Doctors pay visit to residents

EAST LIVERPOOL – Dr. Moncy Varkey is taking Peggy Atwood’s hands and, ever so gingerly, helping her stand up during a recent visit to CrossRoads at Beaver Creek.

As the doctor carefully checks the elderly patient’s range of motion, they look like they’re dancing.

Atwood, 85, a resident at CrossRoads, seems to appreciate Varkey’s gentle style. “I’m glad you’re coming here,” she said.

“I’m happy to be here,” Varkey said.

The osteopathic physician and his partner at River Valley Physicians, Dr. Danielle Mehlenbacher, are part of a new arrangement that has East Liverpool City Hospital doctors visiting the assisted living facility on a weekly basis.

Executive Director Penny Traina said CrossRoads started considering having doctors visit on site after getting requests from residents. “It does help the residents, since they live here. It gives them a hometown choice,” she said.

Traina and CrossRoads President Vickie Holden first met with East Liverpool City Hospital CEO Kenneth Cochran to discuss the possibilities. Residents met the doctors at an open house on Feb. 14. Under the partnership, Varkey and Mehlenbacher will visit CrossRoads every week, with each doctor alternating weeks.

“It’s up to the residents which physician they would like to see,” Traina said. Residents who choose to participate are billed just as if they are seeing their own doctor.

Varkey’s residency was “very strong” in geriatrics, he said, and he has previously served in assisted living centers and nursing homes.

Varkey said the trend in geriatric medicine is to bring the doctor to the patient. “Nobody likes to see the doctor,” he said. “So if we can make that part of being elderly easier and more convenient, that’s what we should do. … Young or old, we like things when they come to us.”

With his older patients, Varkey said he likes to focus on quality of life and not quantity of years. “I think we should enjoy every day we have,” he said.

Patients in their 70s and 80s often don’t get enough attention because their “simple complaints” have to do with aches and pains – things commonly associated with old age, he said.

“Younger patients, like Peggy, often get overlooked,” Varkey said. “We have to care about all our patients and see to it that they’re not overlooked.”

In his visits to CrossRoads, Varkey said he will focus on issues such as mobility, pain and polypharmacy – when elderly patients are prescribed too many medicines.