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USA Today on RHD's Family Practice & Counseling Network: "Innovative health programs counter primary care shortage"

08/16/2010 12:39:53 PM
USA Today writes about the shortage of primary care doctors, and innovative programs stepping forward to meet that need. Among them are RHD's
Family Practice and Counseling Network:

"Donna Torrisi, a member of Penn's second graduating class of nurse practitioners in 1976, was instrumental in persuading Pennsylvania legislators to grant nurse practitioners prescribing authority and recognition as primary care providers. In 1992, she helped found the Family Practice and Counseling Network in Philadelphia, which she still directs.

Supported by the non-profit Resources for Human Development, the network of nurse-managed centers offers primary care for all ages, serving public housing residents, the poor and the uninsured.

This past fiscal year, Torrisi says, the network's three sites racked up 60,000 patient visits; this year, it expects 70,000. As a federally qualified health center, the network is reimbursed on the basis of its costs, not the number of patient visits.

On a sunny spring day in the network's sprawling, tastefully decorated North Philadelphia center, Torrisi, who sees patients one day a week, stopped to chat with patient Irene Pegram. Pegram, 76, clutched a paper bag of medication and worked on word puzzles while she waited for a ride home. A network patient for 16 years, she was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago. "Right now I'm coming in every week for the diabetes class," she says.

In the class, a nurse trained as a diabetic health educator sat at a table with eight patients. They played a board game that provided tips on managing their disease. Elsewhere at the center, a social worker led a "Stress Less" class, which utilizes such stress-relievers as yoga and essential oils, while a recovering addict, hired 17 years ago, led a support group for people battling their own addictions.

While nurses rule at Torrisi's clinics, "you need everybody" to meet the need for primary care, she says. "You need the doctors. You need the physician assistants, you need the nurse practitioners."

Read the full story in USA Today here

For more information on Family Practice and Counseling Network, contact: Kevin Roberts, RHD Communications at 215-951-0300 (ext. 3714) or email at: kevinr@rhd.org 


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