The scenery is breathtaking, the history abundant and the lifestyle hard to beat. But when seniors choose to retire in Charlottesville, the depth of medical resources – right in their backyard – is often what seals the deal for them.
“That’s a major consideration for any person retiring… what kind of care, what kind of doctors will I have access to,” says Kristina Pare, director of marketing for CCRC Westminister-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge. “Those fears or worries really are eliminated in Charlottesville…”
THE BEST OF THE BEST
According to Tim Hulbert, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber or Commerce, the level, of care available in Charlottesville is extraordinary for an area its size, rivaling larger metropolitan areas like Boston, Los Angeles, and Houston. Not only can seniors tap into the resources provided by University of Virginia Health System, which has been on U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list for 16 years running, but they also have access to a top-notch community hospital in century-old Martha Jefferson Hospital, which is opening a brand new facility in 2011. According to Pare, the new hospital, which will be right across the street from Westminister-Canterbury, has been the impetus for a number of new medical offices springing up on Pantops as well.
Both hospitals offer many capabilities and services that resonate with seniors. Among these are the UVA Transitional Care Hospital, specializing in illnesses that require a longer length of stay (typically 25-28 days) than os standard at an acute care hospital and the new Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center opening at UVA in 2011. Martha Jefferson Hospital was also recently designed by the joint Commission as an “Advanced Primary Stroke Center” for its efforts in improving stroke outcomes.
Plus, there are a variety of home healthcare agencies, hospice services and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs are often within retirement community settings) to augment the capabilities of the two hospitals. Many retirement communities even bring in visiting physicians to provide on-site clinic hours for patients. “There are about half a dozen physicians who see their patients right here at Morningside (of Charlottesville),” says the assisted living community’s executive director John True.
ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
When folks are convalescing from an illness or injury, rehabilitation os often an important part of regaining function and independence. UVA Health System and Martha Jefferson Hospital both offer an extensive range of inpatient and outpatient rehab services – from cardiac rehab to physical therapy. In fact, UVA maintains a separate facility, UVA HealthSouth, for this purpose. “It (UVA HealthSouth) is an intensive rehabilitation program, designed for those patients who can tolerate three hours of daily therapy,” notes True. Morningside of Charlottesville happens to be located just a few miles from UVA HealthSouth. Both Morningside and Westminister-Canterbury, as well as other retirement communities in the area, also offer on-site therapy for residents.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
The depth of medical resources will certainly give seniors a feeling of security, but most would probably prefer not to have to put them to the test. To help keep illness at bay, both Charlottesville area hospitals offer seniors a steady dose of infomation and education that seniors are able to use in their everyday lives. Martha Jefferson’s registered dieticians teach folks good nutrition practices, either through individual counseling or educational programs taught right in the grocery store. “They also do a lot of general educational programs for people with specific diabetes or heart failure,” says Dr. Bruce Clemons, medical director for Martha Jefferson Outpatient Services.
Another big of insight that is extremely relevant to the retired population is The Institute on Aging’s Cognition Study, conducted by the Cognitive Aging Laboratory at UVA Health System. By tracking patients from their mid 20s to their 90s over a period of years, even decades, researchers hope to determine how age impacts cognition, the implications of lifestyle or health on changes in in cognition and ways to slow down the decline. UVA’s School of Medicine even conducts an eight week Mini-Med School each year, giving “wannable” doctors of all ages a crash course on medical topics ranging from aging to cancer. Students also have the opportunity to observe a medical research lab at work as scientists try to find ways to improve health.
“Medical resources are clearly an important component of why people choose to retire in Charlottesville,” notes Tim Hulbert. “When people come in (to the Chamber) asking questions about retirement, they just want to hear that the research they have done is true.” That’s research they have no problem validating!