A New Trend: Senior Emergency Rooms
Hospitals across the country are developing senior emergency units that are focused on giving over-65 patients comprehensive yet calming evaluation and treatment.
According to “The New York Times,” there are a dozen such units operating across the country, and an additional 50 are in the planning stage. In the geriatric emergency unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, there are no beeping machines. The ceiling has a bright-blue sky pattern, and volunteers offer waiting patients beverages and distractions like Sudoku puzzles.
Not all patients can get in there, though. In Mount S inai, a patient must be over 65, have been walking the day before his or her visit and have a relatively mild emergency.
There are good reasons for this kind of unit: Statistics show that patients who don’t get the right emergency care or diagnosis often return to the hospital, are admitted or even die.
And there are what some might consider marketing-related motives: Over-65 patients account for up to 20 percent of emergency-room visits and that number will increase as the aging population grows larger. Under the Affordable Health Care Act, now being contested in the U.S. Supreme Court, the level of Medicare reimbursements would depend on patient satisfaction – something that’s likely to be higher with a geriatric emergency.