El Paso physician is family’s guide through complex health-care system

came back when people began to realize that the health-care system, as we have it, is very fragmented and very expensive.

“You have this system that is very complex, even for us, the professionals, to navigate,” she said. “You can only imagine what it’s like for the patient.”

The patient-centered medical home concept puts emphasis on communication between doctor and patient, and the doctor coordinates the care the patient receives from specialists.

“It makes a lot of sense,” Nnebe said. “It’s something that improves the experience for the patient, and it’s something that improves the outcome in a cost-efficient manner.”

The patient-centered medical home care concept is growing, especially as government programs and private insurers increasingly focus on ways to boost quality while reducing cost.

“I had gone to other doctors, and I didn’t feel a connection with anyone of them,” Bell said. “(Nnebe’s) made it very stress free, very relaxing. She is a doctor I can rely on and talk to for anything that I need help in.”

Bell’s children — Brittany Montelongo, 15; Destiny Sandoval, 12; and Jared Bell, 6 — started seeing Nnebe three years ago.

“For the longest time, I was part of that traditional health-care system,” Bell said. “This way seems to be more supporting, more caring towards the children, their health and well-being. My kids feel really comfortable here.”

Bell said she and her children have established a real bond with Nnebe and her staff.

“You don’t want your kids going to a doctor they don’t like going to,” she said. “Sometimes they are afraid to tell doctors certain things. With my kids, they speak to Dr. Nnebe like she is part of the family, that’s how comfortable they are with her. They are not shy about talking to her.”

Nnebe’s role in coordinating medical care for the children is particularly important, Bell said.

Among other problems, “Destiny has ADHD É Jared has had respiratory issues, ADHD, speech delay and hearing problems,” Bell said. “Dr. Nnebe has taken care of everything.”

She coordinates the care they receive from specialists, including making appointments and checking lab results.

“She takes everything into consideration when picking a specialist,” Bell said. “She considers our insurance, where we live, were the kids go to school — everything. It like a big puzzle that she puts together. She even calls to make sure the kids are OK.”

Nnebe, who has been a doctor for 18 years, has been using the patient-centered medical home concept for six years.

“It’s like a one-stop medical center,” said Nnebe, who previously worked at the Staten Island University Hospital before coming to El Paso three years ago. “When a patient has to deal with more than a PCP (primary care provider), he needs somebody to organize all the aspects. With the patient-centered medical home concept, you have a physician who is the gatekeeper of the care of the child.”

Nnebe said it saves the patient time and money.

“In Jared’s case, he required a pulmonologist,” she said. “We have expedited relationships with qualified professionals. Many times, families would not know where to start. They would go knocking on doors, and maybe they would be knocking on the wrong doors and wasting money.”

Nnebe acknowledges that some patients — and doctors — could find this type of health care oppressive.

“There is an increasing responsibility on the part of the patient and the family to take responsibility for their medical care, and not everyone is willing to do that,” she said.

“Education is key. Once someone is well informed, they will almost always make the right decision.”

What makes a ‘medical home’The patient-centered medical home concept is a relationship-based approach to health care in which an emphasis is placed on the communication between doctor and patient, and the doctor coordinates the care the patient receives from specialists.According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, a “medical home” has five functions and attributes:

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