Interview with D-CAN Founder Dr. Zook
Our Dementia Resource Center Clinic (DRCC) Newsletter reporter sat down with D-CAN Founder Dr. Pat Zook to catch up on the D-CAN nonprofit status and the accomplishments and plans for growth of the DRCC services and staff.
Reporter: Dr. Zook, the D-CAN nonprofit has been operational since its inception in December of 2019, but when did you and members of the founding community advisory group actually open the Dementia Resource Center Clinic to see dementia patients?
Dr. Zook: We first opened the DRCC for dementia and dementia prevention evaluations April 12, 2021 in donated space at the St. Cloud Whitney Senior Center thanks to the City of St. Cloud and Director Paula Woischke who got us set up to see patients starting that day. It wasn’t long before we completed our pilot study of 25 patients and had pretty much developed the format and style for our dementia care plan reports that still average about 6-7 pages each.
Reporter: When did the DRCC site move to your current address in the Midsota Center in St. Cloud?
Dr. Zook: We moved into Suite 103 at the Midsota Center at 3701 12 th St. N in St. Cloud on September 1, 2021 thanks to CentraCare Health and CEO Dr. Ken Holmen for donating this beautiful office space on the first floor for our DRCC. CentraCare and other area businesses donated some furniture and medical office equipment. Our grants and donations have covered the costs of the other equipment and office supplies.
Reporter: Who are the DRCC staff besides yourself?
Dr. Zook: We have two care navigators/educators, Tami Kolbinger and Cristina Rodriguez who participate in evaluations and do individual and group support for
patients and caregivers and do several office duties like grants management, budget development and strategic planning. We have a community outreach person Kristina Woischke who also does office duties but who will be doing client outreach. We have super volunteers Tammy Leenay who does office accounting, bookkeeping and grants management among other things and Kay DeFries who volunteers with development of our dementia-informed counseling program and our policies and procedures manuals. Several of our D-CAN Board members have also helped in the DRCC office with in-kind work and donations.
Reporter: Can you describe the work you do for most DRCC clients?
Dr. Zook: We mostly see clients who either have dementia symptoms or clients who just want a thorough assessment of over 100 risk factors that we consider and a plan to reduce those risks. Our dementia evaluations include 3 encounters each for an average total of 5-6 hours that includes the intake interview with one of our Care Navigators, a thorough (usually online) chart review, and an Initial Evaluation by our clinician that includes a physical exam and a complete medication and medical history review. The final report is usually 6-7 pages and patients/caregivers share the report with the patient’s clinician. The report includes several clinical and other recommendations for the management of each patient. We see them back after they have seen their own clinician and done the extra tests or consultations that we recommended. We then continue to see patients 2-4 times annually as indicated to continuously support them and their caregivers indefinitely as long as they care to see
Reporter: What about the clients who just want a dementia risk assessment and amelioration plan but don’t yet have dementia symptoms?
Dr. Zook: We call these Preventive Evaluations. They require the same amount of time and the reports are usually 5-6 pages each. We evaluate for all related medical conditions (most medical conditions relate to dementia risk), often recommend additional tests and do follow up to resolution or as needed according to need. Unfortunately, Medicare and medical insurance companies have not wanted to pay for these preventive evaluations though we will advocate for them to do so based upon the likely substantial savings they would enjoy with this service. In order for us as a small relatively new nonprofit to be able to afford continuing with these we may have to charge cash for this service in the meantime.
Reporter: What other services does the DRCC offer?
Dr. Zook: We offer dementia-informed counseling to our evaluation clients who need some brief professional intervention when dementia and its new problems throw couples off track even after 50-60 years of partnership/marriage. We also offer various
dementia caregiver support group services, individual or family dementia education, public and business education services, semi-annual community dementia conferences, and a guided autobiography class series with Dr. Steve Hoover.
Reporter: What kind of information will the DRCC be posting in this Newsletter?
Dr. Zook: Besides DRCC operational events and milestones, we will post several dementia facts, new scientific findings, and study results, but also several practical tips on what to do when your loved one living with dementia does this or that, and how to talk meaningfully with friends who have just started their dementia journey and how to keep them socially engaged. We will continue with our website, Eventbrite, and social media pages, but will encourage newsletter readers to ask questions and provide regular feedback on newsletter content.