Healthwatch 16: Geisinger’s 65 Forward Program

KINGSTON, Pa. -- It's estimated that 10,000 people turn 65 each day in the United States.

Geisinger Health System officials say nearly a quarter of its entire patient population is already 65 or older and by 2022, more than a third of its population will be that age.

With that in mind, Geisinger has put together a new way to care for those in that age group.

The Geisinger facility on Wyoming Avenue in Kingston has just been renovated, inside and out. It now caters to a new crowd: the 65 Forward crowd.

Juliann Molecavage oversees Geisinger Health System's new 65 Forward program, something she helped to develop.

"We knew there was a demand we needed to meet," Molecavage said.

Now, only patients 65 and older will be treated there. She describes the program as a more holistic approach to health care.

"We want patients to come to their primary care physicians, to be able to get the services they need under one roof," Molecavage said. "In addition, we'll do arts and crafts, games. We want it to be utilized like a community center for socialization as well."

There's a gym and wellness center, laboratory services, and an area for X-rays.

The waiting room was designed to look more like a hotel lobby.

Dr. James Tricario is one of the primary care physicians who will see patients there.

"We have a small patient panel I'm managing, 450 patients is my max patient load, the same with every physician in 65 Forward," said Dr. Tricario.

That's in comparison to the several thousand patients some doctors handle at a time, an offering he calls mutually beneficial.

"It allows us to give more time to patients, longer visits, more frequent visits, and it definitely increases doctor/patient face time over the course of a year."

Geisinger patients 65 and older do not have to enroll in the 65 Forward program, but if they want to, it is free.

The Kingston location is Geisinger's first. A second is set to open in Scranton in the fall, with another 13 to 15 more planned.

"The ultimate goal is that patients get the right care at the right time."

The Kingston location is now enrolling new patients.

There's an open house for you to meet doctors and staff on Thursday, August 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To RSVP, call 570-214-0400.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story had the open house event scheduled for Friday, August 29.

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