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Quality of life is Rich’s goal for seniors in his care

Steven Rich M.D. is passionate about helping his patients get the most living out of their lives.

  "The most rewarding part of my job is adding life to years, even if I can’t add years to the life of our community’s senior population," says Rich, chief of geriatrics and director of geriatric consultative services at Rochester General Health System.

  Rich says the practice focuses on function-keeping people doing what they want to do for as long as they want to do it. He has found that such an approach lowers costs and improves the value of health care.

  "When a patient regains, or maintains, their individuality in the face of medical illness and age-related change, there is a positive influence on the family, the employers of the family, the health care system and our community as a whole," Rich says.

  Rich was nominated by Kathy McGuire, interim president of Newark-Wayne Community Hospital and senior vice president of senior care services at RGHS.

  In her nomination form, McGuire describes Rich as "a true leader in providing and teaching other medical professionals to provide exceptional care to the elderly. He is the physician each of us would want to guide the team caring for our own parents."

  Rich joined Rochester General in 2007. Before that, he worked at the Canandaigua Medical Group and Thompson Hospital and served as medical director at Elm Manor Nursing Home, also in Canandaigua.

  Richard Gangemi M.D., Rochester General’s senior vice president of academic and medical affairs, described Rich in a letter of support as "a teacher, mentor and role model for all physicians caring for the elderly."

  Rich has developed a model of geriatric assessment that allows practitioners to quickly assess and treat geriatric syndromes. He works with Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, as a member of its Sage Commission, on issues including maximizing the limited supply of geriatricians and helping create a community action plan for senior needs.

  And through a rural health grant, he uses telemedicine equipment to bring geriatric consultation services to residents of Wayne County.

  In addition to his work at Rochester General, Rich serves on the pharmacy and therapeutics committee of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. He is widely viewed as a national expert, having testified frequently before government committees.

  Rich says an ongoing challenge is society’s denial of aging as a natural part of life. This has led to an inadequate supply of skilled professionals and clinical research data to deal with the nation’s coming "gray wave" of seniors and their families seeking care.

  "The current model of health care is an off-the-rack approach to problems that require custom-fitted solutions," Rich says.

  He feels fortunate, however, to work with a team at Rochester General that understands the issues and pushes to develop approaches based on scientific evidence and clinical reasoning.

  "This has allowed us to develop new approaches to common syndromes and allowed us to maximize the functional outcomes for our patients," he says. "When other professionals (adopt) these approaches and apply them to patients, we know we are making progress toward our vision."  

3/18/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail [email protected].

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