New WAVE helps Nutley seniors stay healthy

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On hand at the arrival of the WAVE van sponsored by Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville are, from left, Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco, and commissioners Steve Rogers and Mauro Tucci. The van brings the expertise of the hospital to the seniors of several towns, including Nutley, to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

NUTLEY, NJ — A new mobile unit designed to bring health assessments to Nutley citizens is on the move and visiting senior citizens. Offered by Clara Maass Medical Center, the Wellness Assessment Van for Elders, or WAVE, visits seniors where they live or in community settings and senior-housing facilities.

The numbers of senior citizens in the United States is steadily growing. The latest census report states there are 40.3 million people age 65 and older as of 2010. With people aging in place and living longer, the trend to improve cost-efficient mobile health services is timely — and on the rise. Currently, there are 75 million aging baby boomers in the United States. Baby boomers are defined as those born between 1946 and 1964.

On Jan. 9, Nutley became the latest town to benefit from the mobile health-care program. At a festive ribbon cutting — attended by Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco and Nutley commissioners Steve Rogers and Mauro Tucci, along with Clara Maass Medical Center CEO and President Mary Ellen Clyne — the new WAVE van was welcomed. This mobile unit can bring health benefits to senior residents who may be immobile, or just not able to drive or get a ride to visit Clara Maass.

“At Clara Maass Medical Center, we are committed to building healthier communities,” said Clyne. “This project will do more than keep us present in local neighborhoods; it gives Medicare-eligible adults, who are ages 65 and older, an opportunity to have annual wellness visits with no co-pay, deductible or coinsurance fee.”

Commissioner Rogers agreed.
“Everyone involved with the WAVE program is doing, in reality, God’s work. You are bringing to senior citizens not only physical assessments but also kindness, love and friendship,” he said. “You are addressing the whole human being with regard to physical, emotional and spiritual health.”

The van brings wellness assessments to senior citizens. There is no need for a doctor’s prescription, and every visit offers seniors the time to discuss their overall health. They also have their vital signs reviewed, and can have screenings for heart, nerve functions, memory, balance, bone destiny, circulation and even mental health.

Seniors must bring their Medicare cards, and should also bring a list of their prescriptions, including vitamins and other supplements.

This program is funded by The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and is open to all seniors ages 65 and older. Marsha Atkind, executive director and CEO at The Healthcare Foundation of NJ, said that she is thrilled to bring the WAVE mobile van to seniors in Nutley as well as Kearny, Newark, Lyndhurst and Bloomfield.

“This ribbon cutting marks the beginning of a new opportunity to improve the health and well-being of seniors in this community,” said Atkind. “We are proud to have supported Clara Maass Medical Center in its work to help seniors access the care and support they need to lead the healthiest, most independent lives they can.”