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When it comes to geriatricians, Erickson Living doctors have the edge

Created date

January 25th, 2011

The nation s aging population is growing rapidly. By 2030, the number of adults age 65 and older will nearly double to 70 million. Americans are living longer and people can now live for many years with multiple chronic illnesses. Twenty percent of the current Medicare population has at least five chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. Who can provide the best medical care to this growing population? According to the American Geriatric Society (AGS), geriatricians are the experts in this field. They are initially trained in family practice or internal medicine and then complete at least one additional year of fellowship training in geriatrics. An interdisciplinary approach to medicine lies at the heart of geriatric medicine, and these doctors work with teams of nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, surgical specialists, pharmacists, social workers, and physical and occupational therapists to ensure the best care for their patients. Geriatricians have the expertise and leadership skills needed to coordinate services among multiple specialists and other care providers. The AGS lists the proven benefits of geriatric care: increased patient and family satisfaction, decreased time as an inpatient in a hospital or nursing home, improved social functioning, decreased rates of depression, and preservation of physical function.

Not enough to go around

Right now, a shortage of geriatricians exists in the U.S. and is projected to worsen over the next 20 years. The AGS reports that, currently, there is one geriatrician for every 5,000 adults age 65 and older. In 2030, it is estimated that there will only be one geriatrician for every 7,665 older adults, representing a 50% decline over the next 25 years.

No shortage at Erickson Living

AtErickson LivingMedical Centers, there are only about 400 patients per doctor. And because these geriatricians are located at everyErickson Living community, it is easy and convenient for residents to get the top-notch care that they want or need. Doctors who work in the outside community can have a huge workload, says Leslie Rigali, D.O. They may not be able to spend much time with patients, in some instances. They may not be able to travel to a sick patient s home who can t make it in to the doctor s office. We have a lot of support here atErickson Living, she adds. If a resident can t get to my office because of illness, I can do a home visit, and we have many other options to get them the care they need, including home health nurses and other support staff. In addition, Rigali says, We have specialists on staff like nurse practitioners and a podiatrist, and other specialists come on campus to see patients such as a cardiologist, urologist, orthopedist, chiropractor, dermatologist, audiologist, and an orthotics specialist.

Seamless care through communication

In a recent national survey, 81% of patients and 71% of doctors agreed that communication was essential for good healing and may even make the difference between life and death. But the survey also showed that, in fact, effective communication is not happening consistently. AtErickson Living, communication is one of our best features, Rigali says. Both the phone system and electronic medical records help us provide efficient, quality care. Residents can get fast referrals for services like physical therapy. Nurses and other support staff can get in touch with me right away if necessary. According to Rigali, residents health is the top priority atErickson Living for everyone. The security staff, for instance, provides reports about any overnight problems like falls, or if someone simply didn t feel well. Erickson Livingresidents can stay as healthy and independent as possible because of the extra care we provide, the convenience of services, and the exceptional cooperation among all staff at our communities, Rigali concludes.