Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Announces Michigan’s First Specialized Emergency Care Program for Seniors
Eight Senior Emergency Departments set to open across southeast Michigan
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – (Aug. 16, 2010) – The first baby boomers will soon celebrate their 65th birthdays, and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is prepared to provide the most specialized care for a growing population of seniors. After months of research and planning, SJMHS is pleased to announce the launch of Senior Emergency Departments at all eight of its emergency department (ED) locations across southeast Michigan.
By Jan. 1, 2011, emergency departments at Chelsea Community Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Brighton, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron, and St. Joseph Mercy Saline will each have a Senior Emergency Department staffed by caregivers who are specially skilled in geriatric emergency care. St. Mary Mercy Livonia opened the doors to the health system’s first Senior Emergency Department on July 14.
“This is Michigan’s first implementation of a dedicated program addressing the emergency care needs and physical comforts of adults ages 65 and up,” explains Garry C. Faja, president and CEO, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “Since it’s opening, St. Mary Mercy Livonia has had extremely favorable responses from patients and caregivers, families, physicians and staff.”
Collectively, the eight emergency departments serve in five counties where seniors represent 21-25 percent of the total population. SJMHS conducted market research that indicated 85 percent of seniors and 91 percent of caregivers desire a specialized emergency care experience.
“Our vision is to create a remarkable patient experience supporting the specific needs of seniors, their families and caregivers,” says Faja. “Each emergency department will take extra steps to create that experience, which will offer additional comfort, safety, communication and security.”
No other emergency department in the state offers the same level of specialized care. Medical staffs at each facility are taking additional geriatric emergency medicine training and nursing staffs will complete Geriatric Emergency Nursing Education (GENE) through the Emergency Nurses Association. These courses allow physicians and nurses to sensitively and appropriately identify and treat patients with pre-existing conditions, multiple medications, dementia, living condition concerns, nutrition, and depression.
“The patient-centered care model adapts the typical emergency department system to meet the special medical needs, preferences and physical comforts of seniors,” explains Dr. George Williams, co-chair of the SJMHS Senior ED initiative and chief of staff, St. Joseph Mercy Saline.
During a patient’s stay at the Senior ED, a multidisciplinary team will assess physical function, cognitive status and level of risk. The approach will also include pharmacy and social work consultations, which will help seniors and their caregivers develop a care plan upon discharge from the ED.
“This discharge process assures a seamless transition back to the home or other care setting, and substantially lessens the probability of a return visit for the same health issue,” states Williams.
Amenities in each Senior Emergency Department will vary by site and may include pressure-reducing mattresses to minimize soreness during longer stays, soft lighting, noise buffers, reclining chairs, large-print charts and discharge papers, oversized clocks, large print way-finding signage, and non-slip / non-glare floors. Additionally, items frequently forgotten when a patient is rushed to the ED are provided, such as reading glasses and hearing enhancement technology.
“Regardless of the physical amenities, every senior who comes to Saint Joseph Mercy Health System’s emergency departments will receive the same ‘Senior ED experience’ from skilled geriatric emergency care staff,” concludes Faja.