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Geisinger 65 Forward serves seniors at ten locations

Outside photo of Geisinger 65 Forward
Haley O'Brien/WVIA News
Outside photo of Geisinger 65 Forward

Officials want healthcare and hospitality to go hand in hand at Geisinger 65 Forward.

“All in one day, you can see your doctor, you can workout, you can do crafts, you can go have a snack, and you can do it all in one day if you want,” Tilly Gagliardi said.

65 Forward facilities, like this one in Wilkes-Barre, provide a primary care doctor’s office surrounded by resources to enhance the patient’s wellness. The program, specifically for seniors, has expanded all over northeast Pennsylvania due to its popularity.

“It was appealing to me because it’s for people 65 and older, it isn’t just for anybody,” Aniello Caiazzo said. “The reason why that appeals to me is because the doctors I would imagine that are dealing with the 65 and older are more experienced with the older crew.”

The 65 Forward program is an extension of Geisinger Gold Insurance. Primary care physician Dr. George Avetian says the care his patients’ receive is personalized.

“It is basically hovering over the patient, addressing all of their needs,” he said. “Interacting with the patient, having intellectual discussions, discussing options, and being very preventative, proactive, and minimizing their health needs as much as possible. But when the health system is needed, we are here.”

Preventative options include exercise classes and a gym with a personal trainer. Tilly Gagliardi from Hanover Township sees a dietitian for nutrition tips and works with the personal trainer at the gym.

“I had a hard time getting out of chairs, I guess the strength in my legs needs to be built up,” she said. “But he taught me not to sit at the end of my chair, because it’s very difficult to get up and out of it, so he taught me to sit all the way back.”

There are group events and classes, too, including a technology session for seniors.

“And we do bowling, like with a big plastic beach ball, and plastic pins,” Caiazzo said. “Because you can’t be expecting somebody 68 years old to be lifting a 16-pound bowling ball, and in here we do arts and crafts.”

But the physical and social activities are only a part of it. Testing and lab facilities and a pharmacist all under one roof make it easier for seniors who rely on public transportation, and keep them out of the emergency room.

“I had a patient in here last week, he came in with an irregular heart rhythm,” Dr. Avetian said. “It was a situation where we had the cardiogram, performed it right away, picked up the problem, placed the patient on a medication immediately. I reached out via TigerText to the cardiologist and the cardiologist scheduled a same-day appointment, and within one day this patient’s cardiac condition was addressed and treated.”

Since the program’s establishment in 2020, Geisinger opened 10 locations throughout the network, with the newest one in Reedsville.

“I could see this program expanding and becoming encompassing for the younger population and even the pediatric population,” Dr. Avetian said. “It’s so beautiful to get access to care in an expeditious manner, in a comfortable setting, and a very friendly setting.”