Spirit of Alabama: Modern-day doctor makes old-fashioned house calls
TUSCALOOSA – Dr. Regina Harrell comes to work, not in a doctor’s office, or hospital, or clinic, but instead to the assisted living facility where Jeanette Gibson, age 86, counts on her care. Doctor Harrell is a modern-day doctor who makes old-fashioned house calls.
“Well, it fills a need in the community. There wasn’t anyone else doing house calls when I moved to Tuscaloosa. There weren’t any other doctors going to assisted living to do rounds,” Harrell said.
Harrell first met the Gibson family while taking care of Mrs. Gibson’s mother.
“It’s really special to me because I had a need at that time 12 years ago that Dr. Harrell filled. It was very special to me,” said Gibson.
She stays busy. After she checked on Mrs. Gibson, she was off to a home visit. It is another opportunity for personal care.
“Well, an office is a little bit boring cause everything looks the same. This is so much more fun. You get to know the patients better. If you’re at their house they can’t hide things from you. I can tell if you haven’t used your bathtub in a month and if there’s fresh food in the refrigerator or what your pillboxes look like,” Harrell said.
A doctor who makes house calls is an answer to prayer for the family of 91-year-old Ardeenia Monroe. Mrs. Monroe is bed-ridden and doesn’t always recognize Dr. Harrell but from time to time she smiles from the doctor’s presence and touch. It’s a difficult time made easier by face-to-face, in-person care, especially now.
“Even yesterday, in sharing the point at where Mother is in the transition process, Dr. Harrell did it in such a way to take the edge off and still be real and that was very important. That went a long way with me” said Monroe’s daughter, Pattie.
Like all good doctors, Harrell provides excellent care for her patients. Home visits can be more personal lending to building better relationships. That often means you share happy times and sometimes you mourn with families too.
“That’s how I do it. Those are my people. They’re mine. Once they’re my patient I have a personal responsibility to treat them as I would family and take care of them best as I can cause that’s what God called me to do” Harrell said.
So Harrell keeps serving families where they live. She’s a doctor, a friend. And she can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I think everyone’s career is a calling and if you don’t feel called to do it you may not be doing the right thing,” she said. “And I feel very much called to do this. It’s meeting a need. It’s very fulfilling for me. I get to hold someone’s hand until Jesus comes to grab their hand and takes them home, and that’s an honor.”
Doctor Regina Harrell. Making house calls and making a difference with every visit. That’s the Spirit of Alabama.