What’s a “Geriatric Friendly” Emergency Room?

Bethesda North Hospital recently received high-profile help to raise money for a “geriatric friendly” emergency room.

The Emergency Room Medical Director, Ken Patton MD, says that while he and his team see all kind of trauma, like car and industrial accidents, “truly, the emergency department sees most cardiac, strokes and more higher acute patients,” he explains.

These patients are often older adults, which is why Dr. Patton’s team launched a new campaign to raise money to create a “geriatric friendly” emergency room. “What ‘geriatric friendly’ means is structural enhancements and, really, care coordination,” Dr. Patton points out.

This enhanced environment is part of a newer, national trend and includes very specific steps for the senior population; however, these updates could benefit all patients in the long run.

The structural enhancements include:

  • Larger clocks that are easier to read
  • Lower beds
  • Non-slip flooring
  • Hand rails along the walls
  • Lighting changes to reduce glare

“These all have been shown to decrease the confusion and anxiety for patients,” Dr. Patton adds.

Additionally, the improvements to care in the emergency department include geriatric education for all nurses, based on evidence-based best practices and the enhancement to the Navigator program, which assists older patients in transitions in care after they are released from the hospital.

Funding for the “Geriatric Friendly” Emergency Room

Funding for the Emergency Room Renovations came from the Bethesda Foundation, through their annual Bethesda LYCEUM, which was held in early May. The event featured astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, drawing nearly 400 guests. Captain Kelly, a retired US Navy captain and best-selling author, is also husband to Gabrielle Giffords, the former US Congresswoman, who survived an assassination attempt in Tucson, AZ – and made a dramatic recovery.

In Mark’s one-on-one interview with Local 12’s Liz Bonis, he told her he credits exceptional emergency care with Gabby’s ability to initially overcome a traumatic brain injury. “You know, without the team of doctors there at the University Medical Center in Tucson on that day, she would not have survived,” Mark explains.

Now, Mark uses the tragedy that happened in Tucson for good. “It makes you realize that things can change drastically, in an instant,” he says. “We really want to make a positive difference and take a pretty horrific thing that happened to her and her constituents and her community and, if at all possible, maybe turn it into a positive thing.”

Tags: Senior Health

Last Updated: October 3, 2016