Emory Physician Heads New Geriatrics Center At Grady Memorial Hospital
Jonathan M. Flacker, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory
University School of Medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital, is the medical
director of the new Emma I. Darnell Geriatrics Center at Grady. The
center, which opened Dec. 19, was built to provide better comprehensive
medical services for elderly patients. It is named in honor of Fulton
County Commissioner Emma Darnell.
"This new geriatrics center
is a showpiece and tangible evidence that Grady Hospital and the Grady
Health System places a high priority on excellent care for seniors,"
Dr. Flacker said.
According to Dr. Flacker,
the center will work with several local departments and divisions that
help establish community programs and initiatives for seniors. One of
those organizations is the Atlanta Regional Commission on Aging, which
will help coordinate services related to long-term medical care, housing
assistance, home health aides, rehabilitation services, and other programs
for which seniors may qualify.
The $1 million center was
funded through the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, and was built to
attract and retain seniors by providing them with clinical services
that are comparable to others in the metro Atlanta area.
Before the new center opened,
the area once used for geriatrics care had just one exam room and an
office that doubled as an exam room. Staff shared offices, and there
was hardly enough space ≠ and staff - to accommodate the more than 300
patients the center presently serves, and a number that is expected
to increase substantially in the future. Dr. Flacker says the new center
provides more space and specialized services for seniors and allows
staff to serve more patients. A clinical manager, social worker, nurse,
physician assistant, senior staff nurse, clinical assistant, and clerk
are all on staff at the center.
The center, also staffed
by Michael F. Lubin, MD, associate professor of medicine at Emory, and
geriatricians Drs. Abimbola Akomalafe and Abraham Oyewo, both from Morehouse
School of Medicine, will be "senior friendly," and is equipped with
six exam rooms, a separate area for stretchers, motorized exam tables,
and rooms for staff training purposes.
The geriatrics center has
patients who range in age from their mid-50s to 106 years old. What
makes geriatrics care unique, Dr. Flacker noted, is the approach taken
with patients. Physicians, nurses, and social workers handle a myriad
of medical and social issues, including appointment and transportation
assistance; in-home assessments; house calls for those who are stretcher-bound;
treatment for dementia, mood disorders, falls, incontinence, and Parkinsonís
and Alzheimerís diseases; and helping patients keep track of their various
"In geriatrics, our major
focus is function and quality of life," said Dr. Flacker, who received
the 2002 Health Care Provider Silver Star Award from the DeKalb County
Area Agency on Aging for his work with senior citizens. "Thatís what
weíre about. We have to be a lot more involved in the social situation
because older folks tend to have a lot of problems all at the same time.
So, instead of just taking care of their lungs, heart, arthritis and
the like, weíre also addressing their emotional and social needs."
Dr. Flacker said the new
geriatrics center is the only facility of its kind in Atlanta to serve
a primarily underserved, African-American population.
"We try very hard to adjust
our services to our patientsí needs," Dr. Flacker said. "The prescriptions
I write are probably the least important part of someoneís care. Itís
developing relationships with patients, planning for things that might
happen, and not subjecting patients to tests and medications they donít
need. Itís also deciding what their preferences are for care and then
working to meet their needs."