The geriatric imperative is a movement to promote health by preventing and treating diseases and disabilities in older adults. The baby boomer generation has come of age and resulted in 10,000 Americans becoming eligible for Medicare each and every day. Although the average Medicare percent for hospitals in the United States rests at 41%, a few hospitals in the country are managing an increased demand and NCH is in this category. Sixty-one percent of the population served at NCH are Medicare patients, and this is projected to increase significantly in the coming years.
Brookdale Geriatric Center
The Brookdale Geriatric Center was launched in 2015 and offers specialized geriatric services for the region inclusive of educational outreach for the elderly and their caregivers. Development strategies include initiatives for advancing professional practice and specialization, recruitment of geriatric specialists—including physicians and nurse practitioners, programming related to geriatric assessment, research and technology applications, patient and family education and support, as well as linkages with community-based providers.
The organization aligns with leading entities within the fields of geriatric and palliative care, including NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Hospital Elders) and the Center for Advancing Palliative Care. Through these associations staff will have access to resources to advance specialized education offerings, program development and program evaluation initiatives.
A central theme of this initiative is to improve access to specialized resources and services. In 2012, the Leadership Coalition on Aging—Collier County commissioned Florida Gulf Coast University to conduct a study on the service needs and gaps relative to seniors within the Naples area, including healthcare. Stakeholders identified the overarching issue as the “complexity of the social systems, the lack of knowledge about what is available and how to access them.”
A Network of Resources
The Brookdale Geriatric Center represents a network of resources both within the hospital system and within the community at large. The motto for the program is “Age Well.” By contacting NCH’s access healthline at 239-624-1999 callers will be connected to a geriatric nurse navigator for help related to community-based resources, or in accessing healthcare services. Additionally, plans include the development of an Acute Care for Elders (ACE) program to spread principles of geriatric-specific care throughout the healthcare system via nursing rounds. Through this consultation, patients with geriatric-specific needs can access geriatric specialists.
The opportunity to develop specialized geriatric services and improved access to care fits with NCH’s overall mission of “helping everyone to live a longer, happier and healthier life.”