To help the growing number of elderly struggling to find easy access to medical care due to a physician shortage in the Dallas area, one local health system has opened clinics featuring important details designed to give Medicare patients a safe, comfortable experience.

Last July, Texas Health Resources and Texas Health Physicians Group, Arlington, began opening the first of the new clinics for patients 65 and older on Texas Health’s campus in Burleson, a suburb of Fort Worth, with the second following in August in Plano. A third clinic is planned for Arlington later this year.

The Texas Health “Your Health Centers” will offer primary and preventive care and will be staffed by certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants, with each clinic being supervised by a physician medical director, says Shawn Parsley, D.O., president, Texas Health Physicians Group.

“This was a project for our physicians’ group to try and solve the problem of lack of access to health care for Medicare patients,” he says. “The problem was identified by a number of Medicare patients who were discharged from one of our hospitals and reported that they couldn’t get follow-up care.”

The health care system and physicians’ group made sure that the clinics were designed to be senior-friendly, accessible and safe. “There are a lot of things in regular doctors’ offices that don’t flow well for an older patient,” Parsley says.

Dan Varga, M.D., chief clinical officer and senior executive vice president, Texas Health Resources, thinks the model would work elsewhere because it is care-centered without being physician-reliant. The use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants will allow longer, less costly visits that will give clinicians the opportunity to know their patients better.

Parsley says the number of senior centers to be opened is uncertain for now but the future locations will follow the same guidelines. “We’re looking at expanding to regional areas where Medicare patients are underserved by traditional medical offices,” he says. •