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"Hospitals Remake Emergency Rooms For Older Patients" - Jennifer Wolff

  • AARP
  • New York, NY
  • (July 23, 2019)

Judith Burgess lay atop the gurney, her head propped up by a mountain of pillows, her hands clutching her black leather handbag. She's been here in the Mount Sinai Health System Emergency Department for close to 20 hours — but she doesn't seem to mind. "The people here really care about senior citizens,” says Burgess, 74, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, has no cartilage in her knees, and on this day has been admitted for stomach pain, symptoms of her colon cancer. The bright pink CARE (Care and Respect for Elders in Emergencies program) volunteer sticker on the shoulder of Burgess’ hospital gown indicates that she's gotten at least some of the attention she needs — which, in addition to having been seen by a doctor, means an extra pillow and blanket, a coloring book to pass the time and a purple stress ball to ease her tension. In the Geriatric Emergency Department, the team assigned to anyone over 65 years of age includes doctors, nurses, case managers, social workers, pharmacists and physical therapists. "The elderly often present with atypical symptoms,” says Denise Nassisi, MD, head of Mount Sinai's Geriatric Emergency Department. “If they're having angina, they may not have chest pain. If they have an infection, they may not have a high fever or an elevated white blood cell count. Having this collaborative team support means we can do more for patients in the ED."

— Denise Nassisi, MD, Associate Professor, Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Director, Geriatric Emergency Department, The Mount Sinai Hospital

— Shari Kaplan, Director, Volunteer Services, The Mount Sinai Hospital

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