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Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Aging Baby Boomers: It’s a Big Local Business Issue

Our annual health care magazine is in this issue. Each of the past several years we have run these types of magazines taking an issue that is important to the local health care industry and exploring it in depth. There is so much going on in this industry that we could fill dozens of special magazines and special reports and still not say it all. This one is “Medical Facilities: Hospitals, Clinics Prepare to Meet Influx of Aging Patients.” I think it’s an under-rated, under-covered problem that is in itself almost as big as the issue of health care reform in general. And they of course overlap. It really hasn’t hit yet. The people born in the first year of the baby boom are only 63 years old – but they are real close to using medical facilities a lot. Some of them already may be using them a lot. That means many multiples of people using hospitals and needing doctors and nurses than use them now. The whole problem of what to do about American health care will only get worse. It’s a huge societal issue and a huge business issue certainly for the health care industry and the economy in general. But due to a great reporting job by Business Journal Reporter Andrea Alegria, who wrote this magazine, I don’t feel so bad about how our local medical facilities are prepared. She found that, yes, the problem is big but our hospitals and clinics for the most part are really thinking about it and doing something about it. She talked to many health care administrators and clinicians who are front and center in the battle to meet the aging population’s medical needs. There are many outpatient services at nearly all our hospitals to help meet the needs. In-patient services need a little bit more work, it seems. Nurses need to be better trained to realize that seniors really must be treated differently than younger people in a medical and emotional sense. Certain areas of hospitals such as emergency rooms actually need to be reconfigured to meet the needs of seniors and to be sensitive to them. And, of course, we need more doctors specializing in the elderly. More primary care doctors. But Andrea found that most new physicians go to the more glamorous and high-paying specialties. But let me ask you this – if you’re really old and sick in a general way, I don’t think you’re thinking about plastic surgery. Maybe the really vain are. Think about it, medical students. Technology is phenomenal these days and readily available to most people going to medical facilities. Our local facilities are using this equipment, you’ll be happy to find. You’ll see that the long-term care industry is going through transition right now. Too many assisted living facilities. Not enough nursing homes. It’s all too expensive, too. Expensive for the users of these facilities and the owners of them. This country really needs to get a model that works. Not sure we’re headed to that in this session of Congress either. There’s a lot in this magazine. It’s a good read. Something that you really haven’t read a lot about. I feel we have a good health care system in our valleys. It needs more money, of course. But the money it has is wisely spent by excellent administrators as a whole. And, just as important, are the actual caregivers who are employed at these facilities. They work really hard. And the ones who understand how to deal with the elderly, I truly admire. The elderly are different than the rest of us. And they’re special. Readers who may have elderly parents now who need the best of care may also be able to relate to these articles, too. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125 or at editor@sfvbj.com.

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