Opinion

One-stop shop for care

If the value of the new Primary Care Seniors Clinic at CGH needed an exclamation point, she walked through the door midway through the proceedings at Thursday’s official opening.

Standing barely four feet tall, hair neatly coiffed, she politely edged her way through the crowd to the clinic’s front counter. In her hand was a piece of paper torn from a notebook, with tight neat writing detailing where she was to be on Nov. 22 and at what time.

What the note didn’t say was why the room would be filled with people making speeches.

Chilliwack Mayor Gaetz, arm around her, guided the lady to a chair and the speeches continued.

Navigating the health care system can be confusing for most of us. However, for the frail and elderly battling the early stages of dementia, the process can leave them lost.

Indeed, according to Dr. Scott Markey, lead physician with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, it can take three to six years for a senior to be properly diagnosed with dementia. That affects treatment options, quality of life, and their ability to remain independent.

The Primary Care Seniors Clinic aims to change that.

The project is a partnership in the true sense of the word, bringing together family physicians, Fraser Health and other health care professionals. It was born out of a process that identified gaps in Chilliwack’s provision of care for its elderly, then sought ways to plug those deficiencies.

The clinic provides an option for local physicians. With their referral, patients can access an interdisciplinary team that provides quicker diagnosis and faster access to specialized geriatric care.

Speed is important. Not only does it help maintain a quality of life that our seniors have earned, it can delay the debilitating consequences that force the elderly out of their homes, into emergency rooms, and into institutionalized care.

The issues that affect us as we age are complex. But the solutions need not be.

Through co-operation and collaboration, the Chilliwack clinic sets a model that Fraser Health and the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice are right to be proud of.

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