- Published on Wednesday, 17 July 2013 01:30
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier Staff - Town Crier Report
El Camino Hospital’s Senior Health Center is designed to ensure access to fully integrated, comprehensive care so that seniors can remain healthy and independent as long as possible.
A new approach to senior care, the center, one of the first of its kind in Northern California, provides a “patient-centered medical home” to patients 65 and older, according to administrators.
Patrick Kearns, M.D., a longtime gerontologist and chronic-care expert, serves as the center’s medical director and was instrumental in its creation.
“It is estimated that by the year 2020, Santa Clara County’s population of adults over 65 will reach close to 300,000, nearly double what it is today, and these adults will be dealing with a wide array of chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Kearns said. “This makes it imperative to have this ‘patient-centered medical home’ model that offers a better way to help them manage their ongoing care.”
Kearns has worked with Silicon Valley’s aging population for three decades, as both a physician and an administrator at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. At Valley Med, he served in leadership roles in chronic-care management, diabetes care, inpatient management, clinical nutrition, primary care and intensive care. He also has served on numerous local and national initiatives and task forces in those areas.
The Senior Health Center’s multidisciplinary team provides integrated care under the direction of board-certified internists and geriatricians who work directly with patients’ current physicians to coordinate services at the center and in the community. Patients have the opportunity to select a primary-care physician, if they do not already have one, and are supported by a care team – a nurse coordinator, a nutritionist, a geriatric case worker, a pharmacist and other experts as needed.
Health-care management tools
The center supports patients with tools and techniques that help them stay involved in their health-care management. Among those tools is a secure, online patient portal tied to the patient’s medical record. The portal enables patients to communicate with their entire care team, access test results, schedule appointments and track their medical care.
Creating an extensive support network for older adults is an important piece of the medical home concept.
“One of the key differences with the Senior Health Center is that we provide comprehensive care to the patient through an extensive care team, focus on wellness and independence and spend the time needed with each patient and their caregivers necessary to improve health,” said Scott Farr, vice president of Continuum of Care, who works with Kearns. “Here, the patient comes first.”
With many physician practices full or unable to accept Medicare Part B Fee-for-Service patients, the center provides a primary-care alternative for individuals over the age of 65. Seniors do not have to be a current or prior patient at El Camino Hospital to use the center. They can self-refer or be referred by a physician who does not take Medicare Part B.
The center ensures that both the medical and psychosocial needs of the patient are met, according to administrators. Services include not only the diagnosis and treatment of an immediate illness or injury, but also future risk assessment wellness planning, disease-specific health education, nutritional assessment, medication counseling and functional/social/psychological assessments.
For example, pharmacists and dietitians look carefully at each senior’s prescription medications and monitor their diets. Caseworkers focus on finding out what sort of support the patient needs at home, and whether there are relatives helping with care. If transportation to and from home is needed, El Camino Hospital’s volunteer RoadRunners service is an option.
The center also assists patients in understanding various Medicare plan options. By talking with staff, seniors can evaluate all of the plan options and discuss additions such as prescription drug coverage and supplemental packages.
The Senior Health Center is located at Cedar Pavilion, 2660 Grant Road, Suite F, Mountain View. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 962-4360.