team and is fully equipped with necessary tools and treatments to give patients in-home care, including on-site diagnostics and a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act-certified lab.  

Lead Nurse Practitioner Robyn Green said the service her colleagues provide is so stellar that she would trust them enough to care for her own mother. Green has been a nurse practitioner for eight years and has been working with Dispatch Health in Tucson for the past 15 months. She has already made 2,500 visits in the few months Dispatch and TMC have been partnered. 

With the rover, Green can do EKG scans, set up an IV, provide medications on scene, sew up cuts, diagnose COVID-19, flu, UTIs and STDs, do blood tests, perform ultrasounds and X-rays, and more.

“I know this is the future of health care,” Green said. “People want to be at home, they don’t want to leave.” 

This partnership is offering an alternative to patients who do not want to visit the hospital or do not have access to a primary care doctor. It can also be a safer option for patients who don’t want to risk catching COVID or another bug at an ER or urgent care facility.

TMC Director of Case Management Jeanne Rhodes said that not everyone who goes to the ER or to urgent care needs to be hospitalized. Instead, they can be very well served in the comfort of their own homes.

“People for the most part, if surrounded in the right environment, get better at home in that environment, so that will allow us to make the right call at the right time for the right patient,” Rhodes said. 

Through Dispatch Health Bridge Care visit, any patient admitted to TMC who might be up for readmission will be visited by Dispatch and be met anywhere between 24-72 hours. They will assess their house, food insecurity and social determinants that would hold back health care. 

The TMC and DispatchHealth partnership is helping not only patients of the hospital, but also relieving stress on TMC’s overwhelmed system. Over the course of the COVID outbreak, many hospitals were frequently overloaded and sometimes had to send patients to other hospitals, sometimes in other states. 

Dan Gibson, TMC’s director of Communications and Marketing, said the hospital wanted to lower their number of readmissions into the hospital. DispatchHealth has a history of reducing readmissions by 30 percent. 

“We at Tucson Medical Center wanted to do something different above and beyond what other organizations are doing primarily to continue to provide great care and access to our patients in the community,” Gibson said. “You look to find partners that do something exceptionally well and when we could bring that into this market and work together to take care of people in a better way, it is a simple decision for us.” 

Many people do not have access to technology, healthcare or transportation, so this collaboration is offering an accessible alternative for all those in the Tucson Metro area. Dispatch health will be accepting most insurance companies. 

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