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Housing is Healthcare: Collaborating with Packard Health

March 22, 2017

One of our mantras at Avalon Housing is “housing is healthcare.” We believe that having a residence is an important foundational step for addressing one’s health. Many of the tenants we serve have lacked access to this fundamental right. One cannot get bedrest without a bed!

Assessing and addressing the healthcare needs of our clients is a top priority. We find that the health of our communities, broad and small, begins with the health of our individuals. Avalon Housing has recently added our first doctor to our team, our first nurse practitioner and our first onsite health clinic, all through our partnership with Packard Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center and certified Patient-Centered Medical Home by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. A Patient-Centered Medical Home is based on a philosophy that trusting relationships between patients and their health care providers helps ensure excellent care. It’s also a model of primary health care that emphasizes coordination and communication among providers, improved accessibility to care and a commitment to helping patients make informed decisions about their health.

Dr. Ravi A. Vadlamudi, MD, and Gina Dahlem, PHD, FNP-C, have joined with Avalon to provide home visits and office visits for Avalon residents and clients. The introduction of medical house calls has immediately filled a huge need in our community. Many of our tenants lack access to basic transportation options, or perhaps their health has severely limited their mobility. In-home medical visits have enabled primary care access for a great number of clients who had not previously been engaged in their healthcare. We also offer flexibility in scheduling and little wait time for appointments. We know that regular and proactive engagement with a primary care physician leads to improved outcomes for all, and we are excited how our efforts to remove barriers have started to show results.

Here at Avalon, we know the real difference is the people. Gina and Dr. Ravi are the practitioners that make the dream a reality. We do everything in our power to remove the tangible barriers to connect a client with an appointment, but all appointments are voluntary. The patient must want to participate in the exam, and ultimately must want to make the lifestyle changes involved or opt for the medical treatments suggested. Unfortunately, many of our clients have a history of harmful, negative, or scary experiences that have caused them to disconnect from medical care. They may have been judged, harassed, or verbally berated. They may have been dismissed as a lost cause, or told they are beyond help due to social stigmas on addiction or mental illness.

Ravi and Gina are both outstanding in their field for their dedication to underserved people, and renowned for their bedside manner. They are true humanitarians and have spent many impactful years serving at-risk populations. They work with clients, and their Avalon support staff, to tailor a treatment plan that will meet the client’s needs. Avalon Support Coordinators and other Services staff will often join appointments, as invited, to help place the medical plan in the context of the client’s life. The Avalon team also facilitates communications and referrals with specialists, such as mental health or occupational therapy, and provides the follow-up to support our clients each step of the way.

In this coming year, we will continue to tailor our offerings to meet our residents’ needs. We are in the early construction phase of a true medical clinic at Miller Manor, to replace the pop-up style care being given in office conference rooms. Gina is the most recent addition to our team, and we are thrilled to offer a female practitioner and more flexibility in hours and scheduling. We believe that meeting our clients where they are leads to healthy individuals and healthy communities.

By Ryan Walker
Avalon's Miller Manor Team Leader