St Lukes Quakertown Physicians Work Together
St. Luke’s Quakertown Physicians Work Together to Extend Hours, Focus on Improving Access to Family Medicine
Thomas Filipowicz, MD
Joseph O’Neill, DO
Thomas Filipowicz, MD, the leader of the St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital Medical Staff, uses simple terms to summarize what it takes to be a good doctor: Be affable, available, and able.
Although the St. Luke’s family medicine physicians of Upper Bucks County fit that description, recently they have been focused on the availability portion of the equation, says family medicine physician Joseph O’Neill, DO. Building on a long history of mutual support, the family medicine physicians are working together to improve access to primary care services beyond the traditional 9-to-5 workday.
“Today, physician practices have to operate more like retail businesses,” says Dr. O’Neill. “People shouldn’t have to take a day off of work just to see their physician or get a physical. All of the St. Luke’s Physician Group practices affiliated with the Quakertown Hospital have extended their hours to evenings and Saturdays.”
The strong collegial relationship enjoyed by the physicians affiliated with Quakertown Hospital has developed over many years. In fact, Dr. O’Neill, who has been practicing for 23 years, said he started at St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital the same day as family medicine physicians Joann Burke, DO, and John Berdini, MD.
“We all grew up together,” he says. “We’ve been covering for one another for years.” Although this has helped the group to remain close and stay connected to their patients, it’s important to plan and bring in new qualified doctors so that future generations have access to the quality medical care they need.
“This is one of the reasons St. Luke’s decided to open a medical school. We hope that through their time here, the medical students will acquire an appreciation for what it’s like to practice in the Lehigh Valley and Bucks County communities and decide to stay here.”
Another way family medicine practices have improved access to care is through the use of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. For example, Nurse Practitioner Vanessa Pasch joined Dr. O’Neill at Palisades Family Practice in Ottsville. “Nurse practitioners have a philosophy of teaching that entails taking the time to teach patients in simple terms what is involved in managing their illnesses,” he says.
This spirit of supportive collaboration extends to the Quakertown Hospital Administration, Dr. O’Neill added. In fact, when a practice is closed and a patient has an urgent need, the physician can opt to meet the patient in the hospital Emergency Room (ER). In such cases, the patients are charged for an office visit, rather than for an ER visit.