Dr. Toni Medaglia, Notre Dame Wellness Center pediatrician, examines a patient. The Wellness Center offers pediatric and primary care to benefit-eligible faculty and staff and their dependents.
The Notre Dame Wellness Center, operated by Take Care Health Systems, has received Medical Home accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
Considered to be among the highest achievements for a primary care center, the recognition affirms the Wellness Center’s position as a first-choice provider of primary care services.
“The term ‘medical home’ is relatively new,” says Melanie Smith, Wellness Center occupational health nurse. “For the non-medical community, it’s essentially synonymous with a primary care physician – your ‘go-to’ care provider.”
According to the American College of Physicians, the Medical Home model of care has gained recognition as an effective response to the rising demand for care among a population facing an increase in chronic illnesses – patients who frequently require multiple types of care. Often referred to as a PCMH (Patient-Centered Medical Home), a Medical Home is team-based and patient-oriented – meaning more of the patient’s care is coordinated under one roof.
For example, when patients receive primary care from a Wellness Center physician or pediatrician, subsequent services such as infusions, physical therapy, laboratory services, or chronic condition management are already in-house and easily coordinated.
When patients begin care with other providers, the Wellness Center stands ready to coordinate the followup care on the patient’s behalf and to make sure the patient understands that care every step of the way.
“’Home’ is a good word for it,” says Dr. Julie Ortega-Schmitt, Wellness Center medical director. “When you think of home, you think of everything you need being there.”
Beyond primary care, the Medical Home model also adds the component of wellness, and seeks to engage patients in their own care by helping them understand how their health is under their control. “It’s about giving patients the resources they need to understand their care and to be engaged in taking care of themselves,” Ortega-Schmitt adds.
The accreditation follows a three-day, on-site review last October by an AAAHC surveyor, also a health care professional. The surveyor interviewed staff, reviewed charts at random, and assessed the Wellness Center against nationally-recognized standards measuring quality of care, facilities, management, infection control, and more. Because coordination of care among providers is central to the Medical Home model, the review also assessed the Wellness Center’s information technologies to ensure patient health records are appropriately transferred and privacy is protected.
As an accredited Medical Home, the Notre Dame Wellness Center commits to further on-site reviews at any time, at least every three years.