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Center’s New Space Optimizes Care for Older Adults and their Caregivers
Taking care of an aging parent or other loved one gets more challenging over the years, as 66-year-old Denise Noll is finding out. As an only child, the responsibilities of caring for her 91-year-old mother, Esther Headley, have fallen solely on her shoulders. Fortunately, in addition to having a wonderfully supportive group of friends and a caregiver who comes to the home while she’s at work, Noll also can lean on the compassion and expertise of staff at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital’s Center for Successful Aging. Led by George Hennawi, MD, chief, Geriatrics, Pam Mahoney, RN, nurse practitioner, and other members of the team offer the kind of medical and emotional support that can be hard to find.
“I started seeing Dr. Hennawi last May after I felt that my mother’s internist wasn’t providing as much time or attention as she needed as she aged. To me, Dr. Hennawi walks on water. He’s such a wonderful person and physician. He and Pam provided a thorough assessment and then worked closely with Mom’s caregiver and me," recalls Noll. But then Headley had a bad fall last Thanksgiving. After a stay in an acute care hospital, she recuperated in MedStar Good Samaritan’s subacute unit for three weeks. Throughout that time, the Center’s team provided their care and support. “They emphasize that they’re here for us,” exclaims Noll. “They invite us to call them rather than taking her to an urgent care center. Physicians often talk just to the son or daughter, and ignore the patient, or they talk just to the patient. At the Center, however, it’s always a discussion involving both of us. They look at the person as a whole and ask what could be done differently.”
A Space Tailored for Older Adults
To accommodate the growing demand for its services, the Center for Successful Aging moved to a larger, new space in the Russell Morgan Building in early March 2016. Dr. Hennawi notes, “Wider doors accommodate wheelchairs, floors are not shiny or slippery, and handrails are everywhere. The new space was made possible thanks to the significant generosity of the Arthur E. Landers and Hilda C. Landers Charitable Trust. Their support was instrumental in bringing Dr. Hennawi’s vision to life. “We are so grateful to the Landers Trust for their philanthropic support, which has afforded us the opportunity to carefully design every aspect of the Center to meet the needs of older patients,” says Dr. Hennawi.
A bright, welcoming entrance also offers cool colors with a modern design, and chairs with arms to help patients sit and stand safely. Dr. Hennawi remarks, “In the large exam rooms, which comfortably accommodate family members, the exam tables can be lowered and raised so that patients with physical limitations don’t have to worry about falling. We always make sure that the patient and provider are face to face.” In the comfortable consult room—designed to feel like a living room—patients and families can meet with social workers and staff in a relaxing setting to discuss psychosocial issues. They can also develop Life Plans, which are treatment plans that evolve with the patient’s changing needs. This care continues wherever the patient may be, including home, hospital and long-term care facilities.
Dr. Hennawi explains, “So that the team can work together efficiently, we created pods where the doctor, nurse practitioner, medical assistant, and social worker can communicate.” An on-site lab provides convenience for patients who need blood work and urinalysis—all in the same location. “The lovely new space also features a caregiver and community resource room, generously supported by the France-Merrick Foundation, that helps people use technology to support safety and independence, and offers a space where the public can learn about aging.” Noll adds, “The Center’s holistic team approach has been a godsend.”
This article appeared in the summer 2016 issue of Good Health. Read more articles from this issue.