MRMC is the first hospital in South Texas to earn Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation
Seniors living in the Rio Grande Valley can find especially focused care at the Mission Regional Medical Center.
On Jan. 5, 2020, MRMC got word they had earned a Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) after a six-month application process. One of three hospitals to earn the accreditation in all of Texas, MRMC (part of the Prime Healthcare system) is the first in the RGV and southern region of the state.
According to a press release from MRMC, the accreditation recognizes institutions that are focused on the “highest standards of care for older adults in their community,” which is good for senior residents and Winter Texans.
Kane Dawson, the Chief Executive Officer of the MRMC, spoke on the need for geriatric-friendly services in the area.
“It’s an important part of our brand, we want our patients in the community to understand that we really are there to focus on their needs,” Dawson said. “I think, if anything, it demonstrates our strong commitment to knowing and caring for our community.”
Eira Romero, the Emergency Services Director at MRMC, explained what standards the hospital has to meet for the accreditation requirements.
“We have specialized equipment, bigger wheelchairs, walkers, larger clocks,” Romero said.
Enrique Cantu, the Director of Quality and Safety, added that MRMC has a screening process to ensure any needs that seniors have are met.
“We have dietary consults if needed, pharmacy on the floor,” Cantu said. “If they come through our ED and require a meal, we have a process in place so they can get a meal before they get discharged. There are circumstances where we put things in place to help our seniors in the experience they have in our facility.”
The Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation (GEDA) program is the culmination of years of progress in emergency care of older adults. In 2014, ACEP along with the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the Emergency Nurses Association, and the American Geriatrics Society, developed and released the geriatric ED guidelines. They recommended measures ranging from adding geriatric-friendly equipment, specialized staff and more routine screening for delirium, dementia, and fall risk, among other vulnerabilities.
“It’s always been a strong focus for Mission Hospital,” Dawson said. “In Prime Healthcare, we’re part of a health system that has 45 hospitals throughout the country, and we work closely to share best practices.”
Prime Healthcare hospitals in Kansas City have already gone through the accreditation process, so considering the large population of geriatrics and Winter Texans in the community, they introduced the concept to Mission.
“Much of the accreditation process we were already doing and was in place,” Dawson said. “It’s because of the demographics in this area.”
The program provides criteria and goals for emergency clinicians and administrators to follow, and to receive accreditation an emergency department “must incorporate a number of best practices for geriatric care, along with interdisciplinary geriatric education, and have geriatric-appropriate equipment and supplies available.” MRMC has been holding Senior Talks monthly to address education specifically, as preventative measures are vital for health and wellness.
“We invite seniors from the community into the hospital on different topics with a focus on prevention and ways to keep them out of the hospital in the first place,” Dawson said.
“The benefit for the community, if nothing else, is in teaching,” Cantu added. “We want our community to be better informed of our health needs.”
Romero noted that Senior Talks are informative, and keep people aware of the risks that come with age.
“The one for February was cardiac, the one for March is for colon cancer: signs and symptoms and prevention,” Romero said. “We’re also working on fall prevention, and that’s a major, major one. A lot of our [elderly] ED patients that come in, come in for ground-level falls.”
MRMC also has pharmacists ready to meet patients at their bedside, creating streamlined accessibility. Dawson noted that this is necessary to provide the best care for patients.
“When a senior comes into the ED, it triggers a heightened awareness that we may have a senior who may have special needs,” Dawson said. “A lot of times it’s pharmacy – a lot of geriatric or senior patients are on multiple medications, and it’s difficult to initiate or diagnose care until you understand a thorough assessment of their medication history as well.”
One of the other focuses has been on transitioning in and out of the emergency department – MRMC is working to ensure every move goes smoothly.
“It’s just refining what we already do,” Dawson said, noting that the hospital is now in the process of recruiting a geriatrician.
MRMC earned the GEDA on Jan. 5 this year, and the accreditation will last for the next three years.
This story was originally published in the Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 edition of the Progress Times.