Dr. Ashish Bhalla and Denise Abalos get out of their cars and immediately begin putting on full personal protective equipment, covering themselves from head to toe, and, of course, wearing masks.

Then they walk up to the front door of the Sievers home in Garden Grove and are welcomed inside by Jeff and Raechelle Sievers. From there, everyone transitions to the family room.

Doctor’s appointments might present limitations in terms of the time spent with the patient, but Bhalla and Abalos performed a variety of tasks for the Sievers in a home visit that lasted more than an hour on Thursday.

The Sievers’ youngest daughter Amber, 13, had her blood pressure and temperature checked, her height and weight measured, as well as eye and hearing tests for her well child exam.

Additionally, several of the family members had their flu shots administered, and Bhalla also prescribed pain medication for a shoulder injury that Raechelle, 51, Amber’s mom, is dealing with. Bhalla referred Raechelle for physical therapy too.

“I had already been using them, and I had already been referring them, but as soon as the coronavirus started, that was one of the first things that I shared publicly online with my friends,” Raechelle said. “I was like, ‘Everyone, you guys need this.’”

Raechelle said that her family has received visits from several doctors with Heal, a medical company that brings healthcare to patients’ homes, and she has liked them. Bhalla, a member of the Heal staff, is now serving as the family’s primary care doctor.

“Since we’re all here anyway, it’s much easier to schedule things and stay on top of appointments than it was if [family members are] working away from home and needed a day off,” Raechelle said. “It’s easier for us now to stay on top of it, but I think it’s the greatest service ever.”

As the use of equipment was completed during the trip to the Sievers home, it was sanitized by the medical team before putting it away.

Dr. Ashish Bhalla, center, talks with Gage Hernadez during an in-home doctor visit.

Dr. Ashish Bhalla, center, talks with Gage Hernadez, right, as Raechelle and Amber Sievers look on during an in home doctor visit on Thursday.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

This may seem atypical to some, but Heal, which turned six years old on Oct. 1, hopes that it will become the norm.

“We want to be your family doctor in your family room for every American family, all over the country,” Nick Desai, the CEO of Heal, said of the vision on which the company was founded. “We want to solve the problems of equality of access to timely quality care.”

Desai graduated from Irvine High School in 1987, going on to UC Irvine and ultimately earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering from UCLA.

He and his wife Renee Dua, who is the chief medical officer of Heal, founded the company together.

Heal allows patients to schedule a house call with a doctor from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The company also has a telemedicine service. Desai said that Heal also has upfront pricing, allowing patients to see their cost before booking an appointment.

Desai added that he believes that people are always safer in their own homes, adding, “The alternative is going to a hospital, a doctor’s office or urgent care where thousands of other people have been, and they’d be sitting with you at the same time, where you are exposed to everyone else’s germs.”

To make patients more comfortable, additional COVID-19 protocols implemented by Heal include medical teams being required to use hand sanitizer before and after each visit, and having their temperature and symptoms checked twice a day.

Denise Abalos, left, and and Dr. Ashish Bhalla put on the personal protective gear.

Denise Abalos, left, and and Dr. Ashish Bhalla put on the personal protective gear before a home doctor visit in Garden Grove on Thursday.

(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

After 10 years of practicing medicine in an office, Bhalla took a chance in joining Heal three years ago.

“The reason I joined Heal was because the concept sounded pretty cool, and this is a new thing and we can mix technology with the medicine,” Bhalla said. “At the same time, we can have time with the patient, which is getting shorter and shorter in the office visits.”

Bhalla added that the ability to build a physician-patient relationship is mutually beneficial, as it helps close the care gaps in the management of the patient.

Nour Kasm, 34, of Newport Beach, who has kids who attend the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, said that her family has proceeded with great caution in navigating life during the coronavirus pandemic. Her family also uses Heal as its primary care provider.

“My children go to private school, and they got the waiver and were able to open up, and we decided not to send them,” Kasm said. “We’re doing distance learning. Again, I think we’re being really careful. I have my in-laws who we see every day and who are [at] high risk, and we just didn’t want to take that risk.”

The ability to have access to a physician at odd hours also appealed to Kasm.

“That’s another thing that is so convenient about Heal is when my pediatrician’s office is closed, I’m able to give Heal a call, or if it’s like 6 p.m. and we don’t want to go to urgent care, Heal is able to come,” Kasm said.

“It was around 6 p.m. that we were able to get Heal to come, and Dr. Bhalla came and he diagnosed [my son] with acute pneumonia and was able to immediately prescribe all of the medication he needed, and he was on it that night. The next morning, he started to feel better.”

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.

Source Article