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Memory Clinic opens on campus
October 26, 2010Tweet
Binghamton University is helping to reach out to elder community members and their families, thanks to the recent opening of the Memory Clinic on campus.
The clinic, coordinated through the Decker School of Nursing’s Elder Services Center, offers geriatric assessments, consultations and case management services for local residents. The clinic is located in Room 337 of the Academic B building and operates every other Thursday evening.
The main Memory Clinic is located at the Johnson City Family Care Center. It operates every other Thursday afternoon.
“The new clinic is an expansion of services,” said Rene Conklin, director of the Elder Services Center, who works with older residents who fear they may be developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. “The expansion of services is because the number of clients I’m getting calls from has increased. We have the site available and we found a doctor who is willing to help.”
Patient visits, which are confidential and by appointment only, are conducted in two parts, Conklin said. The first consists of a home visit in which Conklin and Elder Services staff members examine the history and background of the patient and do initial memory testing. A second visit takes place at the Memory Clinic with Dr. Jerome Mikloucich of Lourdes Hospital, who volunteers his time and works with Elder Services staff, Decker faculty and nurse practitioner students to develop a diagnosis and recommendation report for the primary care physician. Medicare covers consultation fees if the physician has referred the patient to the clinic.
“We will review a consolidated medical history because elderly people often have different doctors,” Conklin said. “When we put everything together, it gives us the chance to look at all of the medications and treatment patterns to see what could be interfering with each other.”
Conklin and the clinic also work with the families of elderly patients in areas ranging from stress management techniques to assistance in finding the proper services.
“There are a lot of services available in Broome County, but they’re not always easy to find,” she said. “When you are under that kind of stress, having to look through a phone book to find something can be an overwhelming task. I can usually point them in the direction where to go.”
Conklin emphasized that many patients come to the clinic afraid that they are developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, but other factors could be involved, such as an undiagnosed illness, side effects from medication, hormone problems or even the natural aging process.
“As we age, the more likely we are to develop some type of cognitive impairment,” she said. “Some memory loss in the elderly is common and not necessarily a problem. We have a lot of people who come in terrified … and they do have some cognitive impairment. But it’s not enough to interfere with their lives. They are highly functional.”
About 40 family nurse practitioner and geriatric nurse practitioner students are involved in the clinic and receiving geriatric clinic experience, Conklin said. The Thursday evening hours were established to help those patients who are employed.
“It’s convenient for people who work during the day and have a hard time getting off work,” Conklin said. “They don’t have to take an afternoon off to do a clinic visit.”
As the population continues to age, Conklin believes there is potential for further expansion of services for the Memory Clinic.
“The hope is there,” she said. “It would be great (to offer services) a few days a week. If the demand increases, I’m sure everything will be done to expand it.
“This shows the Decker School of Nursing and Binghamton University’s commitment to the community,” she added. “It shows a huge commitment to have this clinic open and available to our community.”