Geriatric Emergency Medicine and Palliative Care

In 2012, The Mount Sinai Hospital opened New York City’s first emergency department (ED) dedicated to patients 65 and older. Since then, the Geriatric Emergency Department has received considerable national and international attention for its vision and innovation.

We are committed to providing the additional resources needed by our aging population, which  enable comprehensive evaluations and coordinated management and discharge planning. This includes a number of creative programs focused on safe transitions of care. For example, the Geriatric ED has a physical therapist to observe and instruct patients on how to avoid falls; a dedicated pharmacist reviewing all medications; and specially trained volunteers to assist patients with their needs. Due to increasing use by our community, the Geriatric ED moved into a larger space in 2015.

Each year, more than 15,000 geriatric patients seek emergency care at Mount Sinai, and as many as half arrive at the hospital by themselves. In a busy emergency department setting, they can become disoriented, making them susceptible to falls, delirium, and other ailments unique to this population.

Our Geriatric Emergency Department features skid-proof floors and extra handrails to help prevent falls; dimmable lighting and diurnal skylights that mimic natural outdoor lighting throughout the day; and curtains designed to let in less noise. There are extra heating units to keep older patients warm; special mattresses that help prevent bedsores; and special lounge chairs that make it easier for geriatric patients to get in and out of. Some rooms also feature tablet computers that patients can use to contact the nursing station when they have a need or concern.

Our team of physicians, nurses, social workers, support staff, and volunteers are united in making elderly patients more comfortable during their time in the hospital. This holistic approach is based on Mount Sinai’s philosophy that these patients will leave with better clinical outcomes, and have a higher quality of life long-term, due to improved coordination of care. In addition there is a training program for volunteers called CARE (Care and Respect for Elderly), who assist geriatric patients in the ED. These efforts are particularly important as the U.S. population of seniors continues to grow.