By MIKE MCGEE
The Dallas Examiner
A “welcome back” celebration marking the reopening of the Oak Street Health community room on South Buckner Boulevard in Pleasant Grove was held Sept. 18. The day was highlighted with visits from the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboys mascots, as well as local vendors and free food, yet the reopening represented something larger: the return of fitness and socialization opportunities for senior citizens to the facility, located at 1515 S. Buckner Blvd, Ste. 141.
The community room was shuttered in March 2020 due to COVID-19, according to Scott Belsky, regional vice president at Oak Street Health.
“When our chief medical officer and our clinical dealers saw this pandemic coming they made a pretty quick calculation to say, well, what is dangerous is congregating seniors in a closed space,” he stated.
The community room specifically is a common space utilized for both exercise and relaxation.
“Now our community rooms, prior to the pandemic, were places for seniors to gather for a variety of activities,” Belsky confirmed.
“It might be a Tuesday morning Zumba class to make sure that they are staying active and losing weight and getting their blood sugar under control. It might be an educational event on the importance of assessing your benefits every year as part of Medicare’s annual enrollment period. It might have been a local musician coming in and just entertaining folks. It may have been the fact that it’s a 110-degree day in the Texas heat and we are giving people space to cool off….”
The recent reopening will bring such activities back to the local residents.
More generally, the center offers primary care providers specializing in the treatment of adults on Medicare, the doctors accepting most Medicare, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage insurance, according to the company.
Services include an annual physical, preventative screenings, the prescribing of medicine, as well as offering medical advice on diabetic care, COVID-19, and any other number of topics related to public health for older adults, the vice president noted. Transportation is also provided to and from visits to the center.
“Founded in 2012, Oak Street Health is a network of value-based primary care centers for adults on Medicare. With a mission of rebuilding health care as it should be, the company operates an innovative health care model focused on quality of care over volume of services and assumes the full financial risk of its patients. Oak Street Health currently operates more than 100 centers across 15 states,” stated the network on its website at https://www.oakstreethealth.com.
Previously, the primary care network reopened the community room at its Casa View location at 2360 Gus Thomasson Road Sept. 3.
The community rooms are only available to patients of the center, an opportunity open to all residents in the Pleasant Grove community.
“The patient on-boarding experience actually begins well in advance of someone coming into our center,” the vice president offered.
Patients are met in their native environment of the community, he added.
“So that might be when you’re checking out of your grocery store. It may be when you’re at church and there’s the Oak Street table set up outside in the community there. It may be because an Oak Street volunteer is reading bingo at a senior living facility…”
Of note, most patients gave the Pleasant Grove facility an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Healthgrades.com does not yet have reviews specific to the South Buckner location, however its doctors received a rating of 4.8 and 5 out of 5 stars.