HOUSTON (Nov. 2, 2021) — Doctors and nurses in the emergency center at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital share a keen awareness for signs of abuse and social issues affecting older patients. This effort hasn’t gone unnoticed as the hospital was recently awarded the bronze standard Level 3 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Two years ago, LBJ Hospital staff began a geriatric-friendly approach to caring for older patients in the emergency center to include screenings for delirium, dementia and fall risk.
“It’s a point of pride that LBJ Hospital’s mission is to improve the health of those most in need in Harris County. Our hospital is one of the busiest level three trauma and emergency centers in Texas seeing more than 66,000 patients a year,” says Patricia Darnauer, executive vice president and administrator, LBJ Hospital. “I salute our emergency staff and physician partners who work tirelessly to ensure our aging population receives the life-saving treatment and transitional care necessary to enable positive outcomes. This recognition reflects the great success of those efforts.”
Meghan Myers, RN, CEN, nursing program coordinator, LBJ Hospital, says doctors, nurses and other staff members are trained to identify all signs of elder abuse including physical, emotional and financial.
“We’ve caught several abuse cases that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks,” she says. “The population we serve is very vulnerable and it’s important to us that we keep each of our patients safe both during their stay in our hospital and when they are discharged.”
GEDA is a voluntary program that assigns hospitals three levels of designation based on the achievement of best practices employed by emergency clinicians and administrators. The accreditation process examines more than two dozen best practices for geriatric care.
“Our team includes social workers and case managers who perform extensive screenings and incorporate the medical providers’ expertise in evaluating injuries and other findings,” says Dr. Charles Maddow, director, Emergency Geriatrics, LBJ Hospital, and distinguished professor, Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “These patient care issues can be referred to adult protective services or other agencies including law enforcement.”
Maddow credits the hospital’s collaborative work of various disciplines and the adoption of the Elder Mistreatment-Screening and Response Tool (EM-SART) program developed by the late Dr. Carmel Dyer, former chief of staff at LBJ Hospital and professor, McGovern Medical School, and its continued support by hospital leadership.
By training staff to look for signs of neglect or abuse among the elderly like unusual bruising, hunger or loss of mental acuity, patients at the hospital are connected to experts who can help with some of these issues. The hospital’s nutrition department also became involved by providing some food supplies to help elder patients who face issues of hunger or immediate food insecurity.
In the recognition letter from the American College of Emergency Physicians, LBJ Hospital was commended for its efforts which signal “that your institution is focused on the highest standards of care for your communities’ older adults.”