EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

December 15, 2012

Northampton physician offers house calls by bike

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — After 17 years working in hospital emergency rooms, physician Jill Griffin tuned up her bicycle and launched a new venture she’s calling PedalMed.

Griffin, 53, started cycling around the area earlier this month offering “health coaching” house calls to people with chronic diseases and other health issues. With realistic goals and encouragement, she thinks she can get them healthy at home, and keep them out of the ER.

She has been health coaching for two years, both by phone and at an office at 41 Locust St., ever since she realized that the health care system in the United States is “broken” because it does not support preventive care.

“Instead of focusing on medical care, which is what our system does, we should be focusing on getting healthy,” she said.

The pedaling part of the business will help her keep control of her own disease, type 2 diabetes.

“I said if I’m going to get healthy and take care of my own diabetes, I’ve got to get more active,” Griffin recalled. She found a free bicycle trailer on the side of the road, outfitted it with a PedalMed sign and loaded on a few medical supplies, and she was ready to hit the road.

Northampton City Clerk Wendy Mazza said PedalMed is the first business she has registered that does medical house calls by bicycle. Other businesses relying on bicycles for transportation include Pedal People, a Northampton business that transports everything from trash to furniture, and Halo Bike Couriers in Hadley, which delivers packages and paperwork and offers postering services.

After visiting five clients in her first two days of health coaching house calls, Griffin said she knew she made the right decision in starting the business.

“I go home every day excited,” she said.

Griffin said working in emergency rooms gave her a unique perspective into the health care system.

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