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New El Camino facility brings senior health services under one roof

With the flu season swing, El Camino Hospital sought to showcase the services offered at the newly opened Senior Health Center, which include free flu shots and blood pressure screenings.

The Senior Health Center held an open house on Nov. 16, drawing more than 300 people to the facility that's designed specifically for patients 65 and older, which opened in February. In addition to the free vaccinations and blood pressure readings, hospital officials were eager to share the other services they have brought together to help seniors stay healthy as they grow older.

Senior Health Center staff gave demonstrations of the VGo robotic monitoring system. The VGo looks a bit like a miniature, autonomous Segway, with a video screen at the top. The video communications technology can go to wherever a patient is within a home, instead of having the patient sit down at a computer. It was created to help doctors and nurses check in on their patients remotely, and could prove particularly helpful in checking up on low-mobility seniors.

The VGo isn't the only remote monitoring system that nurses and doctors in the Senior Health Center plan to use. They may also have scales equipped with wireless transmission and other similar devices to help doctors and nurses track a patient's progress without needing that patient to come into the office.

If the patient does have to come in, he or she will be able to take care of more things under the same roof. When hospital officials were planning the Senior Health Center, they envisioned a facility where patients would have access doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, dieticians, pharmacists and other senior-oriented health professionals.

Having all these specialists working under one roof should have many benefits, hospital officials say. Better communication among doctors and pharmacists means certain patients will have a more finely tuned prescription drug regimen. Patients won't have to go to an entirely separate office to talk to a mental health expert or to get dietary counseling.

"We are thrilled with the overwhelming attendance at the open house," said Dr. Eric Pifer, chief medical officer at ECH. "Our goal is to provide a useful community service and an adjunct to the great primary care already available in our community."

More information on the Senior Health Center and the services offered there can be found by calling 650-962-4360 or by visiting the Senior Health Center website.

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