What you don’t know about your on-campus medical center

Created date

October 24th, 2016
Ashby Ponds Medical Center

2010 AARP poll found 73% of older Americans would like to stay in their residences as long as possible. “Health reasons” are cited as a major reason for moving, according to a 2014 report from the U.S. Census.

Faced with a current medical problem (or the risk of developing one) medical problem, it is essential to seniors’ quality of life to have needed services close to their new home. “Accessibility is a crucial factor for helping you have peace of mind,” says Scott Page, author of It’s Never Too Late: Getting Older, Wiser, and Worry-Free in Our Golden Years (Morgan James, February 2016). “You need a strong support network that meets your needs.”

Maintaining personal independence may be easier if convenient medical care is close. At times, it may be hard to find a primary care physician. “Today’s primary care doctors see twice as many patients per day as their predecessors, but earn about the same,” says Stephen C. Schimpff, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School and former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

In most doctors’ offices, unless you are having a physical examination, you will likely be allotted about a 20-minute time slot.  Healthy patients may have concerns sufficiently addressed in 20 minutes, but seniors may need more attention, even if seen for a fairly straightforward problem like a cold. “Seniors typically have at least two or three chronic conditions and may take five or more medications,” Schimpff says. “Preexisting information must be considered when addressing new medical issues.” 

Bucking the trend

At Erickson Living communities, providers’ schedules allow at least 30 minutes per patient. “Having more time means we can address medical problems and other concerns, including day-to-day problems affecting your independence,” says Matt Narrett, M.D., chief medical officer for Erickson Living.

Doctors at Erickson Health Medical Group (EHMG) are geriatric specialists. According to the American Geriatrics Society, patients cared for by geriatricians experience benefits that include preservation of physical functioning, improved social functioning, less time in hospitals and nursing homes, and higher patient satisfaction. But while the senior population in this country is growing, the number of geriatricians is shrinking. 

There are plenty of doctors to go around at Erickson Living communities, however, and providers are committed to residents. “I have a great relationship with my patients,” says Thomas Morris, D.O., medical director at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va. “Knowing them well helps me spot potential problems early.” 

Easy access to your doctor

Sufficient scheduling room also means you can get same-day appointments when needed. EHMG doctors have also revived the age-old practice of house calls. “I can see patients in their homes if they are too sick to come to the office,” says Leslie Rigali, D.O., medical director at Brooksby, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass. “Home health nurses and support staff are also available to bring care to residents.” 

EHMG providers are a phone call away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for no additional charge. 

Specialists on site

“Most seniors see one or more specialists,” Narrett says. “We bring specialists to the medical center so our residents don’t have to travel.” 

Some specialists who visit campuses include podiatrists, cardiologists, urologists, orthopedists, chiropractors, dermatologists, and orthotics specialists. 

EHMG doctors keep in touch with off-campus providers. “We coordinate your care to minimize miscommunication,” Narrett says. “This helps avoid dangerous medication interactions and may simplify your treatment.”

Best of both worlds

You may be perfectly happy with your long-time doctor. But if the weather is bad, your doctor is away, or you have an urgent medical need, you are welcome at the on-site medical center. Preventive health services, acute illness care, and lab work services are available if necessary. “Seeing a different doctor is a good thing,” Page says. “Another doctor may have additional suggestions to help improve your health.”

 At your appointment, an electronic medical record can be established, and details of your visit will be communicated to your primary care doctor. An electronic record also means your health information is accessible to those designated to care for you in case of an emergency. In addition, from the comfort of your home, you can view your record and lab results, schedule appointments, and refill prescriptions online via the Resident Health Portal. 

“Our message to residents is Erickson Living medical centers offer much more than urgent care,” Narrett says.  “We provide comprehensive health care services that help you stay as healthy and independent as possible.”