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Accreditation: Hospital focuses on geriatric emergency care

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Some Emergency Department staff members gather to celebrate the geriatric accreditation, including department manager Rick Rhoton (back row, left); Megan Fender, RN (holding certificate); and Dr. Erling Oksenholt (back row, second from right).

As the Baby Boomer generation is getting older and living longer, it’s important that health care systems provide appropriate care to older adults.

Knowing this, the Emergency Department staff at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital underwent a rigorous process to earn the bronze standard — Level 3 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation, also called GEDA. To date, SNLH is the only ED in the entire Pacific Northwest to earn this geriatric certification.

“Older people visit emergency departments at a comparatively higher rate than others,” Rick Rhoton, RN, Emergency Department manager at the Lincoln City hospital said. “They often present with multiple chronic conditions, may use multiple prescribed medications, and can suffer from complex social and physical challenges. So, we decided to embrace the idea of becoming a ‘geriatric emergency department,’ with our staff learning and demonstrating specialized skills and understanding of seniors’ special health care needs.”

The accreditation effort was led by an interdisciplinary team, including Erling Oksenholt, DO, and Megan Fender, RN.

A bronze standard emergency department, such as the one at Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital, must incorporate many of these best practices, along with providing interdisciplinary geriatric education, creating comprehensive new policies, and having geriatric appropriate equipment and supplies available.

The GEDA program was launched by the American College of Emergency Physicians to ensure that older patients receive well-coordinated, quality care at the appropriate level at every emergency department encounter. Several professional medical societies worked together to develop geriatric ED guidelines, recommending measures ranging from adding geriatric-friendly equipment to specialized staff to more routine screening for delirium, dementia, and fall risk, among other vulnerabilities.

The voluntary GEDA program, which includes three levels similar to trauma center designations, provides specific criteria and goals for emergency clinicians and administrators to target. The accreditation process provides more than two dozen best practices for geriatric care and the level of GEDA accreditation achieved depends upon how many of these best practices an emergency department can meet.

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