Get to Know Your AAHCM Leaders
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Get to Know K. Eric De Jonge, M.D.

 

Chief of Geriatrics, Capital Caring Health
Past President, American Academy of Home Care Medicine

Eric De Jonge, MD, serves as chief of geriatrics for Capital Caring Health. His main goal is to create skilled and affordable teams that help frail elders live with dignity at home. He now leads Primary Care at Home teams in Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and northern Virginia. From 1999–2019, he was director of geriatrics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Dr. De Jonge served as the 2017–2019 president of the American Academy of Home Care Medicine and co-chairs AAHCM’s Public Policy committee. AAHCM named Dr. De Jonge the National House Call Physician of the Year in 2003. In 2007, he helped develop and advocate for Independence at Home (IAH), a Medicare reform law that has advanced the field of home care medicine and reduced Medicare costs.

Dr. De Jonge grew up in Chicago, IL, and graduated with honors from Stanford University and Yale School of Medicine. He trained in primary care internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview and completed fellowships in health policy at Georgetown and in geriatrics at Johns Hopkins. He is on the teaching faculty of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Married to Dr. Melissa Turner, he has two children, Maya, 21, and Nathaniel, 20. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD.

What attracted you to the field of home care medicine?

I first made house calls as a 2nd-year medicine resident in Baltimore in 1992. I found that I could have more impact on a patient and family’s life with home visits than by caring for them in the hospital. Providing primary care at home offers the benefit of intimate knowledge and trust that leads to better clinical decisions and more dignity for the patient. I also realized that shifting care to the home had benefits of less harm to patients and reduced total costs of care for Medicare.   That opened up the potential for us to make major improvements in the U.S. health care system.

How has working in this field impacted your practice? What keeps you in the field?

Making house calls gives me insight into the daily struggles that ill and disabled elders and their families face. It informs my thinking about the need for teamwork, simplicity of therapy, and the priority of function and independence. I stay in the field due to the emotional rewards of helping ill elders and families in profound times of need, and the pleasure of working with a team of dedicated colleagues from all disciplines.

Why AAHCM?  What drives your involvement?

I joined AAHMC nearly 20 years ago to learn from experienced leaders in the field. I saw AAHCM as the primary driving force for policy and payment reform that has made the field more financially viable.    I admire the integrity and relentless passion that the Board and our members show at every step of clinical care and advocacy. I stay involved so we can build a foundation of new leaders and funding that brings home-based medical care to every community in need.

How did you start?  What advice can you offer to a person considering volunteering with AAHCM?

I started by simply joining the Academy and attending the Annual meeting each year. That led to service on the Public Policy committee and then on the Board. I’d suggest that new people find an area of interest and join a committee or participate on our Member forum discussion. And then definitely attend the Annual Meeting in Chicago on Oct. 25-27, to meet your fellow pioneers, feel inspired, and learn from each other.