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How one Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage member found a healthier life through her care and coverage

Bette Wood lives with her husband in Throop, Pa. “I like this area,” she says. “I like the peace. The quiet. The friendliness of the people.”

Mrs. Wood moved to this area about 6 years ago and, after getting settled in her new home, she started seeing a lot of ups and downs in her personal health. But in a letter to Geisinger president and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, she writes:

In a letter that writes:   “My journey to better health began and continues with Geisinger.”
In a letter to Geisinger president and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, Bette Wood of Throop, Pa., writes: “My journey to better health began and continues with Geisinger.”

Battling her own health issues after years caring for others

As a retired nurse who worked 40 years for three different health systems, Mrs. Wood reflects on being so focused on the health of others that she neglected her own health.

“When you’re a nurse, you’re so busy caring for others you don’t have time to care for yourself,” she says.

After Mrs. Wood retired, she cared for her mother, mother-in-law and father-in-law while her own health began to decline.

“In October 2018, things changed tremendously,” she writes in her letter. “After three days of palpitations and shortness of breath, I found I could not breathe as I tried to sleep.”

Mrs. Wood began to see Geisinger cardiologist Pranjal Boruah, MD. After running some tests, Dr. Boruah discovered extra heartbeats were causing abnormal heart rhythms and palpitations for Mrs. Wood.

“Back then, I had trouble going up the stairs,” she recalls. “I’d have to sit on the landing to catch my breath.”

Dr. Boruah referred Mrs. Wood to another Geisinger cardiologist, Wilson Young, MD, who specializes in cardiac electrophysiology, heart rhythm diseases and cardiac ablations. After he performed two ablations, a procedure that addresses abnormal heart rhythms, her heartbeat went back to normal.

With the help of her care team, Mrs. Wood took charge of her health. She started swimming and built up to an hour of walking each day. She kept up with her medical appointments.

And when Mrs. Wood felt something might be wrong with her body, she was supported by a care team who never doubted her concerns. They looked into everything and got Mrs. Wood the treatment she needed.

“I had a polyp and precancerous cells that led to a hysterectomy to remove my tubes and ovaries,” she says. “All because someone listened to my concerns and acted on them.”

After she had a few falls, Mrs. Wood went to see orthopaedic specialist and surgeon John Mercuri, MD.

“Dr. Mercuri discovered my balance was off. Now I work on my balance through the exercises they recommended, and I’m stronger than ever.”

Switching to Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage and 65 Forward

In October 2019, Mrs. Wood attended an open house at Geisinger 65 Forward in Scranton, a primary care center designed specifically for people age 65 and up. She was so impressed with the facility and its offerings, she immediately decided to switch to Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage so she could join 65 Forward.

At the open house, Mrs. Wood spoke with an insurance representative who helped her find the right plan for her health needs. “The agent signed me up for the Geisinger Gold HMO plan — and it’s saved me money. I dropped my other insurance and had no regrets or second thoughts.”

Members of Geisinger Gold have access to 65 Forward. But that isn’t the only advantage Mrs. Wood found with Geisinger Gold. With benefits like mail-order medications, she can spend her time attending events and exercise classes at 65 Forward instead of driving to the pharmacy for her medications — and it helps her stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ease of getting prescriptions mailed to the house has been a godsend in the era of COVID,” she writes in a second letter to Dr. Ryu.

Plus, each month, Mrs. Wood gets a $25 over-the-counter medication card as part of her health plan. She uses this to pay for the vitamins she takes to keep her body healthy. With her plan, Mrs. Wood also has enhanced dental and vision treatments and no longer has to pay entirely out of pocket.

“Unexpected and wonderful” gifts

After being with 65 Forward for one year, Mrs. Wood credits having Geisinger at her side for helping her to become a healthier and happier person.

“They get you in fast for an appointment, especially when it’s for something severe,” she says. “They can have you in the next day.”

But it’s not just about being able to see her doctor quickly. It’s the social aspect — activities and new friends she’s made — that are surprise benefits she wasn’t expecting. Mrs. Wood’s husband was still working before she joined 65 Forward, and her days sometimes got a little lonely.

“Before, I would stay home and go to the YMCA for my exercise. That was it. Now it’s like I have a life. I don’t miss many of the classes at 65 Forward.”

In her letter, she adds, “Starting new friendships has become difficult for me as I have grown older and moved to this area after retiring. Your program has given me the most unexpected and wonderful gift of new friendships and new things to do with them. This has freshened my life, and now my marriage, as my husband has now been able to join me in retirement.”

Next steps:

Learn about Geisinger 65 Forward
Learn about Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage
Watch: Rhoda Fitzgibbons’ story

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Accepted 11/25/2020
Page last updated: 11/25/2020

Bette Wood attending a chair yoga class at Geisinger 65 Forward in Scranton.
Bette Wood attending a chair yoga class at Geisinger 65 Forward in Scranton.
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