A visiting physician from California held outreach presentations on a Medicare outreach program designed to help senior citizens stay healthy and avoid hospital stays.

Dr. Tien Trinh said he came to Guam to start the program at the request of Dr. Hoa Nguyen of American Medical Clinic.

Helping senior citizens

Nguyen said a lot of senior citizens on Guam don’t have a primary physician or wellness program. “Basically, when we catch them they are sick already. They end up in the hospital,” he said. Nguyen said a lot of patients don’t have anyone to check up on them.

Trinh has been running a similar Medicare outreach program in the U.S. since 2013. He helped start the program locally in March. He said the program focuses on disease prevention.

"Over the past 10 to 15 years in medicine, we realized the traditional way of treating a patient – where you wait for the patient to get sick you come see the doctor – that method does not work in the long run,” said Trinh. He said there is now a shift in how patients are cared for to have a longer and healthier life.

The program focuses on four things: quality of life, disease prevention, maintenance and early intervention, according to Trinh.

"We understand our patients will get sick," Trinh said. "It doesn’t matter how good you are as a doctor. But the key is, you find a patient in the early process of getting sick and it is much easier to deal with it."

Evaluating patients

Under the program, patients are seen by a doctor on a regular basis, two to eight times a year, whether they are sick or not. Patients undergo an evaluation to determine how often they will be seen yearly. Every patient is assigned a nurse who contacts them at least once a month and acts as a health coach and liaison between the patient and doctor.

To be eligible for the program, a patient must have Medicare Part B coverage, which pertains to physician visits.

Nelia Dulay, 69, was present for the outreach Thursday at the Dededo Mayor's Office. She described the program as “excellent” and thought it would help improve the overall health of her peers "of course, 100 percent."

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