Archive for August, 2016

Who You Gonna Call?…

August 19, 2016

…when you need medical care.   Would you like to have a team of care providers (an emergency room trained Nurse Practitioner and an Emergency Medical Technician) come directly to your home?  Or your office?  Within an hour of your call?  With your out-of-pocket cost no higher than if you went to your doctor’s office or an urgent care/emergency care location?

I recently heard a fascinating presentation by Melanie Plaksin, Community Manager of Dispatch Health.  Dispatch Health is a new health care model currently operating in the Metro-Denver Colorado area, but with plans to expand.  Here is how it works:

  1. Using the Dispatch Health mobile application, their website, or your phone, you explain your symptoms & request medical care.  Within a very few minutes, a Dispatch Health “dispatcher” will contact you to obtain more information, if needed, & to tell you that a team is on the way.
  2. Then, in less than a hour from your initial contact, the Nurse Practitioner and EMT will knock on your door.  By the way, the care provider team at your door is backed up by a MD who is available for phone consults.

What medical conditions can Dispatch Health treat?  They CANNOT treat heart attacks, strokes, or other life-threatening situations…these are emergencies for which you need to immediately call 911.  Here are just a few of the many injuries & illnesses Dispatch Health can take care of:

  1. Common ailments: fever, flu, nausea, migraines, urinary tract infections, anxiety.
  2. Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, heartburn, constipation, vomiting.
  3. Respiratory: asthma attacks, bronchitis, upper respiratory infection.
  4. Skin: hives, allergic reactions, Skin abscesses (boils), rashes, skin infections, cuts needing stitches (Yes, they can do this on-site).
  5. Ear, Nose & Throat: sore throat, ear infection or pain, sinus infection, laryngitis.
  6. Musculoskeletal: joint or back pain, strains or sprains, minor bone breaks (not complex fractures).

The procedures Dispatch Health can do at your location are impressive.  They include: administering IV fluids, advanced blood testing, splinting injured extremities, urinary catheter insertion, and rapid infectious disease testing.  They even have access to a mobile X-ray service.  As part of their service, Dispatch Health also calls in prescriptions on your behalf and updates your primary care physician.  As of this writing, Dispatch Health works with Aetna, United Healthcare, Humana, Cigna, Anthem, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and other health insurance providers.

Sound like something you or your family may be able to use?  My recommendation would be for you to check out Dispatch Health before you need them.  Their website is, or you can reach them by phone at 303-500-1518.  I have not personally used Dispatch Health, but they do appear credible.

Note: Source material for this article was: Melanie Plaksin’s 7/20/2016 presentation to the East Coalition for senior Services, the Dispatch Health brochure, and the Dispatch Health website.  The image of the care was taken from the Dispatch Health website as well.


Disclaimer: The above article is based upon information provided by Dispatch Health.  I have not used their services myself.  Before using Dispatch Health to provide medical care: 1) Confirm that you are within their service area.  2) Satisfy for yourself that Dispatch health will provide the quality health care service that you need.

I receive no compensation, directly or indirectly from Dispatch Health.  In fact, Dispatch Health does not even know that I am writing this newsletter.  YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).


© Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, 2016


About A Canoe Trip

August 19, 2016

My friend John & I had long-planned a canoe camping trip to the wilderness area of South-western Ontario, Canada.  We would paddle for half a day, then set up camp on the shore of beautiful Northern Lights Lake (you can Google Northern Lights Lake).

The plan was for us to then spend five days camping, fishing, exploring, & generally paddling our canoe around the area.  Two portages* later we arrived at Northern Lights Lake and did set up camp.  That is when we realized that we were both dog-tired.  Hmmm.  What was going on?  John & I both used to be able to do all that we did, and then some.  It wasn’t the altitude (only about 1,500′ compared to 6,000′ where we live).  Why were we so tired?

The next day (Day 2 of our planned 5 days of camping), we caught a bunch of fish from the canoe as we explored the lake.  While sitting around our campsite & talking later that evening, we realized that we were not only tired, but were completely exhausted.  Both of us were healthy.  How could only a few days of moderately strenuous activity have effectively knocked us out?  John & I had physically run out of gas! …and we had a long paddle ahead of us, to get back to where we left the car.

Discretion being the better part of valor, we broke camp early in the morning of Day 3 and headed towards our starting point.  We soon reached our “killer” portage.  After unloading the canoe & shuttling (schlepping) our gear to the portage end point, we realized that we did not have the collective energy to haul the canoe itself over the 200+ yards trail.

What to do next?  We considered the few remaining possibilities.  1. We did not have the skill to run the rapids that the portage avoided.  Too many large rocks above water level.  2. We could line** the canoe through, but would have to get in the moving water to do so.

So we did.  The ensuing score: Lake 1, Ray zero.  John was about neutral with the water, but lost his favorite hat.  We did not lose the canoe!

A few definitions.

  1. Portage:  When you first unload your canoe then make multiple trips carrying gear from the start to the end point.  Then you have the privilege of carrying (or dragging) the canoe itself to the end point.
  2. Lining a canoe: A method of getting past rapids.  It sometimes works.  You attach a long rope to your canoe and allow the current to carry it through the difficult stretch of water.  Normally you hold on to the rope while walking on a path alongside the water.  In our case, there was no path…only impassable under-growth.  So John and I entered the not very deep water to walk the canoe through.

An interesting story, yes?  But what has it got to do with planning for long term care?

Be honest.  You saw this coming.  John and I are no longer in our 30s or 40s (or even in our 50s and I will stop here).  If we live long enough, every one of us (that includes you, Dear Reader) will reach the point where we can no longer do what we must do to live independently.

While dragging a canoe is not the same as dressing and eating, the trend line is there.  Yesterday I could and today I cannot.  What will tomorrow bring?  You and I must have a plan to pay for long term care.  Contact me for information on how to get started.

And yes, we did get safely back to the Denver, CO area.

© Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, 2016