Convenient, coordinated care puts residents in charge of their health
A 2019 study by Stanford Medicine found greater access to primary care was directly related to a longer life expectancy. Patients who maintain a primary care physician are more likely to practice healthy habits such as filling prescriptions, managing chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and undergo routine preventive care such as cancer screenings, than those adults without a primary care physician.
For residents of Charlestown, a senior living community developed and managed by Erickson Living in located in Catonsville, Maryland, having a physician-staffed medical center just a few steps from their front door makes accessing primary care easier than ever.
Part of Erickson Health Medical Group (EHMG), the largest and most completely integrated health and wellness system in the country, Charlestown's medical center is designed specifically to meet the needs of seniors, offering a distinct level of geriatric expertise whether they need an in-person visit at the onsite medical center, a telehealth appointment, or even an old-fashioned house call.
"One of the biggest benefits of having a medical center on campus is convenience," said Dean Crawford, practice administrator at Charlestown's medical center. "It's like having your doctor live right in your home."
The medical center employs four full-time primary care physicians, three nurse practitioners, a mental health clinician, a podiatrist, and social worker.
"We have visiting specialties like cardiology, dermatology, orthopedics, audiology, and dentistry, who work in partnership with the primary care doctors in what we call integrated care coordination," continues Crawford. "Residents also have access to our portable X-ray lab and can have routine blood work performed. All the bases are covered."
Because physicians at Charlestown only treat community members, they are able to offer full 30-minute, often same-day appointments to their patients. This dedication and commitment to treating and developing a relationship with patients extends throughout the practice.
"The medical center has proved to be a game-changer in maintaining resident's health," said Crawford. "Our medical director has been here for 25 years. Having someone with that vast knowledge and experience is a feather in our cap."
Most people move to Erickson Living communities like Charlestown because everything they need is in one location, including their medical team of physicians and nurses. There is comfort in knowing a doctor is available right down the hall. Currently, 88% of Charlestown residents use the on-site medical center. However, residents who prefer to keep their longtime doctor outside of Charlestown are invited to take part in the community's Care Path program, which enables them to keep their doctor while also using the onsite medical center for acute visits.
"We have a gerontologist outside of Charlestown that we have been going to for 20 years so we use the Care Path program," says Maria "Merci" Izquierdo-Whitaker, chair of the Charlestown Residents' Council Health Committee, which promotes the health and well-being of the residents of Charlestown by consulting and collaborating with the health care staff. "It's terrific for the people who don't already have a primary doctor. They are very caring and they explain everything."
The medical center utilizes electronic medical records to accurately document appointments and medical or prescription needs. The electronic medical records improve communication between doctors, provide the capacity for drug interaction checks, and prevent mistakes.
Residents of Charlestown also have access to advanced levels of care on-site including assisted living, long-term nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and memory care.
In addition to meeting Charlestown resident's medical needs, the community offers a lifestyle centered around health and wellness, including on-staff experts at the state-of-the-art fitness center, nutritious menu options in the campus restaurants, and a safe environment that includes emergency pull cords in all apartments and 24-hour security.
"Residents and their families find great value and peace of mind in knowing that our full-time doctors, who are among the best in the retirement health care industry, are right on-site and available whenever needed, noted Erickson Living's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Matt Narrett.
"There is no doubt, our integrated health and wellness system is unmatched in the senior living industry and our communities have a culture of wellness where opportunities for healthy living abound."
Photo Caption: Dr. Ming Yi conducts a telehealth appointment with a Charlestown resident from the community's on-site medical center, which provides convenient, coordinated care to help residents live healthier lives.