Specially-Designed Hospital Unit Helps Prevent Mental and Physical Decline in Elderly Patients
SAN FRANCISCO – Hospitalized elderly people are at risk of developing complications like delirium—which carries the same risk of mortality as a heart attack.
Now a specially-designed Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit, combined with a volunteer-powered Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) at Sutter’s CPMC Mission Bernal Campus hospital, is focused on decreasing incidents of delirium and other complications. ACE unit staff and volunteers are also working to improve these patients’ coordination and mobility, decrease length of hospital stays and reduce readmissions. In addition to better health outcomes, this innovative care helps control costs and fosters affordable, dependable healthcare.
The hospital, which part of the Sutter’s integrated network of care, recently earned a Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) from the American College of Emergency Physicians. GEDA was developed by leaders in emergency medicine to ensure that our older patients receive well-coordinated, quality care at the appropriate level at every emergency department encounter. Mission Bernal Campus hospital is the first San Francisco hospital to earn the voluntary designation in 2019 –and it is one of only three Northern California hospitals to do so.
“This accreditation strengthens our goal of providing advanced care for older members of our community who are particularly medically vulnerable,” said Wendy Zachary M.D., a geriatrician and the medical director of the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit—an inpatient unit at Mission Bernal Campus hospital designed exclusively for people over 70. “Older patients often arrive at the emergency department presenting with multiple chronic conditions and symptoms.”
The decision to voluntarily pursue the emergency department accreditation demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to provide the best quality of emergency care to San Francisco’s older patients—a population that is expected to include 30 percent of residents in San Francisco by 2030 according to San Francisco’s Department of Aging and Adult Services.
“The Emergency Department is one of the most important access points for older patients seeking medical care,” said Dr. Ritik Chandra, medical director of the CPMC Mission Bernal Emergency Department. “At Sutter CPMC we work to ensure that healthcare is readily available to everyone and we tailor our services to best meet the needs of our diverse community, including the special needs of older patients.”
Mission Bernal Campus hospital’s emergency department features specially-designed exam rooms for older patients, including calming colors, non-slip floors, and measures to reduce falls. Up to 90 percent of the patients in the hospital’s ACE Unit are admitted directly from the hospital’s emergency department. Approximately thirty to thirty-four patients per day are cared for in the ACE unit. ACE unit physicians and staff members undergo training that is specific to the needs of older patients.
The ACE unit is a dedicated floor in the hospital, with 34 private rooms and a physical therapy/rehabilitation room. In addition, there is a large activity room where patients can share meal times and engage in music therapy, guided imagery, and other activities that encourage older patients to continue to socialize and move around during their hospital stay.
With the combination of the geriatric accreditation for the emergency department and the ACE unit, CPMC’s Mission Bernal Campus hospital is focused on providing specialized care to address the needs of San Francisco’s older residents.