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Serving seniors for 25 years

Pamela Iwamoto, senior RN case manager for the Geriatric Education and Health Maintenance clinics, helps a patient. (Courtesy of UNM News Service)

New Mexico is on track to having one of the oldest populations in the country. While it currently ranks 24th in the nation for residents aged 65 years or older, the state is expected to rise to fourth by 2030, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

The University of New Mexico College of Nursing’s Geriatric Education and Health Maintenance (GEHM) Clinic is prepared to meet the need. The clinic, which is celebrating its 25th year, serves elderly patients in senior centers, multigenerational centers, and meal sites around Albuquerque and surrounding areas. This nurse-managed clinic provides approximately 700 unduplicated client visits a year.

Clinic RN staff, faculty and nursing students provide health assessments, including physical and/or mental health screening, diabetes glucose testing, hypertension screening, medication education and counseling, care management and health education, and nutrition education. Staff RNs also provide physicals evaluations for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs upon request.

The GEHM Clinic recently expanded its services to include oral health, and medication education and counseling with the help of UNM’s College of Pharmacy and the UNM Dental Hygiene program.

GEHM also serves as a teaching platform. Students from across the health professions gain invaluable experiences working with older adults, including those who are aging at home in a community-based setting, versus more common exposures in hospitals and nursing homes. More than 150 students rotate thought the clinic in a year.

Pamela Iwamoto, senior RN case manager for the GEHM clinics, understands the need for these services.

“Our seniors and clinic sites are so appreciative of the services provided,” she says.

For her, it’s the connections she makes with her patients and the connections the students make with them that makes her work worthwhile.

“Many of our seniors have wonderful life experiences they share with us, as well as the students,” Iwamoto says. “It makes their day and ours so special.”