I have been reading about new approaches to emergency rooms in a few health care systems, focused on improving the experience and services for seniors. This is actually a very important topic, as the impact of emergency rooms and hospitals on elders is far more traumatic than on younger folks. For elders with any form of dementia, in particular, health care in a hospital can almost be worse than none.
So, reading an article about what Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City is doing – and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., before them – gives real hope to those of us, like Support For Home Health Care, who are focused on serving the senior population.
This is not a small issue, as statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that 25% of ER visits involve folks 65 and older. As with so many situations in the elder care industry, the development of the geriatric emergency room approach was personal:
Dr. Kevin Baumlin, the vice chairman of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai, received inspiration for this facility from personal experience, when his grandmother broke her pelvis and was sent to a regular emergency room.
“It was really frustrating that no one seemed to be paying attention to her, that she was kind of lost in the shuffle,” he said.
Baumlin noticed the discrepancy – pediatric emergency departments have bright primary colors, toys, and child specialists tailored towards younger patients, but nothing similar existed for the elderly, who have equally specific needs.
As much as I applaud the direction and the results, I will feel much better when decisions start to be made to improve geriatric care because it is the right thing to do, not because of a personal experience. Oh, well.
Best wishes. Bert