Senior health care services have become more convenient in Merced with the recent opening of the senior center at the Golden Valley Health Centers, officials said Tuesday.
Providers of other health care services for seniors in the county are also trying to reach out to more patients to get them to use their services.
Golden Valley's 29,000-square-foot comprehensive Senior Health and Wellness Center in South Merced opened its doors last month. Construction of the center was made possible with a $9.5-million federal grant.
Dr. Lidia Rodriguez, internal medicine-geriatrics physician with Golden Valley, said the senior center is seeing existing patients and getting new ones from other providers in the area. The center offers case management, behavioral health and counseling.
In the near future, officials plan to add pharmacy and lab services, pharmaceutical consultations and senior activities.
"From looking at what seniors need, this is the right place to be," Rodriguez said.
Stephen Yerkes, 71, was a new patient at the senior center on Tuesday afternoon. He said he recently retired and relocated to Merced.
Yerkes said he wanted to find a primary care doctor in the area and was referred to the Golden Valley senior center by his fiancée. He's taking medication for high blood pressure.
He was satisfied with the kind of care he received at his first appointment.
"They are very thorough," he said. "(Rodriguez) is probably the most thorough doctor that I've associated with. They get into major detail."
Rodriguez is seeing an average of about 20 patients a day at the senior center, said Melinda Morton, office supervisor with Golden Valley.
The center has been running smoothly, and more changes are coming. A physician's assistant will come on board next week and an internal medicine intern will start in August.
"It's not as developed as we want it to be now, but we are getting there," Morton said.
Meanwhile, Day Break, an adult day health care program offered by Castle Family Health Centers in Atwater, is also trying to serve more patients.
Day Break needs to attract more clients to stay afloat because the state dropped its reimbursement rate significantly, said Kathy Wagner, administrator and program director.
The small health care facility gets a pay rate of about $77 for visit, she said. It has about 31 patients and it sees an average of 17 on a daily basis. Wagner said they have the capacity to increase the number of patients to 49.
To be eligible, a person needs to be 18 or older. However, most of the clients are an average age of 70, Wagner said.
They must have a disabling condition or health issue that needs to be monitored to maintain their health so they can stay at home rather than going to a facility with a higher level of care, she said.
"We are watching that their health status is stable and that they are complying with doctor's orders," she said.
It's a well-rounded program, Wagner said. Some of the services include physical occupational therapy, diet assessments, medication monitoring and activities as well as a hot meal.
It also offers a computerized program for clients with memory loss to exercise their memory and brain capacity.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at
(209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.