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Healthwatch 16: Geisinger opening new 65 Forward facility

The demographic of 65 and older is 30 percent or more of Geisinger's total patient population, and it's the only demographic that is growing in size.

WEST HAZLETON, Pa. — A new Geisinger facility will be open to the public on Monday in West Hazleton. It's a 65 Forward location in a renovated space where a Staples store used to be.

"It's a new, an innovative program that has started to take better, more comprehensive care of the population that's 65 or older," said Dr. Shane Young.

Dr. Young was hired to be the physician here, along with a staff specifically trained to help those 65 and older.

We got a tour of the facility, which includes 12 exam rooms, an in-house lab for blood work, x-ray facilities, and a small wellness center offering exercise and other education classes.

Activities and crafts will be offered for the social component of care. And it's worth noting that staff here will be keeping Spanish speakers in mind.

"Personally, as a physician, I speak Spanish. I studied for a time in Mexico, and my wife happens to be from Mexico, so I tell people sometimes that I understand more Spanish than I want to understand," Dr. Young laughed.

Geisinger officials say 65 Forward brings a set of the most-used health services by this age group into one location.

Dr. Young says he was drawn to the position, in part, because of how much time he'll get to spend with each of his patients.

"We limit the patient panel to 450 patients per provider. Compare that to traditional family practice, which is 2,000 to 3,000, and we have an ability to think more and do more for that patient," Dr. Young explained. "They have some amazing life stories! I'm going to be able to talk to them, hear those stories, and get to know them. it's just a wonderful thing."

The West Hazleton site is the fifth 65 Forward facility, joining those already open in Kingston, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Shamokin Dam.