The American College of Emergency Physicians has named UAB Hospital-Highlands Emergency Department a Level 1 Geriatric Emergency Department, the ACEP's highest level of accreditation. This makes the UAB Hospital-Highlands Emergency Department the only accredited geriatric ED in Alabama, the first one in the southeast and just the 17th Level 1 ED in the world.
"Research shows that geriatric patients do not recover as easily when they are taken out of the familiarity of their home environment," said Brendhan Buckingham, M.D., medical director of UAB Hospital-Highlands ED.
With this in mind, the geriatric ED offers a specialized pathway for older adults. Patients are placed in separate enclosed rooms with curtains and sound-absorbing materials to reduce noise. It is also equipped with LED lighting with bi-level dimming, non-slip flooring, handrails, and color-contrasting walls, floors and doors. Patients will also find comfortable furniture, analog clocks on the walls, and art of local scenery to remind them of the current time and location. And the facility offers a variety of resources such as delirium prevention toolkits to help reduce instances of confusion.
Upon arrival to the ED, older adults will undergo an Identification of Seniors at Risk assessment (ISAR). The ISAR results assist in identifying patients who may need a more comprehensive assessment in the ED. Based on a patient's score, a geriatric emergency nursing intervention expert (GENIE) may come in and complete additional screenings to identify any needs that must be met before the patient can be safely discharged. The GENIE nurse will share the screening results with the medical team to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
GENIE nurses assist with coordinating a range of services needed at home, including physical therapy, home health, social work services and medical equipment delivery. GENIE nurses also conduct follow-up calls to ensure the patient is getting the needed treatment.
This accreditation was a three-year effort led by UAB's Department of Emergency Medicine in collaboration with the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Rehabilitation Medicine and Therapy Services, pharmacy services, social work services, and nursing.