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Oak Street Health's cookout at Froebel Park

Oak Street Health celebrates start of summer

Contributed By:The 411 News

Active seniors are healthier seniors

A jazz concert at the Aquatorium, a festival at AperionCare, and a cookout at Froebel Park – three straight days of events for their clients and communities in Gary were sponsored by Oak Street Health Center during the last week in June.

Vernice Jones attended the jazz concert and showed up for the festival the next day at AperionCare, “I heard there was going to be a blues band.” Jones isn’t an enrollee at Oak Street. “I just wanted to hear some good music,” she said.

“Of course these events help us with our brand,” said Dwight Williams, community relations manager for the health clinic, “but they are also what our seniors ask for and we try to put them in place.”

Oak Street’s brand is “doctors for adults on Medicare.” That was the target when the first health center opened on Chicago’s north side in 2013 and it remains still in 2018. Their office at 4900 Broadway in Gary opened in 2014; a Hammond location followed the next year. Today, there are 14 centers in the Chicago metro area, 5 in Michigan, and 6 in Indiana. Plans are to take the centers to Philadelphia, PA.

Its health clinics are in areas where the needs are the greatest – in neighborhoods that have a high concentration of senior citizens with few primary care doctors. Mostly in low-income, urban areas where the difference between life and death depends on managing the diseases of old age.

Oak Street clinics are staffed with primary care doctors so lives don’t have to be cut short by diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

Its health care services are provided with a distinct flavor.

Patients without transportation are picked up for doctor visits and returned home.

Doctors don’t double book, eliminating the wait time. George Reveter attended the cookout at Froebel Park and uses the Gary clinic. “I love it. I see my doctor at the appointment time and I’m out of there.”

Daily activities bring patients to the clinic when not seeing a doctor. The Oak Street ethic is active seniors are healthier seniors. At the Gary clinic, there’s line dancing, bingo, zumba, arts & crafts, monthly birthday parties, and movies.

Ken Peterson, an insurance advisor said the Oak Street model is long overdue. “I signed up immediately when the company came to Indiana. It’s a win-win for enrollees, health and insurance providers.”

Williams said Oak Street primary care doctors aren’t overburdened with heavy patient loads and can accept same-day emergency visit requests instead of sending those patients to the emergency room.

Hospitals and insurance providers also benefit when fewer patients resort to hospital emergency rooms and fewer patients are readmitted for the same conditions. Medicare assesses financial penalties on hospitals with too many readmissions within a 30-day period.

The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program was established under the Affordable Care Act to make Americans’ health care better by linking payment to the quality of hospital care. It gives hospitals a strong financial incentive to make their communication and care coordination efforts better. And it’s an incentive for hospitals to work better with patients and caregivers on post-discharge planning.

Coming up next are a jazz concert in Portage, gospel fest, mystery dinner theatre, and film festival said Williams.

The buffet table at AperionCare

At Froebel Park: Ken Peterson, (l-r), George Reveter, Anna Garland, Gregory Darrington, and Lendell Smith

Story Posted:07/11/2018

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