Study examines effects of stationing physicians in nursing homes

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A study taking place in Central Iowa is examining what effect the presence of a physician and physician's assistant working full time will have on residents at a nursing home.

The pilot program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will examine the care of 50 residents at Adel Acres Nursing Home. The clinicians will concentrate on preventive medicine, hoping to reduce the incidence of falls by at least 30%, officials said. They also will concentrate on residents' problems with heart disease, dementia and diabetes.

Federal officials hope the findings can lead to better long-term care for seniors and reduced hospital admissions. They also plan to examine how much costs are reduced during what could be a two-year study frame. Adel Acres staff already say they prefer having the on-site doctors, compared with having to contact up to 10 physicians a day for residents' care.

"The question is: Can we improve how we take care of folks, decrease their suffering and at the same time cut costs?" said Dr. Robert Bender, a geriatrician with Iowa Health System. "If we can do that, that would be magic.

"We think that the system we have imagined is very applicable virtually anywhere in the United States," he added.