By: Ashley Waitkus | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: January 2019
On January 2, 2018, Grassroots Healthcare family medical practice in Tulsa, opened its newly expanded medical office building to patients on 7901 S. Sheridan Rd. in Tulsa. Their new office location features 3,100 square feet, 11 exam rooms, spacious waiting area and check-in station.
Since 2011, Dr. Melita Tate has practiced medicine at Grassroots Healthcare in a way that clears away the impersonal paperwork and bureaucracy that characterizes most physician’s offices.
The medical practice is best described as a small town clinic tucked amongst the restaurants and businesses of south Tulsa. Dr. Tate and her staff treat a wide spectrum of medical conditions ranging from stitches to high blood pressure, urgent care to chronic illness. The office is quiet, private and welcoming – qualities seldom experienced in the typical medical environment.
Dr. Tate’s exam rooms are busier than ever and her practice growth initiated her recent relocation. One reason for the growing roster of satisfied patients is Dr. Tate’s high quality, pragmatic approach to medicine. Another reason is the simple business model of the clinic: Grassroots Healthcare does not accept insurance. Instead, they developed both direct care based and visit care-based programs for patients. Patients who choose to utilize the direct care based program pay a monthly membership fee for services. Visit based care patients pay per visit. Either option allows for more affordable visits and wholesale lab costs.
Avoiding insurance and Medicare altogether enables Dr. Tate and staff to focus on patients and keep costs as low as possible. “We do have patients who are insured,” Dr. Tate notes, “but often, they have high deductibles or co-pays that make it difficult to go to a big hospital.” Patients find it refreshing to know exactly what they will be charged for medical services. The common sense process means patients are more informed about their medical care and less stressed about making payments.
One of her favorite aspects of having eliminated third parties from her practice is that the "doctor and patient can decide together" about the best treatment options. They are not limited by what an insurance company will approve. The flexibility allows patients to focus on wellness using medical and holistic treatments. Both insured and uninsured patients benefit. The services were specifically designed to "fill the gap for individuals and families who can't afford high premiums" says Dr. Tate. Staff is available to help insured patients with the necessary paperwork to get reimbursed for expenses.
In fact, lowering stress is a concern Dr. Tate has been emphasizing with her patients, as well as other characteristics of a more holistic approach to medicine. More than ever, Americans are grappling with health concerns related to stress, depression, anxiety, and obesity. Unfortunately, these are issues that don’t necessarily get better with more medication. Considering side effects can undermine health as much as the original symptoms for which medicine was prescribed; the entire approach begs the question. “We try to focus on helping patients get off medication and establish a healthy lifestyle,” explains Dr. Tate. After all, if a person can overcome depression, obesity or high blood pressure without medication, isn’t this the best approach?
Dr. Tate's dedication to improving the quality of care and ensuring patients are seen promptly didn't go unnoticed. It started catching the attention of other locally owned businesses. Many of the small companies were unable to provide health insurance for their workers. Once again, Dr. Tate found a way to meet the need. The clinic offers discounts for companies to sign up their employees. Companies see the $50 per month for employee and spouse and $10 per child plans as an excellent investment in their staff. The program covers on the job injuries in addition to regular care. Enrollment also provides "direct access to your provider 24/7." The level of care and pre-disclosed pricing sets the practice apart from traditional doctors offices. "Companies and patients appreciate how we are transparent. It removes the fear because they already know the fees before they get the bill" Dr. Tate shared. Many physicians are unable to schedule appointments quickly due to the volume of patients they see. As a result, patients often pay for expensive urgent care visits. Dr. Tate eliminated these traditional obstacles to care. Business owners recognize healthy employees are productive employees. Providing easy access to healthcare helps employers take care of their teams. Grassroots offers the perfect solution. Before signing up, companies can meet with Dr. Tate to learn about their options.
Ashley Waitkus is a former mental health counselor and minister who has served in high trauma, high crisis environments for over 12 years. She has a Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy; her passions include helping people heal, bringing others into a relationship with Christ, and attending festivals with her daughter.
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