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Geriatric Care Center helps patients foster independence

The Christ Hospital opened the region’s first geriatric primary care center this year and has been actively caring for patients for about four months now. At age 84, Camille Meyers became one of the Center’s first patients.

Prior to contracting double pneumonia in 2009, Camille had a fall in 2005 that placed her in a coma for 40 days. She required around the clock monitoring at a hospital and still utilizes rehabilitation and other services. Camille now lives with her daughter, Karen Meyers.

“When mom got double pneumonia, I became really worried about her health, so I contacted the Center when I found out it would be opening to see if they could assess her situation and provide us, and her primary care physician, with recommendations for further care,” said Karen.

The Center for Health and Aging cares for patients who are self-referred or referred to them by primary care providers with the goal of facilitating optimal health for everyone in a respectful environment, given the myriad of challenges faced by primary care practitioners, patients and the patient’s caregiver.

“Since my mother has had a 25-year relationship with her local primary care provider, we determined that it would be best for her to stick with her doctor who has provided excellent service. We are hoping there may be an opportunity for enhanced coordination of care at the Center for Health and Aging in the future.” 

Camille and Karen met with the comprehensive team of specialists at the Center for Health and Aging on April 8, 2010. Camille received a total assessment. An assessment integrates the skills of the team with patient and family input to develop a plan.

According to Karen, her mother’s team included a nurse practitioner, social worker and geriatrician. “By the time we got there, the entire team had already reviewed my mother’s medical records. They asked my mom what type of support she thought she needed. Then, they asked me if I had anything to add.”

Karen, who works in Medicare at a law practice and is a member of The Christ Hospital’s Family Advisory Committee, is certainly aware of the importance for older adults to maintain their independence and purpose as they age. She said, “My mom felt her opinion was valued throughout the process.”

Following the two-hour assessment, Camille and Karen left with a letter in hand from Jason Graff, M.D., the co-medical director of the Center, with the team’s recommendations. This included things like encouraging more exercise, suggesting times to take her prescription medications, diet revisions and ideas to care for her allergies.

“Cathy, the social worker, even provided mom with a list of potential programs to utilize. This list included everything from socializing, to where to exercise, to all types of home care services. It even had things on there I’ve never heard before which is amazing given the type of work I do and program to which our family is exposed.”

Karen suggests looking into Medicare as a way to cover assessment costs. “It all depends on how the doctor’s orders are written involving medical necessity, what policy a patient has and the supplement your policy provides.” She’s happy to report that her mother is doing well based on the recommendations of the Center for Health and Aging team and her mother’s assessment was entirely covered under Medicare. “The care for my mom couldn’t have been more seamless and her family and physicians were involved every step of the way.”

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