Seniors looking for emergency care in Pinellas County will now have an option for a more personalized experience.
St. Petersburg General Hospital
opened the first Senior Care Emergency Room in the Tampa Bay region in mid-August.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 23 percent of the population in Pinellas County is over 65 years of age, and this population continues to grow each year. The hospital noticed that approximately 20 percent of patients are over 60. That, combined with the growing number of seniors in the Tampa Bay region prompted the emphasis.
The hospital talked with patients to find out what they could do to better meet their needs. The result was a remodeling of a 4-bed wing and waiting area in the emergency room into a senior care area. The remodeled space includes non-skid floor, dimmer lighting and more comfortable chairs at the bedside for family members. The stretcher pads themselves are also thicker and more comfortable.
"We tried to make it a little bit more of a healing, comfortable environment," says Diane Conti, director of ER services for the hospital.
A section of the waiting area is now set aside for seniors as well, with softer lighting, more comfortable chairs and a larger television. Hearing and visual aids are available for patients who may have forgotten their hearing aids or glasses. Three parking spaces close to the building are designated as senior parking.
The hospital’s staff also underwent training on the needs of senior patients, such as dementia screening, fall risks and social screening. Emphasis is placed on working with caregivers to maximize the at-home healing experience.
"We don’t want them to be thought of as a different group, but rather a group with different needs," says Conti.
The move is part of a national trend, with over 50 hospitals in the U.S. opening senior specific emergency centers since 2011, according to the ECRI Institute.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Diane Conti, St. Petersburg Hospital