Being restricted to using a walker or wheelchair can be hard enough, but when someone lives in a rural community where it can take an hour or more to get to doctor, well that can become a challenge too big to overcome.
A new kind of partnership, aimed at providing more convenient and easy access to care, is helping residents of United Methodist Village (UMV) in Godfrey, Illinois along the Mississippi River Bend. A unique collaboration between UMV and OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center in nearby Alton offers an on-site primary care clinic twice a week as well as daily physical therapy and occupational and speech therapy as needed.
Jemalee Hisaw and her husband moved to United Methodist Village in last July, in part, because they knew medical care would be available in the retirement community in the fall. They were tired of driving an hour-and-a-half to see a doctor when they lived in a farming community before retirement. Now, Jemalee gets in and gets out of the on-site primary care clinic with no hassles. She likes to be the first one in the office for an 8 a.m. appointment.
“Waiting is not one of my virtues and we just found it so convenient that is was going to work out for us. I’ve always said ‘what will be will be’ and I just feel like this place was chosen for us,” she said from the couch inside her apartment just across the street from the clinic.
Hisaw has difficulty getting around without a wheelchair and walker so she appreciates the easy access. And, she instantly clicked with Kelly Martin, an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with OSF Medical Group and OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s who also serves clients at the UMV primary care clinic that opened in October.
“She’s very easy to talk to, she’s on the ball if you need lab work done or if you need tests run. She’s very, very accommodating. I don’t know what else she could do that they aren’t already doing.”
A Partnership Based on Shared Values and Common Goals OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center President Ajay Pathak says the partnership makes sense because both organizations understand the importance of the two sides of the equation for health and a fulfilling life – disease treatment and wellness promotion.
“When you think about organizations that are dedicated to the care and wellness of people coming together, bringing best of breed, working together – from an OSF HealthCare perspective, that is central to our strategy for what we want to do to achieve wellness in our community.” He added, “And this is just a perfect example of that and one that we can use as a model going across all the communities we serve.”
The partnership focuses on wellness with once a month educational presentations and health screenings plus regular exercise provided by OSF HealthCare’s Rehabilitation Services including “Fitness Fusion,” “Pure Power,” and “Muscle Motion,” focusing on balance, strength, and functional movement so residents can fully participate in everything they want to do.
United Methodist Village Executive Director Anita Martinez says residents are encouraged by the improvement they see in their friends and fellow residents.
“They’re encouraged by the fact that they’ve seen their neighbor, they’ve seen their friend, they’ve seen that resident that comes to the dining room or that goes to the event. ‘Wow, they’re moving better, they’re feeling better and their quality of life is so much better because they’re seeing therapy.’” Walking by the therapy room can also serve as a reminder to residents to finally get help for a nagging problem such as a sore foot or rotator cuff injury.
Martinez says being able to fully participate in life and social activities is critical to overall well-being, particularly as people age. Defining and achieving personal interests through meaningful activities and personal relationships is key to optimal mental health which, combined with good physical health, leads to golden years that are filled with immense satisfaction.