14 Mar Emergency Rooms Built With the Elderly in Mind
Alyson Martin Harold Richards, 81, at the senior emergency room at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich.
When Harold Richards, 81, arrived at the hospital emergency room in Ann Arbor, Mich., he expected a long wait. After all, he’d been through the emergency room drill before. The patient in the worst condition would be seen first, he knew, and the waiting time could be indeterminable. The rush, the harsh lights, the white walls and bright floors — everything about the place seemed designed to confuse and frighten elderly patients like him.
But this time was different. Mr. Richards was taken to one of the nation’s few senior emergency rooms, a new wing specially designated for older adults at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. Handrails line each wall, and a nonskid floor resembling hardwood reduces the risk of falls. Every bed has a thicker, pressure-reducing mattress and can be set to sound an alarm if a patient prone to wandering gets up. Room lighting is softer, and the clocks are larger. Each room comes furnished with a walker; patients can request reading glasses or hearing devices.