ACUTE CARE

Geriatric Emergency Care

The Emergency Department (ED) serves as a critical intersection of the healthcare system as it is often referred to as the “front porch,” where people are either admitted or discharged, setting the stage for the future of care.

The Opportunity

Emergency departments are the front-porch of our healthcare system, where 1 in 5 patients are seniors who frequently have multiple health and social challenges and unique needs.

Early evidence from existing models of geriatric emergency care—ones that promote best clinical practices for older adults and create a more positive and sensitive physical environment, for example—shows they have the potential to improve health outcomes, better coordinate care, and reduce costs.

Improving emergency care for seniors across the United States is a key area of focus for West Health. In 2016, we launched the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit at UC San Diego Health, where care tailored to the unique needs of seniors is being delivered for the first time in California, making it a cornerstone of philanthropists Gary and Mary West’s $40 million commitment to expanding the use of senior-appropriate care in emergency departments around the country.

Our Goals

We are identifying best practices in senior emergency care, building the evidence for geriatric emergency care protocols, connecting clinical and social resources to provide home and community-based care and addressing the training needs of a multidisciplinary workforce to ensure seniors across the country get the care they need when they are in the emergency department.

We are expanding our research portfolio to build evidence in support of a new vision for unplanned acute care, which fundamentally drives the majority of healthcare costs for our nation’s vulnerable seniors. We envision more proactive, opportunistic care that is delivered in place, whenever possible.

Working with our collaborators at The John A. Hartford Foundation and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), we are working to increase the number of senior-friendly EDs through ACEP’s national accreditation program for geriatric emergency departments (GEDs).

There are now more than 100 GEDs around the United States boasting ACEP accreditation, which was developed with financial support and foundational work from the West Health Institute and The John A. Hartford Foundation to achieve the goal of providing quality care for older adult patients.

We recently announced a collaboration between regional healthcare systems, West Health and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob to have a majority of San Diego’s emergency departments accredited as senior-friendly by 2021.

Healthcare leaders representing Alvarado Hospital Medical CenterKaiser Permanente San DiegoPalomar HealthParadise Valley HospitalScripps HealthSharp HealthCareTri-City Medical Center, UC San Diego Health and VA San Diego Healthcare System signed a pledge to join the San Diego Senior Emergency Care Initiative, a first-of-its-kind public-private commitment by local health systems—funded with $700,000 in grants and support from the County of San Diego and nonprofit West Health—to be the first in the nation to offer accredited senior-friendly emergency care for older adults across the county.

Interested in making your emergency department senior friendly? West Health created the free “Practical Guide to Implementing a Geriatric Emergency Department,” with UC San Diego Health to serve as a blueprint for other health systems to follow.

West Health will continue to be an advocate for senior-friendly emergency care across the region, leading the nation in our efforts to improve care and lower costs for seniors everywhere


The John A. Hartford Foundation

The John A. Hartford Foundation invests in aging experts and practice innovations that transform how the care of older adults is delivered. Since 1982, The John A. Hartford Foundation has awarded more than $565 million in grants to enhance the health and well-being of older people.

Read More

Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health care system providing exceptional medical care to our local and global communities.

Read More

UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health is committed to creating a healthier world – one life at a time – through new science, new medicine and new cures.

Read More

American College of Emergency Physicians

The American College of Emergency Physicians promotes the highest quality of emergency care and is the leading advocate for emergency physicians, their patients, and the public.

Read More

Geriatric Emergency Care News


Dr. Vaishal Tolia, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego Health provided an overview of the Gary and Mary West Emergency Care Unit (SECU) for seniors at the La Jolla Community Center’s recent Distinguished Speaker Series on Dec. 10.
Gary and Mary West Foundation, county commit $700,000 toward helping hospitals obtain certifications
West Health and County of San Diego contribute $700,000 to support accreditation of emergency departments as senior-friendly throughout the county
View All News & Media