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Kamloops to get geriatric health centre

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June 17, 2016 - 10:30 AM

KAMLOOPS - The Interior Health Authority is developing a geriatric centre for the city, seniors care manager Janine Carscadden says.

“We met with members of the community and seniors and asked for input,” she says. “They want a one stop shop.”

Some seniors find the current system with services decentralized around the city difficult to navigate.

Where that one stop might be could take awhile to figure out. The authority wants to get the centre open as soon as possible, Carscadden says. The expectation is for the centre to open within a year, though it may take longer, health authority spokesperson Erin Toews says.

What the geriatric centre would be is also up for debate. Carscadden says one version might see a geriatrician working as a specialist, receiving patients sent by their general practitioner. A larger option would include multiple services in one location like a clinic, with fall prevention and fitness classes and a team working together, including a registered nurse, physiotherapist and a geriatrician.

The services that would be part of a geriatric centre are already available in Kamloops, including a geriatrician. Dr. Smita Varma starting practicing in Kamloops in January, Carscadden says, and that’s part of the reason the authority is moving ahead with plans in Kamloops.

Kelowna is also being considered for a centre, but Toews says it's still in the very early stages and couldn't say if the the haelth authority is committed.

“We’re looking now at trying to see how do we establish that team that’s around Dr. Varma,” she says. “We will be building upon that.”

Varma is currently working at Royal Inland Hospital and Ponderosa Place.

With a growing number of seniors in the area, Carscadden says senior care, especially for frail seniors, is a priority.

“More than 22 per cent of residents within Interior Health are over 65 years of age," she says. “That’s only going to go up.”

The health authority is actively recruiting more geriatricians for the region and while the geriatric centre is still in the early stages of planning, the authority is committed to getting it running as soon as possible.

— This story was updated at 12:16 p.m., June 17, 2016, with clarifying statements from health authority spokesperson Erin Toews.


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