First in the Nation: All San Diego Hospitals Now Accredited for Geriatric Emergency Care
By Jeanna Vazquez
August 18, 2022
Susan Nelson, a retired schoolteacher from San Diego, never thought she’d have to call 911 for herself.
“It was late at night, last November, and I was having unusual symptoms. I felt very shaky, nauseous, and I was experiencing heart palpitations. I decided to call the triage nurse line at UC San Diego Health,” Nelson said. “They advised me to call 911, which was a first for me.”
When the EMTs arrived, Nelson’s temperature was at 104.5. She was taken to the emergency department at Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health.
Nelson stayed one night in the general emergency department and was then transferred to the hospital’s Senior Emergency Care Unit (SECU) on the second night for additional observation.
Housed within the Gary and Mary West Emergency Department at Jacobs Medical Center, the SECU opened in 2019 and was California’s first unit of its kind dedicated to the emergency care of senior adults.
“Senior patients face common complications, such as being high risk for falls and cognitive challenges. In this dedicated space, we provide a much more holistic approach to medicine, following the age-friendly health system model, to ensure needs are being addressed in the patient’s preferred way,” said Dr. Vaishal Tolia, medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego Health.
Recently, San Diego became the first county in the nation where every eligible hospital has earned geriatric emergency department (GED) accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), providing senior patients access to specialized emergency care wherever they happen to live in the region.
The announcement came Aug. 11, 2022 at Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health in La Jolla. Representatives from each local health system, local and state government, the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and West Health, a San Diego-based nonprofit focused on improving aging, all gathered on the hospital’s west lawn to share this exciting news with the community.