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      Health Check: Woman starts direct care practice in North Kingstown

      Dr. Lauren Hedde has opened a direct care practice in North Kingstown.

      Dr. Lauren Hedde is preparing for her day here at her new practice in North Kingstown.

      It's a new concept in our area. It came to her during her training at Memorial Hospital.

      "And sort of during that time I went through a lot trying to think about what I really wanted to do once I was in independent practice," she said.

      That's when she decided to she wanted to go old school, combining a micro practice with direct primary care.

      "So the micro-practice piece is the fact that I don't have a secretary sitting at the desk. I don't have a nurse checking people in. It's just me," Hedde said.

      Then there's the direct primary care component. She accepts no insurance. People pay a monthly fee between $50 and $100 based on age.

      The money includes office visits.

      "We can also do things over the phone or via secure email which is something a typical practice is not able to do because in order to be paid for seeing a patient, they have to bill the insurance company for a visit so it gives me more flexibility," she said.

      Hedde's office includes a room where she initially meets with patients. The meeting lasts often an hour or more. Then she has a procedure room where she may perform skin exams, full body exams, joint injections or skin procedures.

      Included in the monthly subscription fee are home visits.

      "I do home visits for all newborns in the first month of life and that's included in the membership fee. And for all patients, whenever they can't come in, they have the stomach flu, it doesn't make sense to come share it with the office. That sort of thing I'm able to come to their home and see them," Hedde said.

      Jim King just signed up two weeks ago and while he didn't require a home visit, he did want the opportunity to talk about the new practice.

      "It's not a replacement for insurance but one of the things to think about is you go to your regular doctor now, you check in. You see the receptionist then go over and make sure all your insurance is correct and you have a seat in the waiting room and when the doctor's available he take you. Really what we're doing here, when you have your appointment you go in and see your doctor right away," King said.

      Hedde's direct care practice has been open for a month and she already has 50 patients.

      "The interest in the practice has been really overwhelming. It's been great," she said.

      Hedded said she hopes to eventually enroll as many as 700 patients, no more. She wants to keep her practice manageable and patient-centered.