UH News

University Hospitals Senior ER in Bedford and Richmond Focus on Special Needs of Older Adults

Friday, December 2, 2011

Facilities Offer Senior-Friendly Amenities and Specially Trained Clinical Care Team

CLEVELAND – University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center and University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center have opened the region’s first Senior ER facilities, providing emergency care designed to meet the distinctive needs of older adults and their families.

The Senior ER approach to patient care, introduced on Nov. 1, concentrates on the use of broader risk assessment tools aimed at identifying high-risk cognitive and functional impairments for patients who are over the age of 65.

“As older patients live longer they often have several chronic medical conditions,” said Howard Dickey White, MD, President of University Emergency Specialists, Inc. “It is imperative that emergency departments address all aspects of each patient’s medical and social needs in the ER, and not just the emergency that brought them in.”

Many hospital emergency rooms also represent a stressful environment for older adults, who may be intimidated by unfamiliar sights, unusual sounds and fast-paced activity. The new Senior ER facilities can help reduce some of that nervous tension by offering senior-friendly amenities and specially trained clinical staff.

Patients benefit from treatment areas with soft lighting, large-print signage and clocks, special mattresses to reduce pressure, visual and hearing assistive devices, and no-glare, skid-resistant floors. The Senior ERs, for use by older patients without life-threatening conditions, are located within the existing emergency rooms.

The emergency rooms at both UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers assess patients within 30 minutes of their arrival, and both hospitals are accredited by the Society for Chest Pain Centers and certified for offering rapid and comprehensive stroke care.

In addition to physicians and nurses, the health care team at UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers includes pharmacists and social workers who focus on each person’s individual needs and concerns, in addition to treating their physical symptoms.

Depending on their diagnosis and condition, senior patients who require hospitalization following their emergency room visit benefit from the ACE (Acute Care for the Elderly) model of care in place at both hospitals. The ACE model combines a senior-focused environment with a multidisciplinary team approach to keep patients moving forward in their recovery.

Both hospitals also hold a NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) designation, with staffing by nurses who recognize and address the physical, emotional and functional challenges elderly patients may face in acute care hospitals. All Senior ER nurses are GENE (Geriatric Emergency Nurse Education) certified, which qualifies them to promote the staff sensitivity and interdisciplinary teamwork essential to the highest quality elder acute care.

Area emergency medical services (EMS) squads are linked with Senior ER physicians via sophisticated communications technology so patients being transported to the hospital can be stabilized effectively and the ER team is ready with appropriate treatment when the ambulance arrives.

“A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that nearly 20 percent of all seniors use the ER for care at least once each year,” said Laurie Delgado, president at UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers. “Our emergency rooms in Bedford and Richmond experience higher-than-average senior patient volume, and our teams at both hospitals have worked diligently on designing a better emergency room experience for the seniors in our communities.”

As part of the integrated University Hospitals system in Northeast Ohio, UH Bedford and UH Richmond medical centers have immediate access to the full specialized care resources of the University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, University Hospitals Neurological Institute, University Hospitals Urology Institute and the University Hospitals Digestive Health Institute.

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