A group of interested La Jolla Community Center members, staff and board members visited the new UC San Diego Health’s Gary & Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit (SECU) on May 6th. “We are very lucky that there is now an emergency room specifically geared to meet the needs of seniors in our communities,” said Nancy Walters, executive director of the Center. “We wanted our members to be able to experience the safety features of the Unit and to learn more about the specialized team of practitioners available to treat them, should they require it.”
Dr. Vaishal Tolia, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego Health offered remarks about the new Unit to members of the La Jolla Community Center and several other community organizations. “Our goal is to provide resources and improve the transitions of care to avoid hospitalizations,” said Tolia. “We want to improve care and reduce costs.”
Following these remarks both Dr. Tolia and Dr. Ted Chan, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego Health provided a tour of the Unit to small groups and discussed its design, the technological aspects within the patient rooms, and the overall medical approach to treating senior patients in the Unit.
The new 8,500 square-foot, 11-bed unit, opened its doors on January 2, 2019. The Unit received the first of its kind geriatric emergency department accreditation by the American College of Emergency It is the first in the state and one of 8 units in the country to receive such an accreditation.
It features interior design elements to address safety (e.g., non-slip floors, side chairs with high backs and sturdy arms); lighting (e.g., increased light levels and lighting that is adjusted according to circadian rhythm), tunable LED lights and use of daylight; acoustics (e.g., sound-absorbing walls, full height walls to reduce noise levels to other patients); comfort (e.g., clear signage so patients can find their way easily, paint colors conducive to the aging eye); and other features, such as technology for the hearing impaired in certain exam rooms. The Unit is run by a team with special training in geriatric medicine—nurses, physicians, pharmacists and social workers.
If you have an interest in contacting a physician specializing in senior medicine, please call UC San Diego Health at (858) 657-7000 and ask about their list of geriatricians.