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LIFE Geisinger Comes to Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE — Geisinger Health System operates two facilities called LIFE Geisinger, one in the Scranton area in Lackawanna County, and one in Kulpmont i...

WILKES-BARRE -- Geisinger Health System operates two facilities called LIFE Geisinger, one in the Scranton area in Lackawanna County, and one in Kulpmont in Northumberland County.

LIFE Geisinger is a program that serves seniors who may otherwise be in a nursing home.

On Thursday, officials let us see their new third location, inside Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.

Theola Coles, age 86, of Wilkes-Barre, got a glimpse of the place where she'll soon spend many of her days.

"As Little Orphan Annie said, 'I think I'm gonna like it here!'

Right now, Theola is picked up by van and taken to the LIFE Geisinger facility on the campus of Marywood University in Lackawanna County.

But starting next month, she'll be at Geisinger's newest LIFE facility. It's where some lobby space and an old registration area used to be, inside Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre on Church Street.

"This is going to be superb! And then I'm only going to have to come 5,10 minutes and I'm here!" Theola said.

Geisinger's Robert McQuillan gave a tour of LIFE, which stands for Living Independently For Elders. The hospital system touts it as an alternative to a nursing home.

It's adult day care, except that officials say it's all-inclusive, meaning doctor's appointments, meals, medications, and therapies are taken care of, in addition to the social component.

New here is a sitting area, a small kitchen, and clinic rooms.

The hope is to allow more seniors to remain in their own homes, as the cost of nursing homes continues to rise.

"I can stay living at home with my family, but day to day when they work, i can have all of my needs met in a place that's well equipped to provide them," explained Dr. Gerry Maloney.

Dr. Maloney is the chief medical officer of Geisinger Wyoming Valley.

He says this LIFE Geisinger location is also important for another reason: to breathe new life into the South Wilkes-Barre campus.

"As you know this used to be a full-service hospital. And we're trying to recreate as much of that environment as we can."

The 3,000square foot facility will officially open next month, and Geisinger officials say they'll be adding 15 new employees by the summer.

As for the cost of LIFE Geisinger, that will vary depending on a person's specific situation. Hospital officials say certain people who need nursing-home-level care and are enrolled in Medicaid, for instance, are fully covered.

They don't rule out the creation of other LIFE Geisinger facilities in the future.