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Caring for community is bigger than medicine

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By Erik Furlan

(April 11, 2017, LANHAM, Md.) For Doctors Community Hospital, “community” is the most important part of the name.

The hospital has evolved into a regional health care system including a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, radiation therapy centers, an outpatient surgical facility, and satellite offices. But it doesn’t end there. 

“It’s all about service,” said Doctors President Phil Down, “service to the community, service to each other and really being an integral part of our community, and that’s what we try to live and deliver every day.” 

Doctors was founded on a core value of safety, excellence, respect, vision, innovation and compassion for everyone: SERVICE. Part of that service to the community is deploying two mobile vans as a “health care on wheels” program to provide preventive health care and screening services.

“The emphasis now is to get out with the people, interact with them, keep them healthy and help them with their health care, resulting in a healthier community,” Down said. “Healthcare has changed, with a focus of population health and a major emphasis to keep people healthy and out of the acute care hospitals.”

In partnership with the Prince George’s County Health Department, Doctors implemented an aggressive program of breast screening for women, taking the care to those who don’t have insurance or easy access to care.

“That partnership has helped get hundreds of women screened who wouldn’t have been screened… women who didn’t know they had cancer … in turn saving their lives. And I think that has been very powerful,” Down said.

Doctors Community Hospital runs a similar aggressive screening program for colorectal cancer, along with blood pressure monitoring and proactive diabetes testing. It has even hired more endocrinologists and diabetes educators.

“Through our vans and our clinics, all are making major impacts,” Down said.

Collaborative partnerships are instrumental in making those impacts. La Clinica del Pueblo primarily serves the Hispanic community, providing all levels of primary and specialty care to complete families. With a growing Hispanic population in the Washington, DC, suburbs, La Clinica was looking to come to Prince George’s County. Doctors was a natural fit.

“Anything they do, we’re their partner,” Down said. “We built the clinic, we’re in partnership down there with our physicians, their physicians … it’s just a tremendous success. We’re very proud to be working with them … taking care of the health needs of the Hispanic community in the region.”

A second partner, Catholic Charities, already had a presence in Prince George’s County, but many of their efforts were not directly health-related. Catholic Charities approached Doctors Community Hospital, and now they’re building a facility in Camp Springs, scheduled to open this summer. 

Down says it’s harder to treat health issues effectively if the patient can’t afford medication or adequate food, so DCH partnered with Catholic Charities because of the non-health care community work the organization does. Now, social programs that were scattered in various facilities – from housing to employment to reintroducing into society those who have been incarcerated – all have been brought to the DCH grounds. 

“They’re operating their facilities on our campus right now, and we’re very proud to be able to serve the whole person with the broad array of life issues that confront them,” Down said.

Serving the whole person and taking a holistic approach to population health show that service – and that founding principle of safety, excellence, respect, vision, innovation and compassion for everyone – still lives at the core of what DCH does each day.


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