Written by Miguel Palacios
Very few hospitals in the United States have earned the rare accreditation of Gold Standard in Senior-Friendly Emergency Departments, and now La Mesa’s Sharp Grossmont Emergency Department is one of them. There are exactly 14 facilities within the US that have earned this rare accreditation, and only one other in California, UC San Diego’s Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit.
Earning the accreditation meant upgrading the hospital’s emergency department to specialize in senior care. Sharp Grossmont only decided in 2019 to seek accreditation and in May 2020, they earned the Bronze Standard. The hospital staff faced many challenges as the outbreak of Covid-19 meant a massive increase in emergency department visits. Upgrades required the hospital to close off sections of the existing emergency room for renovations and updates, all while people were pouring into the ER and more care was needed. They created a “senior pod” where healthcare professionals focused only on those 65 and older.
One of the upgrades made was painting the section dedicated to the senior care. Lauren J. Mapp is a staff writer for the San Diego Union Tribune. She explained in her coverage that walls were painted a light yellow color, because yellow is one of the few colors seniors are able to see clearly. The upgrades also included the hanging of art in rooms, as well as making rooms more private, either with doors or sound dampening curtains that help keep the noise of a busy emergency department out. Little upgrades like this really help seniors feel comfortable in their surroundings.
But to earn the accreditation, hospitals must do more than just paint walls and hang art. It required extra training of staff and implementing extra processes that ensure the safety and welfare of the senior patients. Nurses are required to talk to the patients to assess if they are safe at home, are able to help themselves, have access to food, water, and other necessities. Sharp Grossmont also has a pharmacist in the emergency room that is tasked with checking the patient’s medications to ensure that the mixing of medications isn’t causing adverse reactions or the cause of their hospital visit. Sharp Grossmont is also focused on getting the seniors checked quickly, to limit their exposure to others in the emergency room.
A combination of building upgrades with attention to senior concerns and extended social work is what really helped Sharp Grossmont Emergency Department earn the prestigious accreditation of Gold Standard. We are proud to say that San Diego is home to the only two Gold Standard senior-friendly emergency care facilities in California.
Photo via Sharp Grossmont