BEVERLY — The cash registers and calendars that once occupied the south wall of the Borders bookstore in Beverly have been replaced by a series of exam and consultation rooms.
AdvocateCare Center opened late last month, taking over most of the first floor of the former bookstore at 2210 W. 95th St. The pilot program is designed to cater to seniors with chronic medical conditions.
"This is more of a larger medical home for our patients," said Dr. Tiffany Groen, the lead physician at the new facility.
She is one of 15 people who work at the center designed for patients with an average age of 75. Most patients are expected to be dealing with multiple medical issues and are likely to visit the office on a weekly basis or more, she said.
The office has the ability to see 800-1,000 such patients and expects to be at capacity within a year. Should the pilot program take off as expected, Advocate would consider expanding into a small, unused portion of the building's first floor as well as upstairs, said Jonathan Hoffsuemmer, the director of operations at Advocate's new office.
"There could be some use in the future," Hoffsuemmer said while standing Wednesday in the untapped second floor of the building that still looks and feels like an empty Borders.
The new center takes a wider approach to health care by including a range of specialists such as a clinical pharmacist, a physical therapist, a chaplain and a social worker to complement the doctors and nurses, Hoffsuemmer said.
Seniors with a Medicare Advantage Plan are eligible to use the center with a referral from their doctor, and officials with the Downers Grove-based medical group would not say how much was invested in renovating the former bookstore.
But Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) previously said the construction phase of the project would cost $3.5 million. He also believes that the facility will bring well paying jobs to the area and serve the growing need for senior health care in Beverly and beyond.
Indeed, Hoffsuemmer and Groen said the aging population in the area between Advocate's Christ and Trinity hospitals made Beverly an ideal middle ground. The new office also hopes to set itself apart by providing a more individualized level of care.
For example, doctors will be scheduled to see just 8-10 patients a day and visits of upwards of 1½ hours will be commonplace, Hoffsuemmer said. This approach is expected to contrast traditional medical offices that often operate with a much quicker turnaround time and a larger daily number of patients.
Many seniors treated at the center are expected to be dealing with conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure or a combination illnesses. Extra time will be needed to fully understand the complexities of these illnesses and how the various forms of treatment interact, Groen said.
Employees are also expected to spend time helping seniors with little things, like entering the center's phone number into their cellphones. And family and caregivers are encouraged to attend doctor visits to be part of the process, Groen said.
"We aim to make the patient feel supported at all times," she said.
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