Geriatric Emergency Department Planned for UCSD

red-cross-29930_1280We often hear news about instances of nursing home abuse and neglect in which an elderly patient dies after being taken to a hospital after it is much too late. Particularly in cases of elder neglect, a patient may require care at a hospital. However, if a facility is understaffed and does not call for an ambulance in time, an elderly patient may not receive the care he or she ultimately needs. What if those patients could be rushed to a geriatric emergency department equipped to handle specific senior medical issues, including those related to elder neglect? According to a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, a geriatric ER will soon be coming to UCSD and will provide specialized care to elderly residents in Southern California.

Complex Medical Needs Among the Elderly

When and where will the new geriatric emergency unit appear? It is currently in the planning stages, but the ER will become part of the Thornton Hospital at UC San Diego through an $11.8 million grant provided by the Gary and Mary West Foundation. According to the article, this emergency department “will be the first in the region to focus solely on seniors,” which is an important fact given that more Californians are reaching old age. The “complex medical needs” of the elderly, even when abuse or neglect is not a factor, “are expected to strain available resources as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age.”

Specific geriatric emergency units are not new in the United States. More and more hospitals across the country have been addressing America’s aging population in part by constructing new hospital units with specialized healthcare professionals who work with geriatric populations. Between 2010 and 2014, around six million people in the United States turned 65, and by the year 2030 that number will grow to more than 26 million, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In San Diego County alone, statistics suggest that the population of adults aged 65 or older will total nearly 724,000, which is “about 70% more than in 2014.” As such, hospitals that focus on geriatric medical issues are a necessity.

Seniors and Medical Resources

Because our bodies change as we age, seniors tend to require more—and different—medical attention than younger patients. The new geriatric emergency unit will tend to some of these needs. For example, according to the article, this hospital facility has plans to include (or at least to consider including) some of the following:

  • Non-skid flooring;
  • Contrasting paint;
  • Larger signs;
  • Waiting room chairs with contrasting backs and seats;
  • Noise-lessening technology; and
  • Gurneys that prevent or lessen the chances of bed sores.

In addition to these features, the emergency unit will also be able to focus more closely on the short- and long-term health needs of seniors. While it can be difficult for a physician in a general emergency department to ask questions that might point to signs of nursing home abuse, geriatric doctors and nurses will pay particular attention to elderly patients’ symptoms and may be able to help keep nursing home residents safe from subsequent harm.

If you have questions about nursing home abuse or elderly patient care, an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.

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