Another patient questions Direct Care

Another patient questions Direct Care

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"I can't see how he can get away with it really," Tammy Thomas said. "I can't see how he can get away with it really," Tammy Thomas said.

Tammy Thomas, of Clinton, a paying member of Direct Care says she quickly lost faith in the company.

Tammy is a Direct Care patient and member. As an uninsured person, she signed up for the company's $79 a month essentials plan which covers office visits for such things as an annual physical, X-rays and lab work among other procedures.

When Tammy needed blood work for some testing, she went to the office in West Knoxville. She says the registered medical assistant there tried to draw her blood.

"She couldn't do it so she called C.J. in and he did it. I don't know how he did it, but he saw the vein and drew the blood," Tammy said. She identified the man as C.J. Robinette, the membership director.

Tammy says she believed Robinette was a doctor. "Where was the physicians assistant at the time?" I asked. "I didn't see her," Tammy said.

Brian Reischman says Direct Care offers a full array of primary care services, but our investigation discovered several inconsistencies.

"We have a medical doctor," Reischman said. "We also have a medical assistant. We also have a radiology tech."

"Who is your medical doctor?" I asked. Reischman said, "Kevin Stanson. He oversees the physicians assistants.

However, the company's website does not include a picture of a medical doctor or a radiology technician.

The company's former registered medical assistant, Kim, was dismissed in March.

Kim is familiar with the office. "If I were to come in when a physician is there, would I have a chance of having an X-ray?" I asked. "No," Kim said.

"There's no X-ray machine?" I asked. "No," Kim said.

"How about an MRI?" I asked. "No," Kim said.

In another contradiction, Brian Reischman says Direct Care offers high quality primary care service, and a major medical wrap-around policy is also available.

"We sometimes will suggest Samaritan Ministries, another flat rate care for major medical, not insurance," Reischman said.

On the company's website, Samaritan Ministries is mentioned as a major medical option. However, when 6 News contacted the ministries director, he had never heard of Direct Care. Samaritan Ministries is an outreach to people with HIV and AIDS.

"I can't see how he can get away with it really," Tammy said.

She has questions about an invoice from Direct Care. Reischman writes that the company cannot automatically withdraw her monthly fee at this time as planned.

So would she write her check payable to Brian Reischman instead? "It should say payable to Direct Care," I said. "Correct, correct," Tammy agreed.

"Say I broke my arm and needed a splint, he'd provide that," said Ashley Martinez, a Direct Care patient who believed she had joined a full service medical office with a doctor available any time.

But it didn't turn out that way. Ashley was sent to a second doctor's office for treatment of a sinus infection.

6 News asked Reischman how his office operates. "You can get care, depending on which day it was, and where our doctor will be that day," he said.

Can Direct Care be called a full service family practice as it advertises? Our investigation shows it's doubtful.

Can this company continue to operate? We don't know.

What we do know is that Direct Care is behind in its rent, hasn't kept up with its financial obligations including payments to key employees, and patients have raised troubling questions.

In a response late Thursday, Brian Reischman said he's "sorry if any patient of Direct Care has been dissatisfied with services provided under their contract."

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