Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Doctor's Office in the Den; A Local Physician Has Made a Business out of House Calls, for Those with Minor Emergencies and a Busy Schedule

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Doctor's Office in the Den; A Local Physician Has Made a Business out of House Calls, for Those with Minor Emergencies and a Busy Schedule

Article excerpt

Byline: URVAKSH KARKARIA

In an age of crowded ERs and serpentine queues at the doctor's office, Brian Stephens offers a tantalizing alternative. The local family practitioner takes the care to you, making round-the-clock house calls to treat minor medical emergencies such as ankle sprains, colds, migraines and lower back pain.

"I can do just about anything that an urgent care center can do," said Stephens, who travels with mobile lab equipment.

Similar services exist, including a Jacksonville pediatrician who sees newborn babies in their homes for their first doctor's appointment. But Stephens, a Mayo Clinic-trained physician, claims to be the first in Northeast Florida to make house calls specifically for minor emergencies.

Stephens, who began his service in October, takes an average of three to four calls each day, mostly treating out-of-town visitors who don't want to spend an entire day seeking care in an ER or urgent care center. When not making house calls, Stephens practices at St. Luke's Hospital and Memorial Hospital.

John Fielder was one such patient. The Orange County, Calif. resident was in St. Augustine on business when he tore a muscle in his lower back. Fielder considered going to an urgent care center or ER, but the pain and lack of transportation made that inconvenient. So, when the concierge at his hotel suggested calling Stephens, Fielder decided to give it a try.

"This was so much more convenient," Fielder said.

The at-your-doorstep-service costs about $450 to $550 per visit with injectable medications and diagnostic tests costing extra. While less expensive than a visit to an ER, which can cost at least $1,000, Stephens' home visit will almost always cost more than a trip to an urgent care center.

On average a visit to a Solantic urgent care center in Jacksonville costs about $85.

More one-on-one service justifies the extra cost, Stephens said.

"I like sitting down and talking to my patients," the 29-year-old physician said. "It's putting the service back in medicine."

Stephens' service appeals to a niche market, said Karen Bowling, CEO of Solantic, which has 12 urgent care centers in Florida. …

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