Senior Emergency Department

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The senior emergency department is a recent hospital innovation to build separate geriatric emergency rooms for older adults akin to pediatric emergency rooms designed for children. The trend comes in response to the nation's rapidly growing population of older adults and overcrowding of emergency departments.[1] Typically, geriatric emergency rooms are designed to reduce anxiety, confusion and the risk of falling. This includes elder-friendly lighting, softer colors, noise abatement features, handrails and non-reflective flooring to reduce missteps.[2] Research has found that the noise, chaos and crowding of typical emergency rooms has a negative impact on older patients.[3]

The nation's first "Senior Emergency Department" was created at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2008 and designed by Dr. Bill Thomas.[4] In addition to building a $150,000 enclosed ER for older adults, Holy Cross retrained nursing and emergency doctors in geriatrics and provided a full-time social worker.[5]

Geriatric emergency departments were opened at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J.,[6] and St. Joseph Mercy in Port Huron, Mich.,[7] in 2010. More hospitals are expected to offer geriatric emergency departments as the nation's 76 million baby boomers double the number of older adults in the U.S. by 2030.[8]


  1. ^ Salvi, F.; Morichi, V.; Grilli, A.; Giorgi, R.; De Tommaso, G.; Dessì-Fulgheri, P. (2007). "The elderly in the emergency department: a critical review of problems and solutions". Journal of Internal and Emergency Medicine. 2 (4): 292–301. doi:10.1007/s11739-007-0081-3. PMID 18043874. S2CID 9461500.
  2. ^ [Holy Cross Health, "Seniors Emergency Center" Archived 2011-01-20 at the Wayback Machine]
  3. ^ Kelley, Mary Lou; Parke, Belinda; Jokinen, Nancy; Stones, Michael; Renaud, Donna (January 2011). "Senior-friendly emergency department care: an environmental assessment". Journal of Health Services Research & Policy. 16 (1): 6–12. doi:10.1258/jhsrp.2010.009132. PMID 20660532. S2CID 24981348.
  4. ^ Baker, Beth (27 January 2009). "A Silver Spring ER Aims to Serve Older Patients". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  5. ^ National Public Radio, "An Emergency Room Built Specially For Seniors"
  6. ^ The Record, "Elderly get ER care without usual chaos"
  7. ^ MD News, "Emergency Services Designed Specifically With Seniors in Mind" [1] Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ The Record, "Elderly get ER care without usual chaos"