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Saturday, March 6, 2021

New clinics focus on care for seniors

Medically underserved Medicare patients across North Texas now have a new medical home that takes care of their specific needs.

Texas Health Resources and Texas Health Physicians Group recently launched a new clinic model called Texas Health Your Health Center that provides primary health care for patients age 65 and older who are covered by Medicare.

Many primary care physicians in the area are at capacity with commercial insurance patients and have closed their practices to Medicare patients for financial reasons. THPG physicians see a higher percentage of Medicare patients than the average free-standing practice in North Texas, “but there’s a cap to how many more patients they can accept,” said Dr. Dan Varga, senior executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Texas Health Resources.

“Texas Health helps close the primary-care gap for a growing demographic in a cost-effective care model. This Medicare access crunch was the main driver of the new model,” Varga said.

Texas Health and THPG will spend $1 million to build several Your Health Centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The first center opened July 15 on the Texas Health Burleson campus, located at 2760 S.W. Wilshire Blvd. Dr. Greg Hoffman, a family doctor at Hoffman Family Practice Association in Burleson, is the medical director. He has served as chief of staff at Texas Health Hospital in Cleburne and has a special interest in sports medicine.

“Medicine is the ultimate area where we can affect people and make a difference,” Hoffman said. “We can use the clinic to reach out to patients not previously being served in this community.”

The second clinic is on track to open Sept. 28 in southwest Plano at 2300 14th St. with Dr. Paul Anthony serving as medical director. Anthony, board certified in internal medicine and gerontology, has practiced in the area since 1981 in both private practice and with the Veterans Administration. He also has been an assistant professor of internal medicine with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

A third Your Health Center is slated to open in October in central Arlington near Pioneer Parkway and Matlock Road. Its medical director has not yet been named.

Varga said a lot of work went into determining the need for these clinics and where they should be located.

“We looked at the demographics of the North Texas population and where primary-care physicians were at capacity and which practices were accepting Medicare patients,” Varga said. “We also looked at [emergency department] utilization by Medicare patients and how many in those cases did not have [primary care providers]. These additional access points provide these patients with greater primary care access, which is more affordable, efficient and reliable.”

Each center is led by a physician medical director who supervises a staff of geriatric and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have specialized skills to care for the unique health care needs of older adults. There is a medical assistant at the Burleson clinic and all centers have a practice manager who oversees the day-to-day operations.

Varga said the clinics’ nurse practitioners provide timely and improved access to care, with more opportunities for longer consultations than a patient might encounter with a physician. Nurse practitioners are qualified to manage day-to-day health care independent from a physician – from sick visits, annual exams and diagnostic testing to chronic illness management, medication administration and counseling.

“I want the seniors in and around Burleson to know that this is a high-quality clinic that is focused specifically on their needs,” said Sherrie Pierce, the APRN and lead provider at the Burleson clinic. “We are not a family practice that sees children; we are focused on adults and seniors. We have easy access, and we do not overbook. We allow plenty of time for patient visits, and we focus on quality not quantity.”

Designed with older adults in mind, the clinics feature larger exam rooms to accommodate the care team, walkers, wheelchairs and family members; grab bars and handrails; bright lighting for the visually impaired; wider hallways; large restrooms and signage; and noise-reduction materials.

“Texas Health Your Health Centers support our commitment to making health care more affordable and highly reliable,” Varga said. “We believe these clinics better position Texas Health to serve the medically underserved and to improve the health and well-being of people across North Texas.”

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