Public invited May 14 to learn about new Kearney-area service for older adults

The College of Nursing will showcase its mobile comprehensive geriatric assessment service May 14

The University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing invites the public to learn about a unique service launched in Kearney in collaboration with Good Samaritan Hospital and area health providers who care for older adults with complicated health issues.

The college will showcase its comprehensive geriatric assessment service provided through its Mobile Nurse Managed Clinic during an open house on May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Peterson Senior Activity Center, 2020 W. 11th St. in Yanney Heritage Park.

Comprehensive geriatric assessments are thorough medical evaluations that assess a patient’s physical, mental, social and environmental status. They include assessments of a host of issues including memory problems, depression, incontinence, hearing and vision, malnutrition, weight loss, falls, or an unsafe living environment.

The service will help fill a critical need for fragile older adults in rural areas whose physical or mental conditions impair their functioning. Patients can be self-referred or referred, by their primary care physician, an agency or other health care providers.

The service is provided in a 38-foot customized recreational vehicle with two exam rooms, a wheelchair lift, laboratory testing equipment and EKG machines. The mobile clinic has high definition video capability that can be used to connect to the patient's care providers for consultation anywhere in the state.

The clinic is staffed by UNMC College of Nursing geriatric nurse practitioners who specialize in the care of older adults: Claudia Chaperon, Ph.D., project director and associate professor in Omaha, Rachel Fortney, lead in charge of the comprehensive geriatric assessment service and instructor in Omaha; and Nancy Meier, psychiatric and geriatric nurse practitioner and instructor at the UNMC College of Nursing in Scottsbluff. 

Assessments aren’t typically available to older adults living in rural areas.

“This is an innovative and collaborative primary health care model that reaches out with a critically needed service to help vulnerable older Nebraskans in rural areas,” said Dr. Chaperon. “The goal is to help improve function in older adults so they can maintain or regain their independence.”

Beth Ernst, M.D., is one of a number of physicians from the Kearney Clinic who finds the geriatric assessment service valuable to her patients and to her as a busy practitioner.

“The assessments have been extremely thorough, practical, and helpful toward the goal of providing better care to my elderly patients with complicated issues. There is a real need for this kind of service in this area.

 “It's just impractical for most of my older patients to travel to Omaha to see a geriatrician for a consultation. The outreach service is a step toward filling that gap. Our common goal is to keep our patients happy, healthy, and as independent as possible,” Dr. Ernst said.

Fortney, who also is the lead geriatric nurse practitioner, will act as a liaison to the community, schedule appointments, coordinate services with physicians and other health care providers, and provide case management for patients and their families. The coordination results in an interprofessional patient-centered comprehensive care plan with patient, caregivers, and all providers following the same plan. Services are billed through Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance.

Dr. Chaperon said if a specialist is needed, she and her team will refer the patient to a specialist in their community in collaboration with their primary care provider. “If the resources aren’t available in the community, we will consult with specialists in the region. Our model of short term co-management with the primary provider has been well received by primary care providers across the state.”

She said another benefit of the service is it provides a clinical opportunity for adult gerontology nurse practitioner students to receive more clinical experience.

The service to Kearney was made possible in 2012 by a $77,425 grant from Women Investing in Nebraska. Initially, the project was funded in 2011 by a $300,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus funding) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. Other grant funding also supports the project.

The mobile clinic began service in 2011 in Norfolk and Neligh. The first clinic was held in Kearney in March. Specialty services needed during the visit are provided at Good Samaritan Hospital, or via telemedicine with UNMC.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.





Vicky Cerino
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-5190