Providence Medford emergency department earns geriatric accreditation

Author: Jason Kuhl, M.D., chief medical officer, Providence Medford Medical Center

With the aging of the baby boom generation, emergency care providers are working to improve outcomes for a growing number of geriatric patients. Championing this effort for Providence Medford Medical Center is emergency department physician Laurie Dutkiewicz, D.O. She has spent most of her career as an ED physician. But a three-year stint practicing internal medicine, including one year of a recent geriatric mini-fellowship, helped to further inform her perspective. 

“With geriatric patients, their physiology is different, their reasons for making medical decisions are different and they have specific syndromes that need to be addressed,” Dr. Dutkiewicz said. “I realized the way we were approaching geriatric medicine in the ED needed to change.”

Dr. Dutkiewicz learned of a grant opportunity through Providence Senior Health to support an application for Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA), a national program that incorporates best practices for the care of older people presenting to the ED. This funding, made possible thanks to generous Providence donors, allowed Providence Medford to procure specialized geriatric equipment in our ED. It also provided time for Dr. Dutkiewicz to develop an approach for ongoing training for ED teams and collaboration across multiple departments.

“It is a multidisciplinary approach,” said Dr. Dutkiewicz. “We focus on the relationship to physical therapy, outpatient medicine, home health and palliative care.” 

For example, instead of discharging a geriatric patient from the ED with an appointment to follow up with physical therapy in days or weeks, a physical therapist may meet with the patient during the ED visit to establish a relationship and begin ongoing care. This gives patients the resources they need to be safer in the hospital and at home.

“A key benefit of this designation is the focus on fall prevention,” said Alisia Howard, director of emergency services at Providence Medford. “Most falls are devastating, if not completely life-changing, for these folks.” 

Hospitals that have implemented the GEDA program have shown an improvement in patient satisfaction because patients feel their voices are heard and care is customized for them. Providers and clinical teams are more satisfied when they see they are making a difference for the patient. Preventing injuries also saves money for patients and health systems. 

GEDA has three levels of accreditation with increasing requirements. Providence Medford is currently accredited at Level 3 (Bronze). As a geriatric mini-fellowship alumni scholar, Dr. Dutkiewicz recently secured another year of funding from Senior Health to support the work needed to apply for Level 2 (Silver) accreditation. 

For more information
(Providence employed providers only): Providence Senior Health SharePoint site


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