In September of 2015, the 10-bed Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) service opened at Grady Memorial Hospital. Under the direction of geriatrician Ugochi Ohuabunwa, MD, a care team of nursing, pharmacy, nutrition, rehabilitation, community health workers, and case management personnel provides coordinated care aimed at preventing hospital hazards faced by older patients. Falls, delirium, pressure ulcers, malnutrition, and hospital-acquired infections can complicate hospital stays, leading to increased suffering and debility. Grady’s ACE service transforms in-patient care and works to make hospitalizations safer for older adults.
Once patients are admitted to the ACE, the transformation of care begins. A pharmacist reviews all their medications to make sure they are safe, a physical therapist gets them out of bed and moving around, and a nutritionist makes sure they are eating well. Volunteers engage them in activities that help promote cognition. After they are discharged, community health workers visit them at home to help with transitions of care, making and keeping follow-up appointments, and managing care plans. This specialized approach makes a big difference in the lives of vulnerable patients.
Although the ACE has been operating for less than a year, it has recently expanded to a second hospital unit. Dr. Ohuabunwa hopes to expand the service to 20 beds soon. Dr. Ohuabunwa was also instrumental in Grady obtaining NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Health-system Elders) recognition. This allows what Dr. Ohuabunwa describes as a two-pronged approach to improving patient care. She plans to expand training to include surgery, trauma, and orthopedic services. Ultimately, she hopes to have the nurses on every floor trained to screen and implement protocols for prevention and management of these unwanted complications of hospitalization.
Dr. Ohuabunwa says, “The ACE is still a work in progress, but it gives me great satisfaction to see the difference we are making. I think we’re doing great work, and I’m proud of our team and the nurses who have been trained.”
- Emory Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics
- Emory University Department of Medicine
- VIDEO: Emory Center for Health in Aging
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