Fl.-based Reliance Medical Centers focusing on emotional health of seniors
ORLANDO, FL — The growth of the Hispanic population, especially of seniors in Polk County, and recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on emotional health and wellbeing, has pushed Reliance Medical Centers to maximize its operations by providing specialized bilingual services and bringing well-being advisors as part of its big plans of expansion.
Dr. Carlos Romero, co-founder, co-CEO, and chief medical officer at Reliance Medical Centers, said adding two counselors to the two centers in Winter Haven and Lakeland in Polk County provides that help needed by many seniors living in this region.
Romero has been in Polk County since 2007 when he opened his own practice, which has grown into two Reliance Medical Centers. He knows this area very well and the stories of many of the center’s patients, of which 25% to 40% are Hispanic and at least 82,000 are Puerto Ricans living here.
“I’ve seen patients who were 65 years old then and now I have realized not only the clinical treatment for these 84- and 85-year-old represents an improvement because you can be the best doctor and give the best treatment, but many forget the emotional and social component of the patient’s health and that’s significant for them,” said Romero.
He believes in the “meaningful patient-doctor relationship,” which is the ideal way to connect and heal not only their medical conditions but also their mental or emotional situation. That has been exacerbated with the pandemic, with many suffering from anxiety, depression, isolation, and some even afraid to visit a medical office.
Emotional health and well-being are important for all age groups, but vital amongst older adults, as seniors 65 years old or older have been the most vulnerable to the serious outcomes of COVID-19.
Social isolation and the concern or realization of the heartbreak of losing close friends or family members has placed a notable burden on seniors and caused not only a concern for physical health but that of state of mind.
“Traditionally, primary care providers have focused solely on the clinical aspect of healthcare, with check-ups that account for blood pressure, heart rate, and other routine vitals. But that’s only part of the multi-faceted picture that makes up a person’s total health scenario. The mission at Reliance Medical Centers is to improve every life we touch, both inside and out, adding well-being advisors allows us to continue to honor that mission,” said Romero.
“The advantages of talking with a well-being advisor are widely known and are greatly accepted as the next level in improving healthcare. Talking with a specialist can elevate mood, create a more positive outlook for change and provide tools to improve physical health outcomes,” he said.
The well-being advisors are licensed clinical social workers, who apply concepts such as mindfulness, dialogue, relaxation, and other techniques to compassionately guide people along the path to wellness.
A more positive mental outlook has been shown to improve physical health as well as the overall state of wellbeing, stability, and happiness, and Reliance not only recognizes this key component in healthcare but offers it to its patients at no additional cost.
“With or without a pandemic, growing older means growing concerns about aging and what that means about self, health, family, finances, lifestyle and more,” he added.
And seeing the growing populations they plan to have seven or eight centers in Polk County over the next two years to serve at least 15,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Plans also call for adding a mobile unit to offer outpatient services in 2022.