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An ER Just for Older Patients

"Senior emergency rooms" provide doctors and nurses trained in geriatrics

The surge of older patients with their special needs is spawning "senior emergency rooms" in hospitals. 

Park Plaza Hospital and Medical Center in Houston debuted its senior emergency department in October. Since July, Trinity Health, which operates in seven states, has opened eight ERs in Michigan for patients age 65 and over.

Senior ERs offer quiet private rooms, dimmable lights, extra-padded mattresses, nonglare floors and blanket warmers.

Doctors and nurses are trained in geriatrics. Patients are screened for a variety of risk factors, and a geriatric social worker or nurse follows up with a call after the visit.

"In a senior ER, we're looking at all the issues that affect the patient as opposed to just their immediate diagnosis," says George Williams, M.D., who helped create Trinity Health's new senior ERs.

Sally Abrahms writes on aging and boomers for national magazines, newspapers and websites. She is based in Boston.

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