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The healthcare provider teams medical professionals and social workers to serve an aging population.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Audrey Lundin, nurse practitioner with Landmark Health, laughs at one of Betty Hiner's jokes. Lundin's job is to travel around the region visiting patients like Hiner where they live and providing basic in-home care.No Halloween costumes required: Audrey Lundin and Christi Santos are superheroes.

For seniors like Betty Hiner and Glen Loaiza, the nurse practitioner and social worker — part of Landmark Health's team of professionals serving the Westside — are a vital part of their healthcare and even their support networks.

"Can't beat it," said Loaiza of Landmark. "I pick up that phone, I can call them — piece of cake."

Loaiza lives in King City. Hiner lives just outside Tigard, at the Brookdale Oswego Springs assisted living facility in Southwest Portland.

The two seniors have very different needs.

Loaiza is 74. He's still driving and lives at home with his wife, but he has a number of health issues. An insulin-dependent diabetic, he underwent triple bypass surgery three years ago and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and tooth decay. He also copes with depression and trauma stemming from the suicide of his 13-year-old son in 1980.

"I'm pretty well messed up," Loaiza said with a rueful smile.

Hiner is 89. She lived at the Royal Villas mobile home park in Tigard until a severe bout of pneumonia and influenza landed her in the hospital in January. Although she survived, she had to move into assisted living. It's the latest in a host of life changes for the feisty Hiner, who has also had to give up driving and start relying on a wheelchair for mobility.

"Oh, it's been a horrible transition," Hiner said. "I'm a very independent person. I like to be my own person. I like to do my own thing, no matter what it is."

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - King City resident Glen Loaiza enjoys fishing and photography. He still drives but expressed frustration with the number of trips he used to have to make to area clinics.But both Loaiza and Hiner gush about the care they receive from Lundin, Santos and Landmark Health. They have access to Landmark's on-call and in-home services through their insurance provider Health Net.

"It's just been great having these people," said Loaiza, recalling how Landmark staff came to his house to provide him with medical care when the air quality due to wildfires this summer kept him from going outside. "I mean, it's like walking down the street and you're arm-in-arm with people that are there to help you."

Lundin and Santos work as a team.

Lundin said she spends all of her time visiting patients. She can provide basic medical care — for more serious issues, patients are referred to a clinic, urgent care or a hospital.

As a social worker, Santos often acts in a support role, with varied responsibilities that range from helping people with Medicaid to simply providing a sympathetic shoulder. Loaiza and Hiner both said they have counted on Santos for "emotional support," someone they feel comfortable talking to about what is going on in their lives and feelings they experience.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Glen Loaiza talks about his health at his King City home. Loaiza had a triple bypass a few years ago and lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He receives in-home checkups through his health insurance."Christi has probably helped me more with some of the problems I've had than anybody," said Loaiza.

"Christi's been a blessing to me," Hiner said. "She's been a real, true blessing, as well as Audrey. Audrey has stepped right in and helped me tremendously on different issues."

Hiner is so attached to Landmark that she has resisted moving down to the Roseburg area, where her daughter lives, because she doesn't want to lose the care she gets in Portland.

"I don't have any family here — so these two are my family," Hiner said, adding, "They've become my friends."

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Betty Hiner, who lives at an assisted living facility just outside Tigard, makes quilts from old pairs of jeans for family members who come to visit her.Amanda Calnan Vowels, a spokeswoman for Landmark, described what the company does as "a return to the old-fashioned doctor 'house call.'"

Landmark provides those services for especially vulnerable patients, she noted.

"The trend toward home-delivered scheduled medical and urgent care in the region is taking off," Vowels wrote in an email. "It sounds trendy, but it's a very serious health service covered by more insurance plans — including Health Net in Oregon for its most high-risk Medicare Advantage patients."

Landmark's in-home services help supplement the regular trips to the doctor needed for those "high-risk" patients. Although it doesn't eliminate the need for them altogether, Loaiza said he has been driving less to get to clinics throughout the region now that he can call Landmark.

"We find that patients really … end up needing a lot of support in between those clinic visits," Lundin said. "As you can imagine, the outpatient clinic doctors have very full schedules, and a lot of the times, if urgent concerns come up, it's hard to accommodate same-day visits. So that's really, I think, where a lot of our value comes in is we're able to see a patient urgently the same day that there's a concern."

"Our goal is to be ahead of any 911 calls barring any life-threatening … situations," Santos added.

For Hiner, that's been important.

"Instead of going to the emergency room or urgent care, she would call the Landmark number and get in touch with Audrey," Santos said. "I think we've kept Betty out of the hospital..."

"At least a few times," Lundin said.

"Right," Hiner agreed. "Definitely. That is true."TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Although Betty Hiner has spent time in the hospital and had to move into assisted living over the past year, she still has a sharp wit, as well as strong affection for her care providers at Landmark Health.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times
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