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CharterCARE home to only senior-friendly emergency departments in RI

It has been two years since Roger Williams Medical Center and Fatima Hospital opened the state’s first senior-friendly emergency departments. In that time, older Rhode Islanders and their family members have come to rely on CharterCARE’s hospitals for emergency care specially designed for seniors.

Today, we are still home to the only senior emergency departments in the state. This is especially meaningful in Rhode Island, where one in every five Rhode Island residents will be 65 years or older by 2030.

To meet the needs of Rhode Island’s aging population, both emergency departments underwent physical renovations and modifications, while staff received enhanced training and assessment tools. All the nurses in our emergency rooms complete Geriatric Emergency Nursing Education through the Emergency Nurses Association. Other members of the team – including physicians, pharmacists, social workers, case managers and CNAs – all receive geriatric-specific training to enhance the care that seniors receive.

Beyond the enhanced training, there have been a number of physical and environmental modifications designed to make an elders visit more pleasant. Those include:

Prior to the senior emergency departments opening in 2013, a team of committed employees met for a year to design and train for the launch, all under the guidance of Dr. William Thomas, a world-renowned geriatrician who has guided almost 20 similar projects around the country.

The enhanced assessment tools now being utilized by staff are one of the most important elements of the senior-friendly emergency department. When a patient over 65 years old comes to the emergency departments at Roger Williams and Fatima, they are not just treated for the ailment that brought them to the hospital. A multi-disciplinary team also performs a series of assessments to gauge the patient’s status and whether they may have poly-pharmacy issues, be a fall risk or suffer from ailments like dementia and depression. These assessments help gauge whether the person has other cognitive or functional issues that may require follow-up care before the condition worsens.

The senior emergency departments are the latest addition to CharterCARE’s continuum of senior health care services, which is the most comprehensive in Rhode Island. Both Roger Williams and Fatima are committed to the NICHE philosophy, which provides nurses and other staff in the hospital with the latest in elder care tools and training. Elmhurst Extended Care, CharterCARE’s nursing home affiliate, is the state’s only Eden Alternative facility, providing a place where elders, families, and staff work together to restore choice, joy and dignity to the lives of those who need long-term care. CharterCARE Home Health Services provides a full range of in-home care. Both hospitals are also home to specialized geriatric psychiatry programs.

All of this adds up to a place where seniors and their loved ones can feel secure knowing they will receive the best in emergency care.