This Doctor Makes House Calls

This Doctor Makes House Calls

July 18, 2002

Robert Posner, M.D., says he didn’t invent a serotonin supplement or write his book, "Doctor, I Have a Chemical Imbalance," for the money, but rather to help the patients who came in and "suddenly started crying.”

Posner, who lives in Fairfax Station, said that as a Navy doctor he saw patients “get lost” in the military’s huge health-care system. His unconventional practice includes making house calls, battling insurance companies, and community involvement. “We’re the community practice,” said Posner, and said that many practices opened by hospitals fail because the doctors don’t feel “bonded” with their community.

HOUSE CALLS save very ill patients a lot of “aggravation,” said Posner, who practices in Burke.

Patients agree. Lee Kara, home after a recent hospitalization, “greatly appreciated” Posner’s house call. Kara said she didn’t know one other doctor that made house calls. The American Medical Association did not have statistics available on the number of doctors who make house calls.

“I credit him for saving my life,” said Rick Ostler, who said Posner "prodded" him into going for tests that revealed he had kidney cancer.

Posner and his partner Victoria Currall fund high-school sports teams and host students completing “clerkships,” time spent in a doctor’s office. During last year’s flu shot shortage, they held a health fair, donating proceeds to the National Capital Area’s Survivors Fund for victims of Sept. 11.

MANAGED CARE has “ruined” the relationship between doctors and patients, said Posner. He won't accept insurance, but helps patients file claims. He also gives Medicare patients a 20-percent discount on fees as well as free samples of medication.

He said that insurance companies pressure doctors to write cheaper prescriptions, force doctors to hire extra personnel to process paperwork, and have reduced participating doctors’ salaries, causing them to take on too many patients.

Dr. Harold Bondy, who practices in Arlington and still accepts insurance, said it takes “two people for every doctor” to handle paperwork. Bondy said patients are forced to travel to labs and hospitals that have contracts with the patient’s insurance company for particular procedures. “More and more physicians are dropping insurance,” said Bondy.

POSNER CREATED his supplement, Serotab, which is available without a prescription, after realizing that many patients refused to seek treatment for depression due to the “social stigma.”

There are several types of antidepressants. Some, such as Prozac, act as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which work indirectly to maintain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Posner financed several studies on Serotab's safety and effectiveness, unlike what is done for most supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA, said Posner.

“Many of my patients have been looking for a natural solution to their mood problems,” said Dr. Mary Jo Palmer, who as a chiropractor does not prescribe drugs.

Posner's self-published book explains chemical imbalances and documents studies for both mainstream and naturopathic treatments for such imbalances. It is available at Posner’s office and at the Trovershop bookstores in Washington, D.C. at 221 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E. (202-547-2665) and at 1031 Connecticut Ave. N.W. (202-659-8138).