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Hospital Achieves “Senior Friendly” Status

– Focuses on Improving Care for Older Adult Patients –

January 1, 2013 Saint Peter's Healthcare System Community Calendar Featured Article.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital has achieved “Senior Friendly” status for its NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) program. NICHE hospitals such as Saint Peter’s commit to excellence in the care of patients 65-years- and-older.

Focuses on Improving Care for Older Adult Patients

The “Senior Friendly” status recognizes that Saint Peter’s has put in place a variety of programs, such as Care Companions and Silver Spoons, to assist senior patients. The first program calls for volunteers to keep elder patients company; the second program provides assistance during meals. Additionally, the hospital has invested time and resources to:

  • implement the NICHE Geriatric Resource Nurse (GRN) model,
  • develop aging-sensitive policies, and
  • obtain input of patients, families, and community-based providers in planning and implementation of NICHE initiatives.

The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65-andolder to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The Geriatric Resource Nurse model, an educational and clinical intervention initiative, calls for NICHE hospitals to train staff nurses as clinical resource persons on geriatric issues for other nurses on their unit. Based at New York University Hospital, NICHE is an international program designed to help hospitals improve the care of older adults.

“The NICHE designation and the ‘Senior Friendly’ status are proof of our commitment to quality, patient-centered care for older adults,” says Linda Carroll, MSN, RN-BC, director of Professional Practice and Clinical Education and Nursing Research Education at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. “Our participation in the NICHE program allows us to continually maintain the high standard of care that has always been available at Saint Peter’s. This leads to greater satisfaction rates for our patients, their families and our staff.”

In the United States, 8,000 people turn 65 every day. By the end of 2011, the senior population of America reached almost 49 million. By 2025, it is expected to grow to nearly 72 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department.

Seniors can be at risk for certain conditions, including anxiety, dementia, depression, falls, incontinence, osteoporosis, and pain. In addition to NICHE initiatives, Saint Peter’s integrated outpatient geriatric medicine program specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and the maintenance of good health and quality of life.

As people age, their medical issues tend to become more complex, explains Saint Peter’s geriatrician Shira Goldberg, M.D. “When developing a care plan for geriatric patients, physicians must use an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates not only medical, but also the patient’s social and psychological needs. A patient’s values and preferences need to be investigated and integrated into their individualized treatment plan.”

An interdisciplinary team of board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals, all of whom are trained in geriatric medicine, works with patients and their families to develop a comprehensive plan of care for improved overall quality of life.

Areas of specialty at Saint Peter’s include: diabetes; diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety; diagnosis and treatment of memory loss; hormone replacement therapy; minimally invasive surgery; nutrition; orthopedic services, including hip resurfacing and knee replacement; pain management; promoting and maintaining health, strength and functional abilities; and wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for nonhealing chronic wounds.

Saint Peter’s is also designated as a primary stroke center. The hospital is staffed by a specialized stroke team that includes emergency physicians, neurologists and nurses with special training in acute stroke management who are available 24-hours-aday, seven-days-a-week.

Programs and Services

Outpatient services at Saint Peter’s include Geriatric Evaluation and Management Services (GEMS), a comprehensive assessment program that helps healthcare professionals diagnose and develop a plan of care for patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The Wound Care Center® and Hyperbaric Services at Saint Peter’s University Hospital counts among the specialty services provided for seniors. With locations in Saint Peter’s Center for Ambulatory Resources in New Brunswick and in a new facility in Monroe Township, the center is a leader in the surgical and nonsurgical treatment of chronic non-healing wounds. Patients are treated by a multidisciplinary team of board-certified physicians that includes general surgeons, vascular surgeons, plastic surgeons, internists, geriatricians, infectious disease specialists, physiatrists and clinical wound specialists.

The hospital’s three Comprehensive Care Group medical practices – in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and at the new Monroe Township facility – focus on providing primary and specialty care for seniors, as well as resources for their caregivers. With a focus on quality of life, the goal is to provide patients with services and programs that help to maintain their health, and independence, and enhance their daily living.

Other outpatient resources include: