“At our wedding I actually sang for my wife while we did a choreographed dance that I made,” laughs Dr. James Libbon. He then effortlessly breaks into song to share their Frank Sinatra theme of the day: “Our song was, ‘It’s very clear, our love is here to stay, not for a year, but ever and a day’…”
Dr. James Libbon
is the Colorado medical director over InnovAge’s PACE
centers in Aurora
, and Pueblo
. He graduated from the University of Arizona College of Medicine, followed by a residency in internal medicine and a geriatric fellowship at the University of Colorado. Dr. Libbon joined InnovAge in 2017.
While he knew he wanted to go into medicine, he started his education as a musical theater major. Over the years, he has continued to nurture his passion for the arts.
“I just love pretending and taking on a different character and exploring that,” he says. “I met my wife in medical school. She went up and said, ‘Is anyone interested in an acapella group?’ I made a b-line for her and was like ‘Yes, I am!’’ The soon-to-be couple started a group called DocApella
made up of faculty and students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “I think they are still going strong today!”
Dr. Libbon’s exposure to older adults who were served by his father, a pharmacist, as well as his own work as a pharmacy technician, inspired him to choose a medical career. That ultimately led him to focus on the health care of older adults through a fellowship in geriatric medicine.
It was during those years of advanced medical training that the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly
entered his world. “I first remember being introduced to InnovAge by seeing the vans pull up to the hospital where I was working as a resident.” Working at a PACE center then became part of his residency rotation. “We spent a month at a PACE facility, learning what it was like, and I thought it was really cool,” says Dr. Libbon.
“I got to do clinic work, skilled nursing work, with a variety of ages and medical complexities, among other things. Then there was the interdisciplinary team
. It is a geriatrician’s dream,” Dr. Libbon explains, “to have all these team members here to support you: a nurse, home service, social worker, physical therapy, occupational therapy, day center, and more.”
“A lot of our participants have never even had access to health care prior to coming to us. With PACE, they have someone to reach out to, to get care, if needed, or direct them where to go,” says Dr. Libbon.
Dr. Libbon first joined InnovAge as a primary care physician at the Aurora center in Colorado. He says, despite his hectic schedule, he always finds time for his family. That work-life balance has been a mainstay in his life as he continues to pursue his passions on and off the clinic floor.
“What I would tell others considering a similar career path is that it’s very important to become introspective about yourself and your desires,” says Dr. Libbon. “It’s almost like character study we learn about in theater and movies. A character arc is the starting point, finding out what a character wants, and transitioning into what a character needs. You have to find out what you really need for your life.”