MidState Asks More Questions When Seniors Come to the ER

June 16, 2013

MidState Medical Center has started a new initiative called Senior Care Emergency Services to better treat elderly patients.

The initiative allows emergency room staff to look after senior patients to make sure they return to their normal routines after treatment. Nurses and medical staff went through geriatric emergency nursing education and training for six months before the program was launched in late May. The staff has already seen the benefits.

"We noticed there the need for patients 65 and older was increasing," said Dana Garvey, a nurse and clinical research leader at Mid-State.

Seniors are the largest group of people served by the hospital, said Camila Rubino, nurse manager at MidState. About 60 percent of the patients who seek services in the emergency room are elderly.

When elderly people enter the emergency room, they aren't just treated for the condition they came in with and then sent home. Nurses spend more time with the patients and go through lengthy assessments.

The staff determines if the patient will need help at home after treatment. Perhaps an aide will be called in, or physical or occupational therapy will be necessary.

Besides going through a longer assessment process, the big change that comes along with the initiative is in pharmaceuticals, Garvey said.

"If this person is on five medicines a day, we ask why and what they're taking them for," Garvey said.

If the person isn't sure why they take the medicine, a pharmacist reviews the list of medications to see if any interact or if the patient shouldn't be on some of them.

In the past few weeks, pharmacists have already reviewed some problem medication lists. If something should be changed, the staff alerts the patient's primary care doctor, Garvey said.

"This is a more thorough process," Rubino said. "It ensures safety at home after they're treated."

Susan Cole, 66, visited MidState's emergency room Friday morning. She was having chest pain and light-headedness.

Cole said the medical staff checked her vital signs, asked her about her living arrangements and about her medication lists. The staff wanted to know the doses of each medication and if anything had changed recently. "I think it's great," Cole said about the hospital's new initiative. "It helps the doctors figure out what's wrong."

Press Contact