Page 6 - Scene Magazine 43-03 March 2018
P. 6

 CentraCare, with center locations in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, is quickly becoming well known in our region as a leader in geriatric healthcare. However, one of the things not so well known is the fact that this vital non-profit organization has also developed a very unique and comprehensive educational program in cooperation with the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine to train all new medical stu- dents. In fact, this program is likely the only one of its kind in the entire country.
Since the first few participants en- tered the doors in 2009, CentraCare has provided outstanding healthcare, enabling seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible, using the unique PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the El- derly) model of care, a program only found in 250 communities in the United States. Today, CentraCare serves nearly 400 par- ticipants throughout Calhoun, Kalamazoo, and eastern Van Buren counties.
Through this model CentraCare coor- dinates and provides care for the at-risk frail elderly population of our community through an integrated team of health
care professionals made up of medical doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physi- cal therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, recreational therapists, dieticians, and medical social workers
all under one roof. This team meets
daily to assess the complex health and social needs of the participants and to make any necessary adjustments to the personalized care plan for each individ- ual. Additional medical specialties such as audiology, dentistry, optometry, and podiatry are also offered. CentraCare’s in-house day center, medical clinic and therapy rooms make it highly convenient for participants to receive the socializa- tion they need as well as comprehensive medical care under one roof.
As specialists in caring for the frail elderly, CentraCare is keenly aware of the significant shortage of geriatric physicians throughout the country and Michigan
is no exception. In fact, this concern is being voiced throughout the geriatric community. Nancy Lundebjerg, chief ex- ecutive officer of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), alluded to the magnitude of this shortage when she said, “People
who really need the services of a geria- trician won’t necessarily have access to that kind of expertise. That’s probably true right now across the country.”
Dr. Heather Whitson, associate pro- fessor of Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine concurs with this assessment and shares this opinion; “We are not prepared as a nation. We are facing a crisis. Our current health care system is ill equipped to provide the optimal care experience for patients with multiple chronic conditions or with functional limitations and disabilities.”
Currently, there are more than 7,500 certified geriatricians in the United States. But the nation needs an estimated 17,000 geriatricians to care for about
12 million older Americans, according to AGS projections.
To address this need, in 2014 Centra- Care established the Longitudinal Clinical Experience, an educational program
in cooperation with Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed), to provide a unique clinical experience in the field of geriatrics for all the WMed students over the course of their first and second years of medical school.
According to Laura Ferrara, Centra- Care’s chief strategy officer, the program has a four-fold purpose, “First, to expose first and second year medical students
The Longitudi
    Left to Right: WMed Students Gina Bravata, Conner Ahlgren, and CentraCare participant Dorothy Penny.

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