LOUISVILLE, Ky. — “It’s like another planet. It’s just a whole other concept.”
As a retired Kentuckian in her early 70s, Martha Clark has seen her fair share of doctors, hospitals and clinics over the years, but she says this is the first time the bulk of her health care needs are in one place.
Martha Clark, a retired English teacher and college professor, is a patient at the Optimal Aging Clinic of UofL’s Trager’s Institute. The downtown Louisville location opened only a few months before the pandemic set in. It’s a hybrid health care setting combining traditional primary care, behavioral health, physical therapy with other holistic medical offerings like yoga and acupuncture.
Clark says this is the first time the majority of her health care needs are in one location. “Everything is so team oriented," Clark told Spectrum News 1.
The Trager Institute and Optimal Aging Clinic in downtown Louisville is notable because there are few, if any, hybrid settings like it in the Commonwealth. Obviously keeping multiple medical disciplines under one roof is a benefit to older Americans whose health care needs are greater and more varied than other age groups.
Clark's visits include regular testing of her memory through various recall exercises.
“So our patients will be able to come into our medical clinic and go immediately if they need physical therapy be able to walk right across the hall,” Dr. Joseph D’Ambrosio told Spectrum News 1.
D'Ambrosio is the Director of Behavioral Health for UofL Health and gave Spectrum News 1 a tour of the clinic. Whether it's the more traditional primary health setting or the fitness center and yoga room, the Trager Institute incorporates UofL students studying in these separate disciplines to help patients like Clark have successful visits and health outcomes.
“One of the goals is to utilize our University of Louisville Exercise Physiology students to do their practicums here so we will have a student be able to show how to use a treadmill, how to use an elliptical machine,” D’Ambrosio said.
Interacting with the students is one of Clarks favorite parts of the experience.
“A resident medical student who comes in and talks to me first and I just love that because I like to tell them I am proud of them for getting that far," Clark said.
“I think patients like that they are helping the next generation and they are able to make a difference and what they are going through they can learn from so patients really do like this environment, this learning environment,” Christian Furman told Spectrum News 1. Furman is the Medical Director at Trager Institute.
Helping the next generation is something Clark has done all her life. In fact, she and Furman have a long “teacher — student,” friendship. Furman explained, “So, Mrs. Clark taught me senior English at Oldham County High School. I am very proud of that because I majored in English literature”
“I told you I was so happy you were going to specialize in gerontology and I said I didn’t know I would need you so quickly," Clark said.