New Middletown emergency department designed with seniors in mind

8:59 a.m. Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Middletown

Atrium Medical Center’s new Senior Emergency Center is a concept that, if successful, could spread to the remainder of the Premier Health network.

A goal of the eight-bed, senior-friendly geriatric unit within Atrium’s Emergency Trauma Center is to help seniors navigate the “complex and labyrinthine” health care environment and to help the success of patients upon their discharge from emergency room, hospital or extended care facility, according to medical director Dr. David Romano.

“Whether it be something with pharmacy, or medical equipment or just transportation getting back and forth from a specialist office visit … there’s just numerous issues where things can derail and our goal is to identify those and get resources up front to make sure that they succeed when they discharge,” Romano said.

Atrium Medical Center's new Senior Emergency Center will open to the public on Thursday, April 27.

The Senior Emergency Center, which opens Thursday, also is designed to follow up on patients to ensure they are succeeding, he said.

That means staff with special training in geriatric care assessing the wide array of elderly patients’ needs, including nutrition and home assistance, and creating a plan for improved care in the hospital and at home.

” Nobody wants to come back to the hospital, if it can be avoided,” Romano said.

The new center is designed around the hospital’s existing emergency room, which will act as “mission control center,” Romano said.

“Emergency departments are already the hub of the wheel 24/7, 365 (days a year) … so let’s use that to help these folks,” he said. “Let’s extrapolate that and expand it and do what we can for the community.”

However, the ER will continue to handle patients who are critically ill while the Senior Emergency Center admits those who will most benefit from a quieter place, separated from “the noise and bustle of the emergency department,” Romano said.

The center is a response to the increasing populace of aging baby boomers, one that is increasing demand for patient care, he said.

Atrium Medical Center's new Senior Emergency Center will open to the public on Thursday, April 27.

Lori Nichols, clinical nurse specialist, said the center will work to keep patients apprised of already available community resources funded by taxpayer dollars.

“If we can help them identify unmet needs and then use community resources to address those needs … then we can improve their quality of life,” Nichols said.

The remodel takes the place of an existing overflow observation unit that was “intermittently used,” Romano said.

The new center is designed to be more comfortable for adults 65 years and older via its choice of warm, peaceful colors, door that are closed to walk-through traffic, personal thermostats, recliners designed to accommodate older bodies, plus adjustable lighting.

“We try to make it feel home-like in that it’s pretty and restful,” Nichols said.

Non-skid and non-glare floors, personal commodes, senior-friendly call buttons, fall monitors, additional railings and hearing assistance are geared toward enhancing safety when older patients might be vulnerable to falls.

A private family-waiting area inside the Senior Emergency Center includes comfortable furniture, a flatscreen TV and the promise that relatives and friends aren’t far away.

“It’s comforting for (grandma) or mom to know that if I have to step out of the room, I’m just right across the hall or just around the corner,” Nichols said.

Atrium Medical Center is a member of Premier Health Partners, the Dayton-area’s largest health care network, along with Miami Valley Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Upper Valley Medical Center.

Atrium, a full-service hospital and Level III Trauma Center, is Middletown’s second largest employer with more than 1,500 employees.

Atrium Medical Center Ambulance emergeincy entrance Tuesday, April 25 in Middletown.

The Senior Emergency Center is an Atrium Medical Center Foundation-funded project, one that exceeded its fundraising goal of $500,000 by raising $750,000 to date, according to hospital officials.

Jamie Brose of Arlington Pointe, a nursing home and short-term rehabilitation facility in Middletown, said she’s excited to see Atrium’s final product.

“When we came into the Middletown community (in January 2016), we wanted to be a true partner for Middletown,” Brose said. “Improving senior care services in any aspect is only going to benefit the community, which is what we were focusing on doing.

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