For Mike Michotek, M.D., it’s all about helping the people.
After his departure from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in October as a primary-care doctor, Michotek saw a need on the Island that he knew he could fill, and began his own house call service for Islanders.
Harkening back to the old days when doctors visited patients in their homes to treat them, Michotek said his service, which he started in November, is geared toward people with chronic and complicated medical problems.
“This is for those patients who want to see the same provider every time,” he said. “Not just who’s available, which is important for continuity of care, especially in the aging population.”
Many Islanders have been vocal in their support of Michotek. Two separate Facebook posts on the Islanders Talk page, one announcing his departure from the hospital and another sharing his emerging home care service, have garnered a combined 380 comments and 240 reactions, with many people excited that Michotek decided to stay and continue to practice medicine on the Island.
He’s gotten a great response from his new house call patients, who can’t remember the last time they had a doctor see them at their home. He recently had his hundredth house call, and estimates he has 300 to 400 patients. He spends his days driving around the Island seeing three, four — as many as seven — patients a day.
Michotek told The Times he put in a six-month notice at the hospital in August, but declined to provide further details of his departure, preferring to keep the focus on his new house call service.
Medicine has never been about money for Michotek. He said the main reason he started his service is because he wants to help those who need it. After leaving the hospital, Michotek decided he wanted to stay on the Island and continue doing what he loves on the Island he loves.
“This isn’t a lucrative business,” he said. “I want to give a little bit more back than what I’ve received through the years. I’ve been blessed to be a physician for 35 years, and have had very good patient satisfaction, and I love what I do and I’d like to work as long as I can.”
Michotek’s long career in medicine has seen him in hospitals and even his own private practice, but this is the first time he has operated a house call service. When he came to the Island two years ago, he said, he “fell in love with the place.”
“I’ve always liked taking care of the elderly,” Michotek said. “I really want to take care of those people who need help and have medical problems.”
His service is a straightforward kind of care. Patients give him a call, set up an appointment, and he comes to treat them. He is on Physician Gateway, which allows him to monitor his patients through a secure Internet portal, and patients can still get their tests, x-rays, and CT scans at the hospital. He takes any combination of Medicare, but does not take insurances that involve HMOs because his service is strictly for house calls. Some of his patients see him at their home, but also continue to see their doctor at the hospital.
According to Michotek, there are several advantages to his house call service: 24/7 availability, seeing the same physician for each appointment, giving patients another option for their medical care, and continuity of care. When patients see him, they see only him, and can build a strong patient-doctor relationship.
As far as Michotek knows, he is the only house call service doctor on the Island, and he’s running it by himself. He sets appointments, sees patients, and sends them bills. Now that he’s settling in to a steady flow of patients, he sees the prospect of an assistant on the horizon — or at least someone to map out an orderly route so he doesn’t have his first patient of the day in Aquinnah and the second patient in Edgartown.
Michotek wants people and patients to know he is here to stay as long as he can make ends meet and find a place to live. He’s renting a place in West Tisbury, but — like many Islanders — is looking for a year-round rental.
“I don’t take it lightly that people entrust their care to me,” he said. “When you love it, it’s easy. I always look forward to getting up and seeing patients.”
Michotek also sees his service as a way to help not just his patients, but many others on the Island. He likes to teach, and is open to precepting, which is when a student or someone interested in going to medical school shadows a trained healthcare professional.
What Michotek really wants to do is give back to the Island that has given him so much. Helping the elderly population is his way of giving back. “There’s all sorts of things that inhibit the elderly from seeking care: They can’t hear right, they don’t want to bother their neighbor, they don’t want to bother their family, they have no support, they have no ride. So I’m looking forward to it,” Michotek said. “I just love what I do. How blessed can you be? You know, get paid to help people?”