Dr. Veronica LoFaso, Director of the Geriatric Medicine Housecall Program at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University-New York Presbyterian Hospital has been named a Silbermann Family Foundation Scholar. Dr. LoFaso, both a nurse and a physician by training, runs Weill Cornell's immensely popular housecall program, which serves frail older New Yorkers who cannot leave their homes to receive medical care.
The house call program was born in 1996. As a medical resident, Veronica (Ronnie) LoFaso accompanied Dr. Mark Lachs, Division Co-Chief, to see some of his homebound patients. "Perhaps it was her nursing background, but she was immediately drawn to the power of seeing patients on their own turf, and began to organize home visits for fellow residents," said Dr. Lachs. "The experience became so popular that we decided to formalize it. When Ronnie graduated from our medical residency it was clear who its Director should be."
Since then the program has grown in size and scope. Dr. LoFaso has won numerous teaching awards and is especially devoted to the education of medical students. "It really is impossible to understand what our patients face without a comprehensive home visit," said Dr. LoFaso. "As physicians, we may lecture to patients about why they take medicines incorrectly, until you learn that at home there are other pressing matters - a retarded child, a drug addicted spouse, the lack of adequate plumbing or heating." These are humbling experiences for a doctor, but I always feel honored to serve."
The program is also an important educational vehicle for medical students who accompany Dr. LoFaso on her visits. "With this gift, every Weill-Cornell medical student will make a housecall before graduating," said Dr. Ron Adelman, Co-Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine. "What a wonderful 'high touch' experience to balance with the 'high tech' training our students receive in the sterile hospital environment.
"The housecall is one of the finest traditions of medicine and all but a lost art," said Dr. LoFaso. "I'm deeply grateful to the Silbermann family for their support as it will help some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Instead of having to use the emergency room for primary care, they can be served with dignity in the comfort of their homes."
Appointments for the Housecall Program can be made by calling the Housecall Program Administrator Deirdre Mole, G.N.P., at 212-746-7026.