Maine hospital ED excels in meeting the care needs of older adults

Houlton Regional Hospital - American College of Emergency Physicians Accredited Geriatric Emergency Department badge

Approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, and by 2030, the percentage of the U.S. population age 65 or older is projected to be 20%. Since older adults have unique health care needs, hospitals and health systems are working to provide age-friendly care.

Houlton (Maine) Regional Hospital has received a level 3 Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation, the bronze standard, for delivering excellent care for older adults in its emergency department. The GEDA program was developed by the American College of Emergency Physicians with support from the West Health Institute and John A. Hartford Foundation. Houlton Regional Hospital is the first in Maine to earn this accreditation.

GEDA requires that organizations comply to high-level standards on staffing and care processes to ensure older adults receive safe, patient-centered care and understand all the health information shared. Studies show that geriatric EDs have lower admission rates and lower readmission rates to acute care hospitals and nursing homes.

“The demographic shift brings challenges to health care systems, as older adults’ visits to emergency departments are at comparatively higher rates than non-seniors,” said Thomas Dancoes, M.D., emergency medicine director at Houlton Regional Hospital. “They often present with multiple chronic conditions and suffer from complex social and physical challenges.” He acknowledged the work of the HRH staff, including nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physicians and administrators, for their “commitment to quality care of our older adult population.”

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