Adults age 65 and older are the fastest growing population in our nation. Nearly 20 percent of Americans are expected to be in this age group by the year 2030.
Research shows that too often, symptoms of treatable conditions are dismissed as part of aging. For example, temporary memory loss can be caused by a thyroid condition,B12 deficiency, infections or depression. Delirium can be caused by medication side effects, which may go unnoticed.
At the same time, common syndromes in aging, such as depression, malnutrition and functional instability can go unrecognized and unaddressed. Furthermore, care for older adults with multiple conditions often is fragmented, when coordinated care would provide better outcomes for them.
Baptist Health is taking a proactive approach to helping people in our community maintain their quality of life as they grow older, by forming the AgeWell Institute of Baptist Health.
The goal of the AgeWell Institute of Baptist Health is to maintain older adults’ functionality and independence through care provided by physicians and staff with specific experience in gerontology – the physical, cognitive and social issues that impact the lives of older adults.
“We’re transforming the culture of ourorganization and the way we deliver services to ensure our care is sensitive to, and centered on, the specific needs of older adults,” said A. Hugh Greene, president and chief executive officer, Baptist Health.
Baptist Health was recognized as Best in our Region for geriatric care by U.S.News & World Report, and the AgeWell Institute of Baptist Health deepens this commitment to older adults and extends far beyond the usual support groups, clubs and amenities that community hospitals typically offer older adults.
As the only comprehensive geriatric program in our region, the AgeWell Institute of Baptist Health will provide programs tailored specifically to the unique needs of older adults, such as frailty due to an unexplained decline in health, bladder health, memory disorders and mobility and balance. The institute will offer complementary services to enhance, in partnership with physicians in Northeast Florida, care to older members of the community.
Shikha Iyengar, MPH, NHA, who joined Baptist Health in early 2011 as executive director, Senior Services, is helping Baptist Health to establish the programs and services within the AgeWell Institute. She was part of a team that developed the nationally-regarded Aging Institute for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
TheAgeWell Institute of Baptist Health will be a comprehensive program, designed to:
- Enhance access to proactive and preventive health care for older adults.
- Provide innovative, evidence-based clinical programs to improve patients’ quality of care and quality of life across the continuum.
- Establish partnerships with care providers and organizations serving older adults, improving coordination and utilizing resources to provide cost-effective programs that help older adults age well in their place of residence.
- Develop and enhance partnerships with educational institutions to establish clinical training programs in aging for healthcare professionals.
- Establish programs to support informal caregivers with education and stress reduction methods.
- Participate in clinical research, partnering with organizations involved in clinical, biomedical and telemedicine research to enhance functionality and independence and to promote older adults’ ability to age well in their own communities.
As one of the first services under the AgeWell Institute umbrella, the AgeWell Senior Emergency Center opens in early fall within the Emergency Department at Baptist Medical Center Downtown. The first of its kind in our region, the AgeWellSenior Emergency Center has an environment designed to make the older patient as safe and comfortable as possible.
- Six rooms with features such as non-skid floors, brighter lighting, a quieter environment, speakers embedded in the pillows, larger TVs and clocks, recliners and magnifying glasses to aid in reading.
- Services of a board-certified geriatrician specifically trained to care for the healthcare needs of the older patient.
- Evaluation by a pharmacist of all medications for possible interactions and appropriateness
- Services of a certified social worker to provide effective transition of care upon discharge.
From the Emergency Department through discharge and the transition to community-based care, Baptist Health staff will provide coordination of appropriate services.
AgeWell Senior Health Center
In early 2012, an outpatient geriatric assessment and treatment center will open to serve as a resource not only to patients and caregivers, but also to referring physicians whose patients could benefit from a multi-specialty assessment and care plan.
TheAgeWell Senior Health Center will be located in the Aetna Building in the San Marco area of Jacksonville. With staff trained in gerontology, the center will offer primary care to older adults with complex care needs by co-managing care with their primary care physicians or, upon mutual agreement, by transferring the patient’s care to the Center.
The goal is to keep patients as independent as possible by using evidenced-based approaches to assess physical, mental, and social functionality of older adults and developing individualized care plans created and supported by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, and a nutritionist. The center will serve as a resource to referring physicians whose patients could benefit from a multi-specialty assessment and coordinated care plan.
For example, a patient’s functional decline may be associated with taking multiple medications, but the patients’ various physicians may not each have all the information about the many medications that the patient is taking. The center will apply an interdisciplinary approach to gather as much information as possible, determine the root cause of the issue, and develop a care plan. Patients struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, bladder control, osteoporosis, or memory loss can be assessed and provided with individualized plans to improve their health and well-being.
A rehabilitation program will help assess a patient’s ability to perform daily activities using many tools, including a mock apartment constructed within the AgeWell Senior Health Center.
Richard Glock, MD, a well-known specialist in caring for older adults in our community, is the physician adviser for the founding of the AgeWell Institute at Baptist Health. Dr. Glock will be instrumental in recruiting a board-certified, fellowship-trained gerontologist to serve as the medical director of AgeWell Institute.Dr. Glock is an internist who is board-certified in geriatric medicine.
“I am excited about Baptist AgeWell Institute because I am very aware of the need and the potential benefits for our community,” Dr. Glock said. “Roughly half of my patients are older adults, so I know how important it is to provide comprehensive medical and support services that enable healthy, independent living well into the 80s and 90s, if possible.”