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New Primary Care Facility Piloting Concierge Style Patient Services



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Patients who have grown weary of feeling like they are doing business at the DMV, instead of at their physician's office, are in for a whole new experience with the opening of Western Connecticut Health Network's (WCHN) newest facility located on Newtown's so-called "Medical Mile" at 170 Mt Pleasant Road.newtownprimarycare.org or call 203-426-1818.

The recently opened offices of Newtown Primary Care and Health Specialists provide a patient-centered medical experience designed with patient comfort and privacy in mind. And according to WCHN Board Chairman Richard Jabara, patients at the Newtown facility will also enjoy a concierge-style experience they might tend to expect as a guest at a five-star hotel or resort.

Mr Jabara has appropriately been running point on this new patient hospitality initiative, which he said will be rolled out across all existing and network facilities in development in the coming years. His experience in this area of guest services come from decades working as the chief executive officer and president of Meyer Jabara Hotels LLC. Mr Jabara is a second generation Holiday Inn franchisee and has been active for 20 years in the development and management of hotels according to a bio at Bloomberg.com.

The new space includes convenient entry-level parking; multiple check-in/check-out areas, beautifully appointed and spacious lobby and common areas, along with exam rooms that provide comfort in a warm and welcoming environment.

In addition, the new space has several specialists on site, including physicians from gastroenterology and nephrology, with other specialists joining the practice over the coming weeks and months. Providers staffing regularly at the facility include: Dr Anureet Gill, Nya Rossi, PA, and Kathleen D'Orso, APRN, in the family medicine department; Dr Lalaine Mortera, pediatrician; and Maureen Engel, APRN, adult nurse practitioner.

Local residents can also arrange to visit with specialty providers who will hold regular office hours at the facility. Those providers include: behavioral health specialist Emily Fritz, LCSW; Dr Adam Gorelick, gastroenterologist; and nephrology specialists Dr Raymond Raut and Dr Panupong Lisawat.

The Newtown Bee about how Newtown Primary Care and Health Specialists and its staff will be leading this new networkwide focus on patient-centered service delivery and hospitality.

Mr Jabara and Richard Gemming, PA, MPH, executive director of the Western Connecticut Medical Group (WCMG) and vice president of WCHN, spoke with

According to his bio, Mr Gemming came to WCHN from the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System where he led strategy and development of the system's primary and specialty care physician network. During this time, he also served as a board trustee for Hudson Valley Hospital Center, New York Hospital Queens, and Nyack Hospital.

Prior to joining New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, Mr Gemming was the chief operating officer of the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapies at Columbia University. At Columbia, he developed HeartSource, a consultative service to six acute care hospitals and ten other institutions across the nation.

"All along what we've been trying to do with this model project is elevate the primary care environment to become the best places for physicians to practice and the best places to come as a patient," Mr Gemming said. "That required a whole bunch of aspects, from the building design, to color schemes, to layout, to the style of uniforms for our staff and the training that Mr Jabara helped us develop - sort of the Nordstrom approach that our patients will experience going forward."

The WCHN official said that patients will be escorted to treatment areas and introduced to their medical support personnel, not just dumped in an exam room down the hall with a bunch of forms to fill out.

"We aimed for and are achieving a high-end approach from the 'office of the future' exam rooms where the tables are at the same height as the physicians doing the exams - no more looking down at the patient," he said. "We also created areas of the facility with a pod approach, putting pediatrics on one side, primary care on the other, and specialty in between."

Mr Gemming said that since many visiting patients may never have to go into the hospital, thanks to the continuity of care they can get between primary and specialty physicians at the Newtown facility, but if they do, that continuity will extend from Newtown to Danbury, Norwalk, or New Milford Hospital in the event that patient does need advanced care.

"We're going to be cohorting practices so that the patient is familiar with where they have to come, they know their doctor is here, their specialist is here, their electronic records are all here and connected to the hospital, if they ever might need to visit the hospital before returning here," he said.

He said specialists schedules will be based on the types of services most frequently utilized by primary care professionals.

"We'll have cardiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, which partners with our neighboring dialysis center, and we'll have a pain specialist that will be here permanently," he said.

Developing a model of patient experience built around what they may expect in the hospitality industry was key to the success of this new model, according to WCHN marketing VP Joe Carofano.

"We know a lot about patients' personal needs as well as their health needs, so we can build a plan of care very holistically. So from the moment a patient discovers a primary care physician here, through to post-follow-up, we have a behavioral model that all staff will be trained on, to provide the most optimized experience for that patient - that they probably wouldn't expect from a health care provider."

Mr Carofano said the optimum level of delivering top patient experiences will be based on an eight-point model, which will include a lot of quick surveying and questioning that goes a bit beyond than typical medical forms required in most practices.

"Even the simplest thing as a referral - we've centralized to an office to provide a concierge approach, and is administered by a representative who sets everything up for them, makes sure they get there, and hand holds them into their meeting with their physician," Mr Gemming added.

Mr Jabara said he began seeing the potential of transferring contemporary hospitality practices from the hotel/resort industry to the medical care environment almost a decade ago when he began volunteering with Danbury Hospital.

"We do a lot of things great throughout the network, great doctors, state-of-the-art-facilities - but we lacked the optics of our patients, putting on and seeing ourselves through their glasses," Mr Jabara said.

"What we learned was they saw something very different than great facilities being developed by great architects. When you walk in the door here, you instantly feel you're in a different place," he said. "You may even start to feel it before you step through the door, because we've already implemented the first two of the eight steps we use to ensure the best overall experience. Then hopefully if they have that great experience, we'll see them back or they will tell a friend."

Ultimately, the Newtown Primary Care and Health Specialists team is committed to the Newtown community, because they are expecting many of them to become lifelong patients.

"We need high-quality results and to get or keep people well," Mr Jabara concluded. "We're patient-friendly. That will differentiate us."

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Newtown Primary Care and Health Specialists is open and ready for patients featuring concierge-style amenities based on practices that visitors may be used to experiencing at high-end resorts versus at their doctor's office, according to Western Connecticut Health Network sources. (Bee Photo, Voket)
Local and state officials were on hand at recent grand opening festivities to learn about Western Connecticut Health Network's newest outpatient facility, Newtown Primary Care and Health Specialists - the latest addition to the so-called "medical mile" on Mt Pleasant Road. From left, WCHN Board Chairman Richard Jabara chats with local Economic Development Commissioner Robert Rau, Operations Administrator Michael W. Yonkers, and 106th District State Representative Mitch Bolinsky. (Jeffrey Scholl photo)
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