Mercy Care hosts forum on age-friendly health systems, communities

Pictured at the Mercy Care Educational Forum at Paul Smith’s College are, from left, AARP New York Associate State Director Randall Hoak, Mercy Care for the Adirondacks Executive Director Donna Beal, John A. Hartford Foundation President Dr. Terry Fulmer, Adirondack Health President and CEO Sylvia Getman and Mercy Care for the Adirondacks board President Jerry Hayes. (Photo provided)

PAUL SMITHS — On Nov. 15, Mercy Care for the Adirondacks hosted nearly 100 people from several different counties at a day-long educational forum on the topics of Age-friendly Health Systems and Age-friendly Communities.

The forum was held at Paul Smith’s College. Jerry Hayes, Mercy Care’s Board President, and Donna Beal, Executive Director of Mercy Care, welcomed national, state, and local experts to share their expertise on how Adirondack communities can become more age-friendly. Hayes expressed gratitude to Paul Smith’s College, Adirondack Foundation, and Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network for helping to support the Forum.

Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation, served as a national expert on Age-friendly Health Systems. The John A. Hartford Foundation was established by family owners of the A&P grocery chain in 1929 in New York. It is dedicated to improving the care of older adults.

Fulmer noted that the North Country is especially going to benefit given the number of older people living here. She said, “Being with my colleagues in the North Country, especially at beautiful Paul Smith’s College, always energizes me. My thanks go to the team at Mercy Care for the Adirondacks for their exceptional commitment in this area.”

Fulmer’s presentation explained the “4MS” of age-friendly care.

What Matters: Know and align care with each older adult’s specific health outcome goals and care preferences including, but not limited to end-of-life, and across settings of care.

Medication: If medications are necessary, use age-friendly medications that do not interfere with What Matters to the older adult, mobility or mentation across settings of care.

Mentation: Prevent, identify, treat, and manage dementia, depression, and delirium across care settings of care.

Mobility: Ensure that older adults move safely every day to maintain function and do What Matters.

Dr. Fulmer concluded by saying, “The 4Ms bundle as a key driver for creating an Age-friendly Health System. The John A. Hartford Foundation is committed to working with New York State to make real change for all of our communities. My thanks go to Caitlyn Huntington from the NYS Department of Health who participated in the Forum. DOH is doing so much with the Governor to move the age-friendly concept forward in our state.”

“As a member of the community, it is Adirondack Health’s job to coordinate services, connect the dots and guide our patients through personal healthcare decisions large and small,” said Sylvia Getman, Adirondack Health president and CEO. “Age-friendly environments of care are essential components in treating the ‘whole person’, and we look forward to continued collaboration with New York State and Mercy Care for the Adirondacks to inform and expand age-friendly best practices across our health system.”

“As healthcare becomes more age-friendly, all ages will reap the benefits associated with this researched and thoughtful redesign,” said Dr. Kristina Clark, director of rehabilitation at Adirondack Health’s Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake.

“Appropriate medication use in our aging population is critical to obtaining an accurate diagnosis, the best treatment and increased safety,” said Dr. Alissa Harse, a pharmacist at Adirondack Health. “Complexity increases with more medications, chronic diseases, prescribing providers and number of pharmacies utilized. Age-friendly approaches to pharmaceutical care are imperative in preventing serious medication-related complications.”

Randall Hoak, associate state director, AARP New York, presented on the AARP Network of Age-friendly States and Communities.

Hoak explained the 8 domains of age-friendly communities, great places for people of all ages to live. Randy remarked on Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order to support New York as the first age-friendly state in the country. Randy said, “The Executive Order is designed to systematically incorporate population health needs, domains of livability, and Smart Growth principles into the policies of all state government entities to improve health and well-being of New Yorkers across the lifespan.

There are 10 cities and towns and 8 counties participating in the network of Age-friendly communities in New York. Several Upstate Communities are in various stages of discussing or applying to the network.

Hoak emphasized the importance of cultivating strong community partners working with hospital systems, as demonstrated by Adirondack Health and Mercy Care for the Adirondacks. Randy remarked, “AARP continues to cultivate local relationships across New York State as regional and statewide partnerships provide resources to communities that are charting an age-friendly future. It is exciting to see a diverse group of stakeholders bringing this conversation to the North Country.”