MedStar Good Samaritan Center for Successful Aging TIPS Program
Every Thursday morning, 75-year-old Benjamin Jones, Jr. learns whether his efforts to keep his blood pressure under control are working.
That’s the day that MedStar Health staff and volunteers visit Jones’s neighborhood senior center, the Zeta Center for Healthy and Active Aging. Jones, along with about 30 other seniors at the center, gets his blood pressure, heart rate, weight and other vital signs checked.
That information is then uploaded to a system that allows a MedStar nurse to review the readings. If any results are of concern or appear abnormal, the nurse contacts the seniors at home to recommend an appointment with their primary care physician for follow up.
“This service helps me determine what I need to do in between my doctor’s visits to keep my blood pressure in the right range,” says Jones, a lifelong resident of the Park Heights area of Baltimore City. “If my blood pressure is high, I know I need to make some changes.”
The weekly service is part of the Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors (TIPS), a program of the MedStar Good Samaritan Center for Successful Aging. It was created to give low-income adults over the age of 60 a way to stay proactive with their health—and prevent unnecessary emergency department visits and hospital stays.
So far, more than 100 patients at the Zeta Center have enrolled in TIPS.
“We want to reach older adults where they live and engage them in preventative care,” says Carolyn Ford, service line director at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, which partnered with the Westchester Public/Private Partnership, the Baltimore City Health Department and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation to launch the program in Baltimore. “Being a part of this program shows them how their health can change based on choices they make week to week.”
When seniors sign up for TIPS, MedStar Community Health advocates also check to see if they qualify for other benefits, such as reduced cab vouchers and Meals on Wheels. These are programs that can also contribute to a patient’s health and well-being, says Ford.
She adds that program participants like Benjamin Jones have found the program helpful, convenient and, most of all, empowering. Jones couldn’t agree more.
“I’m eating better, walking, exercising and cutting back on my salt intake,” he says. “One day I want to get to the point where I’m off my blood pressure medicine entirely. And proud of myself for doing what I need to do to get there.”