#79 - Better Doctor Visits for Patients with Disabilities


Patients with disabilities are often misdiagnosed and sent for diagnostic tests that can not be preformed. Operation House Call is a program that trains the medical field to better treat patients with special needs.

Operation House Call is part of the curriculum at the Yale School of Nursing, Boston University Medical School, UMass Medical School, Tufts University, and Simmons University. As of May, 2019 Operation House Call is available nationally for medical programs wishing to offer the training.

On the show today is the director of Operation House Call, Maura Sullivan. She is going to share with us the impact the program is having on medical students and nurses who are educated via the 5 components of the curriculum which include an orientation led by self advocates, website courses, a 2 hour immersive visit to the home of a family who has a member with an intellectual or developmental disability, a reflection stage, and feedback from the host family.

In addition to discussing operation house call, Maura shares pending legislation that could have a very positive impact on the medical care the disability community is receiving and she also gives us a few tips and tricks to make our next medical visit run smoothly. 

Mentioned in this Episode:

  • A lot of times kids are displaying behaviors as a response to a physical ailment and the focus is on the behavior rather than the cause.

  • OHC started in northeast and now is available nationally for replication. Anyone who thinks healthcare for individuals w disabilities is a problem can be the catalyst and take the OHC toolkit and bring it to medical schools in their area.

    For the best traction partner w an advocacy organization. This will make fundraising and supports available.

    Or start small. If you are you are solo. Start with a pilot program that trains just a handful of doctors. The best way to connect with a medical school is to find a family member who has someone they love with a disability. Utilizing the data and research is also helpful, including the outcomes from the reflection piece of past students who have gone through Operation House Call.

  • Maura offered a few suggestions to help our next doctor appointment run smoothly, including asking “What’s the time of day the doctor will be least rushed” when scheduling. For a list of additional tips, tricks, and resources click here.

  • The Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population (HEADs Up) Act of 2019 will provide a financial incentive for doctors to allow more time for individuals with I/DD and be financially compensated for that extra time.

  • Consider supporting Operation House Call with a donation and/or supporting legislation.

  • Operation House Call is a program of The Arc of Massachusetts. Learn more about the Arc of Mass from their website and social media feeds.

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