When Family Nurse Practitioner Maria Bucio “discovered” Housecall Providers, it was as though she had stumbled upon some unique model of delivering health care.
Which, of course, she had.
“I was looking for a job in Portland, and the one that brought me here didn’t work out,” she recalls. “Then I learned about Housecall Providers. I had never heard of such an organization before. The beauty of delivering in home care is that I would be able to take my time with my patients. And with these much more complex patients that we have, you need that extra time.”
Now, as one of the more experienced practitioners, Bucio can draw upon her work with her patients to help others understand what it takes to provide the proper care to those with chronic disorders who often can’t tell you what hurts or how they’re feeling.
But when she was hired five years ago, she herself needed that mentoring.
“I had 30 patients that year. I asked a lot of questions, looked a lot of things up. Now, I have 120. It’s taken all of those five years to figure out how to keep all the plates spinning,” she says with a smile. “When you come into someone’s home, you’re the clinic – you’re it. The specialists can’t go there, so I need to be able to figure out what they need and, if they need a specialist, explain what’s going on.”
That kind of jack-of-all-trades attitude was handed down to her from an uncle in Mexico. “He was a general surgeon in town but had a little office at the side of the house. Everyone came to him, and he had to do the best he could to help them,” she says.
Her admiration of her uncle’s work developed early.
“I was about seven years old, and I had a little black doctor’s bag filled with Smarties that I carried around as pretend medication that I would prescribe,” she says. “My thought even then was, ‘How am I going to get into health care?’” She spent most of her early life in San Jose, California, but came to Oregon
to finish her bachelor’s work at Linfield College. She got a master’s degree at OHSU, and, with family living in the area, Oregon has become her second home.
Her patients pose multiple challenges. They range in age from their 40s to 103. Conditions include autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, pulmonary conditions and cancer. “So many of them simply can’t express anything. I have to go by subtle signals and experience,” she says.
At the end of the day, time is what the values most about Housecall Providers.
“I have more time to spend with each patient, and I have control over my schedule, so I have more quality time with my family than most practitioners do,” she says. “For folks with families, this is an excellent place to work. They understand how important it is to attend a school assembly. They know our kids’ lives are the most precious to us.”