Celebrating the wins, both large and small, this Older Americans Month

Celebrating the wins, both large and small, this Older Americans Month

By Neil Patel, MD, Chief Health Officer

May is Older Americans Month, a time to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of this very special group of people.

At Patina, we honor and celebrate older adults every day. It’s in our DNA and underpins our mission: To profoundly improve the healthcare and aging experience for people 65+. Everyone deserves to live well and age with dignity. It all starts with relationships, which are at the core of what we do at Patina. We take time to get to know each and every patient, as well as their loved ones, and put together a proactive plan to help them thrive and age independently. 

I’d like to share some examples of the impact, both big and small, we have on patients every day. Their stories are the best way to explain our care and impact – including near-perfect patient experience measures, significant improvements in care quality, and real reductions in preventable, harmful, wasteful and costly care. 

Looking after your total health and well-being

I’ll start with a patient whom I’ll call “Maria,” who is proudly aging independently and wishes to continue her lifestyle. When asked “what matters most to you,” she told us about how she supports her older neighbors by driving them to their medical appointments when they need help. With her Patina care team, she has become educated on longevity and prevention, and has a personal checklist of simple activities she is working through in order to remain as healthy as she is. With our expert clinical support, Maria has reduced the number of medications she takes each day, and reports feeling more energetic each morning. Through careful coordination of medical records, we’ve helped her transfer some of her specialty care to Patina, requiring fewer trips to the doctor’s office in order to manage her health. While she lives alone, she is grateful that she can easily include her daughter in her Patina visits so that her values and preferences are respected as she makes decisions with her care team and loved ones.

Another patient, “Stan,” suffers from a degenerative disease that leaves him completely dependent on others to care for him, including helping him in and out of bed and into a wheelchair. Even then, Stan still needs assistance to get around the house. We quickly recognized that having a motorized wheelchair would greatly increase his independence, and would also enable Stan to leave his home – something he was unable to do for more than three years. That’s more than 1,000 days without fresh air or feeling the warmth of the sun – simple pleasures most of us take for granted. We knew the approval process would be lengthy. For seven months, his Patina Health Champion, Val Voluntad, worked tirelessly to schedule an assessment, follow-up with suppliers and Stan’s insurance plan, and advocate on his behalf so that the life-changing chair would be approved. Val’s grit and tenacity were finally rewarded earlier this spring, when Stan received his power wheelchair and was finally able to go outside. He shared a photo with Val that not only made our day, but was a powerful reminder of what all of us at Patina are working for.

Maria and Stan are great examples of Patina patients who really benefit from our relationship-based approach, supported by a care team who takes time to listen and get to know their values, goals and preferences. 

A care team that’s always there

Sometimes, patients need help identifying their own goals. Kathy Hill, a Patina nurse practitioner, has been supporting the weight loss of a patient I’ll call “Phil.” I recently checked in with Phil and was thrilled to hear that he has dropped two pounds each week for the last three weeks! During our most recent call, he mentioned that Kathy’s care and attention have made a huge difference, leading him to take his weight seriously for the first time in his life.

And finally, there’s continuity of care. Some patients need the reassurance of a care team that knows them and their health needs. Like “Sheila,” who had orthopedic surgery and after returning home, let us know that she was feeling off-balance, drowsy and fatigued. We reviewed her medications and realized that the surgeon prescribed a pain medication regimen that was too aggressive for her needs, goals, and age. We were able to make adjustments to control her pain and eliminate other symptoms. Sheila was back to her active baseline soon after the adjustment. 

These are just some of the patient encounters that happen all the time at Patina. They’re what motivate me and our entire team. They also illustrate our basic philosophy of what primary care should be. It’s not only about an annual wellness exam or the occasional sick visit, and it’s more than spending 10 or 15 minutes with a patient before they’re rushed out of the office after driving, parking and waiting for an appointment that took months to get. 

Flipping the script on primary care

We believe primary care should be about taking the time to really listen and understand patients’ concerns. It’s about establishing trust and providing care based on someone’s unique goals, values and preferences. It’s about proactively looking after their total health and well-being – the medical, emotional and social care needs that influence their ability to live independently, age well, and live their best life. And, it’s about understanding what’s happening at home and in their broader social context that may influence physical and mental health.

Our approach builds on these basic tenets and more, surrounding patients with a dedicated team who knows them and provides great care. Who coordinates with their specialists, takes on the legwork to advocate for their needs, and helps them overcome barriers that get in the way of their health – whether related to lack of food or transportation, arranging vital support services, and more. Good primary care shouldn’t be limited to reactive, episodic interactions. It should be ubiquitous and easily accessible where and when it’s needed.

I hope you can take time this month – and every month – to honor and celebrate the older adults in your life. All of us at Patina are privileged to support our patients. There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’re making a difference in their lives, no matter how big – or how small.

See what our patients have to say about the care they're getting from Patina in this short video