The invention of the wheel dates back to 3500 BC, but that simple design is the principal ingredient of a vital tool used in transporting urgent care patients from the J. Edwin Wood Clinic to and from PAH. 

The trip between the Wood Clinic at 700 Spruce Street and the nation’s first hospital across the street is necessary for hundreds of patients annually. Many of the patients are unable to walk there, making a newly purchased, heavy duty wheelchair a necessity for those seeking that extension of care.  

Shown here are staff members of the J. Edwin Wood Clinic at PAH, with their new patient wheel chair.

Deborah Sinni, the senior practice manager who oversees operations at the Penn Medicine Clinical Care Associates (CCA) at PAH clinic, is continuously seeking new ways to improve care and obtain much needed funding.

Part of Sinni’s passion is demonstrated in the form of securing two Penn Medicine CAREs grants, one given late last year for glucometers, diabetic foot sensors, pill boxes, and other supplies and another grant this month for a new, much needed, heavy duty wheelchair.

“The previous grant paid for some of the simple things that really make a difference in our patients’ lives,” said Sinni. “We are unable to rely on some of our patients to go home, obtain the items and understand how to use them most effectively. Instead, we are able to have them here and teach those individuals on proper use.”

For Wood Clinic’s wide range of acute/urgent care patients needing additional treatment, the new wheelchair upgrade ensures a safer trip.

The Wood Clinic, which includes dermatology and HIV care, accepts Medicaid and Medicare, and assists uninsured patients in obtaining coverage if they may be eligible.

“What makes the Wood Clinic special is the commitment, drive, and enthusiasm expressed by the attending physicians, medical residents/students, and staff – all focused on providing the very best care for patients,” said Sinni.  

The J. Edwin Wood Clinic’smission is focused on providing access to quality care to a diverse patient population, including economically challenged patients, the elderly, patients with HIV/AIDS, and other special needs,” said Ami Joshi, DO, medical director.  “These patients have multiple medical conditions that may unfortunately lead to the need for emergent care in the hospital.”

The collective efforts of the clinic, bolstered by 36 medical residents training there as part of Pennsylvania Hospital’s three-year medical residency program, are frequently recognized with numerous awards; including level 3 status from the National Committee on Quality Assurance for its patient-centered medical home coordinated care management, and recognition from Penn Medicine’s Clinical Effectiveness and Quality Improvement department.

While one grant supports care at the Clinic, the second facilitates transportation for those needing more help at PAH.

Two people escort the patients to the hospital, usually a staff member and a CPR-trained medical assistant with a cell phone. The clinic transports dozens of patients each year, many of whom are unable to walk to the hospital on their own.

The clinic’s internal medicine providers, Ami Joshi, DO, medical director; Edward H. Wu, MD, associate director; Dennis C. Policastro, MD, Internal Medicine Residency Program director; Terese Hetherington, CRNP; and Mary Lettuierik CRNP, see the new chair as an upgrade that helps ensure the clinic’s mission is carried out every day.

“In normal weather, as well as in cold, heat, rain, or snow, some patients may need assistance making what we perceive as a short trip to Pennsylvania Hospital, but to them is another difficult trip,” said Wu. “By having a wheelchair present in the clinic, our staff no longer needs to try to locate a wheelchair.”

Beyond being more convenient for the staff, service to patients is the primary motivation for the wheelchair change.

“Through the generosity of Penn Medicine CAREs, our patients will be immediately transported to the hospital and receive the care they need,” said Wu.    

-  By Greg Richter

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