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Doc of the Year: Award Comes with Responsibility

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2013

Essentially, Access Health is a larger version of the Midlothian clinic model, supported by local businesses, health, and political leaders who want to reduce medical costs to the community by helping patients avoid expensive and unnecessary emergency room visits.

"I got involved with Access Health because I had things I could contribute to help guide them, or at least add my two cents worth to help give them some reasonable input on the concrete things we have done that have made a difference at Midlothian," he says.

Malpractice not a concern

"Access Health is on a bigger scale. Instead of one small area with one church that is seeing whatever patients they can see Access Health is trying to replicate that same picture in other parts of Mahoning and Trumbull counties and expand as time goes by to bigger area as well."

Albani enthusiastically recruits healthcare professionals to serve in the clinics, although he meets some resistance from physicians because of malpractice concerns.

"I would say first of all, if you live your life in fear by worrying about things like malpractice you will never accomplish anything," he says. "If that is the case don't see any patient because every single patient can sue you. We are covered by the Good Samaritan laws in Ohio that prevent people from suing you if you are not getting reimbursed. And really if someone wants to sue me because I am trying to help them and I am not charging them for it, go for it. I don't see that as an obstacle, but a lot of people do."

For physicians and other community activists who want to start a clinic, Albani says they shouldn't fixate first on raising money before they actually provide services.

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