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Clinic offers collaborative approach to care for seniors

Ken Becotte, executive director with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice (left), asks Georgia Bekiou of Fraser Health and Dr. Ralph Jones of CGH to sign an agreement during the official opening of the Chilliwack Primary Care Seniors Clinic at the hospital on Thursday.  - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Ken Becotte, executive director with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice (left), asks Georgia Bekiou of Fraser Health and Dr. Ralph Jones of CGH to sign an agreement during the official opening of the Chilliwack Primary Care Seniors Clinic at the hospital on Thursday.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

A unique centre aimed at providing Chilliwack seniors with comprehensive and co-ordinated care was formally opened at Chilliwack General Hospital Thursday.

The Chilliwack Primary Care Seniors Clinic offers a one-stop-shop for the elderly, providing more timely diagnosis, smoother access to services, and broader long-range support.

The clinic is a joint initiative by the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and Fraser Health.

“This clinic is a shining example of a successful collaboration,” said Georgia Bekiou, Fraser Health’s directory of ambulatory services.

Its aim is to provide seniors with more seamless care, providing them – and their families – a place where they can access more focused geriatric care, specific to their needs. That multidisciplinary approach can be a challenge in a typical family practice, or a drop-in clinic, said Dr. Scott Markey, lead physician with the CDFP. He said the clinic will provide important support for family physicians caring for the elderly in the community.

The seniors clinic is an outcome of the Integrated Health Network, which takes a team approach to addressing health needs within the community. The existing Primary Care Clinic, for example, provides patients discharged from Chilliwack General Hospital, and without a regular family physician, a place where their recovery can be better managed.

The seniors clinic, which is open one day a week , is a part of that larger facility.

Kathleen Friesen, director of geriatric services for Fraser Health, said the clinic is an important step forward in addressing the health needs of seniors, who account for 16 per cent of the population. Under current circumstances it can take three to six years for an elderly patient to be diagnosed with dementia. The clinic, which is already seeing 113 people, will improve that.

“This is a wonderful example of and integrated health network in action,” she said.

Dr. Ralph Jones welcomed the new clinic, both as a member of the community and a physician who will use its services. Dr. Jones, an outspoken critic of an early decision by Fraser Health to close the rehab clinic at CGH without consulting medical staff, welcomed the collaborative approach to the clinic’s creation.

“This is a start,” he said.

The Primary Care Seniors Clinic, located on the main floor of Chilliwack General Hospital, is open Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visits are by appointment only, with a referral from a family physician.

Services include:

•    Comprehensive primary care geriatric assessments

•    Collaboration of inter-professional health care providers to plan care

•    Access to specialists as required

•    Collaboration between the patient’s family GP and clinic staff

•    Individual Health Improvement plans created in partnership with patients and family to meet their medical, mental health and social needs

•    Recommendations for other services and community resources as needed

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