:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Friday, November 03, 2006  

Family Practice Office UPDATE - Successes and Moving

Our little boutique medicine clinic for poor people has taken a few interesting and big growth steps over the past few months. I'm personally shocked and pleased that things are working out so well. I almost feel like we are defying gravity, breaking some physical laws of the universe but as I watch the patient volume grow by word of mouth, the complexity of medical disease increase, the flow of money continue to grow, and the interest in what we are doing in our community soar, it seems we aren't breaking any physical laws of the Universe, just alot of social and economic myths.

A look back at the last two years of patient volume shows the first six months with an average of 3-4 patients a day, the second six months with an average of 10 patients a day, the third six months with an average of 15 patients a day and the final 6 months up to now with an average of 20 patients a day. We had an all time high last week of 36 patients in a single day. don't ask me how we saw that many people in a tiny little house at the end of a dirt road with parking enough for about 5 cars, all in 6 hours. We are routinely now seeing 25 patients at least 1-2 days a week.

This has given us our first major problem - the wait time. Some patients are now waiting over 2-3 hours to be seen. So far everyone is very respectiful and thankful but you can feel the frustration mounting. The only solution is to bring on more practitioners or limit the number of patients we can see to 15 a day, which isn't going to happen. Out of everything that is going really well, the one thing that isn't is trying to find another practitioner to work with us.

On the financial level, the clinic is doing great. We have had an increase in expenses as our patient volume soared, paying for some office help, but we've been able to pay for it just from patient revenues to date. Both the nurse practitioner and I are making enough at the clinic, part-time, that we don't need other jobs anymore. I'm working my last two shifts at the Hospital this month and then I'm going to be able to focus all of my efforts on the clinic because the income is becoming more than I even wanted to earn in a year. I haven't done the full analysis yet but my hunch right now is that the money earned is roughly equal to what i'd make working for a big clinic system as a primary care doc.

With all this growth we have decided to move the clinic to a new location. We spent a year looking around for the perfect building and found a wonderful site just down the road. It's on a main intersection, a building that was initially built by a large hospital system in Albuquerque year ago. They outgrew it and moved down the street to a bigger buliding. So it used to be a clinic, it has a lead-lined room for an x-ray machine and is set up for most of our needs. Of course when they built it in the early 1980's they weren't thinking outside the box. They were so in the box that they built it with NO WINDOWS. Some notion of patient privacy, building security, something like that. We have some serious work to do to renovate/remodel the building but we are all really excited about the move. We will do all the work of renovation over the next two months and then open our doors at the new location in early January. The current owners of the building are a non-profit group called the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation (RGCDC). They are a great group of visionaries who have come together over the years to do economic develop projects but in their wisdom they recognize that without health, economic development doesn't go very far. And in our wisdom, we recognize that without economic development in this society, health doesn't go very far. It's a great beginning to a hopefully long partnership in bringing our efforts together for deep social transformation.

The really exciting part of the move is that the Kalpulli Izkalli traditional medicine practitioners are moving in with us and setting up an Altar. We are going to attempt to truly integrate the health services at our clinic by bringing togeher practitioners of very different kinds of medicines to see what we can do together for our patients. And on this note, we just found out that we were awarded a grant from a local foundation called "Con Alma" which means "with soul" in Spanish. The grant was written to help our groups come together over the next year, to provide some foundational support to the complex process we are engaging in.

So iive got lots more to say but i'll wait to post in another message. i'm trying to get back to sharing some of the good/bad/ugly of the clinic and the political work going on here.


posted by andru | 11/03/2006 06:01:00 AM | |


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