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It was 5 p.m. when Greta Mah's phone rang. On the other end of the line was the daughter of a patient from North York General Hospital's Geriatric Parkinson's Clinic. She explained to Greta, a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist at the clinic, that her mother was hallucinating and not sleeping at night, and asked if they needed to take her to the emergency department.
After a quick consult with Dr. Joyce Lee, Care of the Elderly Physician, Greta advised the daughter to adjust a couple of her mother's medications for Parkinson's that may have caused the symptoms. Over the next few days, Greta checked in with the family and was pleased to hear the hallucinations stopped and she was able to fall asleep.
Elderly patients with Parkinson's disease often experience physical and cognitive complications, and can have bad reactions to certain medications, resulting in frequent emergency department visits. These visits often result in long hospital stays and further decline in their health.
“With telephone intervention services for Parkinson’s patients, we are able to resolve crises over the phone, giving patients and families quick and easy access to care from our clinic’s pharmacist, who knows them and understands their health situation,” says Dr. Lee. “We carried out a study to determine whether our telephone intervention could prevent emergency department visits, even for the frail elderly patients with Parkinson's disease. The results were extremely encouraging as it showed 90% of crisis calls were resolved over the phone, thus preventing many unnecessary emergency visits and hospital admissions.”
Dr. Lee explains that crisis calls are often related to psychosis, syncope, falls, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
Telephone intervention service is available to patients and families enrolled in the Geriatric Parkinson's Clinic at North York General. The clinic provides comprehensive management and interventions to help frail patients live better at home with Parkinson's disease.
At their first clinic visit, patients will meet with Greta and Dr. Lee for an assessment, and are encouraged to call whenever they have concerns about their symptoms or treatment related to Parkinson's disease. With this type of access to care, patients and families feel better supported and have problems resolved before they become unmanageable at home.
At the 2016 World Parkinson Congress in September, Dr. Joyce Lee, Care of the Elderly Physician (on left), and Greta Mah, Certified Geriatric Pharmacist, presented their research on the impact of a telephone intervention service at a community-based geriatrics clinic for Parkinson's and it was recognized as the leading poster.
Learn more about the Geriatric Parkinson's Clinic.
Watch our video on Seniors' Care at NYGH: Parkinson's disease
This article first appeared in the November 2016 issue of The Pulse.
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