For Immediate Release
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
At UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
Geriatrician Adopts Tradition of Making House Calls for Elderly
Twice a week, Dr. Keerti Sharma leaves the
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) carrying
a bag that contains a laptop computer, a stethoscope, bandages,
and medical supplies to make house calls to elderly patients in
Dr. Sharma, assistant professor of medicine and a geriatrician
at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, and Doreen Monks, an advanced
practice nurse at UMDNJ-University Hospital, administer the House
Calls for Seniors program.
The program was created by Dr. Debbie Salas-Lopez, chief of
the Division of Academic Medicine, Geriatrics and Community Programs
at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
Dr. Salas-Lopez said data from the 2002 American Community Survey
indicates that 11 percent of the population in both Essex County
and the City of Newark is 65 years and older. Of this cohort,
nine percent live in poverty, 40 percent live in multi-unit structures,
four percent do not have telephone service and 15 percent do not
have access to a car for private use.
House Calls for Seniors helps elderly patients manage chronic
health problems--such as diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, abnormality
of gait, urinary incontinence, memory loss, hypertension, osteoporosis,
and asthma--through home visits from a physician rather than having
to go to the physician's office. Individuals who are 65 years
or older are eligible to participate in this program.
Social workers at three of New Community Corporation's senior
citizens residences in Newark arrange patient appointments for
the medical team. The location of each appointment depends on
a patient's preference, taking place either at an on-site office
or in the patient's apartment.
"With the help of key leaders at UMDNJ-University Hospital,
we have extended the boundaries of health care to the home," Dr.
Salas-Lopez said. "Because of this collaborative partnership between
UMDNJ and community-based organizations, we are meeting a health
care need and providing holistic care for the most vulnerable
population in Newark, the elderly."
Dr. Sharma said, "This comprehensive community-health program
brings dignity, sensitivity, inclusiveness, and candor to the
care of aged individuals. Through House Calls for Seniors, we
are able to emphasize health prevention and maintenance so that
seniors can maximize their independence."
Home environment assessments are part of Dr. Sharma's comprehensive
approach. "By visiting our patients at home we hope to establish
trust by offering culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
We make every effort to gain greater insight by helping them manage
their health. Our goal is to expand our program to other senior
citizen residences in Newark."
For more information about House Calls for Seniors, call Carmen
McLaughlin, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, at 973-972-7600.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)
comprises the state 's only three medical schools, its only dental
school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, school of health
related professions, school of nursing and a school of public
health on campuses in Newark, Piscataway/New Brunswick, Scotch
Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ also operates UMDNJ-University
Hospital in Newark and University Behavior HealthCare. It is affiliated
with more than 200 health care and educational institutions throughout