It is a lucky few that have the opportunity to align their values and passion so precisely with their chosen profession. Housecall Providers is very fortunate to have primary care providers who feel this way about their work, none more than Dr. Andrew Sperlin, who recently celebrated his 15th year anniversary with the medical nonprofit.
Values providing care to an underserved population
“I have always wanted to practice where there is a need and where the focus of the practice is on meeting that need, not on maximizing revenue,” Sperlin said. When he met the founder and then medical director of Housecall Providers, Dr. Benneth Husted in 2001 he discovered an alignment of that shared value and a commitment to patient-centered care that has continued under the leadership of Medical Director, Pam Miner, MD.
A graduate of the University of Washington Medical School, Dr. Sperlin completed his Internal Medicine residency in Spokane, WA where he had an office for seven years, occasionally making house calls to some of his sickest patients. He decided to take his career in a different direction and headed to West Africa to practice medicine at a mission hospital for six months. When he returned to the U.S., he spent seven years at a rural clinic in the Yakima Valley before moving to Portland to be closer to his aged parents who have since passed.
The many benefits of in-home medical care
Providing home-based medicine offers many incentives for Dr. Sperlin, not the least of which is supporting caregivers who are stressed and many times confined to the home themselves due to the needs of their patients. “Many of our patients are in declining health but if we can help them stay comfortable and in a supportive environment while keeping their caregivers from being exhausted, it is very rewarding,” he says.
His empathetic attitude is easily sensed by his patients who care deeply for him because he consistently goes the extra mile for them. “Dr. Sperlin really embodies the mission of Housecall Providers,” says his care coordinator of nine years, Sr. Jeanette Heindl, SP. “I frequently get calls from patients who mention that ‘he visited me last evening’. Many times when I send him a message about an issue a patient is having he’ll say that he ‘will stop by on his way home’ which could be 6:30 – 7:00pm. I just have all kinds of admiration for him.”
Dr. Sperlin, who has a panel of around 120 patients, understands the difficulty that some of his non-native English speaking patients and caregivers have with communicating complicated health issues to a provider. Knowing this, he taught himself a little Russian to help bridge the communication gap with these patients in order to ease their suffering and discomfort that much sooner.
Some long days part of delivering excellent care
An average day for Dr. Sperlin starts with reviewing documents and labs before heading out for a full day of patient visits, refilling prescriptions, returning calls and messages and setting the schedule for the following day. “Some days get kind of long,” he said. “However, before I started, I realized that medicine is not a nine-to-five job and I know that for my patients’ caregivers their job is often 24/7 so I have nothing to complain about.”
With more and more people wanting to age in place, it makes sense that the providers of in-home primary medical care, the ones who regularly see the enormous positive impact this service can have on people’s lives, would want this care for themselves if/when the time comes and Dr. Sperlin is no exception.
“One thing I am constantly reminded of is that the days of our lives are numbered and we need to use them wisely,” he said. Not long from now, I may be the one who is in need of this kind of care and I hope there is an organization like Housecall Providers available to me.”