Ann Longterm Care. 2017;25(5):13.
Four national medical societies and nine leading health systems recently announced that they have established a new national geriatric emergency department collaborative (GEDC) to help improve emergency care for our nation’s older adults.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) will work with a team of experts in geriatric emergency care to support health systems across the United States in identifying, studying, and sharing best practices in emergency care for us all as we age.
The four societies previously developed expert guidelines on geriatric emergency care in 2014 (available at GeriatricsCareOnline.org). Those guidelines and new educational activities will help partners at Aurora Health Care System, WI, Emory University/Grady Memorial Hospital, GA, Magee Women’s Hospital, PA, Mount Sinai, NY, UC San Diego Health, CA, Northwestern, IL, St Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, NJ, the University of Chicago, IL, and the University of North Carolina, NC, promote a variety of proven techniques for improving care for older patients—from coordinating expertise among various professionals to ensuring that older people can transition from the hospital to outpatient settings (like homes or community-based settings) whenever and wherever safely possible.
Often seen as the “front porch” of our health care system, the emergency department (ED) increasingly sets the stage for how care will be delivered from the point we are initially treated to the point when we are discharged or potentially admitted to the hospital. America’s more than 3900 EDs already receive more than 133 million visitors annually, with nearly one visit for every two older adults. With more than 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the United States, EDs are likely to care for even more older adults, who are at increased risk for serious complications compared with younger individuals.
Early data from existing models of geriatric emergency care—models that promote best clinical practices for older adults and create a more positive and sensitive physical environment, for example—show that age-friendly approaches have the potential to improve health outcomes, coordinate care more effectively, and reduce costs.
The GEDC is supported by a grant of $3 million from The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, two national non-profit organizations focused on improving care for Americans as we age.
“Today, 20 million seniors visit our nation’s emergency departments,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. “With the number of older adults growing rapidly as a result of our aging demographic, there is a critical need for more senior-focused care. This pioneering collaborative is an urgent prescription for innovation and shared learning, which will benefit our nation’s seniors in emergency rooms across the country.”
Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, president of The John A. Hartford Foundation, added: “This dynamic initiative is committed to ensuring that age-friendly best practices in theory become best practices in practice—advancing large-scale changes in clinical care and ED policies to improve the health, safety, and independence of older adults.”
The GEDC will continue to add more health centers and partners, contributing to an alliance of national stakeholders who will help promote national adoption of geriatric emergency care best practices.
“The GEDC will create a national platform equipped to identify best practices in geriatric emergency medicine and build greater awareness about how we can improve care quality and care outcomes for older adults,”
observed Nancy E Lundebjerg, MPA, AGS chief executive officer.