"What Is A Geriatric Emergency Department?" - Lisa Esposito
When older patients are admitted to the emergency department, vague-sounding symptoms, may actually be more serious than for someone younger. Common conditions like urinary tract infections can present themselves quite differently depending on age, and treatments may vary. For these reasons and more, some emergency departments are making changes to tailor their care and better meet the needs of older adults. "The population is aging," says Dr. Denise Nassisi, an associate professor in the emergency medicine department at the Icahn School of Medicine and director of the geriatric emergency department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “In the past, the tendency in emergency medicine was to admit older patients to the hospital in an abundance of caution”, Nassisi says. Today, she says, "We're really trying to stay away from that for a number of reasons." First of all, she points out, patients don't want to be in the hospital. "Actually, for older patients, coming to the hospital is risky," she says. Volunteers provide an extra human touch to patients when they're feeling most isolated and vulnerable. At Mount Sinai, through a "robust" volunteer program called Care and Respect for Elders, or CARE, specially trained volunteers particularly try to focus on anyone who comes in unaccompanied, Nassisi says: "We found a lot of our older patients are coming in by themselves." Volunteers provide one-on-one comfort care, such as offering pillows, reading glasses, generic hearing amplifiers and other amenities.
- Denise Nassisi, MD, Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, The Mount Sinai Hospital