CKHS: A Dominant Provider of Senior Health Services
- Crozer-Keystone Senior Health Services (SHS) is a full-service department dedicated to the needs of the geriatric population.
- The department was an innovation nearly 10 years ago, and today continues to grow and offer new programs. Services include the Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) program, the Acute Care of Elders (ACE) unit, the Senior Support Line (1-800-CKHS-KEY), behavioral health services, wellness and educational programs, geriatric-trained hospital medical professionals, and more.
- The newest offering is CK Village, a fee-based program created to help people age 50 and over access reliable, high-quality resources to meet their healthcare needs as well as many other personal daily living needs.
- SHS will continue to seek out new services to help the geriatric and active adult population get the care they need as they age.
Nearly 10 years ago, Crozer-Keystone administration saw the need to create a comprehensive senior health services program — one that not only addressed the geriatric population’s medical needs, but also focused on their emotional, social and even financial well-being. It was evident to health system administrators that good health and longevity of older adults in our community was much more multifaceted than the singular relationship between the patient and the physician. CKHS recognized, early on, the significance of the team approach to good healthcare for older adults.
An innovation at the time, the newly formed Senior Health Services department offered programs that included frail older adult management, geriatric psychiatry, adult day care, and the Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) program — which today remains a jewel in the Senior Health Services crown. In addition, the Senior Support Line — a dedicated toll-free phone line (1-800-CKHS-KEY) staffed by a clinician, was another initiative that rolled out at the program’s inception. This phone line continues to be a mainstay of the program and serves as a single point of contact for many seniors and their families.
Along with the development of programs for seniors, Crozer-Keystone aggressively recruited more physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, social workers and other healthcare professionals with experience in geriatrics. “We have the most geriatricians of any health system in Delaware County and have been recognized by Philadelphia Magazine as a Center of Excellence in Geriatrics,” says William Zirker, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and medical director of CKHS Senior Health Services.
But as times have changed, so have we. “It is imperative for us to offer services that meet the needs of the older adults we are serving. However, we have never strayed from our initial intent,” says Barbara Alexis Looby, LSW, administrative director of CKHS Senior Health Services. “Crozer-Keystone remains committed to providing geriatric services across the entire continuum.”
Looby continues, “The question becomes, ‘How do we connect the dots so that people continue to get the care they need?’ Not just here in our health system, but in their community as well. One thing we wanted to do was improve access to care to bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient services. With the implementation of this department, we believe that the health system created the process. This department’s primary focus was to implement a triage system and develop services for older adults to have better access to quality geriatric care.”
Over the years, Zirker, Looby and their colleagues continued to shape the department into what it is today — a rich program that addresses virtually any need a geriatric patient may have. Consider the following:
CHECK Program: Created in 2004, the CHECK (Caring for Hospitalized Elders at Crozer-Keystone) program addresses how to provide optimal care to geriatric patients while hospitalized at a CKHS facility. This includes initiatives such as educating staff on the geriatric population’s specialized needs; “elderspeak,” or how to verbally communicate with an elderly patient; medication management; and even making facility enhancements that help create a senior-friendly environment (such as specially equipped beds, handrails, accessible seating throughout our hospitals, parking lot reminders, and even paint color and décor).
CHECKMates: An outgrowth of the CHECK program, CHECKMates is a volunteer feeding program. Staff members and hospital volunteers spend time — usually during their lunch break — cutting food and feeding patients who can’t do these tasks for themselves. They spend about an hour with the patient and use the time just to engage with them and provide a little companionship.
Wellness programs at the Healthplex® Sports Club: Geared toward individuals who have a medical condition — such as heart disease, arthritis and diabetes — the wellness programs at the Healthplex® Sports Club offer personal trainers and nutritionists (in consultation with other medical professionals) who work toward helping a patient to exercise independently.
Acute Care of Elders (ACE) Unit: Based at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, this specialized nursing unit provides a personalized treatment plan based on the patient’s physical, mental and emotional status. The unit is bright and welcoming and has senior-specific equipment and protocols. In addition, the multidisciplinary medical team is specially trained in the care of the geriatric patient.
Training in Geriatrics: Crozer-Keystone’s residency programs in internal medicine, family medicine and geriatric fellowship are training physicians in the practice of geriatric medicine.
Educational Programs: Crozer-Keystone physicians and clinicians are dedicated to educating our community about disease prevention and management. Our staff lecture all over the county — including at libraries and assisted living facilities, and in our hospitals. These programs are developed with seniors in mind, recognizing that “health promotion” presentations and activities empower seniors and their family members. For a complete listing of available programming, call the Senior Support Line at 1-800-CKHS-KEY (1-800-254-7539).
Electronic Newsletter: Our monthly publication, Healthy Living After 50, contains articles of interest to active adults, the geriatric population and their caregivers, as well as a listing of outreach programming, free screenings and recreational activities. Visit http://enewsletters.crozer.org to sign up.
CK Village: Our newest offering, Crozer-Keystone Village (CK Village) is a fee-based program created to help people age 50 and over access reliable, high-quality resources to meet their healthcare needs as well as many other personal daily living needs. Members enjoy preferred access to trusted, reliable services — many offered at a discount. Membership in CK Village costs $49.95 per month and includes the primary member plus their aging parents and/or a disabled, dependent adult child who live within Delaware County and Southeastern Chester County.
Members do not need to reside in the same household. Single memberships are available for $25 per month. A Village Navigator coordinates all needed services on behalf of its members.
“Crozer-Keystone has made a great commitment to meet the needs of seniors in Delaware County,” Zirker says. “With our experience, innovative programs and senior-friendly hospitals, we are on the cutting edge of geriatric medicine.”
“Eighty is the new 60,” Looby says, “and 70 is the new 50. We need to continue to develop services that address the needs of our population as they get older.”
For more information about Senior Health Services at Crozer-Keystone Health System, call 1-800-CKHS-KEY (1-800-254-7539) or visit http://srhealthservices.crozer.org. For more information on the CK Village, visit http://ckvillage.crozer.org.