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July 9, 2008 > Locked on - On Lok

Locked on - On Lok

By Aditya Anand

A large fraction of United States residents and citizens are clustered between ages 45 and 60. This fraction of the population, known as the post-World War II "baby boom," is already affecting policies and politics for the future. Medical and geriatric services, in particular, are and will continue to be in high demand as more of the population retires. It is clear from this data that to support loved ones as they grow older, senior services programs need to be reorganized to provide everyone in need with complete and inexpensive care. One organization that has managed to successfully change senior services in this way is On Lok.

On Lok is a complete senior medical and health services program that operates in the Bay Area. On Lok, whose name derives from Cantonese for "peaceful and happy abode," provides seniors with the opportunity to live in their own homes while enabling access to hot meals, health, social services, and transportation. As pioneers in alternatives to traditional nursing homes, On Lok has been successful in initiating their groundbreaking program which allows seniors to live safely at home. Furthermore, they have succeeded in decreasing costs of care for seniors in the community.

Founded in 1971, On Lok originated as a healthcare center, built to serve the aging population of San Francisco's Chinatown, North Beach, and Polk Gulch districts. By 1975, On Lok added in-home support services, case management services, and primary care services to its lengthy list of senior support programs. In 1979, Medicare covered long-term care through On Lok Senior Health services, including all medical and social services required for seniors in the community. Today, under the umbrella organization of the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), On Lok-modeled health centers are present in over 70 locations in 30 states across the nation.

Currently On Lok Senior Health Services caters to the needs of seniors in San Francisco, Fremont, Newark, and Union City. Only residents 55 years of age and older, who can live safely in the community, but require ongoing medical care and support, are eligible for On Lok's healthcare plan. The healthcare plan, termed On Lok Lifeways, is coordinated by a team of physicians, therapists, social workers and other staff to create a personalized plan for each individual. Benefits include primary care, routine care such as dentistry and optometry, social services, nutrition information, home-delivered meals, pharmaceutical services, and transportation services, among others.

Medicare and Medi-Cal beneficiaries who receive Supplemental Security Income Program benefits are not required to co-pay for On Lok's services. Others who are covered by Medicare may need to pay a monthly fee. Those interested in On Lok's services, or those who are looking to volunteer at On Lok can find more information at On Lok's website:

On Lok
159 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 249-0200

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.,
Enrollment: 1-888-88-ON-LOK (1-888-886-6565);
For the Hearing Impaired, TTY 415-292-8898

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