Saline hospital opens Healthy Aging Center

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published October 14, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 12, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Dr. David Lipschitz is one of the two main doctors who will man Saline Memorial Hospital's Healthy Aging Center. The center is focused on providing those age 50 and older with the primary medical care they require.

— Since the first day of 2011, members of the baby boomer generation has been turning 65. Each day, thousands of those born after World War II are turning 65, and millions more are older than 50.

To deal with the aging of so many Americans, Saline Memorial Hospital opened the Healthy Aging Center on Monday. The emphasis at the clinic will be to help older patients prevent illnesses linked to aging, as much as to treat those illnesses.

“The goal is to bring primary-care physicians who are specialists in treating older people so we can promote healthy living,” said Bob Trautman, CEO of Saline Memorial.

He said the idea for the center came from a community needs assessment conducted by the medical center earlier this year.

“We were looking for an opportunity to enhance health services, and we can do this here and now,” Trautman said. “When we meet a need in the community, it is good business for the hospital.”

The center opened under the direction of Dr. David Lipschitz and Dr. Hosam Kamel, both new to the hospital.

Kamel serves as medical director of seven nursing facilities, three of which are in Saline County.

“The main goal of the program is to provide state-of-the-art comprehensive primary care for older adults — the type of care that would recognize the unique psycho-social characteristics and needs of older adults,” Kamel said. “Another goal is to provide specialized care for conditions that affect older adults, such as falls, osteoporosis, memory loss, dementia, depression and medication management.”

Lipschitz has helped develop other programs around Arkansas dedicated to longevity and senior health. He is also a columnist with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“I view this as a wonderful opportunity to make a commitment to care for a longer and more productive life,” Lipschitz said. “I am seeing patients from Sheridan, Cabot and Conway, as well as in Saline County and Little Rock. This center will help make [Saline Memorial] a destination hospital.”

He said the kind of patients who will be seen at the center will be varied, limited only to those older than 50.

“They will range from a 93-year-old woman with profound dementia to a couple in their 50s who could not be in better health,” Lipschitz said. “We believe in caring for couples, so if you are married, bring your spouse, friend or partner.”

The doctors say they want to develop an educational element of care that will empower patients to be better consumers of health care.

“When your doctor runs a test, ask them what it is for and what does it do? Ask what reactions can come from a medication,” Lipschitz said. “You need to ask, ‘Will this treatment improve my life?’ We need better communication between the patient, physician and the hospital.”

The doctor said he stresses 10 things needed for a better life, especially for older adults.

“Passion, peace, love, self-love, more laughter and sex, more faith, good food, more movement, education and empowerment, and more freedom,” he said. “There is more in taking care of your life than an apple a day.”

The head of the hospital said patients visiting the center will not have to change doctors.

“It is unrealistic to think someone will change from a physician they have been seeing for 20 years,” Trautman said. “But there are many in the area without a doctor or who have moved in and have no medical connections. It is the patient’s choice.”

Trautman said the Healthy Aging Center has been funded completely out of the hospital’s operational budget.

“We plan that we will be going to the Saline Memorial Foundation for funding of equipment, programs and positions,” the hospital CEO said. “For now, we are open and taking new patients.”

The Healthy Aging Center at Saline Memorial is in Medical Office Building B, Suite 305, to the right of the main entrance of the hospital, at 1 Medical Drive in Benton. For more information on the service, visit www.salinememorial.org.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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