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Senior ER at University Hospitals Bedford and Richmond medical centers offers patients over 65 a better emergency care experience

Robert G. David, President, UH Bedford and Richmond medical centers
Robert G. David, President, UH Bedford and Richmond medical centers

ERs feature social workers to facilitate treatment and address long-term wellness concerns


Bedford and Richmond Heights, Ohio – Over the last three years, University Hospitals (UH) Bedford and Richmond medical centers, campuses of UH Regional Hospitals, have become the first hospitals in the region to enhance and upgrade their Emergency Departments to better address the unique needs of adults aged 65 and older.


Each hospital’s Senior ER is staffed by doctors, nurses and social workers trained and certified in the care of older adults. The teams provide fast, expert care including assessing seniors for multiple medications; nutritional needs; and pre-existing conditions like dementia, delirium and depression; to determine the most effective care path.


The goals of the 12-bed Senior ERs are to create a less stressful, more compassionate care experience for the patient and to minimize inpatient hospital admissions. “An Emergency Room experience can be stressful for anyone, but for elderly patients it can be traumatic and life-changing,” says Anne O’Neill, LSW, Manager, Center for Healthy Aging, UH Bedford Medical Center. “Senior patients frequently become confused and for those with memory impairment, the experience can be frightening. The Senior ER environment gives older patients what they need to return home or go to a more specialized living environment in order to be successful.”


In 2013 nearly 18 percent of people admitted to UH Bedford Medical Center’s Emergency Room and over 20 percent at UH Richmond Medical Center’s were over 65. Nearly 8,000 Senior ER patients experienced a care environment featuring these amenities at one or both locations:


*Treatment areas with soft lighting and calming decor

*Clocks, telephones and signage with large numbers and letters

*Special mattresses to reduce pressure on skin and aching backs

*Visual and hearing assistive devices

*Personal items like toothbrushes, combs and slippers

*Safety rails throughout the facility


Maple Heights resident Ozie M. Clark, 72, came to the Senior ER at UH Bedford Medical Center in early February. “I was treated very well and had a wonderful experience,” she says. “I was seen right away and the social worker, Mary Jo, talked with me to make sure I had everything I needed. I think the Senior ER is a great idea.”


Mary Jo Deely, LSW, Senior ER Social Worker at UH Bedford Medical Center, has been with the hospital 21 years and at the Senior ER since 2012. “My role is to be an advocate for seniors who visit our Emergency Room,” says Deely. “I educate them and their families about the programs available to them at UH Bedford Medical Center and in the community. I’m here to enrich their lives medically, emotionally and socially, with the utmost respect.”


Deely’s counterpart at UH Richmond Medical Center is Senior ER Social Worker Angela Payne, LSW, M.ED, MSSA, who joined that facility just over a year ago. “I work closely with the nursing staff to complete assessments in person or on the telephone for everyone aged 65 and over who comes to our ER,” says Payne. “We assess their needs, refer them to appropriate community resources and answer any questions they or their families have.”


“University Hospitals is a visionary health care system that listens,” says O’Neill. “One of the ways we listen is to have a social worker in our Emergency Rooms at UH Bedford and Richmond medical centers specifically focused on older adults. This isn’t happening anywhere else in our region.”


With the growth in our community’s elderly population, changes in geriatric patient care impact every level of health care delivery. “By addressing the needs of adults in our Senior ERs, we can dramatically improve their transition home or to another health care setting, minimize emergency room readmissions, inpatient admissions and better prepare caregivers for the future,” says Robert G. David, President, UH Bedford and Richmond medical centers.


To learn more about the Senior ER, call UH Bedford Medical Center at 440-735-4200, UH Richmond Medical Center at 440-585-6329, or visit www.uhbedford.org or www.uhrichmond.org and click “Services.”

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