Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Emergency Room Designed for Elders?

A local St. Petersburg, Florida hospital has redesigned their ER to make it elder-friendly. The Tampa Bay Times on August 28, 2014 published the article, HCA Opens First Local 'Senior ER' at St. Petersburg General.  The recently remodeled ER features "[f]our treatment rooms outfitted with softer lighting, thicker mattresses and nonskid floors... [a] separate waiting area... [and] [t]hree seniors-only parking spaces close to the ER doors."  The article notes that HCA, owner of the hospital, is targeting elders in its marketing efforts, with new advertising about the revamped ER. The changes are not all just to the physical plant.  Staff has been "retrained about geriatric care, such as screening for dementia, managing medications and asking carefully worded questions to understand what the patient's home environment is like." 

Although this is the first of HCA's remodeled ERs in the West Florida area, they have also redone several other ERs in Florida.   Is an "elder-friendly" ER the next big thing?

Seniors-only emergency rooms could be the next trend, though it's too early to tell if it's a "fad or wise planning," says a report this year from the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit health research organization. No one tracks the numbers, but researchers used news articles to estimate that more than 50 have opened since 2011, with another 150 in development.

The article notes that revamped ERs don't all look the same and some include providing geriatric care specialists for those elder patients in the ER.

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