Emergency rooms specially designed for seniors

Emergency rooms specially designed for seniors

By Diane C. Lade, Staff writer

An emergency hospital visit often equals long waits and noisy controlled chaos, an atmosphere particularly hard on older patients. But Memorial Regional Hospital South is trying something new: giving seniors an emergency room of their own.

The Hollywood health-care facility is among a small but growing number of hospitals nationwide looking to change the emergency room experience for elders.

Many geriatric emergency departments began as a way for the competitive hospital industry to appeal to the huge baby boom population. Dawn Lipka, Memorial South’s emergency services director, said her program originally was designed to market to the retirement condos nearby.

“We like it when they refer to us as ‘their’ hospital,” Lipka said. “We are smaller, quieter and can give them more personalized attention.”

But Memorial and other geriatric ER boosters are hoping for other benefits: elder patients who are less likely to be back in the ER within a few weeks because no one properly planned for their care at home. Starting next year, Medicare will financially penalize hospitals that have large numbers of patients who must return to the hospital less than 30 days after discharge, in an effort to curb costs and promote better discharge planning.

“These new ERs are a good example of transforming the health-care system to meet the specialized needs of a population,” said Cecilia Rokusek, executive director of education, planning and research for Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We often have specialized units for pediatrics but we forget about seniors.”

Find out more about ERs for seniors at http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-07-16/health/fl-senior-emergency-rooms-20120713_1_emergency-room-emergency-departments-older-patients