The partnership leverages HASC’s robust network of member hospitals in Southern California and West Health’s commitment to driving excellence in healthcare for older adults.
SAN DIEGO — Feb. 1, 2023 — West Health, a family of nonprofit organizations focused on successful aging, and the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) have entered into a partnership to increase the number of regional hospitals that attain Geriatric Emergency Department (GED) accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Through their work together, West Health and HASC seek to ensure older adults throughout HASC’s six-county region have greater access to well-coordinated, quality care at every emergency department encounter.
“As Southern California’s population of older adults rapidly expands, it’s increasingly important for hospitals to implement geriatric-focused care,” says Shelley Lyford, CEO and chair of West Health. “We’re pleased to join forces with HASC to help emergency departments in our region anticipate and meet the complex needs of older patients.”
Seniors account for more than 44 percent of all hospitalizations that originate in the emergency department, and that share is forecast to reach 56 percent by the start of the next decade. In California, the number of residents 60 and older is expected to grow more than three times as fast as the total state population by 2060.
Older adults are at higher risk for health emergencies due to frailty, mobility challenges, likelihood of multiple chronic conditions and increased social support needs, among other factors. Geriatric Emergency Departments provide immediate specialized care for these issues, while also integrating care with community programs and services that help seniors retain their health and independence.
“HASC feels a duty to play an active role in helping our region’s hospitals and health systems provide the best-possible care to seniors,” says George W. Greene, president and CEO of HASC. “Through the Geriatric Emergency Department accreditation, hospitals will implement best practices that not only improve health outcomes of older patients but also reduce length of stay in the emergency department, decrease readmission rates and lower costs.”
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, which launched its Geriatric Emergency Department accreditation program in 2018, the U.S. is now home to 382 hospitals with an accredited Geriatric Emergency Department. Of those, 61 are in California.
But despite the fast growth of the program and its many benefits to patients and health systems, fewer than one in three older Californians live in a city with a Geriatric Emergency Department. Currently, 25 of HASC’s member hospitals hold a GED accreditation, a number that HASC and West Health hope to expand dramatically in the coming years.
As part of the new partnership, West Health will provide financial and technical support for training, accreditation fees and ongoing information sharing, reducing the barriers for HASC hospitals and health systems to start GED programs. Interested hospitals and health systems are invited to participate in a virtual learning session introducing the GED model (continuing education credits available); please contact GED@westhealth.org for details.
By providing similar support to San Diego–area hospitals, West Health helped San Diego County become the first in the U.S. to have all eligible hospitals earn GED accreditation. This milestone, announced in August 2022, involved a public-private collaboration between West Health, the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, San Diego County Health and Human Services, and additional partners.
“Through our collaboration with HASC, we are leading the way to wider adoption of geriatric emergency departments in California and across the nation, ultimately improving outcomes and quality of life for seniors who experience a medical crisis,” West Health’s Lyford says.
About West Health
Solely funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, West Health is a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations including the Gary and Mary West Foundation and Gary and Mary West Health Institute in San Diego, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. West Health is dedicated to lowering healthcare costs and enabling seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. Learn more at westhealth.org.
The Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC), founded in 1923, is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) regional trade association. HASC is dedicated to effectively advancing the interests of hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The organization comprises more than 176 member hospitals and 31 health systems, plus numerous related professional associations and associate members, all with a common goal: to improve the operating environment for hospitals and the health status of the communities they serve. Learn more at hasc.org.