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Older adults vulnerable to serious summer heat-related illnesses have access to emergency services in the community dedicated to providing them with optimal care 

(Lynwood, CA – July 13, 2022) – St. Francis Medical Center, a member of Prime Healthcare, takes senior emergency care to the next level by announcing today that they are now accredited as a Geriatric Emergency Department by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). St. Francis is the largest, most comprehensive geriatric accredited emergency department (ED) in South Los Angeles, serving more than one million residents in its service area. This designation recognizes the hospital’s commitment and ability to deliver the highest standards of care for older adults within the community.

The Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) program is the culmination of years of progress in emergency care of older adults. In 2014, ACEP along with Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, Emergency Nurses Association, and American Geriatrics Society, developed and released geriatric ED guidelines, recommending measures ranging from adding geriatric-friendly equipment and specialized staff to integrating routine screening for delirium, dementia, and fall risk, among other vulnerabilities.

“St. Francis Medical Center and Prime Healthcare are focused on ensuring seniors have the best experience possible when coming to our hospital, including shorter wait times when visiting our emergency department, so GEDA was the logical next step for St. Francis,” said St. Francis Medical Center CEO Larry Barnard. “We are committed to being leaders in the healthcare community with our senior focused service line, which provides tailored, well-coordinated care for older adults who visit our emergency department.”

The voluntary GEDA program provides specific criteria and goals for emergency clinicians and administrators to target. To receive accreditation, an emergency department must incorporate a number of best practices for geriatric care, along with inter-disciplinary geriatric education, and have geriatric appropriate equipment and supplies available.

Some of the best practices embraced by accredited geriatric emergency departments include:

  • Ensuring geriatric-focused education and interdisciplinary staffing
  • Providing standardized approaches to care that address common geriatric issues
  • Ensuring optimal transitions of care from the emergency department to other settings (inpatient, home, community-based care, rehabilitation, long-term care)
  • Promoting geriatric-focused quality improvement and enhancements of the physical environment and supplies

St. Francis Medical Center’s GEDA designation is especially timely as temperatures are rising over the summer months. Allen Bookatz, MD, medical director and chair of the St. Francis Emergency Department, said, “Older adults are especially vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, heat edema and heat exhaustion. Poor circulation and reduced sweating as a result of age or medications, high blood pressure, heart, lung and kidney diseases, being excessively over- or underweight, forgetting to stay hydrated and even overdressing can all be contributing factors.”

Dr. Bookatz identified some of the symptoms of heat stroke include fainting, a change in behavior such as confusion, combativeness, staggering, delirium, dry, flushed skin combined with a strong rapid pulse, and a lack of sweating. He recommends seeking medical attention for anyone who exhibits these symptoms, especially seniors.

Dr. Bookatz believes the hospital’s new designation will increase awareness and access for seniors and family members in the community. “We are very proud of our designation as a Geriatric Accredited Emergency Department. It reflects the commitment our team has always had to providing the highest standards of care for our aging population. We recognize they have unique needs, and we always want to ensure we will exceed their expectations. We are here for them this summer and every day of the year.”

St. Francis Medical Center’s geriatric emergency department accreditation enhances its comprehensive range of emergency services. In addition to providing dedicated emergency care for seniors, St. Francis Medical Center is Emergency Department Approved for Pediatric Standards (EDAP) by the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS); is licensed as an Obstetrical Emergency Department by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH); is a verified Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons, and is an approved STEMI Receiving Center by Los Angeles County EMS and a certified Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

“This accreditation demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to the delivery of excellent care for our aging adults,” said Barnard. “As an accredited geriatric emergency department, our approach to geriatric care allows us to provide tailored treatment for seniors who visit our emergency room. Senior adults can be assured that we have the necessary expertise, equipment and personnel in place to provide superior, age-appropriate care.”

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