Norman Edward Vinn, DO ’77, MBA | Founders’ Day 2023
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Founders’ Day 2023

February 21, 2023

Norman Edward Vinn, DO ’77, MBA

The recipient of the O.J. Snyder Memorial Award revolutionized in-home care and coined a term in the process.

By Dan O’Connor

Norman Edward Vinn, DO ’77, MBAYou won’t find the word “residentialist” in the dictionary, but Norman Edward Vinn, DO ’77, MBA, coined the term to describe healthcare providers specially trained to provide clinical care to frail and vulnerable seniors and access-challenged patients in their homes.

“I was the first one to use the term more than 20 years ago,” says Dr. Vinn, who in 2002 founded the Residentialist Group (TRG) in San Clemente, California. TRG is a network of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants specialized in house calls for geriatric patients.

Leave it to a DO with a BA in English literature to find the perfect word to describe a model of care that puts a modern-day twist on the house call. But instead of the kindly doctor with a black bag visiting the feverish child at night, a residentialist renders technology-enabled in-home care to the high-risk, homebound patient.

“Our target population has always been the hidden, underserved population within our midst that suffers from a lack of primary care access to clinicians,” says Dr. Vinn.

“Just as hospitalists are specialists within the walls of the hospital, residentialists are specialists within the walls of the home,” says Dr. Vinn, adding that the goal of residentialist care is to improve access, provide continuity of care and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.

For his pioneering work, Dr. Vinn is the 2023 recipient of the O.J. Snyder Memorial Medal, PCOM’s most prestigious recognition, given to those who have made a significant contribution to the College and to the osteopathic profession.

A nudge from Dad

Dr. Vinn’s career in medicine almost never happened. After graduating with a degree in English literature from Tulane University in 1972, the native of Houston considered a career in the film industry. But Dr. Vinn’s father, Joseph Edward Vinn, DO ’41, urged him to consider a career path in osteopathic medicine. Dr. Vinn heeded his father’s advice, was accepted to several osteopathic medical schools and chose to attend PCOM like his father. “It was a source of pride to be able to follow in my father’s footsteps,” says Dr. Vinn.

Mid-career pivot

After many years in clinical practice, Dr. Vinn transitioned into practice management and leadership of physician organizations. In the late 1990s, Dr. Vinn was a key executive with a large managed care organization when he became interested in the emerging role that consumer-driven, personalized care would have in the healthcare delivery system.

Dr. Vinn envisioned the residentialist care concept as a disruptive innovation that not only could reduce hospitalizations and unnecessary costs, but could also offer seniors a more affordable alternative to long-term care facilities. As the model has refined over the years, residentialist care includes post-hospitalization care transition services to reduce readmission rates, ongoing chronic care for patients too frail or disabled to leave their homes, palliative care services and annual Medicare wellness visits.

A partner in PCOM

Dr. Vinn launched TRG in 2002 out of a room in his house with a staff of two: himself and his wife, Marsha. It wasn’t long before TRG was operating a network called Housecall Doctors Medical Group that provided on-site clinical services to more than 1,500 homebound elderly patients in Southern California.

As Dr. Vinn was thinking of expanding into other markets, PCOM entered the picture. In 2015, Dr. Vinn had what he describes as a “serendipitous” meeting with Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and chief executive officer. They discussed opportunities to collaborate to develop a Pennsylvania-based home care network. Dr. Feldstein viewed in-home geriatric care as complementary to the College’s goal to be a mission-oriented organization that’s sensitive to the needs of the elderly, and he suggested a partnership. The two organizations formed a Philadelphia-based joint venture rebranded as the Residentialist Housecall Medical Group (RHMG), with PCOM serving as a capital, strategic support and clinical partner.

Eight years after the founding of RHMG, faculty in PCOM’s Department of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine continue to offer guidance on clinical policy and protocols, as well as support contract development with regional accountable care organizations and managed care networks. In addition, clinicians in PCOM’s geriatrics program receive specialized training in the continuum of care of elderly persons as part of their postdoctoral fellowships.

The original TRG changed names and hands last March when Dr. Vinn sold the company to SCAN Health Plan, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans.

True to his roots

A board-certified family physician, Dr. Vinn serves as the current president of the American Academy of Home Care Medicine and was the president of the American Osteopathic Association from 2013 to 2014.

“I am committed to the culture and mission of the osteopathic profession and the aspiration that our students, residents and graduates remain engaged with this profession and utilize the osteopathic philosophy in their daily approach to patients and treatment decisions,” he says.

He and his wife have three daughters: Vanessa Vinn, DO, FACOI, an osteopathic internist and residentialist; Danielle Vinn, a special education teacher; and Lily Vinn, a healthcare marketing specialist.

William B. Swallow, DO ’79, MS/FM ’20, FACOFP; Captain, MC, USNR (ret.)

PCOM Alumni Association Certificate of Honor Recipient

William B. Swallow, DO '79, MS/FM '20, FACOFPFrom 2001 to 2005, William B. Swallow, DO ’79, MS/FM ’20, FACOFP; Captain, MC, USNR (ret.), served as assistant professor of family medicine and medical director of the Sullivan County Medical Center in Laporte, Pennsylvania. Under Dr. Swallow’s supervision, fourth-year DO students completed their month-long family practice clinical rotations at the clinic, located in an entirely rural community three hours outside Philadelphia in Northcentral Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains region.

“Sullivan County is as remote as can be, but that’s the value of it to a medical student who wants to learn rural family practice,” says Dr. Swallow. “We used to call it Fort Apache in Sullivan County. Everything and anything would come in. It empowered the students to think for themselves.”

Dr. Swallow has practiced osteopathic family medicine for 42 years. He served in the United States Naval Reserve and retired as a captain in the Medical Corps. He was a medical officer in Operation Desert Storm working in a medical ward and casualty receiving.

Dr. Swallow holds leadership positions in various medical organizations, including the Pennsylvania State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, of which he is chairman. He is a member of the executive committee of the board of trustees and vice president of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association. He is also a long-time member of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians. He is the past president of the PCOM Alumni Association.

In November 2022, Dr. Swallow was elected as the Alumni Representative member of the PCOM Board of Trustees and will serve in his role through 2025.

As a testament to his devotion and commitment to rural medicine, Dr. Swallow and his wife, Elizabeth J. Swallow, established the William and Elizabeth Swallow Endowed Fund for Rural Medicine at PCOM. The $500,000 fund is available to help with the travel and housing expenses of students who are completing rural medicine rotations.

A native Pennsylvanian, Dr. Swallow grew up in the Lehigh Valley. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Bucknell University and a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree and a master’s degree in forensic medicine from PCOM.

Dr. Swallow and his wife have three children: W. Jason Swallow; Jennifer R. Kauf, VMD; and Matthew J. Swallow. They reside in Pike County, Pennsylvania.

About Digest Magazine

Digest, the magazine for alumni and friends of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, is published by the Office of Marketing and Communications. The magazine reports on osteopathic and other professional trends of interest to alumni of the College’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and graduate programs at PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia.